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Strings ultimate challenge: Mahler 5th Adagietto

ThomasS

New Member
You did a fantastic job Bernard, and thanks for sharing! It is inspiring to hear how with time and effort what can be achieved. I downloaded the midi file and was impressed with how much care you took with the tempo map and every ride of the CC11 and CC1, and that is what makes it sound so real.

I played your midi file with Century Strings and it sounded great too, but with a totally different sound - brighter and less exaggerated volume changes than the VSS. I liked the Century but missed the warmth of your version, so I blended in VSS with Century and it sounded even better, fuller and brighter but still warm. Then I remembered that you wanted VSSS (solo) so I additionally added all four soloists to make first chairs, and now it sounds even better. I found Elysium Harp worked well because it was not too full and dark so it could be heard without crowding the subtle string lines.

As far as drawing in the expression by hand: I find using something physical while playing (like a mod wheel) is more human sounding, but you need to go back and tweak the attacks, etc., but it gives a more expressive basis to start editing. However, I am unhappy with the shortcomings of the the mod wheel, because it is too small and limited in scope, so I recently bought a Tec Breath/Bite Controller and a Leap Motion Controller () and I am still learning to use them, but I can see that with practice these types of controllers can make you a musician on the CC's where you can just feel the music and play any expression you like without thinking about it. It takes time to learn to do this, but Gómez Massetti Productions has inspired me to work on it, and I am starting to learn to "play" the CC's like a musician in real time. This will save a lot of time (3 days?) to get a track as good as yours, because you can just play each part once and it is close with only the need for a tweak or two.

Anyway, beautiful work and I look forward to hearing more from you.
 

ptram

Senior Member
I see the Tempo Map was created before entering notes. Wouldn't entering notes with a straight tempo be easier?

Paolo
 
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Bernard Duc

Bernard Duc

Member
I see the Tempo Map was created before entering notes. Wouldn't entering notes with a straight tempo be easier?

Paolo
Hi Paolo,
How do you know that? Did you just go through the undo log? That would be quite some dedication (and smart)! But yes, it would have been easier... as I realized afterwards. Especially since there are some extreme tempo changes.
 

ptram

Senior Member
How do you know that? Did you just go through the undo log?
No, Bernard, I just inferred it from the discussion. If I understood it wrongly, I'm happy I came to the right conclusion anyway! :)

On the other side, working with a laid-out tempo map would allow for a precise tracing of an existing melody. But, as you say, at the cost of more work.

Paolo
 
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Bernard Duc

Bernard Duc

Member
You did a fantastic job Bernard, and thanks for sharing! It is inspiring to hear how with time and effort what can be achieved. I downloaded the midi file and was impressed with how much care you took with the tempo map and every ride of the CC11 and CC1, and that is what makes it sound so real.

I played your midi file with Century Strings and it sounded great too, but with a totally different sound - brighter and less exaggerated volume changes than the VSS. I liked the Century but missed the warmth of your version, so I blended in VSS with Century and it sounded even better, fuller and brighter but still warm. Then I remembered that you wanted VSSS (solo) so I additionally added all four soloists to make first chairs, and now it sounds even better. I found Elysium Harp worked well because it was not too full and dark so it could be heard without crowding the subtle string lines.

As far as drawing in the expression by hand: I find using something physical while playing (like a mod wheel) is more human sounding, but you need to go back and tweak the attacks, etc., but it gives a more expressive basis to start editing. However, I am unhappy with the shortcomings of the the mod wheel, because it is too small and limited in scope, so I recently bought a Tec Breath/Bite Controller and a Leap Motion Controller () and I am still learning to use them, but I can see that with practice these types of controllers can make you a musician on the CC's where you can just feel the music and play any expression you like without thinking about it. It takes time to learn to do this, but Gómez Massetti Productions has inspired me to work on it, and I am starting to learn to "play" the CC's like a musician in real time. This will save a lot of time (3 days?) to get a track as good as yours, because you can just play each part once and it is close with only the need for a tweak or two.

Anyway, beautiful work and I look forward to hearing more from you.
Thank you Thomas!

I actually started recording a lot with the modwheel at first. But this music has so many extreme dynamic changes and is so dependent on a correct balance that I found out I always had to correct the CCs manually. So I started playing the notes only and taking care of the CC after. For example when there are the sforzandos, if I moved up one CC bar before it sounded too harsh and one CC bar after too late. Even when writing it by hand I still had to come back several times to make it fit to the other instruments. Also depending on the sound I wanted I might have to use CC11 as much as CC1.

