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mdiemer

Is It Impossible To Make Good Midi Renditions Of Classical Music?

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@mdiemer I think your first movement of Three Easter Scenes is pretty good. I  mainly think you have to work on better dynamics.  Really don't put yourself down for this nice movement.

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4 hours ago, JoeGBradford said:

Nice piece! Know what you mean about the sound though - yours sounds much better than the little I have composed but, as you say, it still has that unrealistic sound even though you have some great libraries 

Thanks Joe. I was planning on posting it here and another place on Easter, for the benefit of those who celebrate the holiday but couldn't get to church, but when I heard it on my other sound systems, I knew I had more work to do.

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2 hours ago, InstrEd said:

@mdiemer I think your first movement of Three Easter Scenes is pretty good. I  mainly think you have to work on better dynamics.  Really don't put yourself down for this nice movement.

Thanks Ed, I appreciate it. But you know,  as a musician, we're all our own worst critics...

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18 hours ago, mdiemer said:

as a musician, we're all our own worst critics

This is so true :D

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23 hours ago, JoeGBradford said:

It might be worth watching some of the Spitfire videos, especially the ones about the BBC SO VSTi - I've found those interesting

Totally, those videos are great. Also, Michael Patti's videos over at Cinesamples, are also very good. The Cinesamples folks have some tutorials that offer some nice insight into working with MIDI and mixing samples.

 

22 hours ago, JoeGBradford said:

Rob (Amicus) - your stuff is amazing! Going to be listening to a lot of these!

You are far too kind, and thanks :) I worked very hard on those, and I was happy how they turned out.

 

It would be proper to mention in this thread that Tapsa Kuusniemi, one of our merry band here at the Cakewalk forum, has been extremely helpful with this orchestral stuff. He's a pro, knows his s#@*, and has made a ton of really great suggestions and pointers in regards to my music. In particular, he often takes me to task for not having enough dynamics across my music (which I appreciate greatly), and his repeated reminders have really made me focus on that aspect of my composing and recording. I think that played a key role in helping me get my music and mixes up a notch in quality. 

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18 hours ago, mdiemer said:

Thanks Joe. I was planning on posting it here and another place on Easter, for the benefit of those who celebrate the holiday but couldn't get to church, but when I heard it on my other sound systems, I knew I had more work to do.

I think Three Easter Scenes are very nicely composed, Mike. I really like them. The one thing that first struck me when I was listening through, was that they might benefit from more dynamics, both in the general music and also in the playing of the specific lines. For example, the string lines in the opening few mins came across as sort of dynamically flat and kind of stiff. I also personally prefer the panning to be not quite so far left and right. This particular recording sounds pretty hard panned in my headphones, and I find that kind of artificial and actually a bit hard to listen to -- when the violins are panned too far left, for instance, it always makes me feel like something is missing on the right side that I should be hearing but can't. It actually creates a sense of tension and makes me feel like I'm being prevented from hearing the whole recording. Sort of. When the grand piano took over at the 3:05 mark, it filled the sound field very nicely and to my ears made the whole thing easier to listen to. 

But nonetheless, I found the music very intriguing and held my interest all the way through. I liked it a lot.

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23 hours ago, mdiemer said:

Wow, thank you very much, Rob, that was really informative. I would love to have my mixes sound as good as yours. sometimes I wonder if the style I compose in has something to do with it. I don't have much dynamic variation in my music. I tend to write stuff that's on the quieter side. Or maybe my samples aren't good enough. 

Anyway, I will keep re-reading your advice, there's a lot there. I've already read it three times, and again I really appreciate your taking the time to help me out here.

Happy to help out in any way, Mike! I've been the beneficiary of a lot of help in this forum, also. One dude you may want to reach out to is Tapsa. He's been very helpful and generous with his time, and as a legit pro, he knows what he's doing. He's offered me some great help and encouragement.

