extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

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dko22
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Re: extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

Post by dko22 »

thanks for your thoughts. I take your point of your clients and students not having expensive sample libraries on their rigs so doing what you've done has indeed a practical function -- and of course you could easily do more if you felt it was worthwhile. There again your students and clients will largely not have your mockup skills if they were wanting to do a lot with little themselves as I would put it, And if they like the default, well there not much more one can say...

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Re: extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

Post by Brian Roland »

Here are a couple of renderings of Schubert's Scherzo SQ15 from HSO.

1. Using the Dorico Defaults:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-9pjh ... sp=sharing

2. With the same rough HSO patches as above in the Zortico rendering, and a very simple expression map. NO effort on the part of shaping things in the play tab. Raw and exposed.

In this case, all that's used are two key-switches. One for arco, and one for staccato. Legato pedaling mutes a softly layered attack phase from a spiccato sample (optional, the user can adjust the level of this overlay 'attack', or even mute it out totally, it can be done on an as need basis using CCs, or directly in the macro if desired), it flattens the dynamic attack of legato notes (any sustained note played while the CC68 pedal is engaged), and extends the ringing of the note a bit. Legato pedal events are delayed 10ms (adjustable from 0 delay, up to about 40ms) before being implemented, which allows the first note of slurred phrases to get that bite, while the rest of the notes living under the slur are smoothly connected (overlapping a bit even).

Only a small touch of extra reverb "Music Academy" from REVerence. It's a bit boomy on my rig in the mids and lows, as in way too much from the cello (can also hear some phasing issues in cello that I'd need to fix), and that boom seems to be coming from the sampled reverb tails included in the sample library and released on note-off. I didn't make time to tone those reverb tails down some, and with the setup I'm sitting at now, it'd be mostly 'guess work' as to how it translates to other speakers/systems anyway. I just loaded it, set up an expression map for slurs and staccato, and rendered.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1rjrCt- ... sp=sharing

My point is meant to be, that even with the bog standard stuff that comes with Dorico Pro, things could be better out of the box.

Maybe something is wrong with my ears, but after paying $599 for it, which results would you rather have on your first raw rendering with the product?

If enough people agree that option 1 is better....then I'm sorely done with trying to use my ears for anything musical. My theory, is that people just get used it, and then something different comes along and doesn't seem right.

If it's option 2, well, most of the difference is that I chose a different set of samples from different presets than the defaults, layered in spicatto at a really low volume (unless slurring), and mostly, the way legato is handled the largest factor between the two examples given here.
Last edited by Brian Roland on Sun Jul 19, 2020 12:58 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

Post by Brian Roland »

dko22 wrote:
Sat Jul 18, 2020 10:37 am
Brian Roland wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 9:47 pm

In a serious mockup, it's not unusual at all to have two or three instances with nothing but choices for the first violinist's long bowing options! Sometimes they're even based on the same sample, but you might do things with the attack/sustain....or simply use a comb filter to excite some frequencies to emulate a little more bow pressure for a given note, and so forth.
This comment invites another side discussion about whether this is not perhaps taking things a bit too far. There is music, nowadays in particular, where the actual sound is more important than the music. Indeed we could start on how do you define sound v music but I've been there and don't intend to revisit! I regard a "serious" mockup as no more than one that does enough justice to the music to give full rein to the feelings contained therein. This does not have to mean messing around with every note. What I'd love to hear is an audio clip of a mockup which shows the difference these wonderful DAW features can make as opposed to something only processed in Dorico. Any offers?
It's SO much about the mixing, micro-sliding things to the right spot on the timeline, dynamics, other expressive data, and general sound staging. Here are examples from libraries old and new. Even FREEBIE ones like Sonatina.

Here's one from way back in 2011...using the very same library that ships with Dorico.
Halion Symphonic Orchestra and Cubase
https://youtu.be/ZARNiBOQQpc

Another from 2010.
Halion Symphonic Orchestra and Cubase
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mIlS-Lo89g

HSO in Cubase
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2F6fJl3dWtQ

Here's one using Garritan GPO 4 and Cubase, it's an old library that uses mostly modeling as well (not a lot of sampled articulation choices).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYXSEqdTgAY

VSL and Digital Orchestrator Pro
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxjlTpjCWGg

VSL and Sonar
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PB3njyDW8SY

East West in Cubase (the chiors are East West virtual plugins too)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbKbVsrRZ_U

East West Libraries in Reaper
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1K79NJM21PA

Sonatina (a freebie from here), Requem Lite & Logic Pro (virtual choirs too)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymj5SY5UDEM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0nAijayti4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTXU6uTyviA

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Re: extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

Post by dko22 »

well, thanks for all that, Brian, it was certainly something to get my teeth into! I must say I'd never heard of Sonatina and I'm astonished how much impact it could have in something like the Verdi though I've no idea how it would fare in other rather more intimate music.

