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Question about Jay Bacal's John Williams demos
Last post Wed, Nov 01 2017 by rinky, 9 replies.
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Posted on Sun, Oct 15 2017 17:01
by bollemanneke
Joined on Sun, Oct 15 2017, Belgium, Posts 2

Hello everyone,


Yesterday, someone directed me to a few of the John Williams demos on this website and their outstanding quality really impressed me. I was especially surprised by the welcome presence of MIDI files, which I use to study sheet music. Before continuing, I should mention that I am not a Vienna user myself. Because I am using a screenreader (I am blind), only a limited amount of music-related software is accessible to me, such as MuseScore and QWS. I haven't tried Vienna yet, but given its advanced sossibilities, I am guessing that it will be largely inaccessible to screenreaders.


When I opened the MIDI files of Hedwig's Theme, Adventures on Earth and The Force Awakens, two problems kept occurring:

1. Some tracks contained random notes. Ttese notes would usually play togheter with normal notes and are always in abnormally low registers for the instrument in question. For example: when the first Appasionata Violins play ET's theme in Adventures on Earth in C-sharp at 3:00. Am I right in thinking that these are interpreted by Vienna as effects on the notes they are accompanying? They should definitely not be in the score itself.

2. The software I use also gets confused by what it calls 'pitchbends': throughout the files, D's would suddenly become E's, C's would become D's etc.


So I was wondering: Would someone possibly be able to convert/export this material to normal MIDI files that do not contain the random notes and pitchbends? I would LOVE to study these particular demos as they are the most accurate ones I have ever seen, but don't really know how to make them function normally. I have already tried deleting the pitchbends, but this only complicated matters as my computer now no longer re-adjusts the pitch after having made a few mistakes.


Any help would be deepy appreciated.


Best, Vincent

Posted on Mon, Oct 16 2017 08:54
by Lotias
Joined on Tue, Sep 20 2016, Posts 16

The random notes are likely keyswitches.

Posted on Tue, Oct 17 2017 17:26
by johnstaf
Joined on Thu, Apr 21 2011, EI, Posts 216

It is quite common to use pitch shift to be able to use different samples for doubling. Say you have an E and you want to double it. If you play a D and shift it up a tone, you will hear an E, but the sample used will be different from the one used for a normal E.

Cubase (OS agnostic). Various VSL bits and pieces.

Posted on Tue, Oct 17 2017 17:30
by JBacal
Joined on Sat, Mar 27 2004, Posts 1206

Hi Vincent,

Yes, the "Random" notes are keyswitches that signal the Vienna Instruments player to change the articulations of the instruments.

The "Pitchbend" notes are notes that have been transposed up a whole step and then pitchbended down a whole step to the original pitch.  This was done when doubling a melody with the same instrument in order to avoid phasing issues.

The midi files in the VSL "tutorials" were designed to work with VSL samples and software.  They were never intended to be played on their own.

If you google the John Williams pieces you can probably find General MIDI versions of these pieces that will play properly as standalone midi files.

Best wishes,


Posted on Tue, Oct 17 2017 17:45
by bollemanneke
Joined on Sun, Oct 15 2017, Belgium, Posts 2

Thank you for the replies. I have searched for standalone MIDI files, but The Force Awakens is definitely nowhere to be found. The ET cue and Hedwig's Theme do exist, but omit instruments.


Can I download VSL software and turn these files into playable material, or is that impossible?

Posted on Tue, Oct 17 2017 18:56
by JBacal
Joined on Sat, Mar 27 2004, Posts 1206

I don't believe so.

Your best bet is to open the midi file in your daw and delete the keyswitch notes which are usually in the lower octaves.

You could then delete all pitchbend data and then move the transposed notes down a whole step.  Or you could simply delete these notes as they double existing notes.

I'm sorry but I'm not aware of any "one button" conversion process.

Best wishes,


Posted on Wed, Nov 01 2017 17:07
by rinky
Joined on Mon, Oct 17 2005, Posts 54

Yes, I've searched VSL's forum with the keywords but cannot locate the afformentioned MIDI files. I would love to learn from Mr. Bacal's exceptional demos. Can someone provide me the link (or PM me)? Will appreciate it a ton!

Thanks, Jay for making them available. Much respect!


Posted on Wed, Nov 01 2017 17:11
by Paul
Joined on Sat, Aug 03 2002, Vienna, Posts 12393

Hi rinky, 

Check out the MUSIC section, choose John Williams as composer and Jay Bacal as arranger, then click on the song you'd like to hear... most of them have a Tutorial file. 



Paul Kopf
Product Manager - Vienna Symphonic Library
Posted on Wed, Nov 01 2017 17:38
by rinky
Joined on Mon, Oct 17 2005, Posts 54

Incredible! Thanks for the info, Paul.

Looking forward to (preordered) Synchron Strings 1!!

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