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Topic: Sampled Orchestra vs. Live Orchestra

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  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Sampled Orchestra vs. Live Orchestra

    I\'ve been asked a lot lately by my clients to justify my desires to use live orchestras in my productions; the argument being that sample libraries are so good that you can no longer tell the difference. I totally disagree with this argument to the extent that I believe the larger budget for live orchestra is still completely justified. Will libraries such as VSL render this opinion outdated? Only time will tell, but for now the difference in my mind is as clear as night and day and that makes the answer to this question a definite \"no\".

    Fortunately, I\'ve been able to shift my clientel from a cheap minded base to a base which desires higher quality. Honestly, I have to say that I don\'t think I would have been able to make this shift if I didn\'t start producing higher quality stuff, so one could say that by using live orchestras, I\'ve bumped my professional stature up a notch but I doubt that this is a definitive reason why.

    For my first 8 years as a professional, I spent it composing with synths and samplers because I drifted along with a clientel and employers who required nothing more of me, and frankly wouldn\'t have even considered funding more traditional means. However, I was trained with pencil and paper so I\'d been quietly lamenting a time when I could return to my roots as an orchestral composer. Well, a couple of years ago I decided that I was going to do it, so I quit my cushy job and created a demo using music that I funded an orchestra for. The gamble is paying off and I\'m much happier with my career as a result.

    For my latest demo, I decided to go back to some of my older compositions and redo them with live orchestra. I posted to this forum a piece of music that I did for a short film which was positively recieved and recognized by this group as one of the better examples of sampled orchestras sounding real for the time. Keep in mind this was a couple of years ago, so what might have stood up then might not as much now. Regardless, I wanted to post the old version of that with a contrast of a newer version which I had played live, to open up a discussion of the differences between the 2. Since I stopped doing all-sampled music right after this piece, I think it\'s safe to assume that this is one of my best attempts at it. Have a listen here:

    http://www.dramaticmusic.com/audio/Blades_Samples.mp3

    Now contrast that version with this new live version:

    http://www.dramaticmusic.com/audio/Blades.mp3

    This latest version is live 31 piece orchestra, playing with a click, augmented with samples for a bigger sound. Besides a couple of minor orchestration changes, the tune is pretty much intact with the original mockup that I did in the first one.

    So, what is it exactly between these 2 pieces of music that makes one sound \"ok\" and the other like a big fat swinging orchestra? Well, I believe it\'s because there is some sort of magic that happens when live players are in a room together attacking a piece of music. This is an example of why I believe that no sample library will ever render live musicians obsolete.

    What do you think?

  2. #2

    Re: Sampled Orchestra vs. Live Orchestra

    hehee I remember that piece.

    I dont ever think samples will be the same as live players. However I do think that the difference will begin to dwindle with the new libraries and tools, and the application of the music will ultimately determine whether or not hiring a live orcehstrais worth the budget. If its not, then having the best samples to get the job done is important.

  3. #3

    Re: Sampled Orchestra vs. Live Orchestra

    IOComposer, I agree that live players can do a much better job at almost anything - no doubt about it. I cant imagine the majority of movie scores done with samples libraries. That said, I think it is possible to make something much better than your initial attempt with the samples available today.

  4. #4
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    Re: Sampled Orchestra vs. Live Orchestra

    Originally posted by Lee Blaske:

    As to whether live orchestras will ever be totally replaced by samples or virtual instruments, forever is a long time. [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">I can\'t help but interprate that comment as something that you welcome and even rejoice. For me, I would be really sad if I could no longer justify the budgets that allow me to work with my friends and employ the people who helped me get to where I am.

    Anyway, here\'s something from my more recent catalog, if anyone\'s interested [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]
    http://www.dramaticmusic.com/audio/Magic.mp3

    -J

  5. #5

    Re: Sampled Orchestra vs. Live Orchestra

    Like anyone here would not be interested in great work like that. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

    Sean

  6. #6

    Re: Sampled Orchestra vs. Live Orchestra

    yah you suck Jamey

    [img]images/icons/tongue.gif[/img]

    hehe, good stuff [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

  7. #7

    Re: Sampled Orchestra vs. Live Orchestra

    Well, keep in mind that soon enough an old generation of composers for whom live orchestras was the norm will be replaced by a generation of composers for whom sampled orchestras are the norm!

    I am already hearing sampled orchestras in television and some movies. Sometime I feel that the usage of the real thing was slightly unwarranted. The score for Taken could have easily (IMHO) been executed by a sampled orchestra (sequenced and mixed well of course). While movies like LOTR:TTT will always gravitate towards the real thing, movies like Two Weeks or Maid in Manhattan can just as easily work with samples.

    Keep in mind I am not implying that one is better than the other, but to think that samples (or some other form of synthesized music) will not eventually replace the majority of film and tv productions is to ignore the inevitable.

  8. #8
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    Re: Sampled Orchestra vs. Live Orchestra

    I\'m gonna check out the two samples you posted but I think it would have been more fun if you didn\'t say what was what....

    Yeah I know all of you could have picked them out after two notes, but still. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

    Can\'t listen right now, my lady is calling me in to watch \"Panic Room\" hope the score is good.... I mean the film? [img]images/icons/tongue.gif[/img]

    Interesting subject!

    KID-

  9. #9

    Re: Sampled Orchestra vs. Live Orchestra

    Hi IOcomposer - Long time no see [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

    I agree with all of you. Samples will never take over for all the incredible musicians in the world, for many reasons.

    I enjoyed \"Magic\", good composition!

    Thomas

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Re: Sampled Orchestra vs. Live Orchestra

    Oh boy! Checking this thread this morning was like Christmas again! Thanks for all of the compliments everyone. I had forgotten how supportive this bb was as I\'ve been away for so long. Just been very busy with my family and work, so things like bbs just sort of slid by in my priorities.

    Good to see so many familiar names still here [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]
    -J

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