With the Schubert, there was no problem whatsoever telling the difference so don't worry about your ears. Solo strings is, however, a particularly difficult area for VST's and I suspect there really isn't much more that can be done with Halion here, I fear. In the Dvorak pieces the programmer seems to have made considerable progress between 2010 and 2011 not just technically but musically and the finale gets off to a great start as the strings do indeed have some real bite. One or two oddities (why staccato horns at 4'09"?) and you can hear that some of the woodwind and brass lack individuality but I don't think I've heard better from Halion overall.

On VSL, well we know that Jay Bacal can programme. In some way even more impressive is the Dvorak scherzo here https://www.vsl.co.at/en/Starter_Editio ... ion_Bundle as it's using only the most basic patches of the SE and yet has sufficient realism and musicality to sound very close to a real orchestra most of the time. Without hearing a comparable Dorico-only mock-up, it's hard to really evaluate the achievement but my limited experience of the library so far in my own work is mostly positive. The Beethoven 5 is clearly an artistic experiment which to my taste largely doesn't work.

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Re: extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

Post by robjohn9999 »

dko22 wrote:
Sun Jul 19, 2020 8:36 am
Thanks for the upload --- I think I get a better idea of where you're coming from with this Zortzico (quite a nice wee piece by the way). It does look as if you've made Halion phrase in a considerably more musical way overall and it's set in a well-balanced acoustic. But there's no getting round the fact that this library still sounds often like a barrel organ, particularly near the end, and the shorter notes are particularly artificial. I see trying to mould the timbre as wasted time even for one as talented as yourself -- would it not be better trying to start with more sophisticated samples in the first place? My feeling was also that the top line dominates too often, thus not letting the texture fully emerge. Higher notes naturally sound louder than mid-range ones but of course you'll know all this and it might just be an artistic choice which is fair enough.

Yes - thanks for sharing, Brian. I will shortly take a look at your other examples but I have to agree that your original shared example does have a bit of "barrel organ" sensibility - I think in part by the inherent uniformity of the vibrato, making it feel more "keyboard-played", which is probably unavoidable (and I'm sure at the same time that playback without your extensive programming would such much inferior). The REAL comparison to me, though, would be for you to playback the exact same track in Dorico with Note Performer instead (if you have it). I suspect it would sound better, which gets back to my original point: you obviously have a serious handle on the state-of-the-art of Dorico (and DAW) programming, but the process of obtaining what you achieved in this example seems extremely involved, while Note Performer in comparison is literally "plug and play" (provided you've provided appropriate dynamic/articulation markings in the actual Dorico score). This is why I'm wondering whether Dorico may be "barking up the wrong tree" in doubling down only on expression maps, control of v.i.'s, etc., and also wondering whether they (or a competitor) shouldn't also consider expanding the capabilities of the Note Performer approach which seems to me so musical and effective (again at least -at present - specifically for more classical orchestral music). But I'd love to hear the above sample just with Note Performer first (just to see!)
- D.D.
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Re: extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

Post by Brian Roland »

dko22 wrote:
Sun Jul 19, 2020 5:58 pm
well, thanks for all that, Brian, it was certainly something to get my teeth into! I must say I'd never heard of Sonatina and I'm astonished how much impact it could have in something like the Verdi though I've no idea how it would fare in other rather more intimate music.

With the Schubert, there was no problem whatsoever telling the difference so don't worry about your ears. Solo strings is, however, a particularly difficult area for VST's and I suspect there really isn't much more that can be done with Halion here, I fear. In the Dvorak pieces the programmer seems to have made considerable progress between 2010 and 2011 not just technically but musically and the finale gets off to a great start as the strings do indeed have some real bite. One or two oddities (why staccato horns at 4'09"?) and you can hear that some of the woodwind and brass lack individuality but I don't think I've heard better from Halion overall.

On VSL, well we know that Jay Bacal can programme. In some way even more impressive is the Dvorak scherzo here https://www.vsl.co.at/en/Starter_Editio ... ion_Bundle as it's using only the most basic patches of the SE and yet has sufficient realism and musicality to sound very close to a real orchestra most of the time. Without hearing a comparable Dorico-only mock-up, it's hard to really evaluate the achievement but my limited experience of the library so far in my own work is mostly positive. The Beethoven 5 is clearly an artistic experiment which to my taste largely doesn't work.
I noticed Sonatina has been taken down from it's old primary hosting site. I think I still have it around here somewhere. It's nothing special I assure you. It was basically a random collection of samples someone had collected and got permission to distribute. If I recall correctly, it came in sfz format, which meant using sforzando, Aria, or Cakewalk/Dimension. There was very little if any dynamic/pitch shaping done in the opcodes...all it did was trigger the sample (one shot at that, no loop points or anything), and let it play until you released the key. Some people would also just take the raw samples and either put them in their sample engine of choice, or lay them out directly on audio tracks.

