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Composing in Score and MIDI Orchestration
Last post Tue, Jan 09 2018 by mh-7635, 17 replies.
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Posted on Sun, Dec 17 2017 00:04
by daniellumertz
Joined on Wed, Apr 19 2017, Posts 10

  Hello I'm new Here and i'm trying to create some good Workflow for my composition and i have a LOT of doubts so if you can tell me what you think about this topics maybe it will help-me....

1So I use finale for compose ( I really like of composing in a Score ), but automate things in finale is very very very hard, the midi tool there is not really flexible, and you have to create a lot of expression to do automation there and that consume a lot of time that i dont like to spend when i'm focus on the composing process. I would like to know the workflow that the people normally here use ( I imagine that is a lot of ways that people compose and make mockup of it here and i'm would like to try some new paths for composing and mockup hehehhe ) .  

2When the composition is ready from Finale/ Sibelius do you just export the midi to your DAW and work the midi there, or is best make midi records of every intrument of the music to it sound more human?

3 Do you know any book/ tutorials/ video/ about virtual Orchestration soo i could Search?

Srry my english.
Someone Speack Portuguese here? 

Posted on Sun, Dec 17 2017 10:59
by jasensmith
Joined on Tue, Jan 15 2008, Arizona, Posts 1361

Originally Posted by: daniellumertz Go to Quoted Post

 1So I use finale for compose ( I really like of composing in a Score ), but automate things in finale is very very very hard, the midi tool there is not really flexible, and you have to create a lot of expression to do automation there and that consume a lot of time that i dont like to spend when i'm focus on the composing process. I would like to know the workflow that the people normally here use ( I imagine that is a lot of ways that people compose and make mockup of it here and i'm would like to try some new paths for composing and mockup hehehhe ) . 

I use finale too but I rarely ever need a written copy of the score anymore.  Sometimes I'll write out a piano arrangement but even that would mostly be for my own personal use if I particularly like the score.  Some users would never think of parting with their notation software so maybe one of them can chime in here.

Originally Posted by: daniellumertz Go to Quoted Post

2When the composition is ready from Finale/ Sibelius do you just export the midi to your DAW and work the midi there, or is best make midi records of every intrument of the music to it sound more human?

Yes.  In fact, I mostly just write in the DAW nowadays (see my answer to Q1).  It saves time.

Originally Posted by: daniellumertz Go to Quoted Post


3 Do you know any book/ tutorials/ video/ about virtual Orchestration soo i could Search?

You can find many books if you search but the problem is things change so fast in the virtual orchestration world that every time a new book is printed it's usually obsolete before the ink dries.  Just watch the tutorial videos here on the VSL site along with Youtube, and post questions here in the forum.  Some users offer lessons but you have to pay for them.

And while you're at it you might as well be looking up books and videos about the basics of mixing and mastering your tracks because this is becoming more and more of a one stop shop nowadays just for time sake.  Unless of course you have the money and time to pay somebody else to do that stuff for you. 


"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, Dec 17 2017 12:38
by fahl5
Joined on Fri, Feb 04 2005, Hall One, Posts 899

Originally Posted by: daniellumertz Go to Quoted Post

2When the composition is ready from Finale/ Sibelius do you just export the midi to your DAW and work the midi there, or is best make midi records of every intrument of the music to it sound more human?

Yes I usuall export the "raw" mididata from my notation programm and work with it in my DAW .

IMHO it is definitly not at all "the best" to play "every instrument" seperatly to make "the music to sound more human". "Human" is often also in a musical not very reasonable way incorret. In short not everything what is not perfect is already musically appealing as being more "human".

No to make music speak  to the heart, you first must think it the way you would be touched by it and than use all your technical abulities to reach exactly that imagination. In this respect the Controlerchannels of a miditrack allow much more precision to realise your expressive intentions than your finger allow you to input in any midikeyboard. I know that the opinions might be different in this aspect, but this is simply how I do think about.

