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How to make a Realistic Sequence
Last post Tue, Dec 14 2010 by BadOrange, 26 replies.
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Posted on Thu, Feb 11 2010 06:23
by bbesse78_20408
Joined on Mon, Mar 13 2006, Posts 6

I've looked everywhere, and have been sequencing (music programming) for concerts, shows for over 12 years now, but I would LOVE to talk to someone in depth in regards to realism when doing this ... here are my questions ... any/all replies are SOOO very welcome!

(1)  I live in a smaller town, and do not have a huge quantity of musicians, so I usually put everything into the sequencer, and mute the tracks when a musician is available for a part, and use them for that part.  They are all given a click track in their ear and usually follow pretty well, but when doing broadway music, there are SOOO many tempo changes, which I've yet to master, as I use Cubase (I own a new mac, and DP & Logic but haven't taken the time to learn them yet).  Is there an easy way to change tempos that are continually changing rather than the stupid grid?  Is this the best way to fill out an orchestra?

(2)  I write all my orchestrations in full in Finale and then save all the instruments into separate midi files, then I import them into Cubase, and record over the midi file adjusting tempos, and using key switches on the instruments when there is a trill, tremolo, pizz, or other variation.  The strings, harp, and other instruments move quickly, and I've found that trying to play the instruments in from my keyboard has never really been effective in getting all the runs, and scales playing together.  So my problem ... It sounds so mechanical, the strings are anything but legato, and there are no dynamics unless I assign the intensity to a controller knob and move it around whilst I am recording volume control.  I just don't understand how people like Thomas Bergersen is able to have these massive, huge lush sounding tracks ... does he use midi or does he actually play them in?  And if people sequence by playing the instruments by hand, how is it possible to get all of the runs, scales and passages together?  What is the best way to make it all realistic?

I know this is a HUGE bunch of questions, but I have my masters in music performance on the pipe-organ and harp, and am now working on my doctorate in orchestration/composition.  I completely understand the dynamic of all the instruments, and direct an orchestra in my home town, but I've found computer orchestration is a whole different animal.  I appreciate talking to the professionals such as yourselves that can help me understand the best way of creating realism.  Thank you all so much in advance for your advice and tips/tricks in these matters.

Posted on Thu, Feb 11 2010 07:20
by christof
Joined on Tue, Jun 19 2007, Vienna/Austria, Posts 195

Hello.

There are some simple answers to long questions:

(1) I only use Logic but I suppose that you can do everything in Cubase.Regarding the tempo changes:

Usually you can draw a tempo curve and there you have some options:immediate tempo change or you can draw a smooth descending or ascending tempo curve.The result of that is a real ritardando or  accelerando.Sometimes it takes some fine tuning to make it sound organic, but all in all it is a quite easy challenge.

(2) To create a realistic sounding sequence you need a lot of time to do programming and tweaking.If you play the instruments into the sequence by keyboard(real time) you have one advantage:the midi notes are humanized and not static unless you quantize them.On the other hand if you enter the notes in the piano roll(not in real time) you can work more precisely but afterwards the notes have to be edited to achieve a more human feeling.

I allways shift my tracks a bit out of the tempo grid.Real musicians in an orchestra never play exactly at the same time, thats what makes it sound human.

Another issue is tuning:

I allways change the master tuning of each instrument slightly, lets say violins  443Hz, cellos 441Hz and french horns 442Hz.Just an example.

So it sounds more realistic.

Hope this helps a bit.

christof

Posted on Thu, Feb 11 2010 14:12
by GillesCostard
Joined on Tue, Jul 24 2007, france, Posts 124

Heya,

From what i have learn for make it realistic there is lot of things to care.

1 things i have learn not to long time is the more articulations you can use with sample the more realistic it will sound (an ex: if you have crescendo articulation it will sound more realistic than if you try to use a sustain sample and make it crescendo yourself etc)

I have heard a lot about the instruments tuning like christof said, but i don't relly know yet how it work so i can't say much about it.

For the tempo i am like christof i am using logic but like he said you could do exactly the same things in cubase i doing it for all the track but i wonder if it can be used on each track separate instead of all track together who would make it more realistic since all instruments notnecesary play all same tempo diference.