I do believe it is possible to get very high quality, super detailed mock-ups in Dorico. It just seems like it's going to be much more difficult at this time in terms of painstaking manual labor either with maps and vst programming, or working lanes in the play tab. Doubling instruments, using overlays, setting up delay effects, finding the right spaces in the mix to tuck the right thing, a touch of compression here and there side-chained to the right triggers, etc. The bells and whistles of the DAW offer so much in these areas, as well as tools to speed along the process of making use of them. Even more can be done if one renders the performance to audio wave forms and starts touching minor details in those tracks.

Even with my 'really rough' template attempting to improve Dorico's out of the box interpretation of the score with HSO demonstrated earlier, the right mix and effects applied in the native Dorico mixer can make a profound difference. Something as simple as a parabolic EQ and a multi-band compressor in the main fader can really help bring it 'out of the barrel' so to speak. The right touches of reverb on each individual stave can help take the edge of the samples when desired as well (can be done in HALion itself, or via mixer inserts). That's mixing tasks alone.

That's before I even go in and touch things up....like the bad sfz attacks at the end (The dynamic curve I set up in HALion is very abrupt...overdid it to hear the extremes of what I was trying to do, getting familiar with what the HALion engine and samples can and cannot do). Just bringing up the level of the martelli like key-switch might help. I haven't built a con sordino for it yet either (I think all the strings are supposed to be muted at the end as well). Missing articulation marks that I apparently did not finish inputting. Coming up with something better for the brief marcato passage, etc.

Bottom line....for $599, even though it's touted as a pro line product...kind of like an empty and dumb DAW would be, I still think Dorico should sound better at default settings, out of the box. While the competition's products may ultimately less capable at efficiently doing superb mock-ups than Dorico, they do give a better impression on sound quality out of the box at this time. They're pretty warm and fuzzy sounding, and comfortable to the ears as composition/arranging workstation.

In my opinion, there are actually quite a few instruments in Sonic 3 and H6 that are easier to get a good sound, and just using the general midi expression maps at that! Here's an old rendering I did way back when H6 first came out, using the newer Symphonic Strings content (nothing special about it, it's mostly to serve as an unlocked example to study how macros are built), just as an experiment. It's using the general expression map alone (Just velocity based dynamics).
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-9pjh ... sp=sharing

So...at this point I'm going to lay off the thread for a while. I apologize if I've sort of hijacked it at this point. Time for me to lay low and others make points on the topic.
Last edited by Brian Roland on Mon Jul 20, 2020 4:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

Post by Brian Roland »

robjohn9999 wrote:
Sun Jul 19, 2020 6:56 pm
dko22 wrote:
Sun Jul 19, 2020 8:36 am
Thanks for the upload --- I think I get a better idea of where you're coming from with this Zortzico (quite a nice wee piece by the way). It does look as if you've made Halion phrase in a considerably more musical way overall and it's set in a well-balanced acoustic. But there's no getting round the fact that this library still sounds often like a barrel organ, particularly near the end, and the shorter notes are particularly artificial. I see trying to mould the timbre as wasted time even for one as talented as yourself -- would it not be better trying to start with more sophisticated samples in the first place? My feeling was also that the top line dominates too often, thus not letting the texture fully emerge. Higher notes naturally sound louder than mid-range ones but of course you'll know all this and it might just be an artistic choice which is fair enough.

Yes - thanks for sharing, Brian. I will shortly take a look at your other examples but I have to agree that your original shared example does have a bit of "barrel organ" sensibility - I think in part by the inherent uniformity of the vibrato, making it feel more "keyboard-played", which is probably unavoidable (and I'm sure at the same time that playback without your extensive programming would such much inferior). The REAL comparison to me, though, would be for you to playback the exact same track in Dorico with Note Performer instead (if you have it). I suspect it would sound better, which gets back to my original point: you obviously have a serious handle on the state-of-the-art of Dorico (and DAW) programming, but the process of obtaining what you achieved in this example seems extremely involved, while Note Performer in comparison is literally "plug and play" (provided you've provided appropriate dynamic/articulation markings in the actual Dorico score). This is why I'm wondering whether Dorico may be "barking up the wrong tree" in doubling down only on expression maps, control of v.i.'s, etc., and also wondering whether they (or a competitor) shouldn't also consider expanding the capabilities of the Note Performer approach which seems to me so musical and effective (again at least -at present - specifically for more classical orchestral music). But I'd love to hear the above sample just with Note Performer first (just to see!)
- D.D.
Yes, I spent some spare time on a couple of weekends...LEARNING to program H6 as I went.

