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Is VSL Special Edition still easy for sheet music composers?

ShikiSuen

✎♪ @ Atelier Inmu
This is my recent work using VSL Synced SE vol.01 through the official Dorico playback template, comparing to the NotePerformer version.

Composed and Orchestrated by Shiki Suen during August 08-15, 2021;
Formal Design by Rizet Tsen (2007);
Pentarhythmic Structure by Shiki Suen.

[Test Demo] Our Warsong of Eternity MK1 (using VSL Synced SE vol.01 Official Template) - YouTube

[2021][Op.32] Our Warsong of Eternity MK1 (using NotePerformer 3.3.2) - YouTube

I would like to hear people's voice here prior to say something.
 
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ptram

Senior Member
NotePerfomer adds that interpretation that you have to do yourself with any other player. Without it, it's just a computer reading raw notes.

Paolo
 

Ben

VSL
If you want to get most out of the Special Editions I highly recommend to import the score into a DAW and program the performance there.
I have not looked further into the iPad version of Dorico, but to my knowledge some of the new MIDI editing features will be available in a future version of Dorico (Desktop). With these new features you might be able to program the performance directly in Dorico.

IMO: If you want to stay in notation and not care about tweaking MIDI data / programming a perormance, I highly recommend check out Staffpad. It has the best playback/performance engine in the notation software world imho.
 
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ShikiSuen

ShikiSuen

✎♪ @ Atelier Inmu
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If you want to get most out of the Special Editions I highly recommend to import the score into a DAW and program the performance there.
I have not looked further into the iPad version of Dorico, but to my knowledge some of the new MIDI editing features will be available in a future version of Dorico (Desktop). With these new features you might be able to program the performance directly in Dorico.

IMO: If you want to stay in notation and not care about tweaking MIDI data / programming a perormance, I highly recommend check out Staffpad. It has the best playback/performance engine in the notation software world imho.
Thanks for your response.

My concern is the generational differences of MIDI mockup technology.

Most giant sample library manufactures (incl. you (VSL), Orchestral Tools, Soundiron, EastWest, Spitfire, etc.) devoted large amount of funds in creating high-quality samples. However, "the way how these samples are used in the clients' side" is static, requiring multi-dimentional (e.g. both MIDI CC and velocity... plus latency compensation if needed) manual tweak in every part of a MIDI project.

I regard this as the first generation of MIDI mockup technology. This Tech-Gen1 will be problematic to those new student composers who want to learn at least symphony writing: It requires a user to know what exactly the performed effect he / she wants PRIOR to the production. This is not intuitive at all to anyone except those who know what a good symphony soundmass should sound like from both macro and micro perspectives (per each instrument, per an ensemble, ...).

Worse cases are ADHD students like myself. I costed years of attempts in "learning composition through mockup" with almost no countable results until I started using NotePerformer 2 since late 2018. The combination of Dorico and NotePerformer helped me succeed in writing things for real orchestral performances, together with the necessity of orchestration studies.

I regard things like NotePerformer as the second generation of MIDI mockup technology, despite its playback audio quality (not bearable at all to some of my acquaintances in the film music industry, AFAIK). It is the era of machine-learning technology. Once a sample library can dynamically analyze the full music content it is gonna play and automatically adopts itself to the music (like the "water" said by Bruce Lee), it will be a market killer without asking sheet music composers to tweak each playback detail one-by-one.

I guess VSL can be more competitive in the market if you folks can devote something into machine-learning-based music content analysis, plus a little physical-modeling technologies applied. Physical-modeling can allow at least the volume of staccato, marcato, sustain sounds constant. In the demo I posted in the 1st post of this thread, you can hear audible differences of the volume between sustains and marked staccatos.

Warm Regards,
Shiki
 
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ShikiSuen

ShikiSuen

✎♪ @ Atelier Inmu
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BTW, thanks for introducing StaffPad to me.
In the last year I was thinking of StaffPad. However, it has some limitations to me:

1. It doesn't have macOS version.
2. It requires a high-performance iPad Pro with giant storage (as you have to install after-market sample library DLCs).... Extremely cost-sensitive to me.
3. Personally, I have both my thumbs injured more than a decade ago, and the injuries are not curable. It pains if using pen-like utilities for a long time. Computer keyboard operation is fine to me, still.
4. I do wonder whether its playback engine analyses the sheet music (like how NotePerformer does).

$ EOF.
 
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Ben

VSL
Hi Shiki,
Well, we are far beyond generation 1 and 2 regarding MIDI mockup technology, but I get what your analogy ;)

There are different use-cases for libraries, and using these in notation software is not the primary use-case for most libraries (NotePerformer is not a sample library, but it includes a sample library as well as a performance engine; it can only be used in combination with specific notation software).
Sample libraries are similar to physical instruments: to get good results you need to practice and learn how to use them (mostly in a DAW).

