Composers' Forum

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Dear Forumites,

Ray and myself regret to inform you that this competition is as it says in the header, cancelled.

We still think it was a worthy adventure because the winner could well have benefitted from this, but lack of interest has dictated otherwise.

Our thanks go to HS and Socrates for their willing participation and to all who supported the idea in this and other threads.

I'd like to add a special thanks and show of gratitude to Ray for agreeing to be a part of this.


Time to get back to what now seems like the breezy job of composing.

Dear Forumites

I am writing to see if anybody would be interested in entering a competition to select a piece of concert music written by one of you to be programmed by myself and mastered by Ray. 

I have at my disposal high end orchestral samples that can be used to show the winner how their score would sound in a more realistic way. The samples are not perfect nor a replacement for real players of course, but the difference between what I can offer and whatever notation software is used for rendering is very marked, so much so that when the winning composer hears his/her piece, they may well get a nice shock! The fact that Ray has kindly offered his considerable skills in mastering for whatever comes out of my studio, means that the winner will have a full quality professional recording of their piece. 

I know some here will have the same pro samples as me and I respectfully ask them not to apply as I would like to limit this to those who can only use notation software for playback. 

I was thinking of setting this up pretty much the way Gav has set up competitions in the past
( and I thank Gav for his advice in this matter) with me choosing one out of the best 3 pieces voted for by the forum members to work on.
All this would be anonymous of course, but once the winning piece was announced online, I will have detailed discussions with that composer regarding performance details and interpretation. 


The music should be a concert work of between 2- 6 minutes for small, up to large orchestra. For clarification, a full orchestra can comprise up to (but not essential!) triple wind (auxiliaries are allowed) full brass up to 6 horns, 3 trumpets, 2 tenor trombones, 1 bass trombone and 1 tuba, percussion a4 if required (all mallets and non pitched perc available) 2 harps and full strings. Chamber orchestra is a paired down orchestra and personnel numbers can be left to the composer but there must be a minimum of around 20 players although if strings are used, then the composer must specify how many in each section. Please note that divisi in strings is also possible, with a limit of a3 for each section. 

No choir or avant-garde techniques should be used because they are not very convincing at present with samples. Any style/period of music is permitted and pieces will NOT be judged on this. The piece can be anything from an overture to a symphonic poem in any mood and on any subject if you need one to write with, but it must be a concert orchestral piece.

What I will be looking for whilst judging, apart from a good piece of music, is clarity of intent in the score because I will have to in effect perform it, this means as detailed a score as possible regarding articulations and dynamics. If I feel there is a problem with the scoring in terms of balance or performance on an instrument, I will gladly liaise with the composer in order to find a solution they are happy with. 

You can submit more than one work if you wish, but not with the same alias and you can submit a work previously posted on this forum. If you are interested please let me know in this thread. 
  Entrants should then submit mp3 and full score for each piece they enter and forum members will then be asked to vote for their three favourite pieces, the winner will be chosen from the top three. If the interest is there, I will sort out the next anonymous posting phase using Gavs’ advice and set-up procedures.

Deadline for entrants to register - 15th September

Deadline for entrants submission - 30th January

Here is a well known piece programmed by me in order to give you an idea of the quality of the samples I will use on the winning piece. There are 2 files, one is live, the other isn't. I didn't try too hard to create an exact replica of the live recording and it is possible to tell the difference, but they are pretty close. Also this file has no mastering applied to it, which will be done by Ray on the winning piece. Hopefully this will entice a few more entrants.

Any questions, please ask here and I shall endeavour to answer, as an added bonus, it will also bump the thread. 


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Art, ask yourself......if a violin was being played close to me I would hear bow noise and lots of other little formant noises but if that violinist was considerably further away from my ears I wouldn't hear so much of these high frequency sounds because high frequencies do not travel so well as low frequency. To make an instrument or section sound further away we need to roll off the high frequency as well as adjusting the volume level. Newer and more expensive sample libraries tend to have multiple mic position samples so we can lower the close mic level and raise the room or hall mic level but on a simpler sample set such adjustment must be done using EQ and reverb.
And yes, if you do not have a graphic representation of the frequency range of the instrument including that of the lowest note playing in the track you have created adjust the high pass filter up until you hear it reducing the lowest note level then back it off just enough so you don't hear any reduction.

A couple of things. First, my problem with the Embertone violin is that the samples were almost certainly recorded from very close to the f-holes. so, yes.most of that bow noise gets swallowed up at lower volumes or surrounded by masking tones. I have tried to EQ the noise out, but have been unable to harming the primary tone of the string. Other than the basic pan. I am unaware of any options for miking positions.  None of my EQ plugins have anything about hi-pass or lo-pass fiters, although I do know what they are. Maybe they're just using different names. My EQ plugins include "linear phase", "match" and "single band". I don't now what those are. I always include a "channel EQ" as an auxiliary volume booster for samples that are inherently too weak. Oh, wit a minute! That plugin DOES have "high" and "low frequency shelf and gain" parameters, but  I never knew exactly how to use them. I think you're giving me an idea about that.


The embertone is an individual case. I never liked the sound of it so I never bought it. There you go, I'm doing it again, my ears either like or they don't regardless of the number tweaks in control offered by the library.

I've been jiggering the controls of the Channel EQ on my Solo Violin track. Some of them do things that make some sense to me, and others don't.

The Embertone solo strings are my prefered solo sting AUs because they give me control of the speed and amplitude of the vibrato. ( I'm very particular about vibratos). To my ear, the viola and cello are very good. I wrote a Violin Concerto using the Violin that I am pretty pleased with. ( if you like).

I listened to the first 40 seconds. I hear your intentions but I don't like the sound at all. I think the Garritan Stradivari would do a better job doesn't play well on the latest version of Kontakt. It needs to be used in Kontakt 2 not 5. For viola I quite like the Chris Hein library.
Of course the real deal would work best but us antisocial one person in the room people don't often have access to that.

Does the Stradivari have flat samples that can be controlled by pitch amplitude or for speed with some kind of LFO? That would be an absolute must for me. 

Of course the real deal would work best

Man. You got that right!

Well, Ray. it looks like the Strad DOES use non-vibrato samples, after all. I wasn't able to find a reference to that when I was shopping around. Now, I'm seeing comments panning the Strad in favor of an instrument called "LASS FC" (I never heard of it before).

Yes, well it was hybrid sample modelling but it's discontinued. The developers Samplemodeling now do what they call SWAM sound modelling but I'm not sure it works as well as the original Kontakt based libraries. Their trumpet is still considered the best modelled instrument out there. I'm still in contact with the originator of the software but we talk more about whisky than virtual instrument technology. That and cardiology, which is something close to my heart. LOL

Here it is where there are a few notes beginning flat (just about)

Not familiar with the music. (There were a lot of Baroque composers). Personally, I much prefer a faster, flatter vibrato. I think that the little portamentos at :50 would have been uncharacteristic for the period. It's definitely an acceptable sound, though. Different strokes, I guess.

I never talk about whiskey. Just drink it. It's more of a liver thing than a heart thing.

I'm going to duck out on you now, Ray. It was very nice to chat with you about these things.


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