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Topic: Have we eliminated the need for an orchestra?

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Burbank, CA. US of Mexico

    Have we eliminated the need for an orchestra?

    I\'m hearing a lot of demos these days with ultra convincing orchestral emulations. Some that I honestly could not tell what was real and what was not...and I\'m a professional!

    Have we finally arrived at the point where a sampled orchestra outshines the real thing?? Will Gary\'s strings actually make a sampled score PREFERABLE to the real thing? What keeps investors paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for live orchestras when a clever kid in his bedroom can whip up a comparable score for a couple thousand bucks worth of sample libraries?

  2. #2

    Re: Have we eliminated the need for an orchestra?

    I agree Jamey that orchestral mockups are getting extremely convincing. Have you heard James Newton Howards mockup for Dinosaur on the Keyboard mag site?(www.keyboardmag.com)
    It\'s listed in the \'Features\' section under H. It is quite an impressive piece of work! They have the midi mockup and the real orchestral mockup and the only difference I really hear between the 2 are the brass (still a little synthy sounding in some places). Everything else is incredible. He must have sampled an orchestra himself because the pizzicatos are something I\'ve never heard before. Please take a listen if you haven\'t already.
    Another person who has blowed my mind with mockups is Antonio Genovino from Italy. You can hear his music at mp3.com. His stuff sounds extremely believable.
    I don\'t know if mockups will ever replace the real thing unless the composer can work in extremely fast time. I know it takes me a long time to do an orchestral piece, having to get expression to sound just right, tweaking out notes, etc. but I\'m sure there are guys out there who can crank stuff out in no time. I would love to know how long it took James to do his mockup for Dinosaur just to get an idea of how fast he can crank his stuff out.
    There are some pretty incredible libraries out there as far as Xsamples concert harp, Gigastrings (which I\'m sure will replace all of the string libraries out there now), Miroslavs Brass and Woodwinds (I prefer his solo woodwinds to the enesembles), and AOs woodwinds. Brass still needs to be worked on as far as ensembles go IMO even though there are great sounds from within the available sample libraries, I\'ve yet to hear the holy grail of orchestral brass. Although there are great French horns on Miroslavs woodwinds and brass library and the trombone staccatos are fantastic. I\'m sure Nicks library has some great sounds as well from what I\'ve heard from his demo, I just haven\'t been able to afford it lately.
    All I can say is if I hear a demo that sounds just like track 3, \"The Battle\" from Gladiator, I\'ll fall back in my seat. It would seem to me that making a mockup of that track would take forever, but I\'m sure there are some guys out there that can do it. I know I haven\'t reached that level of perfection yet. There\'s still so much to learn.

    [This message has been edited by Damon (edited 07-24-2001).]

    [This message has been edited by Damon (edited 07-24-2001).]

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Burbank, CA. US of Mexico

    Re: Have we eliminated the need for an orchestra?

    I have heard the Dinosaur demos. That\'s not even close to some of the stuff I\'ve heard recently. I think I\'ve been hearing either custom stuff or very well EQ\'ed and mixed stuff from the standard libraries. I think that there are moments on Nick\'s new demo that definitely pass for ultra convincing.

    However, that\'s not really the point of my post. I\'m really thinking about the ethical implications of what sample libraries and this development has on the traditions of the professional orchestra. What happens when our mock-ups start sounding so good that the producers and directors start asking, \"why don\'t we just cut in these tracks and save some money?\" It\'s bound to happen because of the foundation of the capitalist system. Buy low and sell high; spend a little, make a lot; Hire cheap labor and reap larger profits, etc.

    Once this starts happening, the demand for orchestra will dwindle. It used to be \"ahh...that\'ll never happen...sampled orchestra will never be as good as the real thing\". But it\'s becoming as good. There are many examples now of it being as good and soon there will be floods of them. Soon, if you can\'t emulate an orchestra perfectly, then you won\'t work. It\'s already becoming that way in some of the circles that I find myself in. For a production that can\'t afford an orchestra, you\'re judged upon how well you can emulate one. The best emulation gets the gig. That\'s the way things have evolved and it\'s only going to be getting more and more like this from here on out.

    Just curious as to what you people think of this evolution.

  4. #4

    Re: Have we eliminated the need for an orchestra?

    It\'s been a fact of life ever since someone used a moog bass instead of a real one. Ever since the LM-1 went into studios.

    We\'re simply talking about a difference in scale.

