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The BBO challenge - Tannhäuser Overture. Somebody, PLEASE
Last post Mon, Dec 14 2020 by PaoloT, 6 replies.
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Posted on Tue, Dec 08 2020 11:53
by Macker
Joined on Tue, Aug 21 2018, London, Posts 357

Tell me this piece isn't begging for BBO action. 

https://youtu.be/AFwlhBAoZz4

Wagner, Karajan and VSL BBO. What could be more right?

I have the score but not yet the required BBO chapters, nor the time right now. One day though. This and Götterdämmerung.

Guy? .... Somebody ... PLEASE .... DO TANNHÄUSER.

Is there anything better to show off BBO's power? Of course that's not a serious question.

Posted on Sat, Dec 12 2020 23:05
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 1172

Originally Posted by: Macker Go to Quoted Post

Guy? .... Somebody ... PLEASE .... DO TANNHÄUSER.

Something like this? (This is the score entered in Dorico, and BBO mixed in VEP7; no MIDI massage, just a rough draft.) (And — the strings are SSP, but with only the most basic articulations, also available in BBO).

Wagner, Ouverture from Tannhäuser, BBO (ROUGH DRAFT)

I could also adapt it to the "old" VI collection:

Wagner, Ouverture from Tannhäuser, VI (ROUGH DRAFT)

Paolo

Posted on Sun, Dec 13 2020 13:21
by Macker
Joined on Tue, Aug 21 2018, London, Posts 357

Great stuff! Thank you so much Paolo. Yes indeed, something very much along those lines!

I'm getting a lot of very interesting insights from your two renditions - it's fascinating and so useful to be able to compare old VI with BBO like this.

But something very odd grabbed my ear in the BBO version and I haven't been able to work out what's going on there. It's most audible when the trombones begin their thematic melody on B (at 2:13 in your sound file; on the last beat of bar 38 in my score). That trombones opening note especially sounds very strange - it's sort of not totally dissimilar to a phasing 'whoosh' combined in there somehow, but it's static or very slow moving; not easy to describe. It appears to be associated with the trombones only, since no other instruments hold steady for that quarter note; they're all playing accented measured repeats as a triplet at that moment yet the strange sound stays with the trombones' steady quarter note on B.

Also, in the BBO version the trombones sound very dark and a bit boomy - whereas one would expect their brightest, clearest timbre because they play fortissimo throughout their thematic line. Indeed in the YT video the Berliner Phil. sound is generally much brighter, and their trombones especially sound very different to those in your BBO version (though I don't doubt that plenty of highly professional mixing and mastering skills have gone into that Berlin recording).

In your VI version the trombones sound normal and as expected - a big contrast to the BBO version.

As for SySPro versus VI strings, I'd say SySPro gave a good account of themselves though I am nevertheless impressed by the VI rendition.

Anyway, the trombones oddity aside, your rough draft sounds very good to me and promises a great final result. Very well done!

Posted on Sun, Dec 13 2020 21:20
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 1172

Macker, thank you for listening!

I can't stress enough that these are non-edited renditions, apart for some level balancing. The score, Dorico playing it, the sound player performing the unedited notes.

Originally Posted by: Macker Go to Quoted Post

But something very odd grabbed my ear in the BBO version and I haven't been able to work out what's going on there. It's most audible when the trombones begin their thematic melody

The score has three trombones playing together the same line. With the VI version I could use three different trombones from the Dimension Brass collection. With BBO, the only thing I could try was to pan them a bit differently. But they are already an ensemble of panned trombones! So, phasing is for sure there (and, it is my impression, takes out something from the spaciousness of the library).

I'm sure it would happen on long notes on the other instruments as well, when doubled. A more savvy strategy with BBO: use ensembles when unison is called in, and the old woodwinds and brass when solo are required. The mix between Synchron and Synchronized should be very effective. I'll try this combination as well.

Quote:

Also, in the BBO version the trombones sound very dark and a bit boomy

Two hypotheses: this may be the original character of Hercules, or an artifact of compression. There is just a bit, and it is parallel compression leaving the original signal pass through, but it may jump in in that louder passage. I'll try to do another experiment balancing everything better.

Paolo

Posted on Mon, Dec 14 2020 11:56
by Macker
Joined on Tue, Aug 21 2018, London, Posts 357

Ah yes, using Hercules - all bass trombones - would to some extent explain the darker timbre. 

And ok, now I understand there is phasing. Also, this might be where the trombone timbre is darkened even more, as some fequency bands are reinforced while others tend to cancel, Whatever the exact causes, the dark trombone timbre contributes to a collision/overcrowding issue in the low mid frequency range, where the low strings and low end of brass are all competing in the same spectral space.

I did hear some compression starting to work hard when trombones lead the whole orchestra into the huge thematic passage, and I have no doubt it's not easy to tame (insofar as taming is needed for audio reproduction) this leap into mighty fortissimo. Not sure what I'd do there - perhaps try a very long gentle knee on quite a low threshold at low ratio (mastering style), avoiding any hint of the slamming effect of compression kicking in abruptly.

I'm surprised you didn't use Zodiac for the trombones' tutti line. That was where I thought Zodiac could really shine; even trounce Berliner Phil's rendition. After all, trombones have the star part in this magnificent overture. But on thinking about it, given that Zodiac's 9 trombones are all tenors it might be tricky to mimic the timbral balance of the 6 trombones in Berliner Phil's recording. Though it's almost impossible to see in the video, I'm guessing Karajan simply doubled the usual 2 tenors + 1 bass trombone specified in the score. To match that tenor/bass balance of trombone timbres, perhaps adding Hercules's 4 bass trombones to Zodiac's 9 tenors might do the trick. (And then of course there'd be a problem to be solved at the end of the overture where trombones play in 3-part divisi for the closing 13 bars - but let's not go there, lol.)

Problems, problems - ah the endless joys of digital emulation ... lolol.

I'm in awe of your energy and get-it-done approach, Paolo. Although a bit burnt out on several fronts these days I haven't lost my essential passion and enjoyment in the ever-improving realm of digital emulation. Thanks ever so much for brightening the world with your projects.

Laters.

Posted on Mon, Dec 14 2020 22:55
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 1172

Originally Posted by: Macker Go to Quoted Post

I'm in awe of your energy and get-it-done approach, Paolo. Although a bit burnt out on several fronts these days I haven't lost my essential passion and enjoyment in the ever-improving realm of digital emulation.

While these are really hard times (a sum of everything – and the year is not yet over!), this is my preferred game, and a very effective way of evading. So, I hope to push others to enter this fantastic game!

Paolo

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