Dont remain a perpetual nagging 2-minutes-Demo-"wanna be artist".
Better let us hear what you and good Samplelibraries like VSL are realy able to:

http://klassik-resampled.de ...more than 3400 mp3 with 161 hours of sample based interpretations of complete Scores from 7 Centuries

You want to know how Synchron Strings could sound in real music?
http://resampled.de/synchron
...40 mp3 with more than three hours of complete and ambitious scores from 19th and 20th century produced with Synchron Strings.
Posted on Mon, Dec 18 2017 02:11
by jasensmith
Joined on Tue, Jan 15 2008, Arizona, Posts 1361

I agree with Fahl,

There was a time when we were told if you wanted a natural sounding legato performance you had to play the part sloppy.  In my experience, playing sloppy doesn't make a performance sound natural it just makes the performance sound SLOPPY!

If we're talking about an orchestral performance there are tricks you can use within your DAW like varying the tempo at parts where human players would naturally slow down or speed up usually at the end or beginning of a phrase.

Also, VSL makes the VI Pro player which has humanization, time offset, and time stretch features which make subtle changes to things like tuning, attack variations, start notes, and speeding or slowing things like vibrato glisandos etc.  


"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 Wed, Jan 03 2018 01:47
by winknotes_282
Joined on Mon, Dec 23 2002, Posts 188

I too compose in Finale exclusively at this point.  I have taken the time to create some Human Playback expressions and use the dump library provided by the folks at Vienna.  I used to think what's the difference between spending hours in a DAW manipulating individual notes and phrases by adding controller data, etc and dong it in Finale.  And to some extent I still think this is true. 

However I've started entertaining the idea of buying a breath controller (TEControl) and playng all the parts in once I'm satisfied with the composition.  I've not heard more expressive realistic performances than what people get with those controllers.  The part that always frustrates me about using a notation software AND a DAW is if you decide to change something you have to touch it twice.  But I suppose there's no way around it.  

The other consideration is why you're writing and what you're writing for.  If you're writing with hopes of a live performance then of course you have to produce a nicely engraved score and parts.  Otherwise you could consider not using notation software at all.  

Steve
Windows 7 Pro 64-bit
Finale 2011, 2012c
VSL SE
Posted on Wed, Jan 03 2018 01:59
by Errikos
Joined on Tue, Jun 12 2007, Posts 1012

If you finish sophisticated orchestral music on a notation program it would take weeks to perform it 'properly', 'humanly' for every instrument in a DAW. It is far more efficient to copy the MIDI from notation and paste it in the DAW and work with automation, and perhaps use keyboard playing and breath controller on a few solos, if you think it's necesary. Since my strength is composition and not programming I can tell you that I did buy the 'books', read them from start to finish and lamented spending the money and time.

Video tutorials are great (especially for pathologically lazy arses, such as myself), but the best thing you can do is find an excuse (a commission?) to take your orchestral MIDI to a pro, pay, and sit-with-them and observe as they work on your piece, ask questions (not constantly) and learn. I did that and improved my skills 20-times over what a video could do for me and -let's face it- there are NO videos out there for serious, convincing orchestral renditions in a DAW environment, only some puerile 'Epic' tracks for deluded hopefuls.

If you can't notate/MIDI it yourself, it's NOT your music!

In these modern days to be vulgar, illiterate, common and vicious, seems to give a man a marvelous infinity of rights that his honest fathers never dreamed of. - Oscar Wilde
Posted on Sun, Jan 07 2018 01:15
by winknotes_282
Joined on Mon, Dec 23 2002, Posts 188

Too funny Erikos.  You and I sound similar in many ways.  Thanks for your advise and probably saving me from more frustration and wasted time and money.  

I've also read a couple of things recently where people are linking their notation software with DAW via midi time code or rewire but I haven't come to terms with whether that would help or just be an unecessary complication.  I suppose the idea would be to handle all the fine tuning CC data in the DAW while just composing in notation but kind of at the same time?  It might take care of the problem of making corrections in the notation and having to realize those corrections in the performance.  

Steve
Windows 7 Pro 64-bit
Finale 2011, 2012c
VSL SE
Posted on Sun, Jan 07 2018 04:57
by Xiaodong Li
Joined on Sat, May 28 2011, Posts 9
It is very interesting to see that every composer has his own workflow. I actually did it the opposite way. Used to compose only in DAW, and nowadays I've found myself compose in Sibelius more frequently. The best things about composing in a notation software are, first you don't need to notate it again when live recording is needed, reverse engineering can be really painful even it's your own composition. Second, I feel that my orchestration does get better with notation softwares, because you can easily visualize everything in terms of articulation and voicing etc. Third, it helps me just focusing on the music itself rather than get distracted by reverb, eq, compression and so on.

