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 Orchestral Software - Best?
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djones
Member

87 Posts

Posted - 11/25/2007 :  3:06:45 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  [Reply to Topic]  | [Reply w/ Quote]
After spending a little time on here and elsewhere, it sounds like Vienna Symphonic Library, East West Quantum Leap, and Garritan seem to be the choice for best orchestral sounds.

1) Are there others I should consider?

2) Having never worked with so many articulations, I'm curious how the articulations are specified in a MIDI track. It appears that each articulation is a separate patch. How are those patches associated with different notes in a track? Must this be done note by note, or does the software take a guess at the best articulation given velocity/duration/context. VSL seems to talk more about the user interface and ease of use than the others.

3) Is it better sounds that explain the big pricing differences? Ease of use? Something else?

Right now, and largely due to the comments here on DigiFreq, the EWQLSO seems right, but before I "click to buy", I'd appreciate any thoughts/advice. Thanks.

Don


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garrigus
Moderator

USA
14514 Posts

Posted - 11/25/2007 :  4:34:54 PM  Show Profile  Visit garrigus's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi Don,

There are some others, but you've listed the best. VSL is definitely the top of the list but it also costs many thousands of dollars. I've never used that one.

East West is next in line and does cost close to one thousand if you get the Platinum Bundle, but it's worth it. I have this one and it is awesome. 24-bit sound, surround sound capability, etc. Yes, the higher cost is for better samples.

Yes, there are different programs for different articulations, but there are also multiple articulations in some programs and these are triggered using key notes (very low notes outside the instrument range). So you would send a key note to specify an articulation and then send the actual notes to play. That's how it works for the most part.

There is also a program called Notion that allows you to enter music as notation and not deal with articulation selection (it's done via the notation that you input). The sounds are good but it still takes a lot of work to get a realistic performance and the EW sounds are still better.

Scott

--
Scott R. Garrigus - http://www.garrigus.com
* Cakewalk SONAR Video Tutorials: https://www.youtube.com/user/ScottGarrigus?sub_confirmation=1
* Author of the Cakewalk Sonar and Sony Sound Forge Power book series: http://garrigus.com/?PowerBooks
* Publisher of the DigiFreq music recording newsletter: http://www.digifreq.com/
* Publisher of the NewTechReview consumer tech newsletter: http://www.newtechreview.com/
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andyriggle
Bronze Member

USA
318 Posts

Posted - 11/25/2007 :  11:34:05 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
East West is sweet. I have the Gold Pro edition and use it as a VST in Finale when I'm writing a score, and in Sonar to render the audio.

Finale has articulations built in: put a staccato above the note, and it plays the patch staccato. If you are working on violins, and want to write some sections pizz, some marcato and others with harmonics you can load up to 4 or 5 East West patches on the same staff. They are put in color coded layers. The pizz violins might be black notes, the harmonics black, etc.. When you open the midi in Sonar, each layer will be on a different midi track, so you have to be sure to name them well in Finale.

The only bad thing is that the patches are huge and eat up your whole computer. Not only the hard drive, but the processing part too. If you have a fat score, it'll sound pretty crappo once you get too many patches loaded in the program you're writing with.

You should probably buy the patches and like 3 or 4 computers and seek professional help before proceeding.

Andy


Edited by - andyriggle on 11/25/2007 11:35:01 PM
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djones
Member

87 Posts

Posted - 11/26/2007 :  10:23:33 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks guys.

Andy, Finale sounds great. And for orchestrating, it sounds much more intuitive than SONAR. So when you say you use Finale when writing a score, I'd really be interested to hear how you work---what you do with Finale, what steps, and what's left then for SONAR.

By the way, your music is really terrific. You've motivated me.
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djones
Member

87 Posts

Posted - 11/27/2007 :  6:57:41 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Having now looked at Finale, Sibelius, and a little at Notion---any thoughts on which is best? Scott, do you think your review of Sibelius 4 is still a good comparison with Finale 8? It sounds like Sibelius is easier to use, and it sounds like Sibelius has added features that Finale was first with.