If i remember good for the Adventure on earth, Jay Bacal didn't use any keyboard for make the tracks.

Its not much but i hope it will help you a bit. Gilles

Posted on Thu, Feb 11 2010 18:58
by cgernaey
Joined on Mon, Apr 04 2005, Detroit-Michigan, Posts 1062

Purchase Beat Kaufmann's tutorials.  They are a great place for you to start.

Maestro2be

Windows 10 Pro 64-bit, 128GB RAM, AMD 3970X 32-core
Gigabyte TRX40 Aorus Xtreme, Radeon RX 5500 XT
Studio One 5.1.1, Cubase 10.5, Nuendo 10
RME Multiface 2, All NVMe SSD Drives (OS & Samples)
Posted on Fri, Feb 12 2010 17:09
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5720

Christof is correct and I would add that you could look at the ultimate realistic, expressive MIDI performance ever done as an extreme example, which is probably the Rite of Spring here.   It was not done "on the fly," with real time changes, adjusting to live performances, etc., but with a massive amount of very laborious programming and precise tweaking of controllers, note lengths/positions, articulation selections, etc. i believe it took about six months (?)  In other words, it is more like writing music than playing it, though what is being written is the sound itself.

Posted on Fri, Feb 12 2010 20:44
by jasensmith
Joined on Tue, Jan 15 2008, Arizona, Posts 1582

I sort of have the opposite problem.  I have a 100 piece orchestra at my disposal and, man I tell ya, it's like pulling teeth to try to get them to sound like a fake sampled orchestra.  Does anybody have any suggestions on how I can make my real orchestra sound fake?  No matter how hard I try, they (the players) refuse to play in exact time at the exact same volume level.  I thought block chords would be simple enough to sound fake but they can't even do that consistently.   I can't get them to play vibrato as if it were controlled by an LFO controller.  The string players keep up the bow changes when I want a ten minute sustain.  The wind players keep running out of breath after about fifteen to twenty seconds, why can't they just hold a note continuously forever?  Everybody's tuned slightly differently it just goes on and on and on.  It all sounds too darn real!!!

Seriously, I sometimes wonder if we fret too much about trying to make our sampled orchestras sound realistic.  I guess if that's crucial in your work than you do whatever you can.  A while ago somebody posted a thread about using sampled orchestras as an art form and I'd be interested to see how that will pan out in the future.  Who says you can't have an orchestra consisting of 5,000 double bass players or feeding your brass samples through a guitar amp?  I wonder what interesting innovative things people are doing with samples.


"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it."
- W.C. Fields
Posted on Sat, Feb 13 2010 01:41
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5720

 I have had some orchestras play the same pieces that samples were used on,  and the orchestral performances were vastly inferior to samples.  Everybody here seems to think that if their music is performed by a live orchestra it will sound like Bernstein conducting Beethoven's Ninth.  99% of the time it doesn't.  In fact, most of the time live orchestras are disturbing and embarrassing. 

The reason for this is that everyone has adapted to recordings, either on CD or in films.  And if you think you will get that 1% performing quality on most orchestras, you are in for a rude awakening.   

Posted on Sat, Feb 13 2010 06:49
by bbesse78_20408
Joined on Mon, Mar 13 2006, Posts 6
Posted on Sat, Feb 13 2010 18:15
by Rob Welsh
Joined on Thu, Feb 12 2004, Chicago, IL, Posts 68

to me, it looked like William did give you a "constructive comment" about studying "The Rite" ultimate MIDI realization.

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9 GB RAM, OS 10.6
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Posted on Sat, Feb 13 2010 18:37
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5720
Posted on Sun, Feb 14 2010 03:33
by jasensmith
Joined on Tue, Jan 15 2008, Arizona, Posts 1582

I think perhaps bbesse is regarding my post which he/she thinks is irrelavant to his/her questions.  In retrospect perhaps I did butt into his/her thread and try to start my own thread.  That was rather rude of me and I sincerly appologize.

