Sample Libraries and the mod wheel/CC 1

Mikay

New Member
I heard over and over again that it is necessary to use the mod wheel to get realistic results with sample libraries. I own LASS and the EW Hollywood Orchestra and every now and then I play with CC 1, but usually, I end up with making things more unrealistic. The notation symbol of diminuendos and crescendos implies a linear change in dynamics, but I assume that changes in dynamics are typically more non-linear.

I have never played any orchestral instrument, so I wonder what I actually do when I use the CC 1 value. Do I emulate the realistic performance of a player (because the sample library does not simulate physical constraints or realistic movements that players do naturally)? Or do I emulate the work of the conductor?

Are there any tips or tutorials on this?

Sometimes I have an effect in mind, but fail to reproduce it with CC 1. So I wonder whether there are any patterns that are very common? E.g., linear, S-curves, Gaussian-like curves, etc. that create particular effects.

Are your CC 1 values typically identical to the CC 11 values? Do you treat libraries differently? How often do you just set some initial CC1 value and keep that throughout the entire piece?

Thanks!
 
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Mikay

New Member
Thanks for that video! What he does is basically just a more humanized ADSR curve. That's it? That's interesting because Hollywood Strings its own ADSR curve. Aren't the two curves competing? Could this competition be the reason why I always get unrealistic results when I experiment with CC 1?

I also remember that I've seen the CC 1 values of LASS Demo that looked nothing like this, but rather like mountains. This, of course, achieved a very specific effect. I just remember that it did not at all consider the advice from this video. I am not saying the advice is wrong. Quite on the contrary, it's extremely helpful! I simply believe that's just part of the story.
 

d.healey

Music Monkey
That's only part of it, and it will depend on the library. I think you should watch a ton of videos about how to play all the orchestral instruments, if you want to write orchestral music you need to understand the instruments and the players.
 

Ben E

Active Member
I don't (can't) play keyboards and so I enter each note manually (with the mouse) and then manually adjust the CC1 automation (again, manually with mouse) by ear. So all of my CC1 automation are straight lines and curves created with the automation curve tool in Logic. Consequently, my dynamics have nothing to do with the movement of my body while playing -- it's all ear, like mixing. I think that the kind of dynamic lines and curves you can create with the automation tools is just fine. I personally don't hear anything dynamically unrealistic -- and when I do I adjust the automation further until it goes away. Take a look at the CC1 automation at the bottom of the screen in this video and you'll see it looks unusual because it doesn't have all of the anchors that happen when CC1 is played in.
 
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Mikay

New Member
I don't (can't) play keyboards and so I enter each note manually (with the mouse) and then manually adjust the CC1 automation (again, manually with mouse) by ear...
Wow! Just wow! :emoji_hushed: What a nice piece of music. This is exactly what I was searching for! Your method makes it much easier to study what is going on and it sounds very natural indeed. Thanks so much!

Do you know what I mean when I speak of patterns? At 0:52 is an example of what I mean. This is a nice example of how you slowly come to a halt. As expected, the curve is non-liniear. But now I can see the secret ingredient: the upper note stops a little earlier.

CC Pattern #1.png

This gives the impression that the music comes to a halt without becoming abruptly silent. The higher note suggests a halt while the lower notes are still a fading out. I just tried it and it works like charm. So it might not be the CC 1 alone that creates particular effects - very interesting! I see you have a lot of experience with this. Are there any other patterns that you are aware of? Maybe that you could even point out on the timeline?

I see your work is extremely complex. Can you give any remarks on your process? How do you avoid getting lost in the details? Thanks again, I will certainly study your work!
 

