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Bruckner - Seventh Symphony - Scherzo
Last post Tue, Feb 04 2020 by PaoloT, 24 replies.
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Posted on Mon, Jan 06 2020 18:02
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 666

Hi,

I rendered the first ninety bars of Bruckner's monumental piece. This project was started to check the brass in the VSL Synchronized Special Edition, and see how "thin" they were.

After several hours on this piece I need some silence, before I can not only understand how successful I was in making it credible, but also give my ears enough rest from this apocalyptic sound!

Bruckner - Seventh Symphony - Scherzo (VSL Full) (AIFF)

Bruckner - Seventh Symphony - Scherzo (VSL Full) (MP3)

Paolo

Posted on Wed, Jan 08 2020 18:20
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5512

I'm not trying to sound like a know-it-all (I've been exposed to some of those lately and hate it) so don't get mad at me.   But what I noticed on this is there is no rhythmic definition.  It's a very energetic piece and needs to have strong crisp attacks in the ostinato and those octave jump figures followed by the dotted notes.  Also accents on the first notes of the repeated figures.  The brass figures get lost near the end.  Also the tempo seems slow.  I've listened to the von Karajan performance of this to the point of wearing smooth an LP record, and it is almost maniacal in the intensity and energy.   You have to get that into this performance.     

Though it sounds good in a lot of ways and Bruckner is not easy to do I know.  I don't think it would be too hard to get this more rhythmic -  one easy way to get more definition (that I first heard of from Herb) is to use the dynamic samples instead of sustains even though the line might seem to use sustain.  So sforzando and medium dynamic articulations combined with more staccato or portato would add a lot of definition.

  

Posted on Wed, Jan 08 2020 22:16
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 666

William, thank you very much for the very interesting remarks and suggestions.

Dynamic samples are a bit complicate to mix in this library. I've used staccato and portato a lot, but fp and sfz are more difficult. Obviously, I can lower their velocity to make them match better the sustains.

So, I’ll work on rhythmic definition with more care. Let's see what will happen.

Paolo

(EDIT: I did some of the suggested changes. I'll probably rework it again later).

Posted on Thu, Jan 09 2020 01:45
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5512

I am speaking from using the extended VI versions of the libraries so I don't know if you have the same set of samples.  I like the various levels of dynamics found with "Light, Medium and Strong" cresc and dim because they give you a lot of options.  For example, the attack on a light dim. sample in a lower velocity may be very crisp and clear but not real heavy.  Like a mezzo forte going down to piano.  I sometimes have alternated those with the sforzando in order to use a clear, strong but not too loud attack.  

Anyway it's a very ambitious job to do Bruckner and it is very cool you are doing it.  

Now you've got me thinking about it as well as whistling parts from it.  I love that symphony and remember playing horn on it at a concert once.  All the brass players loved playing it - so many great parts in Bruckner.  The Adagio is so beautiful. Composed after Wagner died as a tribute.  

Posted on Thu, Jan 09 2020 10:32
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 666

Originally Posted by: William Go to Quoted Post

I am speaking from using the extended VI versions of the libraries so I don't know if you have the same set of samples.  

While I have the full Silent Stage library, I'm trying to do this piece with the more humble SE, in the Synchronized version. This is because I want to test the possibilities of this light set of sounds, that would be incredibly useful while composing. Starting composing with the SynSE would be very fast, needing only minimal setup, and even my outdated Mac can run it without any speed issue. Any work on the details will come later, when it is time to devote my attention to the sound rendering of the piece.

If SynSE works fine enough to get a realistic rendition of what one is writing, it will be the best tool for this task among the ones I own. Ensemble libraries are only great for first draft or pieces not needed part writing. NotePerformer does a great work on chamber music, but I'm not convinced of the results with orchestral music; then, it only works in notation software, and can't be immediately replaced by full sampled orchestras.

With the Articulation Sets for Logic that I'm still developing (but are already working well enough), and Expression Maps for Dorico (still early in the making, but promising), I should be able to directly replace the Full library to the SynSE. The piece, massaged to the full possibilities of SynSE, should sound immediately good with the Full library. From there, I can work on the details.

Thank you for the precious hints you are offering. This is the type of lesson that I need to go into the secrets of the Full library – and to understand how to put oneself, with the due respect, in front of the classic masterworks!

Paolo

Posted on Fri, Jan 10 2020 13:30
by Paul McGraw
Joined on Mon, Feb 29 2016, Georgia, USA, Posts 422

I have commented on the track in another thread, so I will not repeat myself here. But I do admire your work ethic. 

And William, great advice and tips. I learned something new reading your two posts above.

Paul McGraw

Posted on Fri, Jan 10 2020 15:02
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 666

Paul, I reiterate my thanks here!

Paolo

Posted on Sat, Jan 11 2020 09:47
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 666
I'm adapting this piece to the Full library. The immediate transfer doesn't work, since more nuances also means different attacks and dynamics.

