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Topic: Upbow/Downbow with String KS produces staccato notes

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  1. #1

    Upbow/Downbow with String KS produces staccato notes

    Hello,

    I recently purchased Garritan Personal Orchestra 4, and I'm a little perplexed about the behavior of the upbow/downbow feature on the KeySwitch strings.

    Specifically, if I load the GPO > Standard > Section Strings > Violins 1 KS patch, by default, I can play sustained notes as I would expect. However, if I then select the Upbow, Downbow, or Auto-Alternate KeySwitch, I can no longer play sustained notes. Any note I play is automatically terminated after the initial attack.

    This happens on all Section Strings KeySwitch patches, and it happens both in the stand-alone Aria player as well as within Sonar. Solo Strings KeySwitch patches do not behave this way; with Solo Strings, it is possible to play sustained notes with specific bowings.

    Is this behavior intentional? Is there some kind of controller or other work-around that will allow me to play sustained notes in the Section Strings with specific bowings? Or, is this a bug?

    Help is appreciated. Thanks!

  2. #2

    Re: Upbow/Downbow with String KS produces staccato notes

    Quote Originally Posted by Carolyn Lozano View Post
    Hello,

    I recently purchased Garritan Personal Orchestra 4, and I'm a little perplexed about the behavior of the upbow/downbow feature on the KeySwitch strings.

    Specifically, if I load the GPO > Standard > Section Strings > Violins 1 KS patch, by default, I can play sustained notes as I would expect. However, if I then select the Upbow, Downbow, or Auto-Alternate KeySwitch, I can no longer play sustained notes. Any note I play is automatically terminated after the initial attack.

    This happens on all Section Strings KeySwitch patches, and it happens both in the stand-alone Aria player as well as within Sonar. Solo Strings KeySwitch patches do not behave this way; with Solo Strings, it is possible to play sustained notes with specific bowings.

    Is this behavior intentional? Is there some kind of controller or other work-around that will allow me to play sustained notes in the Section Strings with specific bowings? Or, is this a bug?

    Help is appreciated. Thanks!
    Hello Carolyn, and welcome to the forum!

    The short bow keyswitch patches are for detached notes, so the behavior you report is perfectly normal. There is a Sus+Short KS that gives you sustained notes with a short bow attack, but unfortunately the short bow is the only KS that gives you distinct upbow-downbow articulations in the section strings. I have a workaround I can suggest, but first do you use a notation program or a DAW as your primary method for rendering electronic performances?

    Steve
    If you'd like to hear a couple of pieces I might actually finish someday, please visit my virtual concert hall.

  3. #3

    Re: Upbow/Downbow with String KS produces staccato notes

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Johnson View Post
    The short bow keyswitch patches are for detached notes, so the behavior you report is perfectly normal. There is a Sus+Short KS that gives you sustained notes with a short bow attack, but unfortunately the short bow is the only KS that gives you distinct upbow-downbow articulations in the section strings. I have a workaround I can suggest, but first do you use a notation program or a DAW as your primary method for rendering electronic performances?
    Steve
    I use Cakewalk's SONAR. It doesn't really make sense to me why one wouldn't be able to use alternate or specific bowing on sustained notes.

    In particular, I have some agitato passages that sound too mechanical with the regular setting, but when I select the Auto Alternate keyswitch, the notes are clipped too short and the passage doesn't sound right. I realize I can also vary the timbre, note durations, and dynamics, but it seemed reasonable that when playing repeated notes, a player would naturally alternate bowing.

  4. #4

    Re: Upbow/Downbow with String KS produces staccato notes

    Quote Originally Posted by Carolyn Lozano View Post
    I use Cakewalk's SONAR. It doesn't really make sense to me why one wouldn't be able to use alternate or specific bowing on sustained notes.

    In particular, I have some agitato passages that sound too mechanical with the regular setting, but when I select the Auto Alternate keyswitch, the notes are clipped too short and the passage doesn't sound right. I realize I can also vary the timbre, note durations, and dynamics, but it seemed reasonable that when playing repeated notes, a player would naturally alternate bowing.
    Hi Carolyn,

    I have a fair amount of experience with GPO, plus I'm using SONAR myself, so I think I can help you out with some tips and ideas. Unfortunately, I don't have time at the moment to assemble the detailed post I'd like to give you on the subject, but hopefully I can do it this evening.