Editing MIDI can seem overwhelming for new users, I know this from experience - my first steps in computer music were with a notation software. But it's not that difficult once you've got some practice (easiest done by live-performing with a keyboard + some fine-tuning).
I would also suggest to separate the composing part from the performance programming if you work with notation. You should not care too much about the sound while composing, and once the composition is ready you can focus on how it sounds.

However, has some limitations to me:

1. It doesn't have macOS version.
StaffPad also works with Windows if you have a stylus and a compatible device (for example Microsoft's Surface devices, or convertibles from other vendors); of course, this still does not solve the issue if you can't work with a stylus.
I hope the StaffPad team decides at one point to make the software also usable with mouse and keyboard; the included playback engine is just awesome.
 

VSriHarsha

Senior Member
This is my recent work using VSL Synced SE vol.01 through the official Dorico playback template, comparing to the NotePerformer version.

[Test Demo] Our Warsong of Eternity MK1 (using VSL Synced SE vol.01 Official Template) - YouTube

[2021][Op.32] Our Warsong of Eternity MK1 (using NotePerformer 3.3.2) - YouTube

I would like to hear people's voice here prior to say something.
Thanks for taking your time to work & upload on @ShikiSuen !
This is just what I think. The Dorico version. sounded 🤮 but the NotePerformer version sucks really. Well, better than the Dorico version coz I get the tune, your idea, which is really beautiful I can hear what you hear in your mind but yea, both Dorico & NP sucked at.
I presume you routed the VI to the sheet music software, as a plugin? I don’t have NP nor Dorico but MuseScore. I use to have Finale & am telling you Finale might sound better than this. Just a thought, coz I used Finale. Yea, I understand it takes a real LOTTA work, importing to a DAW & programming from there on but am telling you, it will leave you with at least, if not more, minimum satisfactory results. I see you use Mac & with the gadgets you have, I think it’d be just a piece of cake. I think what @Ben said is applicable. And at every core step of. And I think no matter whatever the sample library, from whoever the dev is but I use to rely completely on my sheet music, leaving much less work for a DAW, to do coz I am more or less a Classically trained & I wanted things to go a little without hustle but I figured out if you don’t really work well with the DAW, in the context of midi programming, chances are yes, it sucks & it sucks coz I experienced. I do half a work on Sheet Music & more than half (well, sometimes) in a DAW, to get satisfactory results (to my ears). That is All matters.
 

Markrs

Complete Beginner
I hope the StaffPad team decides at one point to make the software also usable with mouse and keyboard; the included playback engine is just awesome

Now StaffPad is owned by Musescore, that tech should make is way into their product, plus they are developing VST3 support, so those two combined could be really interesting.
 

VSriHarsha

Senior Member
If you want to get most out of the Special Editions I highly recommend to import the score into a DAW and program the performance there.
I have not looked further into the iPad version of Dorico, but to my knowledge some of the new MIDI editing features will be available in a future version of Dorico (Desktop). With these new features you might be able to program the performance directly in Dorico.

IMO: If you want to stay in notation and not care about tweaking MIDI data / programming a perormance, I highly recommend check out Staffpad. It has the best playback/performance engine in the notation software world imho.
If working with StaffPad on iPad, won’t it need much RAM like thing, for iPads? Import the midi & working with all the tracks from there, on the iPad, I think, is one hell of a task but if it can produce some nice results, yes, your time’s worth. OTOH, I think they will launch it for Mac soon.
 

VSriHarsha

Senior Member
BTW, thanks for introducing StaffPad to me.
In the last year I was thinking of StaffPad. However, it has some limitations to me:

1. It doesn't have macOS version.
2. It requires a high-performance iPad Pro with giant storage (as you have to install after-market sample library DLCs).... Extremely cost-sensitive to me.
3. Personally, I have both my thumbs injured more than a decade ago, and the injuries are not curable. It pains if using pen-like utilities for a long time. Computer keyboard operation is fine to me, still.
4. I do wonder whether its playback engine analyses the sheet music (like how NotePerformer does).

$ EOF.
That’s pretty challenging the way you working. Hope your fingers better.

Also, I found this & see if it’s helpful.

