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Live performance vs. VSL performance of piano quartet
Last post Sat, Aug 03 2019 by William, 30 replies.
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Posted on Mon, Oct 17 2016 16:33
by Acclarion
Joined on Sat, Aug 15 2015, Canada, Eh!, Posts 472

UPDATE:  A couple of years ago, I posted this piece, which is not as well-rendered as I would have liked, owing to my lack of experience and skill at the time (some would say, still!)  In any case, for those that first heard the VSL version, you may be interested in checking out the youtube link below for a live read-through of the piece.  Feel free to read the detailed description on the youtube video, and subscribe to my channel, as it would be greatly appreciated.

The Promised Land Live Performance

The Promised Land VSL Version

The promised land flows with milk and honey.  There is a yearning to reach it, but this gift comes at a cost.  It is an epic journey filled with trial and tribulation, but the weary travellers carry with them a jubilant spirit full of optimism and hope.

Thanks,

David Carovillano

www.dearvillainmusic.com - music for live performance by David Carovillano

www.acclarion.ca - concert accordion & clarinet duo
Posted on Sun, Oct 23 2016 15:45
by Jos Wylin
Joined on Mon, Dec 03 2012, Flanders, Belgium, Posts 579

Hi David,

I must say that I'm very fond of the piano part, but for some reason (and I'm problably not the right person with the right knowledge and technical baggage to tell) the strings don't sound very realistic to me. Is it due to the choice of articuations, to the playing techniques, to the rendition? I don't know. 

The whole piece is a fine composition with lots of performance possibilities, but the presentation here doens't honour the role of the strings (in my opinion) and is therfore not convincing enough. Maybe you should experiment more with the countless number of detailed articulations offered by VSL. I know, this is tiring and very demanding, but finally the effort is rewarding.

I hope I didn't offend you by telling my opnion and as I said, I'm far from being a specialist in VSL matters. Most certainly you will have your own ideas and reasons for the interpretation and they are at least equally valuable.

Thank you for sharing,

Max

http://www.joswyl.be
compositions and sampling exercises
Posted on Mon, Oct 24 2016 20:03
by Acclarion
Joined on Sat, Aug 15 2015, Canada, Eh!, Posts 472

Hi Max,

So glad you like the piece.  This is Becky (David's other half) - I usually do the midi mock-ups for David (like "Chasing Brilliance") but we were in a rush with this one to get it ready for a competition so he did it instead. David played in all the solo piano parts and then spent a long time adjusting velocities, sustain pedalling, quantizing runs with a random swing for the rest of the piano parts which were imported into our DAW from Finale.

Funny you should mention the unrealistic strings because after the rendition was done, I noticed David had the velocity cross-fade on the entire time, matching the expression curve which was creating double dynamics. It makes for a highly expressive and emotional performance but the strings almost sound amplified like electric violins and are not very realistic.  But I admit that since we only have the basic articulations for the solo strings, the velocity crossfade does help to sometimes create a progressive vibrato as it moves from one layer to the next - this will have to suffice until we upgrade our library. :)

Matching the velxfade and expression is how we used to do the mock-ups before I learned how to turn the velocity cross-fade on and off.  Now I only turn it on for crescendi/decrescendi or expressive timbre changes or to smooth out a line, always listening closely to see if it starts to sound unnaturally amplified.  It also gives me a better control over knowing exactly what velocity layer I'm using at all times. Once I discovered this work flow, I re-did his Classical Follies for String Orchestra, his first string quartet, and used this method this Chasing Brilliance and Fantasia. We had no time to rework this one but hope that the performers who are judging the competition will be excited by the depth of expression in the midi mock-up enough to want to perform it and then prove they can do a better job! :)

All the best!
Becky (and David)

www.dearvillainmusic.com - music for live performance by David Carovillano

www.acclarion.ca - concert accordion & clarinet duo
Posted on Sat, Oct 29 2016 03:36
by agitato
Joined on Mon, Jun 22 2015, Posts 337

This is quite a nice composition. I liked it a lot.

It is not eay to write for piano, let alone piano and strings and you seemed to have accomplished the tough task of keeping the harmony and form interesting, and at a mature level.  Congrats to both of you.

But I agree with Max that the rendition of the strings does not do justice to the piece. 

 

Please do post this if you have a live recording of this. Would love to hear it.

