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Bruckner, Seventh Symphony - Scherzo
Last post Mon, Jan 13 2020 by PaoloT, 14 replies.
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Posted on Mon, Jan 06 2020 18:02
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 520

Hi,

I rendered the first ninety bars of Bruckner's monumental piece. This project was started to check the brass in the VSL Synchronized Special Edition, and see how "thin" they were.

After several hours on this piece I need some silence, before I can not only understand how successful I was in making it credible, but also give my ears enough rest from this apocalyptic sound!

In Soundcloud:

Bruckner - Seventh Symphony - Scherzo

As an Aiff file (16 MB):

Bruckner - Seventh Symphony - Scherzo

Paolo

Posted on Wed, Jan 08 2020 18:20
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5428

I'm not trying to sound like a know-it-all (I've been exposed to some of those lately and hate it) so don't get mad at me.   But what I noticed on this is there is no rhythmic definition.  It's a very energetic piece and needs to have strong crisp attacks in the ostinato and those octave jump figures followed by the dotted notes.  Also accents on the first notes of the repeated figures.  The brass figures get lost near the end.  Also the tempo seems slow.  I've listened to the von Karajan performance of this to the point of wearing smooth an LP record, and it is almost maniacal in the intensity and energy.   You have to get that into this performance.     

Though it sounds good in a lot of ways and Bruckner is not easy to do I know.  I don't think it would be too hard to get this more rhythmic -  one easy way to get more definition (that I first heard of from Herb) is to use the dynamic samples instead of sustains even though the line might seem to use sustain.  So sforzando and medium dynamic articulations combined with more staccato or portato would add a lot of definition.

  

Posted on Wed, Jan 08 2020 22:16
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 520

William, thank you very much for the very interesting remarks and suggestions.

Dynamic samples are a bit complicate to mix in this library. I've used staccato and portato a lot, but fp and sfz are more difficult. Obviously, I can lower their velocity to make them match better the sustains.

So, I’ll work on rhythmic definition with more care. Let's see what will happen.

Paolo

(EDIT: I did some of the suggested changes. I'll probably rework it again later).

Posted on Thu, Jan 09 2020 01:45
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5428

I am speaking from using the extended VI versions of the libraries so I don't know if you have the same set of samples.  I like the various levels of dynamics found with "Light, Medium and Strong" cresc and dim because they give you a lot of options.  For example, the attack on a light dim. sample in a lower velocity may be very crisp and clear but not real heavy.  Like a mezzo forte going down to piano.  I sometimes have alternated those with the sforzando in order to use a clear, strong but not too loud attack.  

Anyway it's a very ambitious job to do Bruckner and it is very cool you are doing it.  

Now you've got me thinking about it as well as whistling parts from it.  I love that symphony and remember playing horn on it at a concert once.  All the brass players loved playing it - so many great parts in Bruckner.  The Adagio is so beautiful. Composed after Wagner died as a tribute.  

Posted on Thu, Jan 09 2020 10:32
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 520

Originally Posted by: William Go to Quoted Post

I am speaking from using the extended VI versions of the libraries so I don't know if you have the same set of samples.  

While I have the full Silent Stage library, I'm trying to do this piece with the more humble SE, in the Synchronized version. This is because I want to test the possibilities of this light set of sounds, that would be incredibly useful while composing. Starting composing with the SynSE would be very fast, needing only minimal setup, and even my outdated Mac can run it without any speed issue. Any work on the details will come later, when it is time to devote my attention to the sound rendering of the piece.

If SynSE works fine enough to get a realistic rendition of what one is writing, it will be the best tool for this task among the ones I own. Ensemble libraries are only great for first draft or pieces not needed part writing. NotePerformer does a great work on chamber music, but I'm not convinced of the results with orchestral music; then, it only works in notation software, and can't be immediately replaced by full sampled orchestras.

With the Articulation Sets for Logic that I'm still developing (but are already working well enough), and Expression Maps for Dorico (still early in the making, but promising), I should be able to directly replace the Full library to the SynSE. The piece, massaged to the full possibilities of SynSE, should sound immediately good with the Full library. From there, I can work on the details.

Thank you for the precious hints you are offering. This is the type of lesson that I need to go into the secrets of the Full library – and to understand how to put oneself, with the due respect, in front of the classic masterworks!

Paolo

Posted on Fri, Jan 10 2020 13:30
by Paul McGraw
Joined on Mon, Feb 29 2016, Georgia, USA, Posts 418

I have commented on the track in another thread, so I will not repeat myself here. But I do admire your work ethic. 

And William, great advice and tips. I learned something new reading your two posts above.

Paul McGraw

Posted on Fri, Jan 10 2020 15:02
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 520

Paul, I reiterate my thanks here!

Paolo

Posted on Sat, Jan 11 2020 09:47
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 520
I'm adapting this piece to the Full library. The immediate transfer doesn't work, since more nuances also means different attacks and dynamics.

The original score I did with SySE has dynamics mostly driven by note velocity. With the Full library version, I’m trying to move all to Modulation and Expression controlled. Even with short notes, I find this gives each note a direction, a better connection with the following note. Maybe I’m just overthinking?

