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Topic: Saxes -a Holy Grail in Sampling - Are We There Yet?

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  1. #1
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    Saxes -a Holy Grail in Sampling - Are We There Yet?

    Saxophone has always been one of the holy grails of sampling. The amount of expression and nuances make this a very difficult instrument to make a convincing rendition with samples.

    Joaz has undertaken the task of realizing a sampled sax solo. What he has done is to model a solo from a track from the Sirius B album "Casa do Sol" featuring Tenor player is Iain Ballamy, one of the UK's top Jazz musicians. With Iain Ballamy's permission and the help of Markleford Friedman, Joe has mocked up this tenor sax solo demo:

    Iain Ballamy Tenor Sax Solo Demo



    This demo was make with the third Tenor Sax in the Jazz and Big Band library, as well as the fretted bass, electric piano and fusion drum kit. Because a real sax solo is performance-driven, many different performance controllers were used to shape articulations asnd phrases (velocity, pitch wheel, aftertouch, cc1, 12, 13, 17, 21, 22, 23, 26, 64 legato) and this represents a departure from a brute-force samples approach. If you want to know how its done and see a tutorial go to this thread:
    http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/...ad.php?t=44565

    Kudos to Joaz and Markleford for doing an oustanding job!

    I don't think we'll ever be able to replace a sax player with samples. But for sketching and providing a tool for playback we may have taken a leap forward.

    Do you think we are closer to a decent sax with samples now? Do you think this demo suceeds? And how do you think it can be made better?


    Gary Garritan

  2. #2
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    Re: Saxes -a Holy Grail in Sampling - Are We There Yet?

    I would suggest delaying the solo notes a few ticks to possibly make it sound a bit more in the pocket swing-wise, but it sounds really good as it is.

  3. #3
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    Re: Saxes -a Holy Grail in Sampling - Are We There Yet?

    Not my sort of music at all Gary (as I think you may have realised by now )

    However, I felt that the timing was too even.....sounding quantised and I think that there should be more velocity variation between notes. The tone also seemed too consistent ......it sounded, rather, as if it had been done in notation software. If I'm wrong....sorry. IMHO, this stuff needs a lot of time in a piano roll editor. The more irregular and therefore natural the better....but hey, this has been said a million times already. I'm not convinced that real musicians have the patience for it.....I think you have to be more geeky.....

    Just remember that a) I don't know what I'm talking about and b) it's only my opinion anyway!

    regards

    Frank

    PS I heard an interesting factoid on the radio a couple of weeks ago which stated that classical music sales represent only 5% of CDs sold in the UK (considerably smaller than I realised). They were suggesting that downloaded classic MP3s were the saviour of classical music with respect to possible variety and stockholding. I'm afraid that modern jazz is an even smaller percentage of total music sales (not that that makes it any less relevant I might add........phew, I think i just saved myself in time )......

  4. #4

    Re: Saxes -a Holy Grail in Sampling - Are We There Yet?

    Quote Originally Posted by aplanchard
    I would suggest delaying the solo notes a few ticks to possibly make it sound a bit more in the pocket swing-wise, but it sounds really good as it is.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hardy Heern
    However, I felt that the timing was too even...
    That timing factor makes for an interesting study in itself...

    You can check out the original isolated sax solo audio track (and more of the original files) by following the tutorial link above. How do you think they compare?

    Sometimes I thought our version was too on the beat, but it also seemed to me that if anything the original notes tended to be *anticipated*. I assumed that this was sort of the Brasilian jazz feel. We'll have to get Joaz to answer to the correctness of my assumption!

    More correctly, I suppose theres a bit of ebb and flow between ahead and behind, just as the original track also has a bit of an alternation between straight-eighths and a slight swing at times. It was a first-take improv after all: I suppose if it were rehearsed a few times it would wind up more in the pocket, no? Or whatever might be deemed correct for the Brasilian idiom?

    It's a tricky business to transcribe for MIDI: after all, if the original player rushes or drags, they're *still* canonically correct! As a compromise, I tended to adjust notes by hand, avoiding wholesole quantizing, trying to strike the balance.

    Keep in mind, we don't intend a single mp3 to be the end of this project: it's meant to be interactive! We've provided all the pieces for you to dissect and analyze. Download the MIDI file at the tutorial link and see what you can do to get the groove dialed in with your sax library of choice. Even if it never gets "perfect", it's an excellent way to learn about sax, Brasilian jazz, and more of the ins and outs of your sequencer and sampler.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hardy Heern
    IMHO, this stuff needs a lot of time in a piano roll editor. The more irregular and therefore natural the better....but hey, this has been said a million times already. I'm not convinced that real musicians have the patience for it...
    Not only patience, but time is also a commodity to be carefully spent...