It is true though that for most other styles of music I would usually play the CC with the notes since it is faster. I will probably get soon a breath controller and a leap motion controller as they both seem to be great. Meanwhile I will maybe try a trick: it is very easy in Reaper to transform sound level into MIDI data, so I could try using my voice level as a controller...
 

Dave Connor

Senior Member
Hi, I don't think we're even talking about the same bars here. :) Are you thinking of bar 6 in Bernards MIDI file/in the original score - or something else?
I was referring to the “Zuruckhaltend” (score example) section which begins at the 6th bar of the posted score. You may be referring to another section so apologies for any confusion.
 
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rdieters

Member
Thank you Thomas!

I actually started recording a lot with the modwheel at first. But this music has so many extreme dynamic changes and is so dependent on a correct balance that I found out I always had to correct the CCs manually. So I started playing the notes only and taking care of the CC after. For example when there are the sforzandos, if I moved up one CC bar before it sounded too harsh and one CC bar after too late. Even when writing it by hand I still had to come back several times to make it fit to the other instruments. Also depending on the sound I wanted I might have to use CC11 as much as CC1.
Have you looked at Linnstruments? I am considering it myself because I think it would be great for strings. And it can be used together with a breath controller

 
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Bernard Duc

Bernard Duc

Member
Have you looked at Linnstruments? I am considering it myself because I think it would be great for strings. And it can be used together with a breath controller

It looks great! I would have to compare with the Roli Seaboards. The thing is that I can get a nice discount on Roli products, making it a much cheaper alternative.
 

ThomasS

New Member
It looks great! I would have to compare with the Roli Seaboards. The thing is that I can get a nice discount on Roli products, making it a much cheaper alternative.
Yes, I looked at the Linnstruments and Roli before deciding to go with Tecontrol Breath/Bite and Leap Motion with Geco as the best option for me. Of course, price was a consideration, because the Tecontrol and Leap Motion together cost only a few hundred bucks (about a quarter of either the Linnstruments or Roli) but even without the savings, the Breath Controller and Leap Motion are better for what I need.

The first consideration is how many controllers can you adjust at one time:

1. Linn and Roli have a lot but use one hand in the process.
2. TEC has just 6: blowing (1), biting (2), head tilt back (3), head tilt forward (4), head lean left (5), head lean right (6) - BUT it saves your two hands for the keyboard. If you need just a few controllers, like expression plus vibrato, and occasional effect, this is great. Perfect for adding expression or volume to an existing part already recorded or simultaneously control while playing. The fastest way to get human sounding expression. No note is ever really the same volume at any time, always breathing in and out, and natural decays and fades, etc.
3. Leap Motion/Geco has just as many as Linn and Roli, with a fantastic way of programming and controlling so much with so little effort of the hand.

The second consideration (more important) is how HUMAN are the gestures that control things:

1. It is natural for us to express emotion with the movement of the head or gesture of a hand in air. It's part of communication anyway. With practice you learn to associate gestures with a particular sound or effect. After a while you internalize the knowledge that if you do this it increases vibrato, or makes it louder, or growls, or whatever. You have to practice until you just think vibrato (or whatever) and it automatically goes from your mind to the music with no consciousness of the process.

2. It is not as natural to express emotion with our hands fiddling on wheels and knobs and faders. That's not how conductors conduct, or how we gesture yes or no, or anger or happiness, or Italians speak, or whatever. Hands in the air and head movement are two natural ways to express emotion. Therefore Tec and Leap are better in my opinion. Of course, you can learn to use whatever system you choose, and Linn and Roli work with practice, but its like deciding to learn to play the trumpet or piano - you have to choose what is best for you to express yourself.

After a couple of weeks I'm getting better at expressing myself with the TeControl, but it was not easy at first. For SWAM stuff it is incredible already, and makes solo instruments so much more realistic.

I am only beginning to work on Leap Motion, and it is really fun. But it takes time to internalize the gestures with music.

Still, there are things you can do with Leap Motion that cannot be done with any other controller. Take this for example:


In a completely different way of using it - look at this (go about 6 minutes in)

 
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Bernard Duc

Bernard Duc

Member
Yes, I looked at the Linnstruments and Roli before deciding to go with Tecontrol Breath/Bite and Leap Motion with Geco as the best option for me. Of course, price was a consideration, because the Tecontrol and Leap Motion together cost only a few hundred bucks (about a quarter of either the Linnstruments or Roli) but even without the savings, the Breath Controller and Leap Motion are better for what I need.

