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Are we "performers?"
Last post Sat, May 12 2018 by jsg, 64 replies.
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Posted on Sun, Apr 08 2018 16:31
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5108

"Have you had much experience of your own music being played live and well? It may be a bit crass, but if you feel so inclined, listen to my Partita Concordia on my site and tell me you could programme that better. " mh7635

You are just so superior aren't you?  Looking down on everybody from your high "professional" viewpoint with orchestras lining up everywhere to play your masterpieces. I again wonder - why are you on this website?  So you can tell people your live performances are better than sampled performances by VSL?  It is tacky and arrogant. 

I want an apology from you. I do not like people calling me "idiot" in public.  

Posted on Sun, Apr 08 2018 17:01
by fahl5
Joined on Fri, Feb 04 2005, Hall One, Posts 864

I do not believe mh meant his apreciation of this certain performance in any arrogant way. Obviously this interpretation meet in an extraordinary way what the composer intended that music to be. This is great, but I do not see any necessity to generalize that.  Neither conventional nor digital artitst are worth to be disregarded in any way. I personally even think both could learn from each other very much. And the great VSL-Samples are notably of distinctive quality since they rely on an extraordinary living tradition of classical orchestramusicians in Vienna.

But we should definitly avoid to miss the respect for any kind of musician whatever instruments he uses.

Good Samplelibraries deserve to be used for more than just "Demos",
http://klassik-resampled.de ...more than 3400 mp3 with sample based interpretations of complete Scores from 7 Centuries

You realy want to know how Synchron Strings could sound in real music?
...33 mp3 with more than three hours of complete and ambitious scores from 19th and 20th century produced with Synchron Strings.
Posted on Sun, Apr 08 2018 21:40
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5108

Thanks fahl5, that is kind of you to say.

Posted on Mon, Apr 09 2018 05:10
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5108

Another statement at mike hewer -  not discussion, just statement:

you list a trio as your expressive work doing what samples can never do.

I was NEVER talking about solo works or tiny chamber ensembles.  ORCHESTRAL music was what I have always been discussing and made perfectly clear.  

You believe you are the only person with live music experience on this Forum? What orchestras did you play in?   I played in orchestras - symphony, opera, chamber, concert bands, chamber ensembles for 35 years.  I conducted live performances of my own works including film scores and concerts.  I composed and received commissions for many live performances.  Also the performance I mentioned was not a bad one.  TRY AND GET A PERFORMANCE WITH RENO CHAMBER ORCHESTRA.  Do it!  Let's hear how fast they get back to you.

Don't go dismissing everyone here with your goddamned arrogance.  You don't know what the fuck you're talking about.  THE FACT IS that when players are in a large orchestral group - and this is something you don't get but need to - they do not play the same as when playing SOLO or in a small chamber work.  Their sound becomes homogenized. Often totally so, even in great orchestras.  Thisis something samples can reproduce often far better than live.  But you attempt to dismiss that idea with solo performance.   It is impossible to compare soloistic playing ot three players to a 40 piece swtring ensemble. That is absurd - and it is what YOU are conflating.    Also - You insulted me and I demand an apology.

William Kersten


Posted on Mon, Apr 09 2018 06:38
by mh-7635
Joined on Wed, Aug 04 2004, Posts 177


William Kersten,

I was going to try and explain in words your fanboy addled brain might understand, the point I've been making all along, but your knee-jerk emotional, bitter and insulting reactions blind you to the possibility that other well considered opinions are available, let alone understand them. Your attitude also seemingly renders you insensible, curt and incapable of discerning context in a forum post when responding to opposing points of view.  A shame, really.

Likewise I was going to list examples of the false assumptions and assertions you have made in this thread about me ( which started this argument) and refute each one, but it is not worth the effort because you are beyond any civility or sense in this matter....and you want an apology from me?

You will understand I trust, if I do not change my opinion about you in order to satisfy your offended self.


