I’m sharing for fun but I am also looking for comments.
This is my first-ever Logic production, as I’m a longtime ProTools user.
I’m attached to an intended-for-streaming documentary series about a team of people dedicated to exposing the corruption of dishonest televangelists. To make the series fun, they portray Themselves as a team of superhero “Avengers,” and they wanted a Silvestri-esque comic-book-superhero type of theme. They intend to edit a sizzle reel to this theme.
Instrumentation: BBC strings, 8Dio Century brass (which I’m growing annoyed with), Samplemodeling’s “The Trumpet,” all Berlin winds. There’s a little BBC trombone ensemble too.
Percussion and harp is all CineSamples, except xylophone is Spitfire Joey Burgess.
What’s bugging me now is timing discrepancies in the brass, and some of the attacks in the trumpet are a little harsh—I think I can dial those back. I also think the fanfare needs a little more horn and a little less of that buzzy trumpet. Argh, takes forever to get brass samples to sound decent.
My question is whether the timing discrepancies in the brass, and between brass and strings, are annoying enough for me to keep spending time on it, or whether I’m too close to it and others simply won’t mind this.
Also, for some reason the trumpet sounds better on the final fanfare statement than on the first. Same sample, same note. First time it’s got more 3k, sounds less open. I gotta figure out why. Weird, but I’ll solve it.
If the series gets picked up I’ll get a real player on it, but gotta go with samples for the sizzle reel.
Yeah I had noticed the sample sounded better at the end and the notes were the same. This is probably to do with 2 factors, the Round Robin is probably different and the orchestration at the start isn’t supporting the note as much which is leaving it more exposed. That’s not a bad thing, it may just mean you’ll need to pull the volume down on that note at the start, either through volume automation or the expression automation. If you automate the expression that might help more as usually the lower the expression the less high end you get in the sample too, which is usually done through the plugin adding a soft low pass (which they call the expression). If that makes sense?
Yes the BBC sound very sweet to my ears. I’ve been thinking of getting BBC core just so that I have access to the strings. However I just bought orchestral tools solo strings library which I’m. Urgently trying out in a few pieces. Very impressed so far. There’s a violin, viola and Cello in the library, Viola and Cello are the better samples but they all sound great. It’s a “rough and ready” sound as there’s a LOT of character in the samples. So I’ll probably think about getting it with my next purchase.
So the answer was that the trumpet was louder in the first statement, which was causing some downstream stuff to happen with a dynamic eq. I turned the trumpet down and it suddenly sounded so much better. The expression wheel was set slightly different in the two performances, but that didn’t make much difference. That trumpet is the SampleModeling “The Trumpet,” which is not exactly a sample. It’s a sample-based model of a trumpet. I use it for these kinds of parts because it is very nimble. It’s really designed more for jazz and pop trumpet sections, so I have to drench it in reverb to get it to work with an orchestra, but for fast-tongued parts, no other sample sounds as realistic. Anyway, I’ve got it sounding much better now. I also added a bit more reverb. (There are 3 reverbs on it now. Crazy.)
I’m learning to really love BBC for another reason: simplicity. It just doesn’t take long to grab a BBC sound and stick it in there and make it work.
Oh, and here’s something BBC gets right that 8Dio REALLY gets wrong, and I’m kind of sore about it right now, because I’ve been fighting these damn 8Dio shorts.
On the 8Dio short samples, like staccato and staccatissimo, as your velocity increases, it switches suddenly from a p to a mf to a ff short, rather than crossfading between them. So if you want to play a bunch of shorts in a row with them gradually increasing in intensity, it doesn’t work. It goes soft-soft-soft-soft-LOUD!
BBC orchestra cross-fades their short samples so that it’s a smooth transition. That may not be “pure” in the sense that, say, you’re hearing more than one recording of a short at once, but it’s so much more musical to play, and musicality trumps purism all day long.
Lest I sound like I am in love with BBC too much, here’s a complaint about the strings. If you listen to the strings in the piece, some times during legato phrases, the note-to-note legato transition is not completely smooth (smooth meaning it sounds like the players are simply finger tapping to get to the next note, and not re-bowing). Instead, it sounds completely re-bowed, almost like the phrasing on paper didn’t even have a slur.
This was not my choice. Certain note-to-note transitions simply WILL NOT GIVE YOU A SMOOTH LEGATO SLUR. The previous note stops and then the next note re-bows. And there’s no way around it.
I suppose this is imitating the sound of the section changing from bowing one string to bowing another string? However, if the phrase is marked with a slur, the players would plan for that and make sure they’re planning ahead to be on the right string so they can play the phrase as marked.