It is possible to get better vibrato on the solo strings. H6 doesn't have to use a static LFO (which I did so far). It can also use looping envelopes, and those can be cycled and manipulated with scripts and such as well.

Section strings contained in a 'single sample all together' are tricky....it was an experiment...in this case not so much meant to sound 'real', as to simply get the point across, and hopefully be somewhat pleasing. I had the notes starting with no vibrato at all, and kind of ramping it in over time. With comb filters, and doing pitch mods to 'parts' of the waveform independently, I might can come up with something, but I wouldn't bet anything more than a cheap beer on it ;)

NP has been a project in progress for YEARS now. With true professional audio engineers and programmers working on it, with whatever consultant experts they need on how each instrument included should ideally behave. The engineers are probably outstanding performing musicians in their own right! I don't own it personally at this time, but I have had it at work, teamed up with Sibelius before.

I'm mostly a wind band and choir guy, as in starting CHILDREN at the very beginning stages, and working with them till they graduate secondary school...what little I know about strings, I've tried to teach myself from reading and listening to good concerts and recordings. Never owned a bowed instrument, never tried to play one personally, and never had an opportunity to play in an orchestra or group with string sections. Never conducted such a group.

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Re: extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

Post by robjohn9999 »

Would love to try Note Performer playback of your first example - not to be too presumptuous but perhaps you could send me your Dorico file for that first example? I could play it back with Note Performer and then share it here (if you're game). Really curious the comparison.
Best!
- D.D.
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Re: extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

Post by Brian Roland »

robjohn9999 wrote:
Sun Jul 19, 2020 7:49 pm
Would love to try Note Performer playback of your first example - not to be too presumptuous but perhaps you could send me your Dorico file for that first example? I could play it back with Note Performer and then share it here (if you're game). Really curious the comparison.
Best!
- D.D.
I'd love to share it, but I don't have that right. Apologies.
There might be some other score we can use for comparison though?

BTW, I wouldn't be surprised if NP did a great job with it in terms of expressive inflection and musical phrasing. It's been doing what I'm attempting to do with HSO for years now (Sibelius soundworld maps combined with whatever internal analysis NP does itself to choose samples and shape their dynamics and intonation accordingly).

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Re: extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

Post by robjohn9999 »

I guess that would ultimately (possibly) be my point - that Note Performer might in this example end up sounding better, with zero programming required. This is why I'm curious if Dorico or someone else might consider trying to fortify Note Performer's approach to playback (building on the technology, etc., with more varied stylistic algorithms, richer built-in samples and physical modeling, etc.) in addition to what Dorico has already been doing as far as Expression Map editing, etc. It just seems extremely complicated/time consuming at present to program one's sample libraries in Dorico in a manner that is ultimately as "worth it" - and somewhat "diminishing returns" (arguably) when Note Performer requires no programming at all and is already more than halfway there...(my two cents, at any rate)...
Best -
- D.D.
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Re: extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

Post by Romanos401 »

Brian, I was blown away how different the second example sounded. Blimey it was like a completely different VST. Amazing that a few tweaks could improve it that much. I had no idea.
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Re: extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

Post by dko22 »

we must remember that VST's which are largely modelled still won't have quite the accuracy of top samples instruments. NP will be better out of the box with Brian's Schubert example and VSL solo strings far better than NP. it's just the nature of the beast. Where modelling (or skilled processing) shines is the feeling of overall musical responsiveness and vitality but the instruments can only go so far in sounding like the real thing without enough samples to work on. Most of us here are probably agreed that modelling is the future but I think we've still got some distance to travel -- and I use both Pianoteq and NP frequently. And we mustn't forget that top sample libraries these days are a good deal more than just static samples -- there is movement from both directions.