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To make a mix that sounds good on other systems you have to mix on really fine, and usually very expensive, speakers.  Computer speakers just won't do it.   That's what pro monitors are for:  To get an accurate image of the sound, warts and all.  That's desirable, because if you can't hear what's wrong you can't improve it.

I hope you listen to a lot of classical (not film!) music and study scores.  When I finish a symphony it usually takes me about 2 years working on it every day.  Much of that time is spend in MIDI programming--attacks, releases, velocity and cc7 or 11, moving notes forward or backward away from the beat, sample-set choice, etc.  It's time consuming.  You have to think how a player would attack a note, express a phrase, create gesture and intention.  Using lots of tempo variation, even slight, also helps.  The problem is that a computer can play perfectly in time.  That easily degrades into a mechanical, artless, lifeless sound.  It's up to the musician to counteract that with techniques to bring expression, randomness, clarity and a sense of human intention into the MIDI sequence.   I'd start with basic classical piano pieces, i.e. Bach inventions or fugues, and learn that way.   Taking on producing The Rite of Spring requires not only an incredible amount of time and energy, but also top notch gear and a lot of knowledge of music.  If you have that, go for it. 

Here's a masterclass I did a few months ago on this topic:

http://www.jerrygerber.com/soundbytesinterview2019.pdf

And here's a new symphonic work you can probably learn something from:

http://www.jerrygerber.com/symph10complete.htm

Jerry

 

 

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*Scratches "Create symphony" off the weekend to-do list...*  😁

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6 hours ago, bdickens said:

https://sonicscoop.com/2016/11/10/diy-studio-design-part-2-build-cost-effective-bass-traps/

 

Fixing your room will do more for you than all the sample libraries and reverb in the world. 

I bought my building when I walked into the "Great Room" and found the builder had coved the junction of walls to ceiling in there  in a continuous 24" radius.  I couldn't believe what I was seeing - Aged hardwood floors and a treated ceiling!!   Thick plaster walls!   

As I stood there with the realtor, I didn't say a word, I just faced each corner and clapped my hands, listening to how the room responded.  After I did all four corners, I turned to her and said "OK, I'm buying this place."   I never explained what the clapping and listening thing was all about, so I am sure she just figured I was summoning the spirits of my ancestors or something.  

Miking the room and mixing that natural reverb with the DI signal always sounds just as sweet as clover honey. The place was built in 1944 and is the state of the art plaster right before construction moved on to drywall. Only downside is that the steel mesh lath they used makes the whole house basically a Faraday cage. WiFi doesn't stand a chance. 

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On 4/17/2020 at 7:10 PM, mdiemer said:

Thanks Ed, I appreciate it. But you know,  as a musician, we're all our own worst critics...

My worst critic is my ex wife, who couldn't carry a tune if it had a handle on it. 

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A guy who lived here, and has recently passed away ran floormusic.com which was a storehouse of gymnastic classical music he created for license by people who needed it. It was 1999-ish and done in DP and was simply stunning to hear. On his bookshelf was a book entitled "The principals of orchestration".  Right! I can't play some Rush.

Different league.

 

 

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Posted (edited)
On 4/14/2020 at 9:15 PM, DeeringAmps said:

Maybe you should listen some of Jerry Gerber's work.

He has several in the songs forum right now.

Here's the thread for his Symphony #10

Often he makes the score for his works available as well.

IIRC he also teaches virtual orchestration.

t

I was about to say the same thing.  He is the Cakewalk/Sonar gold standard when it comes to producing classical music, and a Jedi Master when it comes to Staff View knowledge.

[ scrolls up and sees that the Master has already replied 🤣

Edited by pbognar
JSG already replied
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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, jsg said:

To make a mix that sounds good on other systems you have to mix on really fine, and usually very expensive, speakers.  Computer speakers just won't do it.   That's what pro monitors are for:  To get an accurate image of the sound, warts and all.  That's desirable, because if you can't hear what's wrong you can't improve it.