Anand

Anand Kumar
Posted on Sat, Oct 29 2016 15:27
by Jos Wylin
Joined on Mon, Dec 03 2012, Flanders, Belgium, Posts 579

Hi Becky and David,

I agree with Anand, this is a fine composition and will definitely find a place in the competition. A mock-up is only a helping means, the score is for the jury the ultimate tool to judge upon. A composition stands with the real music, not with a technical representation and so it should/must be. (Composers write music, they are not technicians in most cases). David is very lucky to have Becky at his side: thus he can concentrate on the essence itself, wheras his lovely wife does the sacrifice of the meticulous work of sampling... I envy him a lot!

Thank you both again for the nice and inspiring work!

Max

http://www.joswyl.be
compositions and sampling exercises
Posted on Sat, Oct 29 2016 16:54
by Acclarion
Joined on Sat, Aug 15 2015, Canada, Eh!, Posts 472

Thanks Max and Anand for your comments!

This morning, I went back and re-did a short few bars of the strings without "riding" the velocity crossfade and adjusting the articulations slightly.   It's probably not a long enough excerpt to judge if the articulations are more realistic but I am interested in your feeback since neither Dave nor I are string players.  I'm curious which timbre you prefer as a string player and also imagining as an average listener which performance would grasp you more in terms of emotional gesture (if you can get that from this super short excerpt).

We have loads more music to work on so your feedback will help us have a better idea of direction to pursue in terms of timbre and workflow. 

Here's the link - each sample is 10 seconds long:

http://www.acclarion.ca/mp3/thepromisedlandxfadecomparison.mp3 
 
Thanks,
Becky & David

 
www.dearvillainmusic.com - music for live performance by David Carovillano

www.acclarion.ca - concert accordion & clarinet duo
Posted on Fri, Nov 04 2016 16:51
by Jos Wylin
Joined on Mon, Dec 03 2012, Flanders, Belgium, Posts 579

Hi David,

Sorry for the delay, but we had lots of other things to do here at home.

The link to the extract seems not to work.. So I can't listen. I'll get back later.

All the best,

Max

http://www.joswyl.be
compositions and sampling exercises
Posted on Fri, Nov 04 2016 17:39
by Acclarion
Joined on Sat, Aug 15 2015, Canada, Eh!, Posts 472

Sorry about that - the link should work now.

- Becky

http://www.acclarion.ca/mp3/thepromisedlandxfadecomparison.mp3 

www.dearvillainmusic.com - music for live performance by David Carovillano

www.acclarion.ca - concert accordion & clarinet duo
Posted on Mon, Jun 24 2019 16:18
by Acclarion
Joined on Sat, Aug 15 2015, Canada, Eh!, Posts 472

Had to post to bump this 3 year old thread back up :)

www.dearvillainmusic.com - music for live performance by David Carovillano

www.acclarion.ca - concert accordion & clarinet duo
Posted on Sat, Jun 29 2019 05:16
by jasensmith
Joined on Tue, Jan 15 2008, Arizona, Posts 1501

Hey Dave, (or Becky?)
Long time no hear:-(
Has this piece been rerendered since 2016?  because i'm going to respectfully disagree with Jos and Anand. i think the piece is fine just the way it is.  There are a few minor inconsistencies here and there but they are too few to be noticed in a ten minute performance.

On the other hand, maybe my ears are not as astute and educated as Jos and Anand's ears. i'm sure you have discovered that the more intimate the venue the more difficult it is to convince the listener.  You can't just lather it all up in more reverb after all.

Also, I think I like the VSL version better than the live but, to be fair, it sounds as though the live version was hastily recorded with a single mic placed center stage.

As for the piece itself well it's like "milk and honey" flowing into my ears. In short, it's very David Carovillanoesque. It's like a travel diary expressed through music describing the excitement, discovery and fear that's associated with traveling a great distance along a long and precarious path.

Thank you for reposting and i'm glad to see you still keep an eye on the forum. 


>


"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, Jun 29 2019 05:23
by jasensmith
Joined on Tue, Jan 15 2008, Arizona, Posts 1501

(Deleted)


"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, Jul 01 2019 12:48
by Acclarion
Joined on Sat, Aug 15 2015, Canada, Eh!, Posts 472

Hi Jasen,

It's Dave here.  Becky long ago stopped following the forum when she was tired of watching "Men Behaving Badly." I share comments with her, but they're filtered first. lol  I took a break from the forum because I was discouraged by some of the negativitity and stopped writing for a while.  

Thank you for listening and commenting.  The Promised Land wasn't re-done, although I always intended to get back to it at some point.  The main thing I'd like to change is the level of velocity crossfading that started to make the strings sound a little "electrified".  I was going for intensity and may have overdone it.  I work a lot in the chamber music realm and while orchestral pieces take a lot of work/long time to render due to the sheer number of parts, I agree that smaller ensembles take a lot more work getting the details right, as everything is exposed.  

