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Topic: FX for a symphonic orchestra

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  1. #1

    Smile FX for a symphonic orchestra

    When I hear the GPO show programming I'm really surprised for the great sound some people can achieve.
    I'd like to know specific parameters that work ok with GPO (reverb, compressor, etc.)
    There's a very nice GPO tutorial but it doesn't go down to tell you specific parameters to use.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Decatur Illinois
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    901

    Re: FX for a symphonic orchestra

    It sort of depends on how you are using GPO. I use it as a VST plugin inside of Cubase. Then I use a free reverb plug called softdxlight I think or "Ambience which is included with GPO. I set it up as a send effect so that I only need one instance and send each instrument to the bus. But most of the realism comes more from working with the modulation wheel or the modulation parameter to get realistic attacks, swells and dynamics in general. Those are the main things that I work with anyway. Other than that I'll spend quite a bit of time mixing levels which sometimes means adjusting the output volume overall for an instruments on Cubase's mixer or just readjusting the modulation parameters overall. Hope this helps.


    Eric

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Salisbury, UK
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    312

    Re: FX for a symphonic orchestra

    I think it might help if you look again at the string ensemble building tutorial on the GPO site. It is not only a question of setting global parameters. The opposite. Extreme realism is more to do with shading the dynamic line of the score in a very expressive way, and at the same time assembling the instruments of a section individually, adding to each its unique 'imperfections' of note start time and velocity curve. It is not a quick process. But it has been speeded mightily by the new midi editing facilities in Overture 4.

  4. #4

    Re: FX for a symphonic orchestra

    If by "specific parameters" you mean actual settings for EQ, compression, and reverb, there is no hard and fast rule. It takes a lot of time and many mistakes to get the most out of the software.

    For example, I love the new PerfectSpace convolution reverb that was included with Sonar 5 PE. I have a couple of different impulse responses for concert halls that sound absolutely fabulous with the right material. But I choose with my ears the one I like best for any given piece by actually listening to long sections through each setting. I also try many different settings on the amount of reverb for each orchestral section. But comparing my work files will reveal that none of the settings match between any two of them.

    I also tend to use different impulse files for smaller halls, stages, etc if the piece is for a chamber group. Some pieces I don't go the convolution route at all, or I might pick an unusual effect, if I'm not going for "realistic."

    All of this can also be said for EQ, compression, and any other processing or effects you might use.

    In case you're curious, I always write in Sonar, with GPO as a VST plugin. About 80% of my notes are input by hand with the mouse in the piano roll view, and the rest is played on my MIDI keyboard. By the time a piece is done, I will have likely edited every single note velocity five or six times, and redrawn by hand many CC1 curves hundreds of times. I constantly adjust relative volume between instruments, section sends to reverb, and continue to do so long after many would have considered the piece "finished."

    In short, it takes a lot of sweat to make it really shine.
    - Jamie Kowalski

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

  5. #5

    Re: FX for a symphonic orchestra

    By the way, I'd be happy to share the settings of all my effects on any of my pieces, if you hear a sound you like. I'm not promising it will sound the same when applied to your material, but I don't mind sharing for the curious.
    - Jamie Kowalski

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

  6. #6

    Re: FX for a symphonic orchestra

    Quote Originally Posted by Skysaw
    By the way, I'd be happy to share the settings of all my effects on any of my pieces, if you hear a sound you like. I'm not promising it will sound the same when applied to your material, but I don't mind sharing for the curious.
    Jamie,

    I'm pretty much in the same boat as fjrichart. Thanks for that offer to this thread...we'll get back to you later in the week after doing some listening.

    I'm just a hobbyist and definitely a newbie to audio and mixing. I'm getting to the point where understand the mod and velocity curve aspects as it applies to midi (working in Overture 4), as well as reverb applied to the whole piece (on the Master in Sonar 4). But what I am wondering about is use of compression and EQ after you have converted to audio...I've gotten the feeling from reading various posts that compression and EQ is not used much, if at all, with GPO. What is your experience?

    I never get a sound that I am really happy with...and never as good a sound as what I hear in the demos here, so I'm trying to figure out if I just need to do a LOT more tweaking with mod and velocity or if I need to start venturing into effects to get a more realistic sound.

    Others are invited to chime in here, as well!
    ;-)

    Jim Jarnagin - no not THAT Jim Jarnagin, the other one.

  7. #7

    Re: FX for a symphonic orchestra

    Quote Originally Posted by southportJim
    I'm getting to the point where understand the mod and velocity curve aspects as it applies to midi (working in Overture 4), as well as reverb applied to the whole piece (on the Master in Sonar 4).
    I never put reverb directly on the master bus. I recommend creating a new bus for the reverb, and sending the GPO tracks through it. That way, you can have varying amounts on different sections without overloading the CPU. For example, I sometimes put just a tiny bit more on the brass.

    But what I am wondering about is use of compression and EQ after you have converted to audio...I've gotten the feeling from reading various posts that compression and EQ is not used much, if at all, with GPO. What is your experience?
    Compression and EQ should only be used if you need them. Using them on the final audio is usually considered in the realm of mastering, and that's a VERY deep subject. It's easy to find a lot of free info on that subject all over the web, but I'm still slowly learning. When I had a rock CD made, I went to a professional in my area to do the mastering.

    I often use subtle compression on the master bus in Sonar, just to slightly flatten the dynamic range, and even things out a bit. It's totally a matter of taste there.

    On individual tracks, I might EQ something that is sticking out in a strange way. For example, I sometimes find the sound of the violin sections (Short+Sust, esp) to be a bit on the bright side, and I might cut a tiny bit somewhere around 2khz. I recently had a plaintive oboe solo that came out just a little shrill, and softened it with some EQ.