The first consideration is how many controllers can you adjust at one time:

1. Linn and Roli have a lot but use one hand in the process.
2. TEC has just 6: blowing (1), biting (2), head tilt back (3), head tilt forward (4), head lean left (5), head lean right (6) - BUT it saves your two hands for the keyboard. If you need just a few controllers, like expression plus vibrato, and occasional effect, this is great. Perfect for adding expression or volume to an existing part already recorded or simultaneously control while playing. The fastest way to get human sounding expression. No note is ever really the same volume at any time, always breathing in and out, and natural decays and fades, etc.
3. Leap Motion/Geco has just as many as Linn and Roli, with a fantastic way of programming and controlling so much with so little effort of the hand.

The second consideration (more important) is how HUMAN are the gestures that control things:

1. It is natural for us to express emotion with the movement of the head or gesture of a hand in air. It's part of communication anyway. With practice you learn to associate gestures with a particular sound or effect. After a while you internalize the knowledge that if you do this it increases vibrato, or makes it louder, or growls, or whatever. You have to practice until you just think vibrato (or whatever) and it automatically goes from your mind to the music with no consciousness of the process.

2. It is not as natural to express emotion with our hands fiddling on wheels and knobs and faders. That's not how conductors conduct, or how we gesture yes or no, or anger or happiness, or Italians speak, or whatever. Hands in the air and head movement are two natural ways to express emotion. Therefore Tec and Leap are better in my opinion. Of course, you can learn to use whatever system you choose, and Linn and Roli work with practice, but its like deciding to learn to play the trumpet or piano - you have to choose what is best for you to express yourself.

After a couple of weeks I'm getting better at expressing myself with the TeControl, but it was not easy at first. For SWAM stuff it is incredible already, and makes solo instruments so much more realistic.

I am only beginning to work on Leap Motion, and it is really fun. But it takes time to internalize the gestures with music.

Still, there are things you can do with Leap Motion that cannot be done with any other controller. Take this for example:


In a completely different way of using it - look at this (go about 6 minutes in)

The Roli doesn’t use wheels or faders or buttons, it’s like playing the piano but with many more controls. In my opinion different controllers work better for different instruments. I will have to experiment. Hopefully I can try some of these before buying. (If someone in Switzerland or in London has any of those, please let me know!)
 
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ThomasS

New Member
The Roli doesn’t use wheels or faders or buttons, it’s like playing the piano but with many more controls. In my opinion different controllers work better for different instruments. I will have to experiment. Hopefully I can try some of these before buying. (If someone in Switzerland or in London has any of those, please let me know!)
Yeah, I tried out the Roli in a store, and what I meant is that it ADDS fader-like and button-like controls to a piano keyboard. Very clever, but I found it was centralizing too much work for my hand, which I just want to play the notes as usual, and let some other part of my body handle expression. I already had a good weighted Kawai keyboard and additional iRig Pro, so I didn't need another keyboard, and I like the feel of the weighted Kawai. I didn't think I could control all the things I want with a Roli at the same time, but you are right that different controllers work better for some instruments, and different people too.

I mainly program, not play live, and I couldn't figure out how a Roli can easily address 5 or 10 CC's at one time if you want to get the bests out of SWAM instruments, for example. But for expression and dynamics and a little more it may be better. Just how much work do you want to do with your fingers? I might have bought one if I hadn't tried it in a store, so you are wise to find someone or somewhere to check it out!
 
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OP
Bernard Duc

Bernard Duc

Member
Yeah, I tried out the Roli in a store, and what I meant is that it ADDS fader-like and button-like controls to a piano keyboard. Very clever, but I found it was centralizing too much work for my hand, which I just want to play the notes as usual, and let some other part of my body handle expression. I already had a good weighted Kawai keyboard and additional iRig Pro, so I didn't need another keyboard, and I like the feel of the weighted Kawai. I didn't think I could control all the things I want with a Roli at the same time, but you are right that different controllers work better for some instruments, and different people too.

I mainly program, not play live, and I couldn't figure out how a Roli can easily address 5 or 10 CC's at one time if you want to get the bests out of SWAM instruments, for example. But for expression and dynamics and a little more it may be better. Just how much work do you want to do with your fingers? I might have bought one if I hadn't tried it in a store, so you are wise to find someone or somewhere to check it out!
I did try the Roli, their product specialist is a friend. My feeling is that it can be extremely powerful but it needs some time to learn to use it. Thank you for your opinion on these controllers!
 
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