Thank you Fahl for seeing my self-reference how it was intended to be. I enjoyed your post but can't agree fully with it. So be it, at least it was civil, reasonable and well thought out - the sort of thoughtful response one would like to read when polar positions are being aired.


My apologies for the spiral away from the threads original topic.

Posted on Tue, Apr 10 2018 01:15
by agitato
Joined on Mon, Jun 22 2015, Posts 320

Originally Posted by: Acclarion Go to Quoted Post

Hi all,

Second, also tying in to this was an article I read that tried to argue that percussionists are not musicians but rather technicians, because many aspects of musicianship are not required to "bang on a drum in time" (as a distilation of the main argument).




Hi Dave,

first off, excellent topic. I havent had the chance to comment but there is plenty of interesting posts already.

One thing that caught my attention, and that William mentions too, was the article you mention about percussionists not being real muscians.  Whoever wrote that must be ignorant not only of western music, where percussionists simply dont just "bang on drums" but rather have a wide range of muscianship skills, but they probably couldnt face an indian percussionist like Zakir Hussein. Some of the greatest indian muscians I know are percussionists, they have a mastery of rhythm that is quite other wordly AND they have amazing ear for melody as well.

My resposne to the idiot who wrote that article would be this: Without rhythm, there is no music, and good percussionists are masters of complex rhythms. So without them there is no music!

Could you point to that article? I really want to hate that person who wrote it (well, my brother is an Indian classical percussionist, so this is a bit personal for me;))...but no worries if you prefer not to share it.



Anand Kumar
Posted on Tue, Apr 10 2018 03:00
by Acclarion
Joined on Sat, Aug 15 2015, Canada, Eh!, Posts 364
Hi Anand,

The article was in a large pile of magazines from my school library that I was discarding. This is going back several years and when I brought it up in this discussion, I tried to find a digital archive copy to no avail. In any case, as I clarified, I seem to recall it being directed primarily at drummers in popular music idioms rather than classically trained percussionists, for which I think we're all in agreement on their musical competence. Anyway, i had recalled the use of the term "technician" which is what triggered my thoughts on the process of working with virtual instruments.

All the best,

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

www.acclarion.ca - concert accordion & clarinet duo
Posted on Tue, Apr 10 2018 03:27
by agitato
Joined on Mon, Jun 22 2015, Posts 320

Hi Dave

no worries, just wanted to make a point. 



Anand Kumar
Posted on Thu, Apr 12 2018 01:14
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5108

Actually the statement that popular music drummers are worse is even more offensive.  

The great drummers of both jazz and rock are supreme artists and for someone to say that stuff is profoundly ignorant.

Posted on Thu, Apr 12 2018 01:28
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5108


Posted on Fri, Apr 13 2018 03:44
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5108

One of the people on this Forum was listing as his example of how live players are vastly superior in performing to samples a tiny trio composition.  It is obvious that espressivo playing by individual players - if they are good enough - will be better than samples most of the time.  Simply because their instantaneous expressions suit the music better at the moment, not because they actually play better.  

But I was never talking about small-scale chamber music played by individuals, even though there are solo strings and Dimension players, etc., by VSL that can actually give many good live players a run for their money. Listen to Jay Bacal's John Williams cello and you will understand what I mean.   

But this person conflated two different things - massive orchestral composition such as what I have done with VSL, and tiny solo pieces such as what he has done.  There is no possible comparison in difficulty, practical, musical or otherwise.  

Some of the greatest composers in history have large scale orchestral works ignored until they die.  Schubert's Ninth - probably the greatest romantic symphony ever being a case in point., etc. etc.   Yet this composer-troll here on this forum implies that if you don't have everything you composed played live - like his tiny little trio -  you are an "idiot" as he calls me.

I would love to hear his performances - live or otherwise - of compositions like these  -not little solo pieces played by his friends,   but massive orchestrations that dwarf his productions.

if he has them, put them on this Forum! I want to hear them!  Here are what I have done, the productions of an "idiot" his term - 


That is a small sampling of my music.  I am now working on a feature film  score, and am neglecting further classical concert works as a result.  I would be able to more properly represent what I've done if I had a publicist but don't have one and am too busy working on music and film to properly present myself.  And so I am afflicted by creeps like this guy who want to trash me and do so publicly, to feel good about themselves.  I find it disgusting. I thought of quitting this Forum, but I won't give them the pleasure...

