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Topic: New User with a lot to learn...

  1. #1

    Cool New User with a lot to learn...

    Hi, my name is Kristofor Gieske. For some (okay, a lot) background info: I am a just-out-of-high-school-heading-into-college student with at least an amateur interest in composing. I've studied piano for 10 years, with 4 or 5 years of violin as well. Several years ago, I started playing around with writing music, mainly with the grand idea of writing original movie scores for my films (another major hobby of mine). I quickly discovered being the next John Williams doesn't happen overnight. Through piano, I started entering in contests to develop my compositional skill and have been moderately successful in writing a few piano solos. Also, last summer I attended a "composing camp" where I worked with professional composers and other students.

    I have tried out a variety of notation software to assist in composing and hearing my compositions, with none satisfying me completely. Eventually, however, I bit the bullet and bought Finale 2010...figuring that should be more than enough for my composing needs.

    One of the major considerations behind that choice was the GPO samples included with Finale. (I've gotten a wee bit tired of MIDI...) Playback is important to me, as my main method of composing is hearing what sounds good.

    I have a lot of questions to ask, but I will try to hold myself to a minimum in this introductory post.

    GPO sounds better than MIDI by default, especially with HP in Finale, but what I got certainly doesn't come close to what the demos are like on the GPO and Finale site. Where do I start to working towards achieving the best sound with Finale/GPO?

    In particular:Is there a Resource page with some more in depth tutorials on getting started with GPO in Finale?

    Should I get a MIDI controller to get the best out of GPO?

    How can I get more dynamic variance out of Finale? Right now, it's all pretty quiet and kind of wimpy. Base note value in HP preferences doesn't seem to do much.

    If you are composing for a small ensemble is it better to use the "Solo" instruments to represent one single instrument, or the "Player 1" etc instruments?

    How/where can I upload audio samples of songs and such to get feedback?

    And...How do they do those fantastic demos the site has? Those songs have an incredible amount of feeling for a bunch of 1s and 0s.

    Sorry for the long post.

  2. #2

    Re: New User with a lot to learn...

    Hi Kristofor. Welcome aboard.

    Don't worry about the post length -- you're in good company among concisely challenged folk like me. I'm new here also and also in the Finale learning boat, so I can't answer the majority of your questions right now.

    How/where can I upload audio samples of songs and such to get feedback?
    Listening Forum

    See the sticky at the top of the listening forum for specifics.

    If you are composing for a small ensemble is it better to use the "Solo" instruments to represent one single instrument, or the "Player 1" etc instruments?
    Good question. My intuitive guess is that the solo instruments have more expressive playing in terms of attacks, vibrato and dynamics, and the "Player 1" instruments are likely designed to sit in a mix better (without drawing too much attention). For a small ensemble or an orchestra with a strong violin lead, you might use the Lead violin as your Arthur Grimiaux (a poorly simulated Grimiaux), to cut through the mix. On the other hand, you might use violins one to three for a certain Canon in D where harmony takes priority over virtuosity.---But I don't know. Trust your ears! You probably have a better sense of musical judgement than I do.

    Some of the users here with full fledged GPO mastery might have a more concrete answer. There is are also free orchestration lessons offered in another corner of the forums here (it's possible they may address your issue):

    I hope that this helps you a wee bit.


    "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." – Henry Thoreau

  3. #3

    Re: New User with a lot to learn...

    Hello Kristofor and a warm welcome to our forums.

    I too use Finale (presently 2010 with the new 2011 on pre-order). As you say Finale does come with a good set of Garritan instruments. If and when it's possible for you and when you are ready I would strongly recomend buying the full libraries. I have the full GPO4, JABB3 and, now, COMB2. These offer a greater range of instruments and instrument combinations. However, for now, you certainly have enough for a good start.

    There are a few members of our community who manage to get the playback they need from Finale. However, I find that I can never get the performance I want just using Finale. I prepare all my scores in Finale then I take the score via MIDI into Sonar where I can really craft my performances. The possibilities here are boundless and restricted only by the users' knowledge and skill. I think you will find that the majority of us work using a sequencer such as Sonar, Cubase or Digital Performaer (Mac) whether directly or in conjunction with a notation program.

    Regarding uploading of songs for feedback. You will need to find somewhere to host your files then post a link to the file in the 'Listening Room'. Although I use paid web hosting, there are sites offering free storage. Just try an internet search and you should find a good choice.

    There is a quite a learning curve involved and I'm still going through it; I doubt this will ever finish. It also takes time, and more time. I have been working on my present score since January. The best advice I would offer is to work through Finale tutorials. Spend time in the Finale forums and try an internet search for Finale tutorials. Then ask specific questions both in the Finale forums and here in our community forums.

    Good luck and I hope you enjoy the journey.
    Patience is a virtue, sensitivity is a gift

  4. #4

    Re: New User with a lot to learn...

    Hi Kristofor

    I'm fairly new here myself and asked asked almost the same start up question. You might want to read that thread which already has a wealth of information you can draw on:


    The main Garritan tutorials can be found here:


    ... the ones you'll probably find most useful are the ones right at the bottom under "Miscellaneous Tutorials".

    You'll find many other useful threads on this site, particularly if you can see who is particularly knowledgable and follow their postings from their profile ... I'd recommend reading anything and everything here by Dan Kury:


    and Tom Hopkins:


    to start off with.

    The main thing you'll probably need to do to improve the initial sound you are getting is to make sure that you have suitable "reverb" and possibly a "limiter" set up in your GPO player (Aria I presume), if this is not set by default.

    Beyond that, however, I have come to understand since joining this forum is if you want to produce high quality sounding recordings as well as beautifully printed scores, you should definitely look at using a sequencer (or DAW) alongside your notation program.