StaffPad on Mac
 

Markrs

Complete Beginner
OTOH, I think they will launch it for Mac soon.
Mac’s don’t have touch screens or stylus so it won’t be released for Mac’s, though with M1 Macs it might run on it. However you might get similar features via MuseScore once the Staffpad playback engine is integrated along with VST support
 
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ShikiSuen

ShikiSuen

✎♪ @ Atelier Inmu
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Thanks for taking your time to work & upload on @ShikiSuen !
This is just what I think. The Dorico version. sounded 🤮 but the NotePerformer version sucks really. Well, better than the Dorico version coz I get the tune, your idea, which is really beautiful I can hear what you hear in your mind but yea, both Dorico & NP sucked at.
I presume you routed the VI to the sheet music software, as a plugin? I don’t have NP nor Dorico but MuseScore. I use to have Finale & am telling you Finale might sound better than this. Just a thought, coz I used Finale. Yea, I understand it takes a real LOTTA work, importing to a DAW & programming from there on but am telling you, it will leave you with at least, if not more, minimum satisfactory results. I see you use Mac & with the gadgets you have, I think it’d be just a piece of cake. I think what @Ben said is applicable. And at every core step of. And I think no matter whatever the sample library, from whoever the dev is but I use to rely completely on my sheet music, leaving much less work for a DAW, to do coz I am more or less a Classically trained & I wanted things to go a little without hustle but I figured out if you don’t really work well with the DAW, in the context of midi programming, chances are yes, it sucks & it sucks coz I experienced. I do half a work on Sheet Music & more than half (well, sometimes) in a DAW, to get satisfactory results (to my ears). That is All matters.
Thanks for your response.

// "The Dorico version. sounded 🤮 but the NotePerformer version sucks really. "

The Dorico + VSL Official playback template cannot smartly interprete the musical content like what NotePerformer does with Dorico. That's why VSL playback performance in this case behaves emotionally terrible (without sufficient MIDI tweak). NotePerformer needs improvement in its sample quality... and I guess it might also need convolutional reverb rather than algorithm reverb.

// "I presume you routed the VI to the sheet music software, as a plugin?"

VSL Official Dorico playback template utilizes only the Synchron Player. The VI, VI Pro, and the Vienna Ensemble are deprecated in this case (not VE Pro).

// "I use to have Finale & am telling you Finale might sound better than this. Just a thought, coz I used Finale."

Dorico 3.5 at this moment has operation responsiveness issues for giant projects, expecting possible official optimization in Dorico 4. For all other aspects, to me, Dorico behaves far more intuitive than Finale (especially how fast you can prepare part scores from your finished full score.)
 
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ShikiSuen

ShikiSuen

✎♪ @ Atelier Inmu
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Mac’s don’t have touch screens or stylus so it won’t be released for Mac’s, though with M1 Macs it might run on it. However you might get similar features via MuseScore once the Staffpad playback engine is integrated along with VST support
macOS can work with Stylus. Imagine how Photoshop users work on mac illustrating their work.
 
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ShikiSuen

ShikiSuen

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I guess it is about time to write an article to MIDIFAN to discuss the generational differences of MIDI mockup technologies.

I partially agree with @Ben 's idea. He said VSL is far beyond generation 1 and 2. For sample quality and some advanced playback mechanism matters, VSL surely is far beyond NotePerformer.

Maybe in someday common DAWs like Cubase / Studio One / Digital Performer, etc. can have a common protocol, allowing sample libraries to use deep-learning technologies to analyze the specified part (incl. the entire) of a MIDI project to do contextual interpretative things that NotePerformer does. Such interpretative things are how the generations of MIDI mockup technologies are differentiated.

P.S.: A VST Mockup user in Steinberg forum tried using VSL SE to do his mockup of my work (Our Warsong of Eternity), and he later had to doubt that whether it is worthwhile to do this. // I know less about Dimension and Synchron series, still.

1629950546062.png
 
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dko22

New Member
perhaps I'll just add another comment or two here after my little private discussion with Shiki who quoted me above. As much as anything, it's an answer to Ben at VSL on the comment that with the Special Edition (and presumably also other libraries) that it is better to programme playback in a DAW than in Dorico. This is widely accepted yet evidence is often lacking. Dorico already has a number of features in its Expression Maps which are far more sophisticated and easier to programme than in Cubase such as note length automation - unfortunately in the official VSL template, this has not been fully utilized considering the number of available shorter articulations which makes for rather muddy results in this fast and rhythmical piece. Of course you can specify the articulations for every note individually but that defeats the whole point of the automation. Dorico 4 will bring a new and more sophisticated approach to the control to the automation lanes (the feature has already been shown in the iPad version and will likely be developed further). Of course there are things which are easier in a DAW but it's not one-sided in my view.

I've been a user of the two generations of the VSL SE from soon after their release. After discovering NotePerformer, I converted a number of my symphonic works to NP - this was still in Sibelius. If the question is which library provides the most accurate sounding instruments, then the answer has to be VSL. If the question is which library provides the most involving musical experience then it depends on the music but NP often wins out as in this example. Of course the SE libraries have relative limited dynamic layers and articulations compared to the full individual sections which are often richer. I use the full solo strings for instance and there is really no comparison between the Synchron-ized version of these and the SE versions. The best mock-ups on the VSL site are invariably with full library versions even though I imagine that a lot of work (more than many of us would have time for) has gone into the SE ones as well.
 
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