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Re: extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

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dko22 wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 8:22 am
we must remember that VST's which are largely modelled still won't have quite the accuracy of top samples instruments. NP will be better out of the box with Brian's Schubert example and VSL solo strings far better than NP. it's just the nature of the beast. Where modelling (or skilled processing) shines is the feeling of overall musical responsiveness and vitality but the instruments can only go so far in sounding like the real thing without enough samples to work on. Most of us here are probably agreed that modelling is the future but I think we've still got some distance to travel -- and I use both Pianoteq and NP frequently. And we mustn't forget that top sample libraries these days are a good deal more than just static samples -- there is movement from both directions.
Interesting take. In the end, I bet a hybrid solution will win out. Pianoteq is very convincing but I find their organteq to be sub par to say the least. Much better than a typical midi keyboard's built in sounds, yes, but a far cry from Hauptwerk, for instance. I find noteperformer delightful in certain contexts (woodwind quintets, for instance), but I'm sure that compared to the full spitfire BBC with human intervention it is but a paltry shadow. My guess is, as you alluded, there will be increasing intelligence built on top of ever-better samples (although, can we really exceed modern recording techniques? I imagine BBC will be around for many, many years to come as the standard bearer). More and more automated switching, smoother crossfades, etc.
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Re: extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

Post by Brian Roland »

robjohn9999 wrote:
Mon Jul 20, 2020 9:52 pm
I guess that would ultimately (possibly) be my point - that Note Performer might in this example end up sounding better, with zero programming required. This is why I'm curious if Dorico or someone else might consider trying to fortify Note Performer's approach to playback (building on the technology, etc., with more varied stylistic algorithms, richer built-in samples and physical modeling, etc.) in addition to what Dorico has already been doing as far as Expression Map editing, etc. It just seems extremely complicated/time consuming at present to program one's sample libraries in Dorico in a manner that is ultimately as "worth it" - and somewhat "diminishing returns" (arguably) when Note Performer requires no programming at all and is already more than halfway there...(my two cents, at any rate)...
Best -
- D.D.
I believe that at the current price range, Dorico should continue to work on BOTH areas for the sound engine. Keep improving the expression map system, keep connecting more pins supported by the VST protocol that can keep plugins up to date on what's happening, and ALSO keep improving the play tab. Supporting legacy libraries is as important as having the hooks and switches in place for developers to do come up with next generation libraries as well.

Libraries are investments, and just like some people have their favorite trumpet, or a darling bow they'd never part with, etc....people come to know and love various parts of legacy libraries as well.

I do not realistically expect huge/fast progress beyond what we're already getting. I realize it's going to take time, and that for a few years yet the bulk of development priority will be (and should be) on the ease and quality of creating printed music. Before math can be developed to translate into sound all the things a user can put on a page in the visual sense, the team has to get it on the page first, give it a little time to make sure it's solid in the wild ecosystems of users like us, and that it's commitment ready before implementing it into the sound engine as well.

I could be wrong, but I'm guessing that NP does have a pretty extensive expression map. I seem to recall the soundworld thing for Sibelius was well over 4,000 lines of xml, each with a least a half a dozen fields. The plugin still needs performance information.

So, I think it'd be fair to expect a few improvements with each major release to both areas of the sound engine. Thus far we've been getting them.

Version 3 was HUGE jump in sound engine capabilities for Dorico, and 3.5 put even more polish on it. None of the additional features/abilities were trivial either (support for user sound templates being a HUGE feat). All of them were essential in the foundation of all these little things on our wish lists.

I think once the big foundational things allowing for better VSTi management and communication are in place, we'll see more rapid implementation of the finer details that'll begin to close the gap between what Dorico, and a Fully Featured DAW can efficiently achieve with the sound of a score.
Last edited by Brian Roland on Tue Jul 21, 2020 3:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

Post by Rob Tuley »

Organteq is version 1 Pianoteq is now version 6. Pianoteq version 1 wasn't totally convincing either, except to show what the future might be like.

Huge sample libraries won't go away, because the companies that make them have decades of experience of making them, and historically the way you made them sound better was "more cowbell" (oops, I mean "more gigabytes of samples").

IMO the innovations will come from new kids on the block (like NotePerformer) not from VSL or East-West.

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Re: extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

Post by Rob Tuley »

Brian Roland wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 3:06 pm
I could be wrong, but I'm guessing that NP does have a pretty extensive expression map.
Well, it does (the current version is close to 1000 lines long) but the reason for that was lack of functionality in Dorico's expression maps.

Aside from the Dorico limitations, it would probably be nearer 50 lines than 1000.

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Re: extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

Post by Brian Roland »

Romanos401 wrote:
Mon Jul 20, 2020 10:01 pm
Brian, I was blown away how different the second example sounded. Blimey it was like a completely different VST. Amazing that a few tweaks could improve it that much. I had no idea.
There's more in that HSO library than the average Dorico user realizes. The first impression is...pull in a score with some string parts, hit play at default settings..."OMG! These strings sound horrible!", so quite a few people probably don't even bother to look at the other string patches available.

The principal section and soloist strings were designed to pop out of a mix, where there's a lot going on underneath, and/or on top of them.