I'm most interested in inputting real time from MIDI and then looking for a way to edit that most easily---adding tempo changes easily, articulations, etc. It sounds like that editing is much easier in Sibelius or Finale than in SONAR. Is that correct?

How do people use one of these notation packages in conjunction with SONAR?

Thanks
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garrigus
Moderator

USA
14514 Posts

Posted - 11/27/2007 :  10:12:26 PM  Show Profile  Visit garrigus's Homepage  Reply with Quote
The thing about Notion is that it's a closed system right now. You can't use external sound libraries.

I'm not really sure how Finale and Sibelius compare now. I haven't spent enough time with the new versions yet.

But if you plan to do mostly real-time input, you might want to just try using whatever library you get with Sonar first. The main thing about the notation packages is that they allow you to easily enter the music as standard notation. If that's not what you need, then maybe you only need Sonar for now.

Since you're going to get an external library, you might as well pick that up first and try it with Sonar. If you need something more, then you can look into one of the notation packages.

Scott

--
Scott R. Garrigus - http://www.garrigus.com
* Cakewalk SONAR Video Tutorials: https://www.youtube.com/user/ScottGarrigus?sub_confirmation=1
* Author of the Cakewalk Sonar and Sony Sound Forge Power book series: http://garrigus.com/?PowerBooks
* Publisher of the DigiFreq music recording newsletter: http://www.digifreq.com/
* Publisher of the NewTechReview consumer tech newsletter: http://www.newtechreview.com/
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andyriggle
Bronze Member

USA
318 Posts

Posted - 11/28/2007 :  12:52:10 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I can tell you all about Finale and EWQSO. You can use EWQSO easily within it. Here's how I use Finale and Sonar....

When I write, I usually start at the piano and write on staff paper. Sometimes it's only a page or few measures.

Then I go to Finale and set up my score. I either use their template, or one from my previous projects. Sometimes I'll just pick up a score I like, like "Jupiter" from "The Planets." Then I'll just use the same instrumentation to get the same feel.

In Finale I can add or delete staffs. If I need a contrabassoon,I just click in the right spot in the score, and load the patch. Then I can click a note on the staff to play that instrument on my keyboard, and write out the part when ready. I add dynamics, slurs, articulations and play it back. Finale's human playback interprets the music and plays what I've written. It's easy to add and delete measures, set and change tempos & add ritards and fermatas. I just write it on the score and Finale plays it.

When I'm done writing the score, I save it as a midi file, open it in Sonar and have good starting point for a rendering. Sonar reads all the instrument names for the tracks and puts them in the right order. Then I start on the top of the score and work my way down, loading 1 or 2 patches at a time. I use the piano roll in the track view to edit the midi. Audio takes 2 seconds- Sonar "bounces" the midi to an audio track in no time.

Panning and effects are not really necessary. EWQSO patches are panned correctly. And I don't do effects. It's a sure way to wreck a mix. Anything else, like mastering and verb, I leave to a professional in a studio. It takes them no time, and they've got all the weirdo machines with the knobs and dials and convolution reverb software.

The nice thing about this method is that you have a real score that could be played live when you're done. To be honest, I don't know what the professional movie guys do. I bet 1/2 of them haven't a clue how to write a score. But what do I know. At least they get paid .

Andy

Edited by - andyriggle on 11/28/2007 12:55:56 AM
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reality
Member

United Kingdom
77 Posts

Posted - 11/28/2007 :  07:28:49 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Sibelius, or a least the cut down version G7 that I use, uses the Kontakt player to turn the MIDI data that results from what you have written on the staff into audio. I believe that that full version of Sibelius interface directly with Kontakt 2 and that similar links with Kontakt 3 are on the way.

Like Andy I export the MIDI and import it into Sonar to tweak and add true audio tracks. E.g. I will mute a rhythm or lead guitar track that I have taken from G7 and record a real instrument. What I get from G7, which I plan to upgrade to the full Sibelius, is a completely documented track.

Any samples that are compatible with Kontakt 2 should be able to be used this way.