    In the meantime, I don't really know why GPO doesn't have upbow/downbow for sustain notes with the section strings. I've turned your question over in my mind a few times, and all I can think of is this: Garritan's philosophy with GPO has always been to offer not only the best quality samply library for the price, but also a product that would be easy on computer resources. I would imagine that the devs had to determine a cutoff point in the extent of their sample programming to keep GPO within their pricing/system resource parameters. If I'm correct, then perhaps section string patches with upbow/downbow for sustain notes went beyond that point, and maybe this was deemed to be not as essential as doing it for the solo strings. Anyway, this is all speculation on my part, so take it for what it's worth.

    Steve
    If you'd like to hear a couple of pieces I might actually finish someday, please visit my virtual concert hall.

  5. #5

    Re: Upbow/Downbow with String KS produces staccato notes

    Hi again Carolyn,

    Okay, there are a couple of different ways we can attack this (pun intended). The mechanical sound you mentioned (aka the dreaded "machine gun" effect) is a common problem in using sampled sounds for repeated notes. I take it from what you said that your agitato passages have measured string tremolos, in which case alternating upbow/downbow articulations would be the proper choice for avoiding the "machine gun" effect.

    When you open the ARIA player and load in your instruments, click on the Controls tab. On the right you'll see a knob for the length controller (CC21). The default setting is 49% (the CC value equivalent is 63). Try turning the knob up and down as you play some KS short bow notes on ARIA's mouse keyboard, and you'll hear how this changes the note lengths. Although 100% (CC value = 127), doesn't produce the sustains you were looking for, perhaps just increasing the note lengths would do the job for you depending on the tempo and note values in your agitato passages.

    Because CC21 responds to the normal 0-127 value range, you can set different values in SONAR which effectively automate the length controller knobs for each instrument loaded in ARIA. If this method can work for your purposes, the trick will be to find a "sweet spot" CC21 value where the notes aren't too short, but where they're also not so long that one note's "tail" covers up the next note's attack, and thus would blur the clarity of articulation. The correct CC21 setting is something you would have to determine through some trial and error, but it shouldn't be that difficult.

    The other approach I can suggest would be to use the KS short bow patches as "overlays" to the sustain strings. Here what you can do is set up the KS and sustain strings as separate tracks in SONAR, then enter short bow notes in the KS track that represent note attacks for the sustain tracks. The short bow and pizzicato string patches use key velocity to control volume, so it would simply be a matter of using key velocity values that more or less match the dynamic levels of your sustain strings, or you can use higher velocity values for accents. CC21 gives you additional flexibility in controlling the length of the "attack" sound. The only disadvantage is that short bows are always fast attacks, although for an agitato feel, I don't think that's an issue.

    There's one last thing I should mention about the "machine gun" problem. ARIA has two variability controls that may help to mitigate "machine gun" effects. Var 1 (CC22) controls intonation with random changes in tuning, and Var 2 (CC23) makes random variations in timbral quality through a filtering process. If you use the Var controls at all, they should only be at low settings. Personally, I haven't had much success with these controls, although you may have better luck, so I won't say not to use them. Just be careful if you do.

    Hopefully you get something useful out of all this.

    Steve
    If you'd like to hear a couple of pieces I might actually finish someday, please visit my virtual concert hall.

  6. #6
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    Re: Upbow/Downbow with String KS produces staccato notes

    G’day Carolyn,

    A good violin player should play the violin without a perceptible difference in sound of notes played by up-bow or down-bow. Unwanted groupings of notes may result. In a section of say 12 players, the difference of the sound of alternative bowing is likely to be averaged out. This would be true particularly for sustained notes.

    Perhaps GPO should not offer up-bow/down-bow for sustained notes of sections when it does not deliver and really should not be available.

    Midi editing provides plenty of opportunity to avoid a mechanically sounding performance.


    Best wishes,

    Herbert
    GPO, JABB, CMB, GWI, GOFRILLER, HALION PLAYER, ACCORDIONS by E Tarilonte
    Cubase 6, Notation Composer, VSTHost, GoldWave audio editor.