Ben E

Active Member
Wow! Just wow! :emoji_hushed: What a nice piece of music. This is exactly what I was searching for! Your method makes it much easier to study what is going on and it sounds very natural indeed. Thanks so much!
Thanks, Milkay. You're right about that lower note lingering to help the fade. I've also found that I do this with sections -- letting, say, the horns linger slightly longer than the strings so that the dynamics aren't just a CC1 thing but an orchestra thing too. But I don't have any set rules for it. Sometimes it sounds better to have the high notes ring slightly longer, sometimes the low. I've noticed that a single low harp note left quietly sustaining when all other instruments have died out sounds good too. You can tell that something is still barely there but can't quite tell what it is. Just enough to prohibit that awkward sounding midi silence that can happen. Also (and this is, I think, common) I use the expression automation in conjunction with CC1. "Expression," as I understand it, is just the midi instrument volume -- at least that's what it is in the Spitfire instruments that I use. Maybe it's CC11? Expression is set all the way up on all instruments unless I need help with a note fade. It's a last resort because expression not only lowers the volume of the instrument but also the volume of the reverb, making the fade sound like a fader ride. So I futz around with dynamics and expression to get a sound that's satisfying to my ears. Same with fading in sometimes.

And I don't succeed in avoiding getting lost in the details. But that's exactly where all the fun is for me. Unless I'm getting paid, then it's a liability. ;)
 

pbattersby

Member
What he does is basically just a more humanized ADSR curve. That's it?
There is often more to it than that. The mod wheel controls volume, yes, but it also can control the sound (timbre) of the instrument. If you take a recording of a real french horn played at a low volume and then turn it up, it will sound very different from a recording of a french horn played loudly. There is a distinct brassy sound to a loudly played french horn but a more warm sound with a quietly played french horn. The mod wheel, while adjusting the volume, can also cross fade between the loud and quiet recordings if the instrument. Listen closely to the examples I provide on this page to hear the different:

http://virtualplaying.com/dynamic-cross-faded-brass/

Listen for that warm sound and listen for that brassy sound. In the first sample, the brassy sound is always present. In the second sample, you can hear the brassy sound rise and fall with the volume. It might be subtle but it's the subtlties that add up to make a difference.
 
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Mikay

New Member

Each VI is like a totally different instrument you must learn...

Thanks for your effort! I don't disagree with what you write, but I believe there are things that do not only apply to one particular sample library. I can't drive a VW like a Ferrari, but in essence, they are all cars.

I assume that most people who use the mod wheel just use their feeling and may not even be able to articulate what they do exactly. I tried that approach several times, but without success.

Then I watched the video from Ben E in post #5 and discovered his awesome trick that I have described in post #7. If somebody would have told me this earlier, it would have saved me so many hours of frustrating experiments.

That's the GOLD I am searching for. And I believe there is a lot of gold out there waiting to be found.
:emoji_smile:

 

Ihnoc

Active Member
I don't (can't) play keyboards and so I enter each note manually (with the mouse) and then manually adjust the CC1 automation (again, manually with mouse) by ear...

That you play nothing in and produce something of this quality. This is an excellent composition and extremely convincing to my ears. Not that you need my praise, but seriously well done. I would love a walkthrough. Your other pieces sound equally fantastic.

Regarding controls, I have personally not used CC11 (Expression) very often, but you do see it in a lot of library and composition walkthroughs so I have started trying to add it in. Rather than values (or even dynamic markings like piano or forte), I tend to think about the player's intensity with CC1 and CC11 as being a way to tame or enhance that slightly.

For example, most libraries sample brass forte with that buzzing brassy sound. However, it doesn't always have a sharp attack in reality though some libraries sample it this way. In this instance pulling CC11 down just for the start of the note is helpful. This isn't a dynamic marking, but how the player might accent it.

Vibrato is very much to taste (controlled CC2 or CC21 usually) but regardless of how much you like, when the vibrato kicks in is very specific to the moment in the piece. Often when the vibrato has been sampled for is not appropriate and adjusting it (or turning it off altogether) might be more appropriate to the piece.

Regarding curves, I notice a lot of sample libraries use a linear curve on the mod wheel, or exponential curves, within the programming. But looking at @Ben E's tracks, I notice while the CC1 data has less frequent changes that you might expect, all the tempo automation is also changing the curve between those points.
 
