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Just for fun, I've been refining the "cheapskate orchestra" I used for Imperium, adding in a bit of new freeware thingies that weren't out yet when I composed the album -- like Orchestral Tools Layers and the full ProjectSAM Free Orchestra -- plus that I have replaced a few instruments I weren't happy with using the cheapest possible alternatives (which usually means Sonivox).

Here's what it sounds like.

This composition is just for testing purposes and I will add more bits to it, in different styles, so I can properly hear what everything sounds like toghether.

Thoughts?
Except for the attack of the strings and woodwinds (which is a constant struggle for me) I would hardly ever call this as "cheapskate" sounding.

I would expect some tempo rubato and a wider dynamic spectrum for the harp (and pizzicato?) part.

Also, I've been meaning to study such flute runs like the one on 0.50. Could you offer any tips or advice for those?
(04-05-2020, 06:16 AM)Mattias Westlund Wrote: [ -> ]Just for fun, I've been refining the "cheapskate orchestra" I used for Imperium, adding in a bit of new freeware thingies that weren't out yet when I composed the album -- like Orchestral Tools Layers and the full ProjectSAM Free Orchestra -- plus that I have replaced a few instruments I weren't happy with using the cheapest possible alternatives (which usually means Sonivox).

Here's what it sounds like.

This composition is just for testing purposes and I will add more bits to it, in different styles, so I can properly hear what everything sounds like toghether.

Thoughts?

This sounds really good, actually. Not remotely "cheapskate." I don't suppose we could get a full list of the libraries used... just for curiosity's sake, of course.

All I will say - from my own, personal standpoint of aiming for realistic dynamics within an orchestra, is that the brass should be louder. The harp and pizzicatos could use more dynamics, but also overall need to be quieter, perhaps even considerably so. Besides those, which truly are somewhat quibbly, I think that it all fits very well together, impressively so considering the diversity of sources.

(04-05-2020, 03:01 PM)Chris Spyratos Wrote: [ -> ]Except for the attack of the strings and woodwinds (which is a constant struggle for me) I would hardly ever call this as "cheapskate" sounding.

I would expect some tempo rubato and a wider dynamic spectrum for the harp (and pizzicato?) part.

Also, I've been meaning to study such flute runs like the one on 0.50. Could you offer any tips or advice for those?

I'm not Mattias, but I've written a handful of flute runs. They're quite simple, really - first note is the root of your chord, and you climb diatonically (or chromatically, or by whole tones) to a target note. If you're going up then down (as Mattias did) then you'll want to make sure the start of your descent (which would be the highest note of your ascent) is on the beat. These are generally written as quintuplets, sextuplets, or septuplets. Legato woodwinds will help with making them convincing. They also tend to have a dynamic arc such that their highest point is also their loudest - this often is not notated, as higher notes tend to "pierce" the ears more, but for your virtual woodwinds you'll want to add it in with your modwheel or velocity. If you have a run on the last beat of a bar, make sure that there's a staccato eighth on the first beat of the next bar - in fact, that staccato eighth (or 16th, or a tenuto eighth, or whatever - maybe your run's target is a melody, it's not for me to decide) should be the "target note" of your run, and it's the note that'll be most noticeable because it'll be the highest in pitch. A general rule that I read also was that the first and last notes are the most important notes of the run, and everything in between can be "blurred," but this is undoubtedly more achievable in performance then within the DAW (thus the note on dynamics and legato). (If your orchestral template has multiples of each woodwind [e.g. triple flutes as one would find in a genuine orchestra] then this is easier to achieve as you can more freely input the notes for each instrument and thus achieve a "blur" that way.)

Hope that all makes sense.
(04-05-2020, 03:01 PM)Chris Spyratos Wrote: [ -> ]Except for the attack of the strings and woodwinds (which is a constant struggle for me)

Very true, bothers me as well, like the way the solo oboe barges in at 0:26. Not sure what to do about it though; simply having a slower attack will sound odd for other uses, and fading every start note in with CC1/CC11 is a usability nightmare.

(04-05-2020, 03:01 PM)Chris Spyratos Wrote: [ -> ]I would expect some tempo rubato and a wider dynamic spectrum for the harp (and pizzicato?) part.

Oh, definitely. This is in no way finished. Just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks.

(04-05-2020, 03:01 PM)Chris Spyratos Wrote: [ -> ]Also, I've been meaning to study such flute runs like the one on 0.50. Could you offer any tips or advice for those?