In contrast, the 'full orchestra' strings are a little better at 'self blending' when strings are more exposed in a mix, so I got the samples from there rather than using those principal samples, but even so...if you just load them up and don't balance them out for your score using the UI...they can come across as being pretty bad too!

In short, the samples that are in there are good! One just has to 'implement them' well. HSO was designed as to be pretty dumb on its own. Up to the user to make it 'musical'.

HSO has a LOT of potential, and even in its out of the box state, one can do quite a lot with it in the workflow of a tracking DAW and Full version of HALion. Since version 3 of Dorico, it has potential in Dorico out of the box as well, but currently, the user will have to be willing to open the plugin and shape it up to needs/tastes. He'll either need to grasp the concept of setting up sounds in different HALion slots and bouncing channels, or using CCs to constantly make real time adjustments.

It's not my first choice in terms of the character of the string samples if they are going to be exposed, like in the case of our string only ensembles; however, for a more novice mixer though, HSO strings are pretty sweet in a really busy score. The very qualities that make them scratchy and annoying when exposed in an all strings feature, help them blend and shine in a really busy mix loaded with other instruments/timbers. Particularly if you know the majority of the people that'll hear your master are using ear buds, smart phones, and $30 computer speakers.

Another thing about HSO strings...they are super dry, and close miced in a dead room, probably one near the bridge and one near the f hole to pick up the reverb tail. They aren't really meant to be used without putting them through a few stages and types of reverb (which I did not do in my example...other than the Old French Theatre bit that's shared on the aux bus).

If I had more time, and a better room (monitoring situation) to work with.....I'd love to work up a default template for Dorico that's a nice experience right out of the box, at default settings. To do it right, in a format worthy of sharing would require that I carefully go into a process of testing every sample on a scope (Cubase has them I think) and make sure it's reasonably well dynamically balanced with all the other samples. Then I'd need to load all the other HSO instruments (winds/brass/etc.) and balance all that stuff out as well. I'd also go ahead and set a stage, doing a default stage for panning/stereo imaging, and a stage of reverbs in HALion itself.

The goal being...if a user walks in a music store, or into a university lab, downloads a demo, or actually buys the thing and tries to use it for the fist time....and loads or builds a score, it sounds pretty nice the first time they hit play! Not having to touch a single thing on the mixer, or in the play tab. In this respect...the competing scoring software has quite a head start! People punch in a few measures, and the results, while still far from being uber-mock-up quality, at least, don't have them covering their ears and making sour faces.

Such a project could probably go pretty quick if several HALion 6 users teamed up, and worked under a set of standards (such as, with the mixer fader at 50%, and CC7 and expression volume at 100%, with all other faders on the mixer muted, the signal from the mains (with no effects/eq/etc) should be no more or less than than a certain db). Then let different individuals focus on different instrument families. Someone could be in charge of taking all the project entries, running scores through it, and doing some tweaks before packing it all into a single vstsound, with a template ready to establish as the default for Dorico.

Even if people don't care to specifically sit down and focus on the 'challenge', is it that unusual for people to be quietly making things on their own as they 'need' it? Some sort of community project might foster an environment for sharing some of those HALion presets and tricks.

Just ideas...
Last edited by Brian Roland on Wed Jul 22, 2020 12:37 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

Post by Brian Roland »

Rob Tuley wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 3:18 pm
Brian Roland wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 3:06 pm
I could be wrong, but I'm guessing that NP does have a pretty extensive expression map.
Well, it does (the current version is close to 1000 lines long) but the reason for that was lack of functionality in Dorico's expression maps.

Aside from the Dorico limitations, it would probably be nearer 50 lines than 1000.
Yes, I get it...I once considered trying to do a complete universal template for GPO5.

I noticed that I'd have to keep making redundant entries in the map, but with a node or two difference. Without all those redundant entries, or placing lots of natural/ord. events in the score to reset things for a fresh start...I'd get bad results.

I think much of that 'redundant' work in building a large/smart expression map could be automated by a knowledgeable scripter in something like pearl/java/lua/whatever, but parsing and manipulating xml isn't something I'm practiced at doing.

Exclusion groups help some, but some redundant entries are still needed if one is to avoid forcing the user to tag a lot of notes manually, and keep forcing resets that clear any existing nodes.

I decided it'd be much easier to just start with a near blank map with each project, and build what I need as I went on a score by score basis.