    A sequencer will also let you work with GPO, but it will make it much easier to produce better sounding results. If you compose by "sound", you might want to work first in a sequencer, and then export a midi file to Finale for printing, though you can work the other way round too.

    There are a couple of good free/demo sequencers you could try out - I'd suggest looking at Cockos' "Reaper" to start off with, which came first in a MusicRadar.com user's rating review earlier this year.

    Just be aware that "notation" and "home recording" are two separate musical aims ... and you are best with separate software for each. There is plenty to learn in both areas without confusing yourself unnecessarily by using either types of specific tool to serve two different purposes.

    Good luck!


  5. #5

    Re: New User with a lot to learn...

    Hello Kristofor and welcome to the forum!

    All the posts above are great advice. I'll add a few thoughts to help round things out a bit. I'm sure others will chime in with useful bits also.

    1) Combining different instruments will thicken or add emphasis as needed. Sus & short mixed with lush is an example.

    2) Peter is right on target with what he said about notation and production being two separate issues. You can get polished results in Finale, see the work of QCCowboy or Etlux for examples of people who do just that. The learning curve is steep and for people who's minds work like mine, a sequencer is best for production and Finale for just notation. YMMV, just wanted to let you know both are options.

    3) Reverb is also key to fleshing out the sound. Try the Garritan provided reverbs and see what suits your taste.

    4) MIDI CC data is your friend!

    That's all from me, hope you find it helpful!

    We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams …
    24" 2.4 Ghz iMac, OSX 10.4.10, MOTU 828 MKII, 2 Glyph 250 Gig external drives, Logic 9, Finale 2008 GPO, JABB, Strad, Gro, Reason 4, EWQL Storm Drum, Adrenaline, Symphonic Choirs, SO Gold,All Arturia Synths, Many NI Synths, Spectrasonics Synths, KH Strings, VEPro on a Windows 7 4x 2.8 Ghz 12 gig of RAM

  6. #6

    Re: New User with a lot to learn...

    Thanks for the warm welcome to the forum and excellent information! Those links will keep me busy!

    Reaper looks like a very affordable option should I decide to get a sequencer to accompany Finale. I like their business model too.

    Thanks for answering my first round of questions, now for some more . I now have a keyboard - a CASIO Privia PX-130. Certainly nothing super fancy, but it seemed a very good keyboard for the price. Opinions on how suitable it is for composing?

    I couldn't find an easy way to change the metronome sound in Finale - the metronome when using GPO is a rather obnoxious crashing drum. That's one thing that bothered me...the other is my inability to play very precisely. I'm guessing I'll have to play with quantization a lot.

    Is there a way to check latency between the keyboard and computer? And fix it if there is a delay?

    Also, is there software/a way to just have the keyboard hooked up to the computer and perform through it (using the Steinway GPO sample for example) with velocity sensitivity enabled? Other than Hyperscribe recording, everything else ignored the velocity data.
    I've found that Finale and ARIA do use the velocity data when just playing around, but are not quite as precise as the keyboard itself. Would using an actual sequencer help?

    For future use: Is there a way to trick the computer into using the volume control knob on the keyboard as a controller (ie: pitch and all that?


  7. #7

    Re: New User with a lot to learn...

    Hi Kristofor

    Gosh ... that is a lot of questions to ask at once!

    Your keyboard looks to me like it's aimed at keyboard practice/performance rather than use with a computer, the basic standard for which would be as little as a 2 octave range but having a pitch and modulation wheel, and some have other integrated controls which can link into your DAW ... though you could even manage without a keyboard at all- just typing in the notes into Finale or a sequencer with your keyboard and/or mouse.

    However, your keyboard might be just perfect for your needs ... so I wouldn't rush out to buy another, just use it as best you can while you get to know what you can do with your PC and GPO.

    That's why I suggested Reaper .. the free demo version gives you a chance to get on with trying it out ... you can save up to buy the best products later on when you really know what you can do and how you want to work ... and better understand the options available. Using a sequencer will help you understand how Finale works with GPO too.

    Sounds like you've got your keyboard connected to your PC already.

    There should be a standalone version of the Aria sample player - this should be available on your Programs menu, and will let you use GPO directly from your keyboard without needing either a sequencer or notation program.

    The latency probably depends on your sound card, which may be adjustable to balance reponse time and PC performance. A standard onboard soundcard may not be great but I'd work with what you've got for now.

    I think you should be able to map the volume control on your keyboard to any of the controls in Aria ... though obviously only to one at a time for performance, but it may serve as an artificial pitch/mod wheel for recording midi control data for sequencing/playback work.

    Have fun!

  8. #8

    Re: New User with a lot to learn...

    Firstly, welcome! You'll find this forum extremely helpful, and a great place to get constructive, usefully specific feedback on your efforts as well.

    You didn't mention which platform you're using , but if you happen to be on pc, and don't have a "proper" audio interface (for production ), you might want to download asio4all. it's basically a low-latency driver that works with most computers' internal soundcards.
    The issue you're having with latency is that it takes time for the audio to get into/out of your computer. Windows audio drivers are simply not intended for real-time use. ASIO bypasses how windows handles audio, and lets you get MUCH lower "lagtime" between generation (or input) of the sound, and when it actually leaves the soundcard. Low latencies generally require more CPU use, but you can adjust buffer settings to find a workable balance between latency and how much cpu you burn.

    I'd also recommend reaper to start with. It's dirt cheap, feature-rich, the trial does not restrict the featureset, and is a generous 1 month long.

    "...you get to drink from...THE FIREHOSE!!!"

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