I think Terry's comment above is pretty much spot on. It's a basic 16th triplet scalar run, using piccolo, flutes and clarinets in octaves, all with slightly differing timing to create a blurry sort of feel, and going from softer to loud at the top note, then back to soft again. It can be tweaked to sound a lot better than this but it wasn't something I was willing to spend a lot of time on right now. And oh: the instruments need to be monophonic so there's no bleed between the separate notes.

Edit: as for writing these runs, I just listen for where I want the top note to be -- the climax of the run -- and then I just mouse the note in in the piano roll and add the rest the same way, going down on either side of it. It's really very simple on a technical level, but making it sound passable can require some fiddling around.

(04-05-2020, 07:56 PM)Terry93D Wrote: [ -> ]I don't suppose we could get a full list of the libraries used... just for curiosity's sake, of course.

Sure thing, as soon as I have everything in place.

(04-05-2020, 07:56 PM)Terry93D Wrote: [ -> ]All I will say - from my own, personal standpoint of aiming for realistic dynamics within an orchestra, is that the brass should be louder.

Haha. In fact I pulled the Layers brass levels back a ton because it's REALLY LOUD! Smile Maybe I overdid it, will look into that.
Thank you both for your input! Idea Maybe this information could become a post in the VO Tips & Tricks section.
 

(04-06-2020, 08:22 PM)Mattias Westlund Wrote: [ -> ]
(04-05-2020, 03:01 PM)Chris Spyratos Wrote: [ -> ]Except for the attack of the strings and woodwinds (which is a constant struggle for me)

Very true, bothers me as well, like the way the solo oboe barges in at 0:26. Not sure what to do about it though; simply having a slower attack will sound odd for other uses, and fading every start note in with CC1/CC11 is a usability nightmare.

How about having a patch that would use velocity as well as CCs to control the amp? It could utilize velocityON & velocityOFF to control attack & release times of individual notes while also having the CCs for overall control.
(04-06-2020, 08:22 PM)Mattias Westlund Wrote: [ -> ]Not sure what to do about it though; simply having a slower attack will sound odd for other uses, and fading every start note in with CC1/CC11 is a usability nightmare.

Crazy idea, what if there were a plugin that would do it for you? Let's say it has midi input and midi output, and one or more parameters that control how much it fades CC1 and/or CC11. Then you could drop it in your signal chain before the VSTi, and in theory you could set it up and go.
(04-07-2020, 02:28 PM)Chris Spyratos Wrote: [ -> ]Thank you both for your input! Idea Maybe this information could become a post in the VO Tips & Tricks section.
 

(04-06-2020, 08:22 PM)Mattias Westlund Wrote: [ -> ]
(04-05-2020, 03:01 PM)Chris Spyratos Wrote: [ -> ]Except for the attack of the strings and woodwinds (which is a constant struggle for me)

Very true, bothers me as well, like the way the solo oboe barges in at 0:26. Not sure what to do about it though; simply having a slower attack will sound odd for other uses, and fading every start note in with CC1/CC11 is a usability nightmare.

How about having a patch that would use velocity as well as CCs to control the amp? It could utilize velocityON & velocityOFF to control attack & release times of individual notes while also having the CCs for overall control.

I think VSCO2 has options on some of its instruments for "Attack + Sustain" where velocity controls the dynamics of the staccato sample and the modwheel controls the dynamics of the sustained note... perhaps if velocity controlled the fade of the sustain? (I suspect I've repeated Chris, though.)
(04-07-2020, 02:17 AM)Michael Willis Wrote: [ -> ]I'm curious what your motivation is for using Dragonfly Reverb. Does it do something that you can't do with Valhalla, or are you challenging yourself to do a project entirely with free stuff?

Well, in this particular case (the Cheapskate Orchestra thing over in User Music) I'm trying to use as much freeware as possible. But I've also always loved the sound of Hibiki, though I rarely use it due to the ugly and convoluted interface. Dragonfly is much easier to use, not to mention easier on the eyes! I've never gotten around to actually using it for something before this, since I most often use my custom presets for the Valhalla verbs.
Huh, for some reason I posted the above response in the wrong thread. Ah, well.
I listened to this when you first posted but I keep forgetting to comment. After listening again just now, I think this is a fine example of how the cost of the virtual instruments is less important than how they are used. Playing to the strength of the instruments that you have is what's important.

You've clearly demonstrated an ability to make the most out of the instruments you are using, and I like the composition as well.