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Re: extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

Post by robjohn9999 »

Agreed. And if Arne could just expand NotePerformer to include other performance practices (like jazz) I would be extremely happy. And (as Daniel suggests), if Dorico - as it continues to develop - also increasingly incorporates automatic (more expressive) playback that requires less programming (hopefully a la Note Performer) even as they simultaneously flesh out greater direct control over external plug-ins, it would be the best of both worlds (so fingers crossed for the future).
- D.D.
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Re: extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

Post by Brian Roland »

robjohn9999 wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 5:09 pm
Agreed. And if Arne could just expand NotePerformer to include other performance practices (like jazz) I would be extremely happy. And (as Daniel suggests), if Dorico - as it continues to develop - also increasingly incorporates automatic (more expressive) playback that requires less programming (hopefully a la Note Performer) even as they simultaneously flesh out greater direct control over external plug-ins, it would be the best of both worlds (so fingers crossed for the future).
- D.D.
Really, the expression maps (in concept) have most of this covered. Of course it'll be nice to see improvements to the system. I.E. Where we can do things like drop a direction playing technique on the score that's not necessarily bound to a specific note. In short, a stand alone event...like just a send a single CC to add a mute, without binding the the node to a specific note...and later do the same to turn the mute off.

As it is now, if we want a sordino and con sordino option, one has to duplicate a bunch of entries in the expression map.
normal (must include the CC to turn mutes off)
normal.mute (only difference here, is one CC is turned on)
staccato
staccato.mute
accent
accent.mute

Or...use a technique that isn't sticky (only applies to a single note), but one still needs at least one 'custom/oddball' duplicate entry in the expression map with the mute node to get the relevant CC sent.

Or, leave the user to dot it in on a CC lane....but, the current CC lane implementation is not conductive to placing single/isolated CCs. It refuses to let us enter terraced style CCs on these lanes.

Or, since Version 3, we can now build custom playing techniques, and give them nodes with unique names. Something I haven't experimented with much at this point.

It gets pretty annoying as an instrument builds in complexity. The good news is that every release since version 3 first hit the streets has unveiled significant improvements to the expression map/technique system. It IS getting better......

The parts that are currently missing to build much smarter instruments with much simpler expression maps are current tempo, current key signature, etc. It is part of the VST protocol to supply that information at all times, but it's not hooked up yet in Dorico (I don't think it is in Sibelius or Finale either). In the old GM protocols, RPN events exist for transmitting this type of information. Either way...once we get it, smarter instruments without added latency are more plausible.

Theoretically, one could do in HALion the same things NP does. HALion has very robust scripting abilities. It can get its first cues on how to pick a sound template/sample from the Expression Maps (some event means a note has a dot over it). Buffer, analyze, and make even more subtle choices from there (if tempo, or if note length is is in range x, pick staccato, in range y, pick spiccato, or in range z, pick martelli, and so forth).

Using Bidule, I can do something similar for any plugin I like, with zero added latency by sending the click track to it, and letting it calculate the tempo. It's one beat behind on having the proper tempo, but still useful for helping choose articulations without a lot of manual intervention with the score on my part. Of course, I can also buffer, time-stamp, and analyze everything between a given note-on/note-off event to make choices from that data as well, but this approach requires code to keep things in proper relative sync, and adds latency.

Give me those tempo and time signature pin....and without added latency, I can do in HALion what would otherwise take a MUCH more complicated expression map, or require the user to go in and manually tag up individual notes. I could even give the user a page in the macro of the instrument to over-ride or make adjustments to whatever it's picking by default for a given combination of symbols on the score.

I.E. If the default were to choose martelli for any note with a dot, also living under a slur, if the tempo is between 70 and 90, the user could pull up a page and change that to use spiccato instead. It wouldn't be too difficult to also give the user up to 127 of these pages (on the fly changeable with a CC), in case the user would like to have different slates of options for different sections or movements of a piece.

Give me the key-signature pin, and I can free you from the bondage of using equal temperament tuning in a more automatic fashion.

The HALion engine is really powerful, and very efficient at sample and waveform based type instruments. The synths are impressive too, though of course they eat up more CPU (I don't know enough about synths to compare it in terms of efficiency with other sound design engines).

It's a shame that first impressions of the HALion engine aren't all that great these days (in part due to the default, out of the box settings of apps like Dorico), when in fact, the engine is HIGHLY capable, if not out right superior to most other sound design options on the market these days.
Last edited by Brian Roland on Wed Jul 22, 2020 7:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

Post by robjohn9999 »

All of this said (and thanks for all your thoughts!), I recall you saying you don't have Note Performer and so I'd also really be curious your thoughts after doing an A-B comparison between it and all of the programming you've done in Halion (since there's an argument certainly for an "enhanced Note Performer-like", easier solution)...

Best -
D.D.
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Re: extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

Post by Brian Roland »

robjohn9999 wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 5:42 pm
All of this said (and thanks for all your thoughts!), I recall you saying you don't have Note Performer and so I'd also really be curious your thoughts after doing an A-B comparison between it and all of the programming you've done in Halion (since there's an argument certainly for an "enhanced Note Performer-like", easier solution)...