Posted on Fri, Apr 13 2018 07:44
by mh-7635
Joined on Wed, Aug 04 2004, Posts 177

Why precisely am I a Troll? 

I called you an idiot because I had commented in the past that I liked some of your music, but that seemed to pass you by in your fury......context Kersten all context. The rest is in your head, nowhere else.

I have no need to trash you publicly because you do a pretty good job of it yourself. You should actually be ashamed of yourself.

Can I request some moderation please VSL as this person has taken everything out of context and it has become cheap and unfounded ad hominem.

Posted on Fri, Apr 27 2018 02:49
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5108

"There is no argument between the quality and artistry of a great soloist's or ensemble's rendition of a quality work, to that of the greatest programmer's with the best samples and technology on the planet." -Errikos

I don't care.  I am only interested in the composer's point of view. I don't care about whether a performer is fully represented or not.  If he feels underepresented then he can contact his congressman.  


"Orchestras on the other hand, they do mutate and evolve but in a different way. In fact, there are many music critics that prefer the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics of old to today's. It's not worth getting into that huge discussion here, but what I am proposing is that those orchestras will sound - comparatiely to samples - pretty much the same thirty years from now, as they did thirty years ago (comparatively!)."  -Errikos

Again, it doesn't matter.   Because I am talking about pure expression of musical ideas divorced from any performer's variance, or ensembles evolution, etc. etc.   That is all fine, but has nothing to do with me as a composer unless I am a sycophant  of orchestra music directors. 

It  is far more purely represented in the fundamental recording of musical tones that a composer can use, totally separate from the mind of any performer.  



"It is my contention that composers of that time will still prefer, not just the NY Phils and the Concertgebouws, but any professional ensemble that will put the requisite amount of time and effort in the performance of their works, than their computer simulations, even with all the anticipated improvements thrown in."  _Errikos


And you are wrong in that contention because of the simple fact that if an artist creates an idea, he wants to control the realization of that idea.  Not cede it to someone else.  Including the great performers who strut around arrogantly in front of their adoring audiences.  

Your argument is premised upon the concept that music is ALWAYS  collaboration. One doesn't need a collaboration to create musical ideas - they are there, right there, without the blessing of any performer.  So what I am saying is the composer is not the inferior of performers and dependent upon them. And the kind of work that VSL has done actually realizes that.  

Posted on Fri, Apr 27 2018 10:24
by mh-7635
Joined on Wed, Aug 04 2004, Posts 177

Do yourself a favour and get help .....oh and don't whine again for an apology.

Posted on Sat, Apr 28 2018 02:55
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5108

Actually - I won't joke about it.  

Posted on Sat, Apr 28 2018 12:26
by Errikos
Joined on Tue, Jun 12 2007, Posts 1012

If Hans Zimmer, composer of the most robotic orkestral compositions (that require no expression, nuance, or variety for their execution, and which are further complemented/distorted by being blended with synthesized sounds), who has not just the best, but ALL samples available on the planet (including his own) and can afford the best programmers and studio apparati in the world, if a man of his aesthetics and tastes still engages a real orchestra to perform his locomotive drones, that says something, loudly.

Nevertheless, you refer to "pure expression of musical ideas", bereft of any performer's input. I cannot refute this of course, since only a mechanical device programmed by the composer can come the closest to this particular ideal today. Add to this the efforts on behalf of the programmer to simulate 'Realism' in that performance by using the best samples available to him, Impulse Responses and filters and whatnot in that strife for purity (so no 'Humanizing' features I presume, or any feature that would reflect a real performer's chance, inadvertent deviations...)