I appreciate the "Carovillanoesque" comment and chuckled at that.  My name doesn't roll off the tongue so easily, so marketing will be difficult :) lol

Thanks, again, Jasen!  I always appreciate the energy you devote to encouraging your fellow musicians by writing such thoughtful comments.

All the best,

Dave

www.dearvillainmusic.com - music for live performance by David Carovillano

www.acclarion.ca - concert accordion & clarinet duo
Posted on Tue, Jul 09 2019 13:35
by Paul McGraw
Joined on Mon, Feb 29 2016, Georgia, USA, Posts 401

Interesting piece. I listened to both the live musicians and the VSL version. Once again, I found myself enjoying the sampled version more than the live version. I know that should not be, but what can I say, the sampled performance is just better. The piece has many difficult and challenging passage, so perhaps I would feel differently if it was an easier piece to perform.

Still, it is always a thrill to get a live performance, and I congratulate you! 

I am sorry to hear that you felt the need to leave this forum for a sabbatical of sorts. While it is difficult at times to deal with negativity, it is something with which all artists (and performers) must cope. If someone always gives me positive comments, without even a hint of negativity, then I know that person is not being honest with me, since I know I am far from perfect. Personally, I would prefer honesty, or at least enough honesty so that I can believe the positive comments.

Posted on Tue, Jul 09 2019 19:39
by Acclarion
Joined on Sat, Aug 15 2015, Canada, Eh!, Posts 472

Hi Paul,

Thanks for listening to both versions and offering your always honest opinions.  I value your input and as I've said in the past, I agree with you that criticism can be helpful and necessary.  My feelings toward the forum were based on a very select few knowledgeable, albeit very mean-spirited individuals that regularly incited negativity toward an otherwise overwhlemingly positive/productive group of composers.  In any case, they appear to have moved on, and I am rejuvenated and re-inspired to create and share music, so all's good here :)

About your preference for the VSL version vs. the live version, I'd at least like to offer a couple of caveats.  First, the live musicians were doing a first read-through together (having only looked at the score individually for a week or so prior), and also had never played together prior.  Second, as Jasen mentioned, the recording was done with a single Zoom handy-cam recorder, with a single XY stero mic capturing the rehearsal.  Compared to the pristine VSL samples and the complete control of the end product we are fortunate to have in our digital world, it's not surprising that the overall aesthetic might be better with samples.  For me, personally, I was quite pleased with the live experience, honestly, expecting a less tight performance (the video was caught at the end of the 2 hour rehearsal).  

I was thinking about how both you and Jasen prefered the VSL version, and where that leaves us as composers seeking live performances.  If we can attain a higher quality performance through samples than the "average" live performance, what incentive is there to work relentlessly to seek out musicians and organize concerts, etc.?  One person connected with this project I'm working on said, "even if you have great digital performances, what are you going to do, sit an audience in a room to stare at speakers for 90 minutes while you play your digital masterpieces?"  It was an honest question, and sadly, one that left me with a few philosophical musings:

As composers, we already know that nobody cares more about our music that we do ourselves.  If we are willing to devote the time necessary to improving our skills, it is likely that our virtual orchestrations will technically trump virtually any live performance, save for those high level musicians/ensembles that are relentless in their preparation.  Knowing this, however, still leaves that empty void that comes from the inability to share that music with a live audience.  However, as has been my experience with a few recent live performances of pieces that I had already realized using Vienna instruments, those live performances were so woefully inadequate that I had almost wished I could pull out a CD of my virtual compositions to let the audience hear what the pieces were supposed to sound like.  I have many more things I'd like to discuss, but I'll stop here for now.

What are your thoughts on this?

Dave

p.s. I listened to your Summer Symphony a while back, and while I didn't comment on the forum at the time, I definitely wanted to let you know that it was a wonderful work that you should be very proud of!

www.dearvillainmusic.com - music for live performance by David Carovillano

www.acclarion.ca - concert accordion & clarinet duo
Posted on Tue, Jul 09 2019 23:46
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5385

I was also hoping Dave continued putting things on here as they are so good, also his ideas are very valuable.  

What that musician said is a good point asking what are you going to do - just sit and listen to a digital recording?  But I think the answer is of course not, the digital performance is part of the musical process just like a print-out of the score is, and hopefully a live performance followed by others if the piece is good enough to interest people.  One thing that is definitely a huge positive about digital performance is how the musical ideas can be heard clearly and expressively immediately after they are composed. That was never possible in the past.   People are getting more and more jaded and forget how amazing it is, compared to the past when even a great piece of music would often be literally unheard in any way for years, or longer.  For example Schubert's C Major symphony, one of the greatest symphonies of all time, sat unplayed in a drawer for almost a hundred years.     

