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Hubble Space Telescope and VSL
Last post Sat, Mar 21 2020 by jasensmith, 18 replies.
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Posted on Fri, Feb 21 2020 21:15
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5512

Since I am a fan of both HST and VSL I did  a montage of shots from the telescope and re-mixed my performance of Holst's Neptune with VSL VI.  It is using MIR Viennakonzerthaus, and the Soprano and Alto choirs along with the big orchestra that Holst called for in The Planets...

Beyond Neptune

Posted on Sat, Feb 22 2020 02:39
by agitato
Joined on Mon, Jun 22 2015, Posts 389

Hi William,

you knew this would catch my attention didnt you ?;)

I am so glad you like Hubble's images and that wrote music to it. Without the Hubble we wouldn't know our place in the universe today. (For those in the forum who didn't know, the Hubble showed us for the first time that a tiny fuzz in the sky was actually another galaxy with a trillion stars...the andromeda, and it also showed that there are a trillion other galaxies like ours or even bigger).

I have always felt that classical composers lived out there in space. Well, let me try to explain....I mean that in two ways. First, classical music has such an incredible range of tonal and textural variety that captures the grandeur and intricacy of the cosmos. One of my favorite things is to watch the night sky while hearing The Planets. Second, classical music is as structred and organized as scientific logic (I like to say that the western orchestra is just pure engineering except its is also an art form). This is not just the case with pieces like The Planets but with the works of almost all great composers. Sibelius comes to my mind immediately. I am pretty sure he is from another planet:)

Now, about your music. Its absolutely beautiful. I am relishing it....both composition and the production. I couldnt tell this was not a live performance. I see elements of Holst, Ravel and Debussy in this piece. I am not capable of describing it in words any more than that, just listening is enough for me. I hope this gets performed. Thank you again for writing this and hope you write more for the planets and continue to "live" in space !:)


Anand Kumar
Posted on Sat, Feb 22 2020 14:29
by Dietz
Joined on Tue, Aug 06 2002, Vienna / Europe, Posts 7417

Absolutely masterful, both as a composition and as a performance.

Thanks a lot for sharing, Bill!

/Dietz - Vienna Symphonic Library
Posted on Sat, Feb 22 2020 23:59
by Lucy
Joined on Sun, Nov 26 2017, Posts 32

Sounds amazing! Superb use of Vienna libraries, well done.

Room reverb is perfect, is it just the MIR room, nothing else?

I'm also a bit of a fan of Hubble, as well as Holst's Planets. Have you recreated any of the others?

Really enjoyed this.


Posted on Sat, Feb 22 2020 23:59
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5512

Dietz, thanks a lot, it is great to hear from you!

Anand, I thought you might find this of interest!  I really agree with what you're saying concerning science, music, the cosmos -  perhaps the same thing viewed from different perspectives.  

On this piece I like how Holst used almost entirely vertical structures of sound - complex chords and bitonality - and his great orchestration.  Ligetti later in the 1950s-60s was doing somerthing similar with more atonality, especially in "Atmospheres" which Kubrick used in 2001, and "Lontano."      

Posted on Sun, Feb 23 2020 00:01
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5512

Thanks Lucy, 

I also did Mars which is on this website demos.  These Holst pieces are difficult because he uses a huge orchestra, even though in Neptune it is so quiet one might not think it is that big.    

Posted on Sun, Feb 23 2020 00:05
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 666

Fantastic pictures, music and sound!


Posted on Sun, Feb 23 2020 02:01
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5512

thanks Paolo.

Those pictures are all from the Hubble space telescope site, which is made available to the public.  It is a huge amount of incredible images.  I am an astronomy buff and as Anand mentioned the Hubble totally revolutionized astronomy.  The James Webb space telescope is getting ready for launch right now!  This is truly an exciting time if you are interested in learning about the cosmos beyond Earth.    