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Mikay

New Member
It is often suggested that we should avoid quantization because starting the notes at the same time makes the sound mechanical. Interestingly, Ben E's composition rarely follows this advice and when it does, the offset of notes appears to be extremely small or very deliberate (e.g., offset in 1/8th notes). However, in his composition, this does not seem to be a problem at all. I assume one reason for this is that it is OK to quantize notes as long as it is not the same sample library.

CC Pattern #2.png

I think I found another reason why my attempts with the mod wheel didn't work. I tried it on tracks with chords which means that every voice in the chord had exactly the same timing. Now look at the CC 1 track of Ben E's track Benton. It's interesting how each line is drawn with mathematic precision, but each line has its own timing. I assume the LASS demo "She Was A Fair LASS" works so well because the divisi have their own curves.

CC Pattern #3.png
 
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Ben E

Active Member
It is often suggested that we should avoid quantization
Hey Mikay, here's another video -- same song but strings only. The automation is easier to see here. I also never use ensemble patches (well, almost never) so there's no chords. The strings are always divided into sections. This gets me way more control over string dynamics.
 

AlexanderSchiborr

Senior Member
I heard over and over again that it is necessary to use the mod wheel to get realistic results with sample libraries. I own LASS and the EW Hollywood Orchestra and every now and then I play with CC 1, but usually, I end up with making things more unrealistic. The notation of diminuendos and crescendos implies a linear change in dynamics, but I assume that changes in dynamics are typically more non-linear.

No, it does not imply that at all. Who sais that?

I have never played any orchestral instrument, so I wonder what I actually do when I use the CC 1 value. Do I emulate the realistic performance of a player (because the sample library does not simulate physical constraints or realistic movements that players do naturally)? Or do I emulate the work of the conductor?

BOTH, Go and listen to Solo Instruments (Youtube) and replicate that performances with your VIs. or at least make an effort and learn how real musicians play them and try to emulate that performance. You won´t get there but you can make a descent impression which does sound not so horrible.

Are there any tips or tutorials on this?

YOUTUBE & HERE ON VI C..go an search also redbanned forum..(use search engine)

Sometimes I have an effect in mind, but fail to reproduce it with CC 1. So I wonder whether there are any patterns that are very common? E.g., linear, S-curves, Gaussian-like curves, etc. that create particular effects.

I DON`T KNOW..and I don´t care, but yes all kinds of curves, and yet I don´t care how they are named mathematically, doesn´t matter. The best Curve is the performance curve, which is yourself! HPC = Human performance curve lol :D

Are your CC 1 values typically identical to the CC 11 values? Do you treat libraries differently? How often do you just set some initial CC1 value and keep that throughout the entire piece?

Heh? No..I don´t use CC11 at all. Try first not to use CC11 which is not expression..total missleading terminus imo..it is just volume..and its sometimes useful to surpass limitations in sampled instruments..but it is actually..not really changing timbre dynamics or even a real expression fader.., and some people use CC11 to compensate their wrong digital balanced orchestra. (fader pushers), Try first to use modulation. You can use later expression if you still feel that your orchestra is lacking of life.

Thanks!
Click above and read! No Problem!
 

Alexey

New Member
Considering the beauty and overall quality of Ben's music and comparing the 100% opposite Ben's and Mike's composition approaches make me feel so happy just because we have so many options and different ways in developing our musicality and workflow.
 

Garry

Senior Member
Hi Ben,

One thing I notice in your compositions (which are truly amazing), which I now realized I'd completely overlooked in my lowly efforts, is your use of varying tempo. I tend to just set an initial starting tempo consistent with the mood/feel of the overall piece, and most if not all of the piece stays at this tempo. In fact, I'm particularly impressed with myself if there is a tempo change at all! In contrast, I see that your tempo is varying constantly. Can you say more about how you use this to augment your pieces?

Thanks for your insights - I always learn a lot when you post your work.