Posted on Thu, Jul 11 2019 01:52
by Paul McGraw
Joined on Mon, Feb 29 2016, Georgia, USA, Posts 401

Hi Dave,

For better or worse, I would still prefer to get a live performance. But I also give thanks that we have excellent sample technology also.

For many years I did custom arrangements for my church. We were a medium size church and always had unusual instrument combinations. For example, for several years we had an outstanding flute player, mediocre viola, my son playing first trumpet (moderately good) a beginner second trumpet, and myself playing the trombone (I was pretty good, with a very wide range and silky smooth legato). Creating an arrangement that worked for everyone was a challenge, but also a joy because my work was performed in front of 800 people every single week. But the music director would never use anything of mine that was original. He wanted arrangements of old hymns, or of the praise songs currently on Christian radio. 

Anyway, one interesting thing is that the flute, and my son, kept getting better, but the viola and the second trumpet never seemed to improve. 

There is nothing like the feeling of a live performance. So my answer is to keep trying to get live performances. You can tip the scales in your favor by trying as much as possible to make your music less challenging for the performers. Musicians know when something is beyond them and they just sort of shut down and go through the motions. Don't push them too hard and they will be more likely to become invested in the music.

Cheers,

Paul

Posted on Fri, Jul 12 2019 12:22
by Acclarion
Joined on Sat, Aug 15 2015, Canada, Eh!, Posts 472

Thanks, William, for the kind words.  I'm happy to be part of the forum and the always interesting discussions.

You make a great point on how lucky we are to have the tools at our disposal to realize authentic performances of our music immediately after writing it.  Further, in spite of the fact that most trained musicians should be able to hear a piece in their heads from examining a score, much like many other skills that have dissipated with time due to the advent of new technology, I find that the virtual performances (in conjunction with the score) get musicians far more excited than simply imagining what it might sound like.  Of course, there's also a fine line that must be walked in terms of the midi production:  too rudimentary (as in, old school, plunky general midi sounds with no musical shaping at all) and those musicians are immediately turned off and won't even attempt to imagine how the music might sound performed live...too good (as in your productions, William) and many musicians might be intimidated to perform the music, feeling like they won't be able to outdo what they heard.  

Paul, thank you also for sharing your experiences with church music arrangements.  There were a couple of telling points there, especially how the music director wouldn't program any of your original music, favouring instead, known arrangements.  This is literally everyone's story when trying to get their own creative work heard.  You'll find endless advice on how to market your original work by first doing covers/arrangements.  Heck, I know it first hand as well...from several of my Acclarion duo's CDs, the works that bring in all the royalties for me are my arrangements of "That's Amore", "Flight of the Funky Bee", "Nessun Dorma" and several others.  I think, by definition, a living composer's music cannot possibly be accepted until after death, as William even mentioned with the Schubert Symphony.  :)

One final point you made that was quite thought-provoking:  writing music that's easily executable by musicians.  There is definitely merit to that, although, I think that the desire to be challenged technically with difficult music (that is still idiomatic/playable, but nonetheless has a high degree of difficulty) lies in the individual performer's personality/skill.  As a performer, I often enjoyed music that at first, appeared beyond my technical abilities, but because I enjoyed the sound of it, and because I could sense the composer had attempted to write idiomatically for my instrument, I learned it.  Other times, I would be presented pieces that I just knew the composer had little/no understanding of the idiosyncracies of the accordion and would write passages so nonsensical that I tuned out/went through the motions, as you mentioned.

Composers need to find the balance between writing notes that fulfill the goals of the music, without the need for excess.  If the piece is meant to be a display of technical prowess and wizardry, so be it.  If the piece needs blazing 32nd note passages with intervalic leaps that leave the performer feeling like they'll fall flat on their face, so be it...as long as the composer realizes they'll limit their pool of potential performers.  That said, one thing I've always been personally against, is the over-reliance on polyrhythms that not even a mathematician could solve.  I've played new music where the composer was writing endless 9 against 16, 32nd note sextuplets with rests on the 4th and 6th tuplet, a 3 minute piece with 42 time signature changes, ties that floated over bar lines and landed on a dotted 64th note...you know, stuff that looks like you took a sequenced performance, didn't quantize it, and exported the midi data to a score file :)

Cheers,

Dave

www.dearvillainmusic.com - music for live performance by David Carovillano

www.acclarion.ca - concert accordion & clarinet duo
Posted on Sat, Jul 13 2019 02:52
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5385

This post by Dave is  so interesting concerning musical ideas.  This is dangerous - you should not encourage me.    I agree with Paul about things needing to be playable but also with Dave.  I was recently thinking some things about the greatest composers -  Bach, Haydn, Mozart specifically, though there are others - these composers have three things that you must have if you want to be as good as they are:

1 Genius

2 Utility

3 Productivity

In other words, they had great ideas, their ideas were usable by anyone, and they had a huge output.  Many people have one or two, but very few all three.  