    Another trick I've done is to heavily compress the bass drum, if you want a gigantic wallop.

    I never get a sound that I am really happy with...and never as good a sound as what I hear in the demos here, so I'm trying to figure out if I just need to do a LOT more tweaking with mod and velocity or if I need to start venturing into effects to get a more realistic sound.
    If it sounds good going in, it will sound great when effects are properly applied. Even the best reverb in the world can't make it real, if it wasn't already almost there.

    What sound card are you using? What effects and settings do you typically use?
    - Jamie Kowalski

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

  8. #8

    Re: FX for a symphonic orchestra

    Quote Originally Posted by Skysaw
    What sound card are you using? What effects and settings do you typically use?
    Jamie,

    I'm at work now so I can't answer in much detail. The card is an M-Audio Delta 44. With Overture 4, I draw in Mod curves and "record to file" for each track (totally dry), then import each audio track into Sonar4 and use either the Sonitus reverb or Garritan Ambience on the master bus. Ambience is usually set to the Ballroom1 or Jazz Club1 presets...don't remember what I usually use for Sonitus.

    I'll start out by trying what you suggest with putting the reverb on a different bus and "slight" compression on the master. The "Sus+Short" strings is what I have been using lately and they do always seem too bright, so I'll experiment with the EQ you suggested, as well.

    But I suspect that my main problem is not enough MOD and velocity tweaking. I listened to your "autumn_concerto.mp3" a couple of times during lunch and it sounds like your doing a LOT more shaping of individual phrases than I typically do.

    Thanks for the reply,
    jim

    ;-)

    Jim Jarnagin - no not THAT Jim Jarnagin, the other one.

  9. #9

    Re: FX for a symphonic orchestra

    Your card should be fine. My main suggestion would be to do the GPO instances and the controller editing from within Sonar. That way, you can adjust them as you compile the perfect mix.

    I haven't announced Atumn Concerto yet, as it isn't finished, but the mp3 you listened to does have most of the shaping on it I intend to do. Here are technical points of how the file is set up. Apologies for the extremely long description, but I want you to see how much sweat can be shed on something like this.

    GPO INSTANCES
    1 = Flute solo KS, Alto Flute Solo, Oboe 1 Modern Solo, Oboe 2 Modern Solo, Eb Clarinet, Bb Clarinet Solo, Bassoon 2 Solo (as bsn I), Basson 1 Solo (as bsn II). I use the Bb Clar as Clar I in the first few opening bars, but switch around a bit, depending on the tone I want.

    2 = Piccolo NV Solo, Flute Solo NV. I use the piccolo for only one note in the piece. I often like to make flute II non-vibr while flute I is vibr. I don't know why, but it often sounds right to me.

    3 = French Horn 2 solo (as hn I), French Horn 1 solo (as hn II), Tpt 1 Plr1, Tpt 2 Plr2. I usually use trumpet solos 1 and 2, but for this piece tpt 2's tone was much too brassy in the range I'm using these. They aren't used much anyway until the ending louder sections.

    4 = Marimba KS, Chromatic Harp 1

    5 = "KS Combo" patches for Vlns 1, 2, Violas, Cellos, Basses. I use a tiny EQ notch at about 1.5k hz

    6 = Steinway Piano

    REVERB
    I use one bus for Reverb, in which I've placed PerfectSpace, with an impulse from the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. I added just a tiny delay within that plug-in that delays the reverb by 8 ms. This is the first time I've tried that, but I've found it opens up the sound just a bit. I set the "dry" signal to zero so I'm only getting the wet reverb itself on this bus. The input gain on the bus is set at -13 db... don't want too much in there to muddy up the works!

    The routings into the reverb bus vary between the different sections. The send on the piano is set to -2 db. I wanted less on it, as I wanted it more present and to sound closer. The woodwinds are at 0db, by comparison. Subtle, but it adds to the realism.

    I use Timeworks CompressorX on the master FX bin. I'm still fiddling with this, but it's currently at a ratio of 1/1.5 with a threshold of -25, i.e., not a whole lot.

    CONTROLLER DATA
    Every note for each individual instrument has much in the way of CC#1 data, and I won't use the same shape for oboe I as I use for oboe II, for example. Most last notes of passages end in the shape of a sharp slope, ending at zero, even if it only lasts for a fraction of a second. I find this makes a more believable tail.

    OTHER
    I usually partially quantize, but add in a low "random" setting. No two instruments are playing at exactly the same time, unless by coincindence. All velocities are edited by hand until they sound perfect. I sometimes draw a slope on the velocities for a crescendo, but later select them all, and process it to randomize slightly.

    I use Var1 and Var2 in the GPO player on every single wind instrument, usually at a setting of somewhere between 4 and 8. This just spices it up a bit with a few imperfections.

    There are a couple of tracks that I have also assigned a MIDI volume envelope on when I didn't feel that a zero mod-wheel setting had that instrument playing quietly enough for a given passage.

    If all of this does not sound anal enough for you, consider that I still intend to break up the strings into several more GPO instances, one for pizz, one for short bows, etc., to have more control. That way, I can use the "length" control differently, have different reverb send levels, etc. I may also do some "ensemble building" with a few solo strings thrown in, depending on how satisfied I am with that.
    - Jamie Kowalski

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

  10. #10

    Re: FX for a symphonic orchestra

    Quote Originally Posted by Skysaw
    Apologies for the extremely long description, but I want you to see how much sweat can be shed on something like this.
    Jamie,

    No apologies needed...this is exactly the kind of detail I'm looking for. Thanks! I'll start out with a short passage of music in Sonar with things setup as you say so I can get the ideas down.

    Thanks again for the help!
    ;-)
    jim

    Jim Jarnagin - no not THAT Jim Jarnagin, the other one.

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