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Prokofiev's Third Symphony with BBO Orchestra
Last post Sat, Jul 18 2020 by PaoloT, 7 replies.
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Posted on Mon, Jul 13 2020 20:57
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 710


I don't know if I should have put this thread in the composition area, but this is more a test of the BBO orchestra than a serious effort of composing or making a mockup.

I was testing the BBO volumes I own (Basic, Andromeda, Black Eye, Dorado, Hercules, Izar, Lyra, Musca) to make a sketch. To be sure I was not being driven by the sounds while composing, I tried a work of someone else on which to try tem.

What ended up was that working with the BBOs is pure fun, since they sound immediately great, lively, real. And they sound real, not like a generic ensemble, but more a group of players sounding together. So, sketching with an ensemble library easily translates to the final arrangement for individual instruments, since they are not different entites.

I used Dorico, also on test. I liked it immensely, despite still being, in my view, a work in progress. Entering notes and symbols in a score is how I was trained to do music. Selecting techniques is a matter of using traditional symbols, or writing what I want over the notes (what appear as bare text being a trigger to select an articulation).

And the DAW functions may be limited and still lacking, but they are clearly dedicated to composing in score. You are proposed with the right parameters, as a complement to the score. Nothing too generic, but a selection of the right tools. It's a very musical act.

Most of this sketch is simply notes entered in the score, with the occasional dynamics drawing for some melodies. I removed most of the length changes Dorico would do in case of staccato. Not the deep massaging one usually do to a mock-up, just some refinements. The sound libraries are very expressive, and this contributes to they working even in the rigid grid of a notated score.

Dear madams and gentlemen: my messy Prokofiev. Just a sketch, but already sounding "big" – and not for my merits.

Prokofiev, Third Symphony, beginning


Posted on Tue, Jul 14 2020 20:05
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 710


While fixing some mistakes in the full orchestration, I also exported the strings alone (Lyra and Musca). Maybe they are interesting to understand how well these behave in traditional writing.

Prokofiev, Third Symphony, beginning - strings only

While I just purchased Jupiter, this mockup only uses Andromeda for horns. All considered, they are the right size for this piece.


Posted on Wed, Jul 15 2020 19:38
by synergy543
Joined on Fri, Apr 01 2005, Posts 133

Interesting test and comments Paolo, particularly on how they sound like a cohesive group playing together.  Its interesting to hear how these sound with a traditional writing sketch.

Just curious though how you handle the octave doubling in BBO though?  Maybe this actually "blurs the lines" creating the impression of more realism?

Greg (Gregory D. Moore)
Posted on Wed, Jul 15 2020 21:52
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 710

Greg, thank you for listening!

Doubling seems to make the sound thicker, most of the time, more than sounding like two separate lines. I have to try these libraries in more situations, but at the moment I'm surprised at how octave doubling seems not to be an issue while sketching.

There is a problem if you want to write a separate Viola line: you have to write it one octave higher. And then, violins tend to sound stronger than violas. But this is expected.

Experimenting with the mics, and maybe with the balance knob, may be useful to empower some sections over the others.


Posted on Thu, Jul 16 2020 18:21
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 710

I'm doing some tests on the violas (audio examples later).

I think that a decent isolations can be achieved by moving each mic balance towards the right, using the channel EQ to dampen the middle-high frequencies and slightly boosting the middle-low ones, and giving more weight to the Decca Mid microphone, compared to all the others.

Violins are still strongly there, but much more veiled, and leaving the lower octave, with the violas, more in evidence.

However, replacing the Viola part with another violoncello section could be a better idea.


Posted on Fri, Jul 17 2020 22:12
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 710

After a few tests, I would say that violas can't be isolated. They are used as a reinforcement for the violins, and they are blended together.

So, as the claim says, it's High Strings and Low Strings. They have to be used this way. That's their scope. If you want violas, you have to recall a dedicated patch adding detail to the Lyra+Musca ensemble.


Posted on Sat, Jul 18 2020 20:36
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 710

As a comparison, this is the version for Synchronized SE Vol. 1/+.

Piccolo and Harps are missing, for a better comparison with the BBO version. Strings have been distributed to the classic quintet.

Prokofiev, Third Symphony, beginning, SY-SE


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