Having said that, lighten up a little will you.  My post was not completely irrelavant to your OP.  I addressed issues like varying your tunnings, Try to avoid long sustains especially with wind instruments and vary your volume levels. 

Your questions have been asked many many times before BTW.  Did you bother to search the forum before posting?  If you're going to post questions that have been addressed before than I'm going to have some fun with you.  Sorry but you did say, "any/all replies are SOOOOOO welcome."  Again, my reply was relavant I was just being a little light hearted that's all.   


"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it."
- W.C. Fields
Posted on Sun, Feb 14 2010 21:07
by PaulR
Joined on Mon, Dec 22 2003, England, Posts 2371

Bbesse - you will never understand how Bergenson does that using samples if you are not prepared to understand that what he and J Bacal do is NOT use a keyboard in any thorough way when they program. They click - with a mouse an infinite number of times to get the programming just the way they want it to sound. You can't do really complex string parts, for instance, on a keyboard. You have to spend loads of time on a computer. Strings can be played in real time much quicker than a keyboard player as I'm sure you realize. So if you think about that - it's going to be impossible to replicate anything like that using samples and a keyboard as a sort of real time input. On top of that, these guys spend endless hours layering samples. You have to be a mental case to do what they do.

That's why I don't bother with  all of that. Way too time consuming. I just use a keyboard and don't do complex.

Posted on Sun, Feb 14 2010 22:27
by knievel
Joined on Thu, May 28 2009, Newcastle, England, Posts 80
jasensmith wrote:

I sort of have the opposite problem.  I have a 100 piece orchestra at my disposal and, man I tell ya, it's like pulling teeth to try to get them to sound like a fake sampled orchestra.  Does anybody have any suggestions on how I can make my real orchestra sound fake?  No matter how hard I try, they (the players) refuse to play in exact time at the exact same volume level.  I thought block chords would be simple enough to sound fake but they can't even do that consistently.   I can't get them to play vibrato as if it were controlled by an LFO controller.  The string players keep up the bow changes when I want a ten minute sustain.  The wind players keep running out of breath after about fifteen to twenty seconds, why can't they just hold a note continuously forever?  Everybody's tuned slightly differently it just goes on and on and on.  It all sounds too darn real!!!

Regardless of everything... that's the funniest post I've read on the VSL forum !!  Big Smile  Big Smile

Made me chuckle anyway! hehehee I'm sure it was only meant as a bit of fun!

knievel

Posted on Mon, Feb 15 2010 03:15
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5720

.

Posted on Mon, Feb 15 2010 04:34
by mplaster
Joined on Fri, Jan 12 2007, phoenix | az | usa, Posts 217
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Posted on Mon, Feb 15 2010 07:59
by PaulR
Joined on Mon, Dec 22 2003, England, Posts 2371

Yes - it was  sad day in this country when they outlawed dueling.

Posted on Mon, Feb 15 2010 10:01
by Aer Gui Ta
Joined on Tue, Jan 29 2008, Posts 5

Anyone for a cheese sandwich?

Posted on Mon, Feb 15 2010 10:37
by DG
Joined on Wed, May 12 2004, Posts 8608
PaulR wrote:

Yes - it was  sad day in this country when they outlawed dueling.

 

 That's all very well for people like yourself who have some eye to hand coordination, but for us dweebs, we have no chance. Sad

Back on topic, there are times when real-time is the best way and times when step time is more useful.

For example, playing an ensemble patch with flexibility and rubato will always sound fake, because no two people will ever agree 100% (see this thread for details). The individual; sloppiness tends to get evened out, so that dynamics and timing errors are less drastic.

However. solo wind instruments can benefit from real time playing, as long as you are using a Breath Controller. Using silly things like Mod Wheel will cause it to sound stilted, because what sounds good is often at odds with what your brain tells you it should be. When I started to use a BC I found it very hard, and I was pretty bad at it, but now that I'm used to it, I can play most stuff in real time, as long as I don't have to think about the keyboard aspect of it. As soon as i have to think about notes, the advantage of using a BC is lost. If I was primarily a woodwind player I might consider using a wind controller, but as I'm not, there would only be disadvantages for me.