The original score I did with SySE has dynamics mostly driven by note velocity. With the Full library version, I’m trying to move all to Modulation and Expression controlled. Even with short notes, I find this gives each note a direction, a better connection with the following note. Maybe I’m just overthinking?

I would use Modulation and Expression together. Modulation will select the dynamic layer, Expression adjust loudness. This will help have, like at the beginning of the Scherzo, aggressive attacks even in pp. Is this the correct strategy?

Paolo
Posted on Sun, Jan 12 2020 02:41
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5512

Hi Paolo, that is great you are using the full library.  I've noticed the same thing going between different libraries, though the VI series is remarkably transferable in general.

If you use modulation with velocity crossfade you would want those to be major changes of dynamics, and then "fine tune" those with expression.  You cannot use expression alone since it has no effect on timbre, just overall amplitude.  However it makes a huge difference to add it after the timbral changes done with velocity crossfade. I have found that I often did not do enough of that and think it is a secret  to get extremely expressive performances.  Your main expressive level is determined by the actual timbral level of dynamics - i.e. p, f, ff etc. - but fine tuning with expression makes it sound real. 

BTW I admire how you are doing a Bruckner piece -  he and Mahler are the greatest symphonists.  (Well, Beethoven also.  And Haydn.  And Schubert.  And Schumann.  And Shostakovich.  And... never mind!)    

Posted on Sun, Jan 12 2020 19:56
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 666

Ah ah, William, too many great symphonists to cite! While Bruckner may not be my main interest, he was at the same time the representative of the anti-Brahms faction in Vienna, and the teacher of Mahler and Strauss. And he was a simple, tormented man. There is a lot to learn from his music. Maybe not always nuanced, but always full of a powerful tension.

I usually use Modulation to control dynamics, with Expression used to refine the extremes. For example, with a standard setting of Expression=110, I have headroom to increase the volume with strong crescendos. Or a lot of values to fade to nothing, or change amplitude without changing the timbre.

In the case of the Scherzo, the measures in pianissimo are still full of energy. Lowering the amplitude with the Modulation would also remove some power and aggressivity from the strings. On the contrary, keep Modulation quite high, and lowering Expression, seems to give enough kick, while keeping the volume low.

I don't know if this is the lecit way to use these controllers, but at first sight it seems to work.

Paolo

Posted on Mon, Jan 13 2020 01:46
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5512

"I usually use Modulation to control dynamics, with Expression used to refine the extremes"  -Paolo

Yes that's exactly what I meant.   It would be unnatural for example to have loud brassy sounds that were low in amplitude, and since expression CC11 controls only amplitude it is strictly for those extra touches - usually having a pianissimo note tail off farther than the note actually goes down to with the velocity layers, or perhapos to come up on the attack of a note out of almost nothing. 

One thing I thought of that was unclear in what I said was I didn't mean to use velocity crossfade/modulation on dynamic samples which should always be just note-on velocity otherwise it is totally weird and unnatural.  But you knew that.  Though throwing in some expression with those is often really good.  

Also, I have never liked - though I know some people do - using velocity crossfade with short notes like staccato,  because it does two artificial things - blends separately recorded samples for the entire duration of the note (not just  a fade), and doesn't actually reproduce what a player does in real time, which is hit a note at a single volume without any change throughout the length of the note.  This applies even to somewhat longer short notes like detache or portato. So on those short notes, as well as the dynamics, they should always be note-on velocity with no crossfade, and the continuopus notes only with crossfade.  One additional benefit of this approach is to allow sudden contrasts when you switch from a note-on velocity short note to a crossfaded long note.   

Posted on Mon, Jan 13 2020 15:05
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 666

William, all very intersting! As a piano player, dynamics are always virtual for me. We invented embellishments to fake long and evolving notes!

I still have the feeling that short notes (longer than spiccato) still contain some "direction". But I should trust a wind player much more than my impressions!

So, I'll switch to what I'm used to do. Modulation for dynamics on long notes, Expression for nuance, Velocity for dynamics on short notes.

My presets are always set to have short notes controlled by the global settings of the preset. I've never been convinced to force them to Velocity on a cell base. Anyway, the on/off switch for Vel X-Fade is a good compromise between speed and flexibility.

Paolo

Posted on Mon, Jan 13 2020 16:02
by Acclarion
Joined on Sat, Aug 15 2015, Canada, Eh!, Posts 513

Thank you, Paolo for sharing your work and thanks to both you and William for the detailed technical discussion that is immensely helpful.  It's always interesting to see the different workflows and strategies for utilizing virtual instruments, and you both have some great suggestions.

As for Bruckner, I can't help but laugh every time I hear his name, as I'm reminded of a silly story from my university days when I was a (reluctant) choir member and we sang his Te Deum.  The good ol' days for me :)

Cheers!