Posted on Mon, Feb 24 2020 20:27
by tchampe
Joined on Wed, Apr 25 2018, Posts 73

Bill, you outdid yourself on this one. The montage of those glorious HST images blended so perfectly with this exquisite, ethereal, music...wow. The mix on this piece simply blew me away! I was so reminded of my favorite old Mehta/LA Phil recording that I wore the grooves off of in my youth that I called it up on Spotify and compared it side-by-side with yours (for me, a sort of acid test). Your work with VSL compares very favorably with this great orchestral recording. I have loved this particular recording (more even than the highly regarded Boult or my usual favorite Bernstein) primarily for the sound of it. I always figured that they'd used a bit of Hollywood soundstage recording technique, as opposed to the more legit "put 'em onstage in a great concert hall and try to make the recording sound as if you were sitting in row 20" school of thought. The woodwind parts, the pitched percussion, the solos, the pipe organ...all stand out with a clarity that I've never heard sitting 50' away in the audience. It's not as if the balance is screwed up, it's perfect. It just sounds more close, more present. Your Neptune has this effect even more palpably than the LA Phil recording for me. I don't know if that's what you intended, but it absolutely works for me.


Posted on Mon, Feb 24 2020 22:34
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5512

wow, thanks Tom that is great to hear!  The audio mix is MIR/Miracle Conductor's position mic and the Miracle Close Hall Enhance default setting added to master bus.  Other than that the only thing I changed from default was to turn down the wet on the overall hall a little, and on individual bass instruments a little more. 

Posted on Mon, Mar 02 2020 13:23
by crusoe
Joined on Sat, Dec 26 2009, Posts 131

Hi William,

Wow. This sounded more or less flawless to me. Which I don't remember hearing in the field of virtual orchestration. Maybe a couple of times. The first 2 minutes were 100% convincing and musical. Maybe, and I'm not 100% sure here, a few times you could use filtering to reduce hissing that is created by the tremolo strings. I reckon that hissing is created by the reverb. Very much impressed!



Posted on Thu, Mar 05 2020 02:39
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5512

Crusoe, thanks. 

Though I didn't hear any "hissing."   I don't really understand that comment.  The tremolo - which is not much of the performance - was about the same level high frequency as the sustain/legato sordino.  I usually use some high frequency EQ on violins, but on this performance did not due to the pianissimo dynamic throughout, which tends to be darker and therefore not need that high frequency correction.

Posted on Thu, Mar 05 2020 08:31
by Paul
Joined on Sat, Aug 03 2002, Vienna, Posts 12094

Hi everybody, 

Quick update: William was so kind to send us a walkthrough video for this piece. 

Check it out here!


Paul Kopf
Product Manager - Vienna Symphonic Library
Posted on Thu, Mar 05 2020 08:57
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 666

Very informative, and a real bag of tricks! Thank you!


Posted on Thu, Mar 05 2020 10:37
by crusoe
Joined on Sat, Dec 26 2009, Posts 131

Hi William,

I re-listened to those parts I tried to describe as "hissing", and apparently it's a cumulative effect of the tremolo and violins on the left, which I didn't mention because my brain is too small. It's still very short-lived and now I'm thinking it would actually sounds the same in a real-world performance. At 2:30-2:32, for instance. Anyway, the performance is so good that this rather tiny thing is the biggest complaint I could think of.

Oh yes, thanks William and VSL for the walkthrough!


Posted on Thu, Mar 05 2020 21:03
by tchampe
Joined on Wed, Apr 25 2018, Posts 73


I really enjoyed the walkthrough video; very informative. It led to a question that may seem terribly basic, but here goes: I see on the sequenced tracks of the two wind intsruments that you showed (2nd flute and oboe) that there is an overlap as one note passes to the next, even on these monophonic lines. This is intriguing because, obviously, a flute cannot still be playing the previous note after you have changed fingerings and begun sounding the next. It sounds wonderfully natural when it happens in your recording, however. Is this trick something that you add manually when you create the sequence or is this something the system does automatically, either as part of the legato patch itself or in the Humanizing logic?

There's something liberating about being so damned ignorant you are not ashamed to ask stupid qestions.



Posted on Thu, Mar 05 2020 21:58
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5512

thanks guys for those comments!  (I had a computer totally blow out just prior to doing that video, so it is somewhat less detail/quality in a couple sections than I wanted! ) 

Tom, on the overlap, those notes are using the mono setting of legato, which is triggered by the slight overlap.  The default is not mono but "Global" and this does allow more than one note to play if they overlap sufficiently, so I set it to mono.      

Posted on Sat, Mar 21 2020 05:21
by jasensmith
Joined on Tue, Jan 15 2008, Arizona, Posts 1571
William, there isn't anything more I could say that hasn't already been said here other than it had to be excruciatingly laborious to record this. The arrangement alone is mind boggling let alone putting it all together.

A labor of love for you I'm sure.

Thank you for sharing

"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
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