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Elgar - Enigma Variations
Last post Wed, Feb 10 2021 by PaoloT, 15 replies.
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Posted on Fri, Jan 29 2021 21:54
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 1190

Hi,

I wanted to test SSP against a very sentimental classical piece. What's more genuinely sentimental than Elgar?

Elgar, Enigma Variations, Thema

--------------------

OLDER VERSIONS:

Here is a first draft (made with Dorico).

Elgar - Enigma Variations - Thema

These are different mixes, all with more ambient:

Elgar - Enigma Variations - Thema (only original mics, Standard edition)

Elgar - Enigma Variations - Thema (with MIRacle added)

Elgar - Enigma Variations - Thema (matched to a vintage recording)

Paolo

EDIT 2021-01-31: Several micro-edits to make it more expressive.

EDIT 2021-02-01: New version, with more ambience and different mixes.

Posted on Sun, Jan 31 2021 18:57
by Fabio Biolcati
Joined on Tue, Aug 06 2013, Posts 197

Very, very nice.
Good starting point. Guess what deeper tuning shall reserve.
Cheers

Fabio Biolcati
SE1 Bundle, SE2&3 Strings; Notion5; Tannoy Reveal 501a
Posted on Sun, Jan 31 2021 20:54
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 1190

Thank you, Fabio! I admit that at the moment I've no idea of what to do to improve it. It is not yet as warm and expressive as I would like, but I wonder if SSP are made to be warm. Any hint would be warmly appreciated!

(Maybe working on the final EQ would be useful. At the moment I've done it so that the result was clean and clear; maybe I should go the other direction).

Paolo

Posted on Mon, Feb 01 2021 02:34
by muziksculp
Joined on Fri, Oct 03 2003, U.S.A., Posts 442

Originally Posted by: PaoloT Go to Quoted Post

Thank you, Fabio! I admit that at the moment I've no idea of what to do to improve it. It is not yet as warm and expressive as I would like, but I wonder if SSP are made to be warm. Any hint would be warmly appreciated!

(Maybe working on the final EQ would be useful. At the moment I've done it so that the result was clean and clear; maybe I should go the other direction).

Paolo

Hi Paolo,

Thanks for sharing your Elgar's Enigma Demo using VSL SSP.

Listening to many commercial recording versions of Elgar's Enigma Variations, and comparing them to your demo using SSP, I noticed that your demo sounds too bright, and too upfront, compared to many of the orchestral recordings, I would suggest adding more room ambience via Reverb, to push back the samples into a more unified and more reverberant space, and use some mid-high frequency cuts to darken the very bright timbre of the strings. 

Cheers,

Muziksculp 

Posted on Mon, Feb 01 2021 13:05
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 1190

Originally Posted by: muziksculp Go to Quoted Post

Listening to many commercial recording versions of Elgar's Enigma Variations, and comparing them to your demo using SSP, I noticed that your demo sounds too bright, and too upfront

Thank you for your hint! I was still in rehearsal mode, with the instruments all next to me! I had use the Tree, Mid and Close mics to make it sound very clear.

Now I tried something different, with a far mix. Three different EQing options. Maybe it works more in tune with the piece.

Paolo

Posted on Wed, Feb 03 2021 17:53
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 1190

I’ve uploaded a new version. This one has a modern tone, without trying to simulate the sound of the old recordings. I have made the winds more expressive, balanced them, and refined the strings a bit more.

The overall sound is not what one could expect from a classic classical orchestra. There is a modern, shiny, faster tone that is all but philological, but is still a perspective on the piece.

Paolo

Posted on Thu, Feb 04 2021 19:03
by Fabio Biolcati
Joined on Tue, Aug 06 2013, Posts 197

Originally Posted by: PaoloT Go to Quoted Post

I’ve uploaded a new version. This one has a modern tone, without trying to simulate the sound of the old recordings. I have made the winds more expressive, balanced them, and refined the strings a bit more.
The overall sound is not what one could expect from a classic classical orchestra. There is a modern, shiny, faster tone that is all but philological, but is still a perspective on the piece.
Paolo

To my taste, the MIRacle version has the better mix of warmth and more-than-subtle brightness.
As for the latest upload, I agree with you it's not the sound you can expect and I suppose it being more refined in terms of programming, but I do not feel comfortable with the crispy tone of the lead strings.
On the other side, I see the "Matching vintage recording" as a well done exercise in style; but why sound dull as a mid-50s recording if you can shine a little bit more?
You did a remarkable overall job, anyway.
Best

Fabio Biolcati
SE1 Bundle, SE2&3 Strings; Notion5; Tannoy Reveal 501a
Posted on Thu, Feb 04 2021 22:26
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 1190

Thank you very much, Fabio. A series of thoughts to be considered. I'm curious to hear other examples of SSP used for classical pieces, and see how 'warm' they can be. Something to try is to equalize the individual sections, starting with the Violins.

