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Topic: about orchestration

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  1. #1

    about orchestration

    Hi,

    I heard a lot of film music these last days, and, each time, I have the same feeling; how would sound this piece beeing played by a real orchestra? I mean, would we hear a flute solo in low register while brass section is playing loud scales?
    Gary was talking about that in a recent post, during rehersalls for the winner of the GPO competition, orchestration problems appears.
    Even GPO is a fantastic tool for composers, we all know that, it's not the reality, and many of composers should be carrefull with this.
    As a professional player, I record some music - specialy contemporary music- and I'm both amazed and affraid when I see what you're able to do with the mastering; in one way, you have a very good sound and result, but in other way it's not the reality, it's not what you hear while playing during a performance.
    Virtual make your dreams come true, but the reality is so different...
    On mac G 5 2x2,5 Ghz, 2,5 Go RAM

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Re: about orchestration

    Of course an emulation using sound samples is not the real thing. Even so, balance problems of this nature will only occur if the editing is unrealistic. It possible to balance and pan the individual parts so that final mix sounds as a member of the audience in a good seat would hear it, and the sound of the instruments are an accurate representation of their register and articulation. But getting this balance and mix right is not something anybody can walk off the street and accomplish simply because they have bought a sound library. It is performing skill, perhaps an art, in its own right. The book to read is Paul Gilreath's Guide to Midi Orchestration.

  3. #3

    Re: about orchestration

    I try not to tweak the volumes on GPO because they are set pretty realistically. To go with the MIDI orchestration book I very, very highly recommend Kent Kennan's "The Technique of Orchestration". You gotta know the real thing before any synthesis of it can be made. I find if good orchestration is used, the demo will be already realistic without much or any tweaking in MIDI. That is how good GPO is.
    Jess Hendricks
    DMA Student and Teaching Asst in Music Theory/ Composition at the University of Miami
    Personal Website

  4. #4
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    Re: about orchestration

    Quote Originally Posted by jesshmusic
    I try not to tweak the volumes on GPO because they are set pretty realistically.
    I have difficulties to under that. There is
    ppp and fff... ???

    LG
    www.synestesia.com

  5. #5

    Re: about orchestration

    It all depends on your intent. If you are writing music to support a film, and your artistic vision includes a low flute line audible above loud brass, then there is nothing wrong with making that happen. It is important to remember that it wouldn't work well in a concert hall setting, so that you won't be disappointed later if that opportunity comes up. But that doesn't mean you can't make a conscious decision to write it, if that's what you want the audience to hear in your soundtrack.

    I've used backwards harp in a soundtrack... somehow I think that would be even harder to pull off live
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  6. #6

    Re: about orchestration

    I personally think that makes technology a crutch to orchestration skill. But, oh well. I will say that the film composers I tend to like are the more skilled orchestrators, with the exception of Danny Elfman who doesn't read a note of music. His orchestrator is really good.

    To me one of the great challenges in writing for ensembles from duets to symphonies is finding knew textures that can be done in a concert hall. This is the great joy of orchestration to me. If I wanted low flute playing with brass, they would have mutes and be playing pianissimo.
    Jess Hendricks
    DMA Student and Teaching Asst in Music Theory/ Composition at the University of Miami
    Personal Website

  7. #7

    Re: about orchestration

    Quote Originally Posted by lgrohn
    I have difficulties to under that. There is
    ppp and fff... ???

    LG
    www.synestesia.com

    Sorry if I was unclear, I meant the actual volume, not the mod wheel. Some stuff is off, in my opinion, but I tend to remember what everytime I load the orchestra. I think the brass is set too low, esp. the trumpets. It should take two Horns to equal one trumpet at forte.

    The bassoons may be just a tad too low, but they are quite instruments and are usually lost in the texture of tutti sections and should usually double there to reenforce the bass. Beethoven in his 9th Symphony among other orchestration goofs has the bassoons playing runs by themselves during the full tutti choral part. They are totally lost in the blend. Very few would notice if the bassoons laid out entirely.

    The pizzicato seems to be set at default too low compared to the arco strings unless Key Switch is used.

    The timpani seems low, I can never get it right. It should have a wider dynamic range. It can play quiter than any instrument in the orchestra and at the same time can easily overpower all but the biggest orchestras.

    Does Native Instruments set those volumes? I am sure Gary had some feedback into the process, because the levels are for the most part quite close.

    But I am rambling....
    Jess Hendricks
    DMA Student and Teaching Asst in Music Theory/ Composition at the University of Miami
    Personal Website

  8. #8

    Re: about orchestration

    Maybe it's just me. I find that you have to be a really good orchestrator to make this midi stuff sound half way decent unless you're content doing block chord type pad stuff.

    I find that if my orchestrations aren't good I have to spend too much time mixing in order to make it sound decent. And, really, who's got the time to do that. So I just make sure that it's well orchestrated and the mix practically takes care of itself.

    Jose

  9. #9

    Re: about orchestration

    Quote Originally Posted by josejherring
    Maybe it's just me. I find that you have to be a really good orchestrator to make this midi stuff sound half way decent unless you're content doing block chord type pad stuff.

    I find that if my orchestrations aren't good I have to spend too much time mixing in order to make it sound decent. And, really, who's got the time to do that. So I just make sure that it's well orchestrated and the mix practically takes care of itself.

    Jose
    Its not just you - good orchestration really is key when working with samples. When I hear a piece/demo played by the highest quality libraries that sounds fake and synthy, the cause is almost always poor orchestration choices - or poor choice of articulation. One can't get lazy with one's patch changes! If you are given a dozen different flavours of staccato, there is a reason for each and every one of them to be there.

    Excessive mixing and twiddling is something that really irritates me - after all, a real orchestra sounds perfect just as it is.

  10. #10

    Re: about orchestration

    Don't feel bad guys, orchestration without MIDI is hard enough. I took composition for my Under-grad work for 8 semesters, and Orchestration for one. Plus studying scores for the past 8 years until I get back in school fall of 2006 to get my Masters in Composition and another 2 years getting my Doctorate. Then there is still more to learn.

    Jess Hendricks
    DMA Student and Teaching Asst in Music Theory/ Composition at the University of Miami
    Personal Website

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