Dave

www.DavidCarovillano.com - NEW SITE!
www.acclarion.ca - concert accordion & clarinet duo
Posted on Mon, Jan 13 2020 16:25
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 666

Originally Posted by: Acclarion Go to Quoted Post

As for Bruckner, I can't help but laugh every time I hear his name, as I'm reminded of a silly story from my university days when I was a (reluctant) choir member and we sang his Te Deum.  The good ol' days for me :)

Poor Bruckner, that humble man! Even the choir kids are making fun of him!

Cheers!
Paolo

Posted on Fri, Jan 24 2020 21:07
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 666

And this is the version made with the full version VSL. A lot more work, due to much more finesse to which one has to take care of.

This is the last rehearsal before the dress rehearsal.

Bruckner - Seventh Symphony - Scherzo (VSL Full) (AIFF)

Bruckner - Seventh Symphony - Scherzo (VSL Full) (MP3)

Here is a version without final reverb and limiting. It should sound more transparent:

Bruckner - Seventh Symphony - Scherzo (no final FX) (AIFF)

Paolo

Posted on Mon, Jan 27 2020 11:27
by lunar_28664
Joined on Wed, Jun 20 2007, Posts 82

I'm particularly interested in this thread because I regard Bruckner as the God of symphonists (and the idea that he was a simpleton is increasingly coming under question in more modern research). Mahler comes close in no. 10 and obviously Beethoven in especially 3 and 6 but taken as a series, nothing can for me match Bruckner's consistency and depth of inspiration, He is also the main influence on my own modest symphonic output. For full orchestra, I only have the VSL special edition and it's precisely on dynamics and clarity that I have considerable difficulty when compoing through notation software -- Sibelius but with a recent switch to Dorico.

I have never been able to get what you have achieved here, Paolo,  but I imagine there is a good deal of DAW tweaking? There are a few things which are unbalanced or sound a little artificial but in general I'm certainly impressed. The difference between the full version and the SE is actually less than I'd been expecting even though it's audibly there.

I can find purely in notation that using the sforzato articulation, there is a bit more attack to the sound but like many others (not you), I still find it a bit flabby and lacking in transparency. This https://app.box.com/s/sj...omxxs772y4kfwb4wq02f4ns7 is a fairly short example from my most recent symphony. It would almost certainly be worse using any other sample library from my experience. Grosser Saal accoustic used.

I have to say, and this will probably be contentious, that for orchestral works where rhythmic drive and clarity and more important than purely accuracy and distictiveness of sound, that I prefer using NotePerformer which uses only a modest sample base to drive its modelling algorithms. This is not because NP is objectively better -- it isn't and they're not really comparable anyway -- but becuase it requires far less work and knowledge. Here   https://app.box.com/s/8k...nrxxe7xcbzmsgbjl2x  is another scherzo example from my 8th symphony which (unlike 12 which has a different remit taken as a whole) got its initial impetus from Bruckner 7 so I request indulgence in posting it here as there is a clear connection.

I'm interested in a) are there other things I can do purely at a notation level with inscore CC's allowed to boost the impact and clarity, so to speak of music like this using VSL SE? Is it really necessary to tweak every note in the string ostinati for instance? b) do others feel as I do that the NP rendering is somehow more alive? You might say apples and oranges but I no longer have the VSL version of no. 8 for direct comparison.

David

Posted on Mon, Jan 27 2020 18:18
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 666

David, just a short note to thank you for listening!

I'll be back with some more thoughts on your stimulating post shortly.

EDIT: I think the link to your second example is broken.

Paolo

Posted on Wed, Jan 29 2020 03:42
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5512

Paolo that sounds way better!  It has that dramatic quality Bruckner created.  One little thing I noticed was you can make at least some of those accented notes shorter.  Often that is a way to accent a note, because the attack is more exposed.  So, like a written quarter note actually being played a dotted 8th or even just an 8th.  Players will often cheat the actual written note values esp;ecially on rhythmic passages.    

Anyway - now you have to do the whole symphony!  Have fun  - I'll see you in a year.    

Posted on Wed, Jan 29 2020 03:45
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5512

" I regard Bruckner as the God of symphonists " - lunar

Excellent comment.  To me - and this is only a personal preference - the greatest are Bruckner, Mahler, Vaughn-Williams and Beethoven.  

(Though as before one can keep going with the list...)

Posted on Wed, Jan 29 2020 08:29
by lunar_28664
Joined on Wed, Jun 20 2007, Posts 82

Originally Posted by: PaoloT Go to Quoted Post

David, just a short note to thank you for listening!

I'll be back with some more thoughts on your stimulating post shortly.

EDIT: I think the link to your second example is broken.

Paolo

Strange -- looks like something went wrong with the original hyperlink. Pls. paste in this -- tests OK to me

https://app.box.com/s/8kosap44lcjqgdnrxxe7xcbzmsgbjl2x

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