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Topic: What is YOUR route from prepared score to mixing and recording?

  1. #1

    What is YOUR route from prepared score to mixing and recording?

    Having completed the preparation of a piece of music, would anyone mind sharing with me how they mix, balance and record their work?

    I would be particularly interested in those who use notation programs to prepare music.

    So, you have completed your score and have selected your instruments in your notation software (Finale, Sibelius, Overture etc.). What is your process from completed score to finished CD?

    I use Finale 2006a to complete my scores. I know that Finale now is able to save to a .wav file but I am not terribly happy with the quality of the finished recording. I have read on the Finale forums a few grumbles about the quality of playback in Finale. People there have complained of a 'muffled' sound. I have tried recording through an external hardware digital recorder (Boss BR 864 Digital Studio) then transferring the file to my computer for burning. No improvement really; I suppose this is to be expected as I'm still playing the sounds through Finale!

    I have listened to many examples of other people's recordings here in the forums and am impressed with the clarity of sound. How do you do it?

    I know that GPO bundles Kontakt Player and Steinberg Cubasis. I did initially set up Finale with Kontakt Player. I know that Cubasis has full mixing, ambience and recording capabilities. I believe that many people here use Cubasis but can a notation score be imported into Cubasis for mixing etc?

    Soooo .. what is the best route from a completed notation score (particularly Finale) to finished CD recording? I am prepared to pay out for really good, user friendly software if necessary to achieve best results.

    I apologise if this is considered very basic and would really appreciate it if people shared their method.

    Many thanks.
    Patience is a virtue, sensitivity is a gift

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Jersey City, NJ (sort of...)

    Re: What is YOUR route from prepared score to mixing and recording?

    I think a lot of people export their notation as MIDI, then import it into a sequencer, like Cubase, Sonar, DP, etc.

    For what I just did, I printed out the score and performed each part, one by one, into the sequencer. I did this because I wanted to control the performance of each part with the real-time controls available, and I wanted to interpret the written score, not have it sound exactly as written. It takes longer, but for what I was doing, it was the best option.

    But it sounds to me like your best option would be the first: export from Finale as MIDI, import into Cubase, assign the instruments, add some reverb, and edit the mod wheel, velocity, etc.

    You might also want to look into Overture 4.
    Nigam Shah

    American Songbook Project

  3. #3

    Re: What is YOUR route from prepared score to mixing and recording?

    I use Sibelius to create the score. I use my GPO Plugin for Sibelius (click link in my sig) to create an articulated version and then export that to Digital Perfomer for mixing.

    You frankly can't get a good mix out of any notation progam today. Until they implement a real mixer and are able to add effects you're never going to achieve in notaton what you can get in a DAW.

  4. #4

    Re: What is YOUR route from prepared score to mixing and recording?

    I create the score in Finale 2005 with GM sounds (I don't bother setting up GPO instruments).

    I export as a midi file to Sonar and assign tracks to GPO instruments and any controller tweaks are added along with any volume automation. I may also edit and occasionaly add notes in score view.

    Each track is recorded as audio to a Roland VS2400CD for EQ, reverb and mastering using midi sync to control the timing.

  5. #5

    Re: What is YOUR route from prepared score to mixing and recording?

    Quote Originally Posted by nigamshah
    I think a lot of people export their notation as MIDI, then import it into a sequencer, like Cubase, Sonar, DP, etc.
    Michael, I pretty much do the above. I'd say about 90% of the time.

    But there are times when I print it out and record in real-time. You just have to sometimes to get the real feel you are looking for. And recording it in realtime takes WAY less time than tweaking this or adjusting that in MIDI editing, which is something to do to give you the basic same feel as though you had recorded it directly.

    Even after recording things in realtime, I STILL will go back and tweak, tweak and then still TWEAK SOME MORE. There are a LOT of demos on this forum. And almost all of the really really good ones (speaking in terms of realism, NOT in taste or compositional structure, etc), are a result of a LOT of time spent by the composer/arranger tweaking this or that to make it sound the way he/she NEEDS it to sound.

    Finale's HP is nice, and getting better with each release, but I consider it to be a good place to BEGIN with your tweaking, since IT, not you, interprets your music using the dynamics, tempi and "style" you choose. The tiny stuff after that is what is needed to really make your music shine.