The only way to overcome this, if you’re hell-bent on having a slurred phrasing between two such notes when BBC refuses to give it to you is to subtly blend in a sustain sample under the preceding note so that it hangs on a few hundred extra milliseconds before the next note enters.
But this is one of those things where, getting more and more detailed, one could spend forever on a single mock-up, and at some point you have to decide whether being finished is more important than getting it perfect. So I left it as is. The strings still sound great.
Glad you found what was wrong with the sample. Nice to know I was half right at least
Yes I totally get the spitfire gripe. Most libraries get this legato transition wrong. It’s very very hard to sample a legato phrase with port and include control over both bow changes AND slur changes.
I’m currently trying to attempt to create a violin legato patch in kontakt that combats this… I’m currently failing. I get it right for about 70% of the samples and then the rest I’m still figuring out.
The sample pool so far is at a staggering 300 samples and 12 round robin park thes and 14 other sound banks. This so far gets legato and portage to to work alongside a bow change. Though I’m currently trying to get the slur to work in conjunction which means trying to balance all five sample pools at once within a one patch (longs, port, Rr’s, bow changes plus RRs, and slurs (no Rr’s).
I’m attempting to do this by assigning the bow changes to the 80-127 range and the slurs to the 0-45 range while also cross fading the Center longs between 30-100. It’s a lot of work but it’s getting there. So I get your frustration and I also understand the frustration of every sample creator lol. There’s enough info just in one patch that would be comfortable even within one library.
Very interesting project Everett. It makes me think more in Indiana Jones than in Superheroes, maybe the military drums and some cadences, or maybe as you said, a certain lack of punch in the brass, or a wider dynamic range.
It is a really good composition.
Wow you’re actually designing a string instrument!
I think for me I care less about realism and more about just being able to get the phrasing that I’m singing in my head.
If the sample ends up doing something different from how real players would accomplish it (for example, say, playing a note on the 3rd string where real players would play it on the 2nd string in a different hand position), I truly don’t care. Samples aren’t going to sound exactly like real players no matter how much detail they’re created with.
And I’d say that, when presented with a trade-off of more natural musical phrasing versus using the sample that’s more of a technical match for what real players would do (imagine a string library of all down bows that nonetheless played easily and phrased well without much effort versus a library with control over both up and down bows but which was difficult to make good musical phrases with), I’d say the technically wrong but more musical library is a closer approximation to what you get with real players.
We should return to Star Wars stuff soon, by the way!
Vicente, interesting point about Indiana Jones. I honestly think there are two reasons for that. First, the one-note trumpet fanfare, which is on a relatively low note, was sounding a little weak and non-heroic, so I added xylophone, and that fixed the weakness but brought horse-hoof imagery into the piece. Hopefully the client won’t notice!
If I need to lose the xylophone, I’d probably get a really good trumpeter to come in and play that part with some energy that only a live player can bring. I could also pitch the whole piece up a whole step maybe, but I doubt that would be as simple as doing a global transpose on every track. I’m betting it would sound all out of whack and I’d face hours of editing I don’t want to do!
The second reason I think it’s calling to mind Indiana Jones is after the fanfare, when the melody passes to the strings, the shape of their melody, with the quick jumps played in tight chords, is very reminiscent of the b-section of the Raiders theme. Of course it’s also similar to the b-section of the Superman Theme, but maybe less so.
So they ask for Silvestri and they get too big a dose of Willians, maybe. It’s in my DNA, I can’t help it!
…and since you agree about the lack of punch in the brass, yeah, maybe that’s worth spending some time on. I find brass the hardest thing to get right. Well, solo strings are impossible, but brass is the hardest thing to get right where I think I ought to have a chance at getting it right.
Berlin Winds were a huge advance for solo winds to me…maybe I should buy Berlin brass? Yeah that’s it! ANOTHER damn library.
Yeah the instrument is coming along well. I released my first ever kontakt instrument about 3 weeks ago and it’s going well.
I agree that no matter what we won’t get the same as a real player, though I think when it comes to soloists I really enjoy high detail, enough so that you can customise it so that it sits well and does what you want it to.
Great use of mediant harmony, interesting filigree, nice contrasting rhythms (e.g. the syncopated section following the extended quarter note tromp-tromp-tromp about 2/3rd through). A very well balanced piece on many levels! Bravo!
I appreciate your hard work in getting your PhD. I’ve done the music BA to MBA to starting a Ph.D. in Organizational Management. Time, money, and lack of passion for OM led me back to my original love of music.
Take care! I look forward to hearing more of your music!