    Interests:
    Good Food, Gemütlichkeit, Wein Weib und Gesang – History, Politics, Civil Law –
    Electronics, Software Development, Physics – Plant Physiology, Creative Horticulture –
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  7. #7

    Re: Upbow/Downbow with String KS produces staccato notes

    Quote Originally Posted by sonata5920 View Post
    G’day Carolyn,

    A good violin player should play the violin without a perceptible difference in sound of notes played by up-bow or down-bow. Unwanted groupings of notes may result. In a section of say 12 players, the difference of the sound of alternative bowing is likely to be averaged out. This would be true particularly for sustained notes.

    Perhaps GPO should not offer up-bow/down-bow for sustained notes of sections when it does not deliver and really should not be available.

    Midi editing provides plenty of opportunity to avoid a mechanically sounding performance.


    Best wishes,

    Herbert
    Sorry, but I have to respectfully disagree with you. What you said may be true for legato passages, but for passages with articulated notes, the choice of upbow/downbow will have an affect on the sound that ranges from subtle to very pronounced. Therefore it often has to be a matter of consistency for phrasing in live performance.

    I spent a lot of years playing in orchestras, and I can tell you for a fact that the first-chair string players are responsible for making sure that all players in their sections are bowing consistently whenever the situations call for it. This is worked out in rehearsal, and players' parts tend to have a lot of penciled-in bowing marks as a result. Furthermore, composers with a good knowledge of string technique will sometimes put bowing indications directly into their scores. Sibelius (my favorite composer) did this himself, and he was no slouch when it came to handling strings in orchestration.

    Now, as far as rendering electronic performances with a virtual orchestra I agree that upbow/downbow would not be a critically important detail for sustained note passages. However, if someone knows what they're doing as far as how bowing would be consistent in live performance, there's no reason why my "overlay" suggestion couldn't be used in the appropriate manner for such passages.

    Steve
    If you'd like to hear a couple of pieces I might actually finish someday, please visit my virtual concert hall.

  8. #8

    Re: Upbow/Downbow with String KS produces staccato notes

    Quote Originally Posted by sonata5920 View Post
    ...
    Best wishes,

    Herbert
    G'Day Herbert ... nice to see you posting here again!

    I hope you don't get put off again if people take your comments out of context and focus more on the negative aspect of what you say rather than understanding the positive, interesting and valuable points I know you always try to add to discussions.

    Best wishes,


    Peter

  9. #9
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    Re: Upbow/Downbow with String KS produces staccato notes

    G,day Steve and peace,

    My instrument is the double bass. I have spent a lot of time in practicing an even sound of up-bowing and down-bowing. We are talking here about sustained notes. How would one go with a sustained note that requires bow changes?

    A good musician would attempt to overcome technical difficulties in order to not interfere with the intent of the music. A noticeable change of sound in bowing direction is likely to group notes and may interfere with the composer’s expectation.


    Best wishes,

    Herbert
    GPO, JABB, CMB, GWI, GOFRILLER, HALION PLAYER, ACCORDIONS by E Tarilonte
    Cubase 6, Notation Composer, VSTHost, GoldWave audio editor.

    Interests:
    Good Food, Gemütlichkeit, Wein Weib und Gesang – History, Politics, Civil Law –
    Electronics, Software Development, Physics – Plant Physiology, Creative Horticulture –
    Photography, Painting, Wood Working - Midi Orchestration, Music, Music, und Musik …

  10. #10
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    Re: Upbow/Downbow with String KS produces staccato notes

    Peter, so good to hear from you.

    It happens to be my birthday today. Hearing from you is a special birthday present.

    Thank you,

    Herbert
    GPO, JABB, CMB, GWI, GOFRILLER, HALION PLAYER, ACCORDIONS by E Tarilonte
    Cubase 6, Notation Composer, VSTHost, GoldWave audio editor.

    Interests:
    Good Food, Gemütlichkeit, Wein Weib und Gesang – History, Politics, Civil Law –
    Electronics, Software Development, Physics – Plant Physiology, Creative Horticulture –
    Photography, Painting, Wood Working - Midi Orchestration, Music, Music, und Musik …

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