My last vague point to make is that the only way to improve is to listen to music and try to analyse why it wounds better than your efforts. Mocking up (what a dreadful phrase) pieces where you have access to the recordings is the best way to learn, if you don't get the opportunity to sit in an orchestra and observe first hand how it all works.

Regarding William's point about sample performances sometimes being better than the "real" thing is a very complex one. In all of this we are talking about recorded music and in this respect the ear is a far more complicated bit of kit than any microphone. Sit in a concert hall, and your ear can easily pick out melodies, counter melodies, poly rhythms etc. Stick up a stereo microphone and you stand to lose an awful lot of this, no matter how good the engineer is. This is one reason why even so called classical recordings often use multi mike set-ups. However, as soon as we have our recorded performance the ability of the ear to understand very complex things in a live situation is lost. Therefore sample based performances are already closer in effect to a recording of the real thing.

One other point that has already been touched on is that unless the orchestra is of the highest quality, a recording, whilst sounding real, is not necessarily better. There is no good reason that pieces that are written for samples should sound better with live players. It may be that the general technical awkwardness won't give the right effect with a live performance. It may be that the rhythmic complexities would be too complicated to give a tight enough performance. there are many reasons. All I would say is that if it sounds good, it is good.

Now to define good......... Geeked

DG

Nuendo 6.03, 4.3
2 x Intel Xeon x5675 3.07GHz Hex Core
48GB RAM
Windows 7 (x64)Pro
RME Multiface II
Intensity
ATI HD5400 series graphics card
Posted on Mon, Feb 15 2010 14:26
by jasensmith
Joined on Tue, Jan 15 2008, Arizona, Posts 1582
William wrote:

 I have had some orchestras play the same pieces that samples were used on,  and the orchestral performances were vastly inferior to samples.  Everybody here seems to think that if their music is performed by a live orchestra it will sound like Bernstein conducting Beethoven's Ninth.  99% of the time it doesn't.  In fact, most of the time live orchestras are disturbing and embarrassing. 

The reason for this is that everyone has adapted to recordings, either on CD or in films.  And if you think you will get that 1% performing quality on most orchestras, you are in for a rude awakening.   

 

Say William (if you're still reading) thank you for posting this as it really opened my eyes on a lot of things and bolstered a theory that I have, or I stole from somebody smarter than me, that sometimes sampled orchestras just sound better than the real thing and vice versa.  You're absolutely right about MIDIstrators, such as myself, thinking that if I could only get a real orchestra to play this it would sound so much better.  It's as if that's the holy grail of MIDIstration.  More often than not, that's not the case so thanks for the reality check and in the back of my mind I kind of knew this to be true.   

And thank you DG for explaining why, in a detailed manner, sampled is sometimes sonically better than the real thing.  To be honest, I'm just an ex-piano teacher and I've never experienced the nuts and bolts of what an orchestra does to make a written score come alive.  Many years ago, I visited Eastern Europe and I watched a performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto #5, which is my favorite Classical piece of all time, and I remembered hearing little nuances and details that I hadn't heard in any of the million times I listened to the piece on cassette and later CD.  I thought that maybe it was because this was a different interpretation of the piece then I was used to hearing but I think you just shed some light on something that I hadn't considered before.  Thanks again to you both.

And thank you Bbesse.  If you hadn't posted this in the first place I wouldn't have learned about this.

 Now, about that duel... Well, I'm a lover not a fighter.  


"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it."
- W.C. Fields
Posted on Mon, Feb 15 2010 18:20
by PaulR
Joined on Mon, Dec 22 2003, England, Posts 2371
DG wrote:

 That's all very well for people like yourself who have some eye to hand coordination, but for us dweebs, we have no chance. 

DG

Hand eye coordination is in everyone Daryl For goodness sake. I spent the day hitting golf balls down the driving range. That's a good way to develop hand eye coordination - not necessarily being a keyboard player.

What I would say in a very vague way too - is I notice in live performance the strings are always much quieter than expected and the stereo spread is a lot narrower than expected. Always catches me out every time. I just can't be bothered with using articulations. I write very minimal pieces and if I use more than 20 tracks I would need to see a doctor.

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