I hope you listen to a lot of classical (not film!) music and study scores.  When I finish a symphony it usually takes me about 2 years working on it every day.  Much of that time is spend in MIDI programming--attacks, releases, velocity and cc7 or 11, moving notes forward or backward away from the beat, sample-set choice, etc.  It's time consuming.  You have to think how a player would attack a note, express a phrase, create gesture and intention.  Using lots of tempo variation, even slight, also helps.  The problem is that a computer can play perfectly in time.  That easily degrades into a mechanical, artless, lifeless sound.  It's up to the musician to counteract that with techniques to bring expression, randomness, clarity and a sense of human intention into the MIDI sequence.   I'd start with basic classical piano pieces, i.e. Bach inventions or fugues, and learn that way.   Taking on producing The Rite of Spring requires not only an incredible amount of time and energy, but also top notch gear and a lot of knowledge of music.  If you have that, go for it. 

Here's a masterclass I did a few months ago on this topic:

http://www.jerrygerber.com/soundbytesinterview2019.pdf

And here's a new symphonic work you can probably learn something from:

http://www.jerrygerber.com/symph10complete.htm

Jerry

 

 

Thank you Jerry for chiming in on this. Unfortunately, I don't think I will ever attain the level of expertise you and others have. I am only interested in making modest improvements in my music, so that people will be able to get it. Maybe the Jedi Masters, as someone else here put it, will not be able to listen as it doesn't come up to their standards, and for that I apologize.  I don't have the energy or time (not to mention the ability to sit in a chair for hours; pain level limits that), to produce perfect mockups. Though I admire and envy those who do. 

I have made some modest improvements, mostly by realizing that in manually panning my string libraries, I am losing much of the signal. I have also moved the basses in more to where they are more resonant. The reason I was panning everything is that I use different libraries, and some of them have widely varying seating plans. But I have hit upon a scheme that allows me to use them mostly in their native positions, with the exception of the pizz. basses, as they are from the Vienna Special Edition library, which is not pre-panned. So they have to panned. but Vienna has power panning, where you can pan without losing signal. 

We'll see how it goes. While music comes naturally to me, as to all here, the other stuff does not. I can be a real dufus when it comes to the technical side of things. And I'm not getting any younger. any improvements from here on out are going to be incremental.

Addendum: re: my speaker setup, they are not computer speakers, but a three-way system with M-Audio BX5 monitors and a Mackie sub. I meant "computer speakers" in the sense that thye are connected to my computer. although the way my music sounds now, I can understand why someone would think they are just computer speakers. I promise, it is going to get better. But keep in mind, better is a relative term.

Edited by mdiemer

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, mdiemer said:

Thank you Jerry for chiming in on this. Unfortunately, I don't think I will ever attain the level of expertise you and others have. I am only interested in making modest improvements in my music, so that people will be able to get it. Maybe the Jedi Masters, as someone else here put it, will not be able to listen as it doesn't come up to their standards, and for that I apologize.  I don't have the energy or time (not to mention the ability to sit in a chair for hours; pain level limits that), to produce perfect mockups. Though I admire and envy those who do. 

I have made some modest improvements, mostly by realizing that in manually panning my string libraries, I am losing much of the signal. I have also moved the basses in more to where they are more resonant. The reason I was panning everything is that I use different libraries, and some of them have widely varying seating plans. But I have hit upon a scheme that allows me to use them mostly in their native positions, with the exception of the pizz. basses, as they are from the Vienna Special Edition library, which is not pre-panned. So they have to panned. but Vienna has power panning, where you can pan without losing signal. 

We'll see how it goes. While music comes naturally to me, as to all here, the other stuff does not. I can be a real dufus when it comes to the technical side of things. And I'm not getting any younger. any improvements from here on out are going to be incremental.

Addendum: re: my speaker setup, they are not computer speakers, but a three-way system with M-Audio BX5 monitors and a Mackie sub. I meant "computer speakers" in the sense that thye are connected to my computer. although the way my music sounds now, I can understand why someone would think they are just computer speakers. I promise, it is going to get better. But keep in mind, better is a relative term.