Like I said, one cannot argue against this, simply because it is a matter of preference. The same could have been said 30 years ago with the technology that was available then. It doesn't matter that sampled performances sounded inferior compared to good live performances (they still do today, only less so), a composer -such as I was back then- could still contend they preferred the simulation, for it expressed my musical ideas purely. This principle could be further extended to the Casiotone, or a Pianola further back. I don't know whether Debussy would take that over Michelangeli.

Now if you argue that today we have more control over more parameters of performance than we did then -therefore our results are closer to that "pure expression of musical ideas"- then I'll say you're right there, but that expression is not pure yet, it will keep getting purer as technology and individual programming skills keep improving.

To me, samples still sound like what they are, just better than before. At best, as with Bacal and others, they sound glorious for what they are, and I marvel at the programmers' abilities to get this much realism, and generate quasi-living musical organisms out of neutral, mechanical sound molecules.

Additionally, I will say that if for some reason I was only allowed to keep only one version of my each orchestral composition thus far (simulated vs. live), in most cases I would keep the simulated one, only because they are better in many respects to the live performances. However, that is because the live performances were so far below par. Were they par or above, I would opt for those instead, as a) There is no fakeness in the sound which hugely detracts from the overall enjoyment of the work, and b) The music sounds alive, breathing (it sounds so in the bad performances as well, but sick and dying unfortunately). Sadly, the main issue is that the fakeness in sampled performances is most pronounced in the strings, which are the most important section and half of the orchestra. I am sure this shortcoming will be ameliorated in the coming years/decades. As we stand now, I have to say I am unable to make that 'leap of hearing' and pretend it is actually an orchestra performing and not Cubase. It's not even close. It's like in that other thread with the trio(?) where we are asked to pick which version we prefer. I immediately went for the live performance, I am suprised that it was even a question since the simulation was not good; it sounded very fake and plastic from 'Go'. I am only mentioning this since I too am not a great programmer.

Finally, I have experienced quite a few instances where performers actually improved on the purity of my musical ideas (ex. change of tempo in a section, rendition of a line, etc.), and I would be sorry to have missed out on those. And if you remember, I ended my post with the idea that we have not been put in a position where we have to choose between one world or the other, but in one where ideally we can take the best of both.

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 Sat, Apr 28 2018 13:29
by Acclarion
Joined on Sat, Aug 15 2015, Canada, Eh!, Posts 364
Originally Posted by: Errikos Go to Quoted Post
It's like in that other thread with the trio(?) where we are asked to pick which version we prefer. I immediately went for the live performance, I am suprised that it was even a question since the simulation was not good; it sounded very fake and plasticfrom 'Go'. I am only mentioning this sinceI tooam not a great programmer.

While I'll admit to finding many of your observations spot on, I'm offended that you would reference my work disparagingly and not have the courtesy to do so on the actual thread devoted to that discussion. Further, you're entitled to suggest that you're not a "great programmer" but I'd rather not be in your company, and I continue to work on the quality of my productions. You rarely ever comment on anyone's work, nor do you post your own, but it's very easy to criticize everyone else's efforts, isn't it? I'm pleased with my very fake and plastic simulation and while you may not be, offering your opinion on the appropriate thread will allow me and others to consider your ideas and perhaps challenge them. Also, I resent your insinuation that I don't have any musical sensibilities to even suggest a comparison between the live and vsl versions. You'll find here and on other forums, that many people preferred the so called fake and plastic version to the live.
www.dearvillainmusic.com - music for live performance by David Carovillano

www.acclarion.ca - concert accordion & clarinet duo
Posted on Sat, Apr 28 2018 17:00
by agitato
Joined on Mon, Jun 22 2015, Posts 320


If I may interject....you seem to have taken Errikos's comment personally but I dont read anthing personal in what he said about your piece. I read his comment as being about the samples  and not the programming. I think your programming of this piece was as good as it possibly can be, particularly the performace shaping was excellent. 