What I mean by "huge  output"  can be seen with "Complete Bach Edition" or "Complete Haydn Edition" or "Complete Mozart Edition"  anywhere. It is mind-boggling to consider how much music was done by them on that level. 

Posted on Sat, Jul 13 2019 10:33
by jasensmith
Joined on Tue, Jan 15 2008, Arizona, Posts 1501

I went away for a while but was pleasantly surprised to see what an interesting discussion this has evolved into.

Originally Posted by: Acclarion Go to Quoted Post

I was thinking about how both you and Jasen prefered the VSL version, and where that leaves us as composers seeking live performances.  If we can attain a higher quality performance through samples than the "average" live performance, what incentive is there to work relentlessly to seek out musicians and organize concerts, etc.?  One person connected with this project I'm working on said, "even if you have great digital performances, what are you going to do, sit an audience in a room to stare at speakers for 90 minutes while you play your digital masterpieces?"  It was an honest question, and sadly, one that left me with a few philosophical musings:

I did enjoy the sampled version but probably would have enjoyed watching the live performance even more.  My comment was more about the recording and not the performance itself.  The players were very talented skillful and performed the piece competently.  Even the guy turning pages for the pianist was good.  I mean have you ever seen pages being turned with so much expressiveness and depth of feeling? 

If ever given the choice between listening to a master recording of a Classical work or watching it performed live by a professional orchestra, well that's a no brainer, I would definately watch the performance live.  However, I must admit that technical ability with an instrument doesn't impress me nearly as much as the ability to compose a piece of music that touches me in some way or leaves an emotional impression on me. 

I have a friend who is a huge YoYo Ma fan and, one day, he was going on and on about how great Yo Yo Ma was and just for grins and giggles I asked him "How much would you pay to watch Yo Yo Ma play scales? Just an evening with Yo Yo Ma and the Major and Minor scales.  How much."

He thought about it then said, "However much he wanted because those would be the best damn scales I've ever heard."  Now, don't get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for Yo Yo Ma and other musicians as technically skilled as he is but I think he would have to pay me to come in and watch him play scales.  I guess some people just like watching a skilled performer up on stage working his or her magic.  It's just not the same as listening to a recording of Yo Yo Ma you have to see him live like sports fans who'll fly all the way across the country/world to watch their favorite player.  I'd rather just watch it on TV.

There was a similar thread like this some years back and I think it was Errikos who said something to the effect of one nice thing about having your music performed live as opposed to programming is that sometimes the players will surprise you with their handling of your music.  Much like a screenwriter or playwrite is surprised when an actor performs a part he wrote in a completely different, but better, way than the writer imagined.  So you could find yourself pleasantly surprised with not only players but with arrangers too.  Somebody could take your music and shine an entrely different light on the piece making it better than you imagined.  So that's possible but not 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, Jul 13 2019 15:13
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5385

Those are some good points - what it boils down to is the interest or perspective of the audience.  Are they interested in seeing their favorite  performers do their thing, or are they interested in the musical ideas of the composer?  Obviously both, but sometimes I think it is almost entirely  focused on the performers.  The person who wants to watch Yo yo ma play scales is involved in hero-worship, not music.

But without wanting to be contrary I have to add that it has never happened to me that a live performance was better than I imagined the music, or surprised me.  I suppose that happens with a truly great orchestra (?) or having some big shot soloist play your music,  but I think the real situation is more that maybe the players can go so far as to reproduce - maybe - what the composer imagined.  On the other hand, out of tune playing or wrong notes or lack of expression have happened a lot and then the live performance DOES surprise me  -  disturbingly.  

And what you said about it being impossible for samples to surprise one - no, it has happened to me repeatedly.  In fact, what is hilarious is I had written off a number of pieces in my mind because I heard them played live and not very well.  I had concluded, well that piece isn't so great...  But when I later did a sample performance of it, I was not only surprised but SHOCKED - it was actually not bad at all!  and I heard the ideas I had imagined coming back at me instead of getting lost in the bad live version.  So that does happen with samples at least to me.  

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