But it also depends on the project. If it's a 2 mins long typical trailer/epic track, I'll just load all my plugins and record some heavy brassy/synth/percussion sound and rock it. :)
Posted on Sun, Jan 07 2018 11:03
by jasensmith
Joined on Tue, Jan 15 2008, Arizona, Posts 1361

Originally Posted by: Xiaodong Li Go to Quoted Post
It is very interesting to see that every composer has his own workflow. I actually did it the opposite way. Used to compose only in DAW, and nowadays I've found myself compose in Sibelius more frequently

 

That's why there isn't a step by step process of how to MIDIstrate with VSL.  It gets irritating when frustrated newcomers to this world come on the forum and start screaming about how there is no step by step process on how to use VSL libraries.  They claim to have attended conservatory and be very computer literate, blah blah blah. ... and VSL is the most unprofessional company blah blah blah ... And I don't think I should have to pay somebody for lessons on how to use blah blah blah.  They want something like:

Step 1:  Turn on Computer

Step 2:  Find the Finale icon on your desktop

Step 3:  Doubleclick the aforementioned Finale icon.

Step 4:  Open- Ooops! what if I use Sibelius?  Logic? Sonar?  So by step 2 you're already screwed.

 

Originally Posted by: Xiaodong Li Go to Quoted Post
The best things about composing in a notation software are, first you don't need to notate it again when live recording is needed, reverse engineering can be really painful even it's your own composition. Second, I feel that my orchestration does get better with notation softwares, because you can easily visualize everything in terms of articulation and voicing etc. Third, it helps me just focusing on the music itself rather than get distracted by reverb, eq, compression and so on.

You know I do miss the things here that you mentioned and there is really nothing like having a paper score in your hand.  However, I've found that having that score in your hand is a bit of a handicap or a crutch.  I find myself just relying more and more on what I hear in my head and playing it all out.


"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, Jan 07 2018 14:43
by Xiaodong Li
Joined on Sat, May 28 2011, Posts 9

Thanks for your reply Jasen.

I can tolally imagine what you said. Well I guess people who think conservatory or any school can teach them everything will never ever be real composers. It's all about self study, reading, writing, re-writing, mock-up, mixing, and so on, there are just endless things we need to learn and improve.

As for score vs piano roll, I think it's more about what stage you are in. I have some extremely talented composer friends, they work the same way as you do because you guys have that super good inner ear, so you can just put exactly what you want in the DAW. I do have inner ear too, but when it comes to more complicated texture or counterpoint, I began to loose that ability to make that sound clear in my head. Maybe later, when I am more experienced, I will go back to composing complicated stuff in a DAW. :)

Posted on Sun, Jan 07 2018 17:44
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5128

In the past there was no "humanize" feature in MIDI software/hardware and so it was essential to play "sloppy."  I remember hearing totally artificial sounding mechanically perfect MIDI performances that instantly screamed "FAKE!"  But now, with VI humanize features, playing "sloppy" is no longer necessary which is a good thing because if you are trying to go the other way around, and get a notated score out of a non-quantized MIDI file, it can be a nightmare to get it accurate enough for notation.  Even a good quantizing utility will often create ties to 128th notes over the bar, complex septuplets within septuplets, etc.  

Posted on Sun, Jan 07 2018 23:15
by Paul McGraw
Joined on Mon, Feb 29 2016, Georgia, USA, Posts 345

Originally Posted by: William Go to Quoted Post

In the past there was no "humanize" feature in MIDI software/hardware and so it was essential to play "sloppy."  I remember hearing totally artificial sounding mechanically perfect MIDI performances that instantly screamed "FAKE!"  But now, with VI humanize features, playing "sloppy" is no longer necessary which is a good thing because if you are trying to go the other way around, and get a notated score out of a non-quantized MIDI file, it can be a nightmare to get it accurate enough for notation.  Even a good quantizing utility will often create ties to 128th notes over the bar, complex septuplets within septuplets, etc.  

I agree William. I have tried to create notation from some DAW produced MIDI and it was a nightmare. 

Posted on Mon, Jan 08 2018 18:08
by Errikos
Joined on Tue, Jun 12 2007, Posts 1012

I wish to clarify that composers who (can) literally write music, and therefore use notation software, are by no means more talented than those who don't/can't. 