    I've already committed far too much piano roll time on this! In fact, the MIDI has passed through three different sets of hands on and off for a few months. Sure, it could be made better with fine tweakery, but to what end? And how much time is worth it?

    The practical solution is to hire a real sax player. In fact, that's exactly what Joaz did in the first place, long before this idea of an emulation started. Iain need not worry about quitting his day job to seek work as an accountant or sales clerk! He can rip off an excellent solo first take, maybe take a second or third if the producer wants options, and that's the end. No piano-roll tweakery required, no hours squinting at tiny pixels on a screen.

    But I think that these results, though apparently a bit "square" at the moment, make for a pretty good mock-up and moreover a great tool to convey concepts when you actually *do* decide to hire someone. And that's pretty much the point of Garritan Jazz and Big Band, I think.

    - m
    Free MFX and other plugins: http://www.TenCrazy.com/
    Markleford's music: http://www.markleford.com/music/

  5. #5

    Re: Saxes -a Holy Grail in Sampling - Are We There Yet?

    Quote Originally Posted by aplanchard
    I would suggest delaying the solo notes a few ticks to possibly make it sound a bit more in the pocket swing-wise, but it sounds really good as it is.
    And I forgot to address the compliment itself: thanks!

    - m
    Free MFX and other plugins: http://www.TenCrazy.com/
    Markleford's music: http://www.markleford.com/music/

  6. #6
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    Re: Saxes -a Holy Grail in Sampling - Are We There Yet?

    Yes, more ebb and flow......that's what it needs....

    Frank

  7. #7

    Re: Saxes -a Holy Grail in Sampling - Are We There Yet?

    I guess I just can't think of an instance where it would be of any real importance to do a mock up of an "improvised" sax solo. Or is that another one of those movie score things?

  8. #8

    Re: Saxes -a Holy Grail in Sampling - Are We There Yet?

    Quote Originally Posted by Journeyman
    I guess I just can't think of an instance where it would be of any real importance to do a mock up of an "improvised" sax solo. Or is that another on of those movie score things?
    Awww, don't be so glum: it's just a 'learning thing'!

    The fact that it's a solo is just because Joaz had a solo track available. One could just as well take each horn part of an ensemble passage and do the same thing: each requires listening to identify characteristic expressive techniques, and then learning the controllers needed to emulate them.

    Which is the same as learning a "real" instrument, really. Someone who plays an instrument will often listen to another (presumably 'star') player, an inspiration that they'd like to emulate, and then try to copy the style. They'll play along with records, or sit down with pen and paper and try to transcribe it. Even if you take only a fraction of that knowledge into your own personal style, it's illuminating. It adds to your vocabulary.

    The only difference here is that we tried to copy a saxophone with another sort of "instrument". Learning to "play the computer" takes practice, as with anything. You build up your chops by doing exercises.

    So it doesn't matter that I practiced my sample-assembly skills on an improv solo, in the long run: all the knowledge acquired goes to the same storehouse for later retrieval. Having done this, I'm a bit better off in approaching mock-ups of a sax section tutti riff, for instance. Better yet, I still know when it's right to hire a real player.

    - m
    Free MFX and other plugins: http://www.TenCrazy.com/
    Markleford's music: http://www.markleford.com/music/

  9. #9

    Re: Saxes -a Holy Grail in Sampling - Are We There Yet?

    Sounds pleasing to my ears.

    Best,
    Jay

  10. #10

    Re: Saxes -a Holy Grail in Sampling - Are We There Yet?

    Quote Originally Posted by Journeyman
    I guess I just can't think of an instance where it would be of any real importance to do a mock up of an "improvised" sax solo.
    Important, No.
    Fun, yes.
    Educational, yes.

    I am on record in this forum, as belonging to the "Hire the live player" camp. Working with the JABB, good though it is, has not changed my mind.

    But, I learned quite a bit, from this exercise. And it all feeds into writing well for the real thing.

    I honestly dont see samples being any threat to the livelihood of Jazz musicians. And on the upside, I can see how an educationally oriented product like JABB, could deepen the interest of a few people in how Jazz is put together.

    regards Joe

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