Mike, I am wondering if the subwoofer might be a bit of overkill in your setup -- at least in regards to mixing? Maybe others wiser than I (and that would be a lot of people) can correct me on this, but my understanding has always been that for small project studios like mine -- where small room size creates built in bass problems right from the start -- subwoofers tend to cause more problems than they are worth. Have you ever tried doing your final mixes on just the monitors without the sub? I used to use BX5 monitors (they were my previous set, in fact), and they are perfectly decent small monitors. Just a thought...

 

Edited by Amicus717
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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Amicus717 said:

Mike, I am wondering if the subwoofer might be a bit of overkill in your setup -- at least in regards to mixing? Maybe others wiser than I (and that would be a lot of people) can correct me on this, but my understanding has always been that for small project studios like mine -- where small room size creates built in bass problems right from the start -- subwoofers tend to cause more problems than they are worth. Have you ever tried doing your final mixes on just the monitors without the sub? I used to use BX5 monitors (they were my previous set, in fact), and they are perfectly decent small monitors. Just a thought...

 

Actually, I did start out using the M-Audio speakers alone, but their lack of bass frustrated me, so I grabbed the Mackie sub when it was on sale. I probably should have just bought better studio monitors. you may be on to something there, Rob.

I have yet to try adjusting the sub's crossover setting, and hopefully that will help.

Edited by mdiemer

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, mdiemer said:

Actually, I did start out using the M-Audio speakers alone, but their lack of bass frustrated me, so I grabbed the Mackie sub when it was on sale. I probably should have just bought better studio monitors. you may be on to something there, Rob.

I agree, half decent monitors paired with decent headphones. Getting the bass tight, clear and eq'd well is essential. I would think using a sub would result in tinny sounding mixes because swamping everything with bass will give you a false reading of how much bass is in each individual instrument. When you play back the mix on speakers without a sub, this will be revealed. Ideally, 6 - 8 inch monitors in a treated room. But that is not possible for everyone. The Mackies by themselves probably wouldn't be that inspiring in comparison, if your used to a sub, you will have to re-train your ears to the new sound. I use G3 KRK 5's but they have a port, I only use them because of where I am at the moment, if I had the space and a dedicated room I would move to Yamaha HS7/8's or  Adam F7's etc in a heartbeat. I understand my Rokit's now and can do some good work with them but I back them up with Sennheiser 598's headphones with the Morphit plugin.

I use the Rokits at low volume initially for general song construction (so I don't have to wear headphones all the time) and then the headphones mainly for establishing the bass and the color of the instruments then back to the Rokits for establishing stereo spread and general sound with minor tweaking. If I try to use the Rokit's for adjusting bass and color of instruments alone, I run into trouble with translation but they are great just for general listening while your composing something.

If your in a less than favorable environment then I think it is a great idea to get some decent headphones, even with the cheap Morphit plugin. Whatever you do, it will take time to train your ears to the new sound. You have to have some sort of accurate monitoring system in place that your happy with.

I don't do orchestral but I have recently started doing Jazz and big band and it seems to me, the more different instruments you add, the more important it is to have accurate monitoring to establish the color and eq of the instruments in the mix or it starts to get muddy and confused (on my Rokit's) and won't translate well. If I was doing Orchestral, I would probably trial  something like some Sennheiser 650's with a dedicated headphone amp or some beyer dynamic. I would think that Classical or Orchestral music would be hard to get right and is probably beyond my mixing capabilities at the moment.

 

 

 

Edited by Tezza
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Thanks very much for that, Tezza, it was very informative. I just made the discovery that I have my monitors too close together (about 20 inches, should be 3 feet - I must have forgotten about that specification when I moved stuff recently. It sucks getting old). 

So, I'm going to fix that, experiment with the crossover on the subwoofer and see how it goes. I may also have to look into room treatment, as has been suggested by many here and elsewhere. Supposedly also there's a way you crawl around on the floor, looking for the right spot for the sub. I may have to relocate my baby grand (anybody need one?).

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