Richard
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djones
Member

87 Posts

Posted - 11/28/2007 :  10:05:53 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks guys. Really helpful.

Andy, sounds like you really like Finale. Did you look at Sibelius before you decided on Finale? If so, what did you like / not like about Finale / Sibelius?
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andyriggle
Bronze Member

USA
318 Posts

Posted - 11/28/2007 :  5:43:13 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I actually take composition lessons, and the professor told me to get Finale. I asked here too, and someone said to try Allegro and trade up, so I did. That's the cheapest way. Allegro's a great place to start, since you won't know how to use Finale's advanced tools and features to start with anyway.

I got demos of Sibelius and Notion and couldn't figure them out without a manual, so I said "screw it." Their demos sounded horrible, and the music looked weird.

Plus all the pros use Finale anyway. Indiana University and most schools I know of use Finale.

And you can usually get through to live tech support in less than 2 minutes. That's worth as much as the program.
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djones
Member

87 Posts

Posted - 11/28/2007 :  8:05:52 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks. Great information. Finale it will be!

For anyone interested in this topic in the future, here is a link to a comparison chart that was buried in the Finale website. It shows a feature comparison of MakeMusic (maker of Finale) products, and it should give you a good idea of what notation software features are.

https://www.finalemusic.com/Finale/W-ProductComparison.aspx



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sylva
New Member

USA
13 Posts

Posted - 01/01/2008 :  12:00:54 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hello all and a Happy New Year!

As one who's never dealt with music writing software but always put everything on paper, I realize the incredible degree of independence this software can render the contemporary composer. Think of it, your score won't end up in some symphony orchestra's library's murky corner, to have never even been glanced at. You won't need to call and call again and again to only be getting the secretary or assistant librarian to be told that "yeah we've gotten it and the Maestro will surely take a look at it", etc. etc. I saw those piles of scores collecting dust and moisture, with their brittling yellowish pages, every day when walking into the library of a major orchestra for this or that purpose.

Question: Do these packages, re: Finale and Sibelius, play back with realistic instrument sounds or they still play back with MIDI sounds?
I am asking because I've never seen or heard the packages working live.

Like you, djones, I am looking for some means to write the scores, play them back realistically and render them to demo CDs. Right now all I am using is Sonar Home Studio 6 HL with synthesizer packages just to hear back my music. I build my own computers and for now I only have a 2GHz processor with 2gigs of memory. This is enough to work with 16 to 20 tracks comfortably, but not by far for orchestral scores, or I don't think so. It is good to have a very powerful computer, but only when one gets very adept at the software. How many people I saw who kept on buying software after software just because they didn't get comfortable enough with what they had to start with!

You all can perfectly agree or disagree with what I've written above. I am here not for an ego trip but to learn.

Tanks, John.
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djones
Member

87 Posts

Posted - 01/01/2008 :  2:30:57 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Finale can play back using whatever VST plug-ins you have, not just MIDI sounds. My brief experience with Finale, however, is that the software is not nearly as efficient as is SONAR. I can use EWQLSO as a VST plug in with SONAR with good results during both during playback and recording. Using the same plug-in in Finale, however, seems to use a lot more of my duo-core 2.6GHz processors and 4Gig memory.

I suspect that has to do with the fact that Finale is doing more to show the score as it is played. (I can make SONAR have similar problems by putting up the staff view for eight or ten tracks at once.)

Frankly, I haven't gotten into Finale very much because of how much processor it sucks up. For now, I'm just trying to learn how to get musical ideas down and then orchestrate them in SONAR. At some point, after that becomes automatic for me, I will probably get back into Finale and see how to incorporate it into the overall process.
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andyriggle
Bronze Member

USA
318 Posts

Posted - 01/01/2008 :  11:50:47 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hey John,

I use Finale all the time, and load up as many as 40+ patches. And my computer can't always handle the load, so I get dropout and not the greatest audio from it. Finale is good for writing a real good score for the conductor to read:

http://forum.makemusic.com/attach.aspx/9653/00_Creek_Score.pdf

And it's a good place to create a midi file to open in Sonar for a rendering.

Andy
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