    I personally like to do the ensemble building that is unique to GPO. That doesn't do well within the notation program, unless you want to have dozens of hidden staves later on. I do this to add depth, clarity and color that you don't get with the straight section patches. This also allows better "dequantization" so that starting times aren't all on the same exact nanosecond. When using the var 1 and var 2 wisely, it gives a much better realistic performance for each instrument in your ensemble.

    But even after all the tweaking is done with, I save each track as an audio track snd tweak even more with the volumes.

    THAT is how to go from Score to finished, realistic audio file of your score.

    Finale's MIDI tool is horrible interfacing with. I am not sure about Sibelius, But I do know that Overture's is the best for a notation program out there.
    Basic moral to the tale?
    Good results take time. lots of it.

    Jerry Wickham
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  6. #6

    Re: What is YOUR route from prepared score to mixing and recording?

    The consensus is to create the performance with a sequencer. There are three ways to do this:

    1) Play the parts in "live". This gives the most human feel, and is relatively fast. You can temporarily slow the tempo to play in difficult parts. You can fix problems, and fine tune things with the mouse.
    2) "Mouse in" the notes, expression and everything. This is slow and may sound mechanical.
    3) Export the MIDI from a notation program to the sequencer. Tweak from there with the mouse. If the notation program has already humanized the playback, you won't have to do as much tweaking as (2).

    I've taken all three approaches. (1) works very well for percussion-based music, and music that is simple enough to improvise. I sometimes notate problem areas on paper to work out counterpoint and harmony, but I still play it in live. This approach is great in that you can improvise until something "clicks", then record it and build on it. You can find the best match between your style and the samples available.

    Approach (2) is great for techno styles, and for atonal music. The piano roll doesn't force you into diatonic thinking, nor is it prone to notes that fall to hand.

    Approach (3) is best if you are most comfortable with notation. It's great for harmony and counterpoint. It might not be the best for interesting percussion and expressive melodies.

    In approaches (1) and (2) one would need to make a copy of the performance, quantize it, and export it to your notation program, if you want a paper score. Even in aproach (3), I go from notation to sequencer, get the performance finalized, and then go back into the score to make the final version. There's no need to fine tune the score (correct accidentals, articulation markings, hairpins, breaking into parts) if you risk making major changes to get the final performance to sound just right.

    I started with approach (3), but now lean towards (1) with a bit of (2), when I can't play things tightly enough.

    They all work though. The keyboard, mouse and staff are all valid tools. But the common piece remains: the performance is best done in the sequencer, whether it's Sonar, Cubase, DP or Logic.

    I should also mention that Overture 4 is a notation package that includes sequencer features. I haven't used it, so I can't say that it completely removes the need for a sequencer, though it may.

    I'd recommend downloading the demos for the five products that I've mentioned above. The one that falls to hand most comfortably is the one for you.


  7. #7

    Re: What is YOUR route from prepared score to mixing and recording?

    You're not seriously talking about using Finale's playback as a final audio track for a piece of music are you? Because if you are my brother, we've got to get you to the church on time!

    Some people import the midi data into a sequencer to get the notes there, but I say don't even do that. Use the notation program for notation and nothing else. For the sequencer, play every damn note yourself. Believe me, for the amount of time you'll spend tweaking the imported notes to sound "human," you may as well play 'em down. EVBERY NOTE my brother! It's bad enough that we all use sample libraries to generate the audio for our "orchestral scores." But, given that the NY "Philly" is running some steep rates these days, we do what we must. However, that's all the more reason to impart at least SOME human element into this jernt.

    PLAY THE NOTES, man. You don't want that shnyite soundin' like "Square City." Or worse...Mickey Rourke's mom!

    Love, luck, and Luscious Jackson.

    -Ud Duck

  8. #8

    Re: What is YOUR route from prepared score to mixing and recording?

    Many thanks for your replies.

    As I have never tried this route before, I'll take it one step at a time starting with the familiar. I saved a Finale score as a MIDI file and imported this into Cubasis.

    Once I have taken this to the recording stage successfully then I'll start playing around more with the helpful options that have been suggested.

    I have a hiccup in that 'Personal Orchestra VST' is not listed in my Cubasis VST Instruments List. I have a separate post on this in the 'Support and Technical' forum. If you are able to help with this, please call in here.

    (Hope this is not considered cross posting.)

    Many thanks again for your help.
    Patience is a virtue, sensitivity is a gift

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