  5. #5

    Re: Have we eliminated the need for an orchestra?

    I think it\'s possible to emulate an orchestra so well, you could not tell it apart from a real orchestra playing. I can\'t say I\'m completely fooled by Nick Phoenix\'s QLB. Its strong side seems to be the loud staccato samples. That\'s not to say the library isn\'t good though!
    Anyway, I would guess that such work (fooling a trained ear) requires first of all great samples, and second, great patience and third, great knowledge.
    A hint of fresh creativity is also important. Listen to Hans Zimmer\'s Crimson Tide (Roll Tide) and if you listen closely you hear the french horns are actually the horns from miroslav vitous. (Could be a blend though) Loads of high freq. boost and rolloff on the mids and lows. And everybody is wondering how to get those horn samples.. Use your creativity! If you don\'t have it, you\'ll probably never be a good composer

    I don\'t think anything can replace a real orchestra when it comes to feelings and devotion for music. You can probably create something that sounds real, but you\'ll never be able to get the real emotion that you get from live players.


  6. #6

    Re: Have we eliminated the need for an orchestra?

    I don\'t think orchestras have to worry. I don\'t believe it\'ll be possible in any near future to emulate an orchestra using samples... Yes people like James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer have some custom made libraries that can solve a lot of their jobs - samples that were recorded by these people, knowing how they compose and what kind of samples they would need. I am sure there are also a lot of sampled SEQUENCES and RUNS among them, because doing completely realistc fast playing strings I think will never be possible. There\'s just too much variation involved from note to note (and the fact that not every note is attacked also have something to say I believe).

  7. #7
    Senior Member mahlon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Memphis, TN

    Re: Have we eliminated the need for an orchestra?

    Well, while anything is possible, things don\'t always go forward technologically. There are always plateaus. Look how long we\'ve been working in music with the same technological tools for 20 years. In contrast, look how fast computer design and technology have developed into new territory. Think if music tech advanced that fast.

    Yes, I think it will be possible at some point (assuming there are no major disasters in the world which set technology in general on that plateau), to right with some synthetic means and produce complex emotion, but it might be a while before we get to that. There\'s still a huge difference to me twixt live and the best midi, even though I\'d like there not to be.

    Here\'s looking forward though,

  8. #8

    Re: Have we eliminated the need for an orchestra?


    [This message has been edited by Endicott (edited 09-08-2001).]

  9. #9

    Re: Have we eliminated the need for an orchestra?

    Agreeing with Simon and Endicott on this one - yes, the sampled sounds are getting better all the time, but no, there\'s a *long* way to go (if ever) before orchestras are superfluous. Fast runs, portamento, special effects of various kinds - there are *so* many things that a real orchestra can do as easily as falling off a log; it would take terabytes, maybe petabytes, of samples to emulate all of them. It\'s a big plus to have, e.g., harmonics, con sordino, and sul ponticello sounds in our strings. How about all three combined? Or any two? Add in all the other possible effects, and the explosion is unmanageable.

    It\'s still true, and I suspect it will remain true for decades, that the really convincing realizations are produced by composing for the samples, not for a real orchestra. I\'ll eat my words when I\'m fooled by a realization of any movement of any Mahler symphony.

  10. #10

    Re: Have we eliminated the need for an orchestra?

    I agree that we are getting really close to emulating an orchestra with really great samples, but I think that we\'re still a few years off from being able to completely replace an orchestra with samples. I don\'t know how possible it is to capture the subtle nuances of an organic orchestral performance through samples. Every time you sit in front of an orchestra, conduct an orchestra or even conduct a small group of players the sound is different each time based on a number of factors and the performance and the way the instruments sound together each time can be completely different. Samples also can\'t represent the sound you get from the first violins when they\'re pissed off at you for giving the second violins a better part to play. :-)

    I really think though, that we can use good orchestral samples to replace portions of or to enhance an orchestral recording. For instance on a limited budget that many composers are faced with when recording with real players, maybe funding will only allow for half of the string players that you really want, or half of the horn players that you require. Why not beef it up with samples to make up for the lack of the real thing? Maybe it\'s not better than the \"real thing\", but chances are it\'ll sound better than having gaping holes in your orchestration! And, I suppose if you can\'t get real players, using an entirely sampled digital orchestra with good samples is still going to blow your clients away. \"Wow, you did THAT on your keyboard?\"


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    [This message has been edited by Synth2k (edited 07-24-2001).]

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