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Topic: The Purpose of the Overlays

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  1. #1

    The Purpose of the Overlays

    Okay, so I have nitty-gritty question: what is the purpose of the Overlays?

    Don't get me wrong. I love the sounds of the Overlays, especially in the horns, however can I get the same effect by splitting the individual players out amongst separate channels and playing them in unison? Or do the Overlay sounds do something special that cannot be reproduced otherwise?

  2. #2

    Re: The Purpose of the Overlays

    They're mostly to give you a denser, brighter sound with fewer instruments.

  3. #3

    Re: The Purpose of the Overlays

    Good one, FossMaN

    I think the manual could explain these "instruments" a bit more, because I've seen them be confusing to other users. I remember hearing at least two pieces in our Listening Room where users had used these Overlays by themselves - and, the results weren't too good, because they aren't intended to be used that way. Those folks had used them as soloists since it wasn't clear to them what those patches are supposed to be. For starters, they thought these were instruments, but they're more of a special effect.

    As Reegs said, they can add a brighter sound. Here's some more info that may inspire you to experiment. And I'll use a specific example of a way to use Overlays, and you can interpolate from that what these patches are meant for:

    --I have a project with at least one track of French Horns. It's an orchestral piece, and the horns are most often adding their usual support to the piece, but at times they also need to be momentarily spotlighted.

    --I make a copy of the French Horn MIDI track(s) when I've completely arranged the piece and have finished putting together what the horns play.

    --I erase all CC1 volume data in the copies and make sure the duplicate tracks start with CC1 at 0.

    --Playing the project, I record volume data for the new tracks, but use it sparingly, bringing it up only to emphasize the passages when the horns are meant to be at their loudest.

    --When I swoop the volume up on those double, triple forte passages - the result is that the horns have that metallic ringing out sound characteristic of horns when played most aggressively. (NOTE: Use with caution - usually going all the way to full 127 volume is too much with these Overlays)

    --Then the volume is swooped back down to zero until the next time I want the horns to ring out, even if it's for a single note.

    Without the overlays, both the dynamic range and timbre variety of those horns are much more limited.

    Try that - Overlays can really bring more life to your projects!

    Randy

  4. #4

    Re: The Purpose of the Overlays

    Randy, thanks for the info. I've always used the Overlays as an actual overlay to the instrument they're for (didn't mean to imply I was using them solo). I guess this question came from reading another post where an individual had separated out all the horns into 4 tracks with 4 different players (i.e., instruments). it made me wonder whether if the horns were then played in unison you would get the same sound as the Overlays.

    I totally understand that the overlays are there to create the sound of a group of instruments playing in unison, while using less processing power/RAM than using individual players.

    I was just wondering...

    ...Still, Randy, I love your example. Question, however: if you set the controller to 0 when you aren't using the Overlay, why don't you just delete the note data completely when you don't want to hear the Overlay?

    Lordy, I can't wait for my new laptop... been without a computer for about 6 months now. I'm going through withdrawal!

  5. #5

    Re: The Purpose of the Overlays

    Quote Originally Posted by FossMaNo1 View Post
    Randy, thanks for the info. I've always used the Overlays as an actual overlay to the instrument they're for (didn't mean to imply I was using them solo). I guess this question came from reading another post where an individual had separated out all the horns into 4 tracks with 4 different players (i.e., instruments). it made me wonder whether if the horns were then played in unison you would get the same sound as the Overlays.

    I totally understand that the overlays are there to create the sound of a group of instruments playing in unison, while using less processing power/RAM than using individual players.

    I was just wondering...

    ...Still, Randy, I love your example. Question, however: if you set the controller to 0 when you aren't using the Overlay, why don't you just delete the note data completely when you don't want to hear the Overlay?

    Lordy, I can't wait for my new laptop... been without a computer for about 6 months now. I'm going through withdrawal!
    Hello again, Foss - I was just being thorough in my response. I didn't think you were necessarily using the Overlays as instruments on their own. But that was an important bit of context to include, so that my explanation of how to use the Overlays would make the most sense.

    Answering your new points/questions:

    --No, layering multiple horns doesn't give the same result as using Overlays. The ringing tone I described in my earlier post would still not be there. Multiple instances of instruments is crucial to orchestral recordings, but that's just beefing up the sound in the same way that happens with a live orchestra--more instruments are playing the same notes.

    So--no, the Overlays aren't for creating the sound of a group of instruments. Those Overlays can be used on solo instruments just as effectively, without it making the soloist sounding like more than one instrument.

    You asked, "... Question, however: if you set the controller to 0 when you aren't using the Overlay, why don't you just delete the note data completely when you don't want to hear the Overlay?..."

    OK, you need to picture my example more thoroughly. A crucial part of the process I described is the automating of MIDI volume control so that the Overlay sound swells - ebbs and flows, and never just suddenly jumps up out of nowhere. If you just erased the notes that you don't want ringing, then you'd have a very unnatural effect.

    Best thing to do would be to try what I explained. Swoop the volume on the Overly track up so that in your Piano Roll View, you have a nice hill, either with a gentle or sharp slope - so that the result is a short crescendo.

    The other thing you'll see is that the Overlay on the horns will have a variety of ways of effecting the sound - You'll get one result with low levels, a very bright ringing at high levels. You can vary the effect in a continuously changing way throughout the track.

    The main point is that you don't want to use the Overlays with an On/Off switch, which is what you'd be doing by just erasing notes. It's imperative you record CC1 data for them.

    That means that it's not very effective to just stick an Overlay in, turn it's volume up, and let it play at that same relative volume throughout an entire piece.

    Randy

  6. #6

    Re: The Purpose of the Overlays

    Okay,that makes sense, Randy. Again, I appreciate the patience and advice. Composing is one thing--producing is quite another.

    When I get my laptop in I'm going to have to experiement with your example. Would you be able to post a link of an excerpt as an example of what you're explaining to me?

  7. #7

    Re: The Purpose of the Overlays

    Quote Originally Posted by FossMaNo1 View Post
    Okay,that makes sense, Randy. Again, I appreciate the patience and advice. Composing is one thing--producing is quite another.

    When I get my laptop in I'm going to have to experiement with your example. Would you be able to post a link of an excerpt as an example of what you're explaining to me?
    Howdy, Foss - That was a good idea, for me to post an example illustrating what I've been talking about.

    Here's a quick improvisation I did just now, wanting to have a simple track where you could focus on how I use an overlay.

    This is French Horn solo 1, SAM Brass Horn section, and Horn Overlay Ag:

    Overlay example

    And here's a screen shot of Sonar's Piano Roll View, showing you the last several notes of the Overlay track. You can see the volume work as I described it in an earlier post.



    I think the MP3 and picture get the idea across.

    Randy

  8. #8

    Re: The Purpose of the Overlays

    Hmmm, it's been 6 days - I thought there was an urgency to hear an example of what I was talking about, so I produced that demo in very short time, in just a few minutes. It's by no means perfect, and actually a different horn overlay could have made the demo more clear - but I got it all together quickly, thinking it would be heard the same day.

    Let me know if you're still interested, FossMan, and if this demo I put together is helpful enough or if you'd like me to put another one together.

    Randy

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