However those that can -and I refer to those that can write a fully orchestrated score, not just a melody and accompaniment on a couple of staves- I would say they invariably do (unless a contract is very rushed and the music simple enough, say 'Epic' for example). The reason is that these composers are invariably better schooled (either institutionally or privately), and they can put on paper exactly what they want, in detail that one cannot achieve in a DAW easily. The person that does not notate can be talented but is slave to the available sampled instruments and articulations on their computer, as well as their MIDI and programming skills (which have little to do with the actual orchestral music). To drive the point home, in the 'serious' music world there are many composers who still do not use computers, and instead handwrite everything because computer notation has not yet become sophisticated enough to accommodate modern music's notational requirements without major workarounds. Also you know what? A lot of these people can notate complex orchestral scores without needing 'Playback' to test their intentions.

They in fact can write music for the concert hall, across genres, so they are not limited by a style of music that is achievable by software particularly tailored for this purpose. They use polyphony instead of building 'layers', etc...

These people are not superhuman or hugely talented necessarily. All they did was spend a couple of decades developing these considerable skills. 

If you can't notate/MIDI it yourself, it's NOT your music!

In these modern days to be vulgar, illiterate, common and vicious, seems to give a man a marvelous infinity of rights that his honest fathers never dreamed of. - Oscar Wilde
Posted on Mon, Jan 08 2018 18:28
by Jos Wylin
Joined on Mon, Dec 03 2012, Flanders, Belgium, Posts 558

Hi Errikos,

I couldn't agree more. For decades I've made arrangements and small compositions without any instrument at all. The most striking example was that I wrote all the songs (23 pieces) for a musical stage play when I was on holiday in the south of France. I didn't have any instrument there, only music paper and a couple of pencils and of course liters of rosé wine and pastis. One has to find his inspiration somewhere! 

Seriously, only in 2001 I started using Notation software (Music Printer Plus, later Finale, and in 2006 Notion - which I still use now). For each composition I always start with a full written score. In the beginning I tried to create a performance with the notation software, but I gave that up. In 2014 I purchased Logic X pro and Studio One Pro. Since then, I import the midi data from my written score to start with in my DAW. That was the next giant leap, but not an essential one. But I have to admit that it is fun to hear a more or less realistic interpretation (my own!) after the composition process although I still don't consider this as a goal on itself.

Jos

http://www.joswyl.be
compositions and sampling exercises
Posted on Mon, Jan 08 2018 19:14
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5128

Those are good points and also, it is always desirable to imagine the music first, then hear it.  Of course some compose as they play, as with piano or organ or even violin.  Bach must have been with his violin music as it is so characteristic.   Though he probably composed in his sleep as well, with snoring in four part fugues.  I have only recently began doing some Direct-to-MIDI (uh-oh - sounds like Direct to Video...) but it is true that one must not be a slave to the samples. Though again one can find a lot of inspiration in the VSL samples, because they are so musical and vastly varied and because they represent so characteristically the entire orchestra. 

Posted on Tue, Jan 09 2018 13:38
by Paul McGraw
Joined on Mon, Feb 29 2016, Georgia, USA, Posts 345

I have not researched every major (or great) composer. But every composer that I have read about in depth, with the exception of Mozart, composed at the keyboard. The composers about whom I have read biographies, diaries or contemporaneous accounts include Beethoven, Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, and Bruckner. All of these composed at the keyboard, and in my view none are lesser for having done so. The stories of Beethoven trying to compose by pounding upon his piano with his ear as close to it as possible are particularly moving and informative. Of course he did learn to continue composing without the keyboard, but only by necessity. The others I ennumerated above chose to compose at the keyboard by either necessity or preference.  Using modern software like Sibelius for composing is simply an extension of composing at a keyboard.

Posted on Tue, Jan 09 2018 14:22
by mh-7635
Joined on Wed, Aug 04 2004, Posts 177

Originally Posted by: Paul McGraw Go to Quoted Post

  Using modern software like Sibelius for composing is simply an extension of composing at a keyboard.

I agree there Paul for sure. Mind you, (and echoing William above), I would advocate inner ear training too, because only in your mind are you truly free to imagine and plan anything at will, in real time, and without programming and then be able to discard immediately if you need to try a different route.

Render it how you will, be it DAW or score, but the imagination is I think, the best starting point and can be very effective when utilised in conjunction with any other means. 

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