Best -
D.D.
Perhaps we can work up some comparisons, but remember, I spent maybe 20 hours on mine (this includes putting in enough of the score for making a rendering, while multitasking and/or goofing off on the side), in total, from spare time over several weekends, some help from the HALion forum, but pretty much on my own, as a total novice to making macros in H6, having never coded a single line of LUA before.

I could do the same things in H6 without the HSSE friendly macro page in a couple of hours, or even less. Auditioning/choosing samples to map and balancing them out somewhat would be the most time consuming part on an instrument without the fancy UI macro I threw together for sake of the free HSSE player.

Now that I better understand how to put together a HALion UI macro, I could probably do that much faster as well.

NP has been in development for years, by professional sound designers and software engineers. It is a fine product that keeps improving as the years go by.

Pick a score (or part of one) that's open to share and post it up...we can exchange renderings. Again, apologies that I can't share that Zortzico score under common fair use guidelines (most certainly not in entirety).

If anyone wants, I can share my HALion presets. Just be aware that it's a quite 'rough' sketch at this stage (done by ear, with a pretty bad monitoring situation), and I haven't documented it. It has no 'universal expression map', so I start with a clean slate and just add what's needed to make it play a given score. So no, it's not yet a fully plug and play and get all the benefits in any score option yet.

NP is a great product for the price, but not quite suited to the majority of my present sonic needs for my personal home rig.

The thing with my supplementary HSO strings project is that if I were to decide to work on it more, once it's done, it can be used again and again. It's not like it'd be starting over from scratch every time I load a score. Using it in different scores shouldn't be too difficult.

I mainly built it to demonstrate some concepts I was hoping to communicate/collaborate over, and to show potential for a better implementation of HSO. It is not in any way, shape, or form meant to compete with a pro product that's been around for several years now. I wanted to learn more about designing instruments in HALion anyway, and this project gave me an excuse to begin. I already had samples, and examples in front of me, so I could focus on practicing sound shaping, and macro building.

Just a very rough proof of concept project at it's current stage.

1. Delay of legato events to fix an issue with the way Dorico currently handles legato/slur events.

2. The HSO library can, and should sound better, pretty much out of the box, at default stave/mixer settings, for any Dorico Pro patron, without a major investment of additional money and/or time.

3. It was done largely in Dorico 2.0, before channel bouncing was supported. It demonstrates a method to bounce between tutti and solo instruments on a single stave, using HALion 'layers', and a CC on the quick-controls panel.

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Re: extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

Post by pat_ »

Confession: I record in real-time using NotePerformer. So I don't understand the comments around NotePerformer not being suitable for real-time recording or step entry. I remember that it added a second or two of latency in Sibelius and so recording wasn't possible, but it works fine for me in Dorico.

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Re: extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

Post by Brian Roland »

pat_ wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 5:30 pm
Confession: I record in real-time using NotePerformer. So I don't understand the comments around NotePerformer not being suitable for real-time recording or step entry. I remember that it added a second or two of latency in Sibelius and so recording wasn't possible, but it works fine for me in Dorico.
I've never heard or tried it with Dorico personally, so don't know how the latency is there.

The reason it's not suitable for me for my home rig at present, is because things I need renderings/mock-ups for, are more for concert and marching bands, jazz combos, stage bands, and the like. There aren't many choices for all in one libraries that cover all this, so it's a patchwork of favorites, sometimes the only thing available, and substitutions.

I've been using the Garritan stuff for so long in these areas, supplemented by things in HALion/Sonic, my Roland XR, etc...that it's not a big deal to me to shape it up to sound good enough for the majority of my rendering needs.

Unless NP has added a lot of things like marching and jazz brass, outdoor battery and pit percussion, weird stuff like flugal horns and modded trumpets/bugles, extensions throughout entire woodwind families like all the saxes, alto and contra flutes, every measure of alto and bass clarinets, Orff and Kodaly instruments for children's music, etc....it's not what I require on my home rig at this time.
Last edited by Brian Roland on Thu Jul 23, 2020 9:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

Post by dko22 »

pat_ wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 5:30 pm
Confession: I record in real-time using NotePerformer. So I don't understand the comments around NotePerformer not being suitable for real-time recording or step entry. I remember that it added a second or two of latency in Sibelius and so recording wasn't possible, but it works fine for me in Dorico.
you're right -- I haven't actually written anything using NP in Dorico yet with step entry. I assumed that it worked just liked Sibelius but in fact in Dorico, that appears not to be the case -- there is little or no delay.

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