I would use Modulation and Expression together. Modulation will select the dynamic layer, Expression adjust loudness. This will help have, like at the beginning of the Scherzo, aggressive attacks even in pp. Is this the correct strategy?

Paolo
Posted on Sun, Jan 12 2020 02:41
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5428

Hi Paolo, that is great you are using the full library.  I've noticed the same thing going between different libraries, though the VI series is remarkably transferable in general.

If you use modulation with velocity crossfade you would want those to be major changes of dynamics, and then "fine tune" those with expression.  You cannot use expression alone since it has no effect on timbre, just overall amplitude.  However it makes a huge difference to add it after the timbral changes done with velocity crossfade. I have found that I often did not do enough of that and think it is a secret  to get extremely expressive performances.  Your main expressive level is determined by the actual timbral level of dynamics - i.e. p, f, ff etc. - but fine tuning with expression makes it sound real. 

BTW I admire how you are doing a Bruckner piece -  he and Mahler are the greatest symphonists.  (Well, Beethoven also.  And Haydn.  And Schubert.  And Schumann.  And Shostakovich.  And... never mind!)    

Posted on Sun, Jan 12 2020 19:56
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 520

Ah ah, William, too many great symphonists to cite! While Bruckner may not be my main interest, he was at the same time the representative of the anti-Brahms faction in Vienna, and the teacher of Mahler and Strauss. And he was a simple, tormented man. There is a lot to learn from his music. Maybe not always nuanced, but always full of a powerful tension.

I usually use Modulation to control dynamics, with Expression used to refine the extremes. For example, with a standard setting of Expression=110, I have headroom to increase the volume with strong crescendos. Or a lot of values to fade to nothing, or change amplitude without changing the timbre.

In the case of the Scherzo, the measures in pianissimo are still full of energy. Lowering the amplitude with the Modulation would also remove some power and aggressivity from the strings. On the contrary, keep Modulation quite high, and lowering Expression, seems to give enough kick, while keeping the volume low.

I don't know if this is the lecit way to use these controllers, but at first sight it seems to work.

Paolo

Posted on Mon, Jan 13 2020 01:46
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5428

"I usually use Modulation to control dynamics, with Expression used to refine the extremes"  -Paolo

Yes that's exactly what I meant.   It would be unnatural for example to have loud brassy sounds that were low in amplitude, and since expression CC11 controls only amplitude it is strictly for those extra touches - usually having a pianissimo note tail off farther than the note actually goes down to with the velocity layers, or perhapos to come up on the attack of a note out of almost nothing. 

One thing I thought of that was unclear in what I said was I didn't mean to use velocity crossfade/modulation on dynamic samples which should always be just note-on velocity otherwise it is totally weird and unnatural.  But you knew that.  Though throwing in some expression with those is often really good.  

Also, I have never liked - though I know some people do - using velocity crossfade with short notes like staccato,  because it does two artificial things - blends separately recorded samples for the entire duration of the note (not just  a fade), and doesn't actually reproduce what a player does in real time, which is hit a note at a single volume without any change throughout the length of the note.  This applies even to somewhat longer short notes like detache or portato. So on those short notes, as well as the dynamics, they should always be note-on velocity with no crossfade, and the continuopus notes only with crossfade.  One additional benefit of this approach is to allow sudden contrasts when you switch from a note-on velocity short note to a crossfaded long note.   

Posted on Mon, Jan 13 2020 15:05
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 520

William, all very intersting! As a piano player, dynamics are always virtual for me. We invented embellishments to fake long and evolving notes!

I still have the feeling that short notes (longer than spiccato) still contain some "direction". But I should trust a wind player much more than my impressions!

So, I'll switch to what I'm used to do. Modulation for dynamics on long notes, Expression for nuance, Velocity for dynamics on short notes.

My presets are always set to have short notes controlled by the global settings of the preset. I've never been convinced to force them to Velocity on a cell base. Anyway, the on/off switch for Vel X-Fade is a good compromise between speed and flexibility.

Paolo

Posted on Mon, Jan 13 2020 16:02
by Acclarion
Joined on Sat, Aug 15 2015, Canada, Eh!, Posts 489

Thank you, Paolo for sharing your work and thanks to both you and William for the detailed technical discussion that is immensely helpful.  It's always interesting to see the different workflows and strategies for utilizing virtual instruments, and you both have some great suggestions.

As for Bruckner, I can't help but laugh every time I hear his name, as I'm reminded of a silly story from my university days when I was a (reluctant) choir member and we sang his Te Deum.  The good ol' days for me :)

Cheers!

Dave

New Site Coming Soon!
www.acclarion.ca - concert accordion & clarinet duo
Posted on Mon, Jan 13 2020 16:25
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 520

Originally Posted by: Acclarion Go to Quoted Post

As for Bruckner, I can't help but laugh every time I hear his name, as I'm reminded of a silly story from my university days when I was a (reluctant) choir member and we sang his Te Deum.  The good ol' days for me :)

Poor Bruckner, that humble man! Even the choir kids are making fun of him!

Cheers!
Paolo

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