I think the fakeness that Errikos is referring to relates to the tonal quality of the string instruments, and I tend to agree. As much as I did not like the intonational and rhythmic inaccuracies of the live performers, I loved the tonal purity. There are rich overtones in string instruments that are possibly the hardest to reproduce in sampling. While VSL is remarkable in its ability to mimic real performance (e.g., smoothness in dynamics during transistions in articuluations, etc.,), and is probably the best out there, to my ears it still falls short in terms of the tonal fidelity. And often this is so jarring to me. 

So while I admire the performace accuracy of the VSL rendition of your trio, if someone were to shut me in a room and make me listen to this over and over again, I would choose your live performance. It sounds more natural and pleasing.

(I should note again that none of this is about you as a composer or a programmer...I have achieved nothing in music but you are all professional composers, so I am even unqualified to comment. My comment is purely as a listener and hope it makes sense)

Now going back to what I said previously, I do see why you were frustrated with the live performance and prefer the VSL version because VSL does exactly what you want to do. This is something I learnt on this forum, that its not easy to get a good live performance of ones work. So in that sense your comparison is highly informative as to the pros and cons of live vs samples. Maybe I will face this one day!



Anand Kumar
Posted on Sat, Apr 28 2018 18:42
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5108

One thing that seems fundamentally wrong to me in this whole argument is the concept of "fake" being applied to VSL samples.  They are not "fake" they are REAL.  This is not an old style digital synthesizer which WAS fake, the wave forms ripped away from their original context and changed into an artificial sound.  But VSL avoids this  and is extremely, even obsessively careful and scrupulous in being faithful to the original musical sounds.   They are real, incredibly good players, many virtuoso, being recorded.  That is the whole attraction  in that the real players expressive sound has been captured and made available to the composer.  It is actually an insult to those players to place them on the "fake" side and live performers on the "live" side!  

The real comparision involved in this whole argument should be with recorded pieces of music vs. recorded samples of music ---  not actually present live players.  Obcviously if you have standing in your studio Perlman ready to play your violin composition it will be better than VSL.  But that is not the point.  To me it is a comparison of a recording of an orchestra playing an entire piece vs. a recording of individual samples, and one can often create a better overall recording with samples. 

But the debate is now irritating and pointless. If somebody thinks samples are inferior musically then fine, go ahead and think that.  It is utterly meaningless to me and I am so finished with this argument.   

Posted on Sat, Apr 28 2018 20:20
by Acclarion
Joined on Sat, Aug 15 2015, Canada, Eh!, Posts 364


I do agree with many of your comments and appreciate your voracity for the rich, authentic timbre that is perhaps still not fully developed with regard to virtual instruments.

As for comments re. Errikos, I feel confident that my understanding of his words was spot on:

Errikos' words:   It's like in that other thread with the trio(?) where we are asked to pick which version we prefer. I immediately went for the live performance, I am suprised that it was even a question since the simulation was not good; it sounded very fake and plastic from 'Go'. I am only mentioning this since I too am not a great programmer.

First, by even implying that asking that question was silly, because the "simulation was not good; it sounded very fake and plastic from 'Go.'" offends me because it suggests that I'm blissfully unaware of what strings should sound like and in asking a question with such a subpar version of my piece against the real thing doesn't even merit a response.

Second, he says he is only mentioning this because he TOO is not a great programmer.  The insinuation of such is that I am in his company.  And for that, combined with the fact that he voices his very strong opinions so frequently with very little willingness to support and contribute to the efforts of those on this forum that regularly put themselves out there and share their work, rubs me the wrong way.  The sum of his contributions are philosophically-based arguments, and even if he objectively would offer his musical opinion on the work of others, I find it hard to believe he couldn't temper a criticism such as he proferred for my piece, with a compliment or at least an observation that the effort was quite significant in putting together the virtual rendition.

Anyway, I don't like this back and forth bickering that seems to prevail in recent times, but feel compelled to defend my position especially in light of your response on his behalf (which may or may not be his actual intention...I don't know, but I do know how it appeared to me in reading his words).  Again, I do appreciate your comments on the actual subject matter of samples vs. live.  William, your additional comments are also spot on.



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

www.acclarion.ca - concert accordion & clarinet duo
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