At the same time, I think they are already a powerful tool for more modern genres.

Paolo

Posted on Fri, Feb 05 2021 17:22
by Fabio Biolcati
Joined on Tue, Aug 06 2013, Posts 197

Dear Paolo,
can't help on the use of SSP in different environments as this very iMac is going to be able to serve just as a bulky typewriter sooner or later, yet a few free thoughts in this regard.

I think that the inherent quality of the sound of an orchestra — just the strings in this case — is part of conductor's signature style, eg. I don't like how strings sounds under Chailly baton (as I experienced it both live and on record). A sizzling Elgar is a legitimate reading, then.

Plus, we are constantly facing this unsolvable dilemma: what we hear is it the sound of the ensemble or the sound of the recording? I mean, when we listen to a recording from the mid-50, do we assume orchestras sounded dull at the time? Are we mimicking a way of recording things or giving a personal reading of a piece (repertoire or original)? Why not to render the classics with different sounding strings if it suits "our" sound?

Last but not least, thank you for paying tribute to British string music, something I'm fond of!

Cheers

Fabio Biolcati
SE1 Bundle, SE2&3 Strings; Notion5; Tannoy Reveal 501a
Posted on Fri, Feb 05 2021 18:40
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 1190

Great questions, Fabio, great food for thought. I'm overly happy that just discussing of a humble mockup we can think about these big things! I've just recently discovered that Beethoven's tuning fork was tuned at A=455.4Hz. To, classical music at his time was not duller, but (literally) sharper!

Originally Posted by: Fabio Biolcati Go to Quoted Post

Last but not least, thank you for paying tribute to British string music, something I'm fond of!

For my personal lack of competence, I've never studied too much about British music. Since when I started working on Dorico – a British program – I've started to do mockups of Holst, Britten, and now Elgar. Beware of the mesmerizing qualities of that software!

Paolo

Posted on Sat, Feb 06 2021 23:16
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 1190

I took a short pause to test the Synchron Strings Pro with a very different piece – the beginning of Mahler's Sixth Symphony. While Elgar is pouring sweet sentimentality, this one screams loud and bold sense of tragic.

This is just as Dorico plays the written score. I did no edit to the MIDI data, not even tempi. Just notes, dynamic marks, the necessary articulations. I apologize, therefore, for the rough nature of this listening.

Mahler - Sixth Symphony (SSP, SYzd Woodwinds, Dim Brass, VI Percussion)

Mahler - Sixth Symphony (Strings Only)

It's just me, or SSP – fast and nervous – are behaving very well in this case?

Paolo

Posted on Tue, Feb 09 2021 09:58
by Fabio Biolcati
Joined on Tue, Aug 06 2013, Posts 197
Hi Paolo.
Had a listen to strings only version.
It sounds very detailed, a plus in Mahler's performance: to be able to distinctly hear every line for each part.
Again, I feel the sound of SSP, well..., Chailly-ish.

No need to submit you a list of my favourite composers, as you already took the path by yourself!
Fabio Biolcati
SE1 Bundle, SE2&3 Strings; Notion5; Tannoy Reveal 501a
Posted on Tue, Feb 09 2021 18:33
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 1190

Fabio, thank you for listening! It seems that by going around the Arts&Craft, Art Nouveau and Sezession era I can find your preferred composers!

I have to highlight again that this is just a raw flow of data coming out from the Write page of Dorico into the VSL player. I hope to be able to refine it into something at least barely musical.

I've nearly completed my personal expression map/playback template for Dimension Strings, so I'll soon be able to layer them to SSP. Even brighter and colder, but also a good way to make them more alive and 3D. Shame Dorico doesn't do much to help duplicate parts, and layered parts have to be nearly entirely rebuilt.

Paolo

Posted on Tue, Feb 09 2021 19:01
by Fabio Biolcati
Joined on Tue, Aug 06 2013, Posts 197

Sibelius, maybe? Symphony n. 2 or 3…? The Swan of Tuonela… Just jocking!

Have a nice evening!

PS. More seriously, passages from Puccini might be worth some investigation.

Fabio Biolcati
SE1 Bundle, SE2&3 Strings; Notion5; Tannoy Reveal 501a
Posted on Wed, Feb 10 2021 18:23
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 1190

Originally Posted by: PaoloT Go to Quoted Post

I've nearly completed my personal expression map/playback template for Dimension Strings, so I'll soon be able to layer them to SSP.

(The very bad news is – you can't copy CC data in Dorico. Everything has to be entered again from scratch when duplicating a track/staff. This makes layering impossible, unless expression maps are the same for the layered sound libraries; something that can't be done with Synchron Strings Pro and Synchronized Dimension Strings, due to their different set of articulations).

Paolo

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