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I'm offering a work in progress here - this is VERY incomplete. The theme is based on the same Beethoven sketch on which Gerd recently wrote his wonderful Variations. Not to imitate - or detract from - Gerd's work, I wanted to take a different approach, to try to imagine what Beethoven might have done with the theme. My first impression was that the sketch would probably not have been the first 8 bars of a theme, but rather the last. So I tried to compose an appropriate beginning, and ended up making it into a ternary form with the first 8 bars a much more restrained variant of the Beethoven sketch, repeated, then 8 contrasting bars in the relative minor, and then finally a fully harmonized version of the sketch as written... all for string quartet, of course.

Then I started out last night to write variations... and finished the first variation this evening. The rendition is of the theme itself and that first variation - nothing more exists at the moment, and I feel the need to take a breather. I thought I would share what I've done so far and ask what everyone thinks of it. This is light years away from my usual idiom - I've never tried to do anything like this before - but I experienced intense joy along the way finding "inspiration in discipline". This first variation is extremely formal and mostly adheres to the harmonic structure of the theme. So there is almost no personal expression in it - it is severely objective and Classical. Maybe I'll loosen up later on, if I get that far with it.

Anyway, have a listen if you will. All comments are welcome, both positive and negative. If people who work in this idiom all the time think it doesn't work then I'd like to know that now! I'm very much a fish out of water with this.

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Hi Ingo,

Yes I know - I think I said as much, you will get clicks/pops if your edit point is not at a silence. That's why I said that trying to make a demo of my Ricercare for string quartet is going to be a very difficult task. And no, unfortunately, Audacity's Click Removal function just reports that the operation is "not effective on this audio, nothing is changed", or words to that effect. The only way that I've found to lessen the effect of a click within Audacity is the Repair function. But that's all it does, quiet the clicks down a little, you can still hear them and they're even a bit jarring.

That's an interesting idea, to export to a midi file and edit that, and then re-import it, but what good would it do? If it's going to be rendered by NP you're just going to get the timing errors again. Maybe there's a way to use the timings in the midi file as input to Live Performance to save the data in the score and override NP's timings, I don't know. That's way beyond anything I know how to do at this point. I read about Live Playback in the Sibelius reference manual but I don't really understand it. And their instructions on how to use the Inspector to add LP data to a score make no sense to me, they refer to fields that don't exist in the Inspector in my copy of Sibelius (yes, I have Ultimate).

I think what I'm going to do for now is write the Ricercare for string orchestra instead of string quartet, and then arrange it for SQ once the NP timing problem is fixed. You can still hear little timing errors with string orchestra but they mostly average out over all the "players". That's how it's supposed to work anyway, but I think Arne's team has the tolerances for timing errors set too high even for massed strings. They really need to fix the problem.

An interesting point raised here about Audacity. 

When I was transferring some vintage, noisy 45rpm and LPs to digital I'd zoom in to the actual samples which you can then adjust. Sometimes it's easy but obviously time consuming doing a whole LP. I found the various noise reduction effects unsatisfactory as it incurred other losses to the music so gave up on it.

I've never tried it with midi. 

This is going to be interesting.

Are the timing errors to do with latency? There's always that problem with midi but most times no one notices it. It afflicts me when I have multiple staves doing fast runs, particularly staccato. Things get noticeably out of sync. So I find I have to switch to 1/128 and make tiny adjustments, always with an eye to how it might just disrupt the overall rhythm of the passage. 1/128 at 100bpm, say, is a very small amount.

I suppose one needs one of those hugely expensive, very fast gaming computers to cut it down to indiscernible. 

Honestly Dane, at this point I'm not certain what is causing the timing errors. I was about to tell you that the timing errors are intentionally introduced by NotePerformer to simulate the human element and have nothing to do with latency. That's what Arne has always told me. Then this morning I got another email from Arne in my mailbox that changes the whole picture.

Yesterday I sent Arne the .sib file of my current draft of my Ricercare. This morning he said he hears the timing errors not only when playing the score back using NotePerformer, but even when using Sibelius's General MIDI configuration. He also said it happens only with recent versions of Sibelius and not with the previous version (7.5). The thing is, I have tried General MIDI and also Sibelius Sounds and I definitely do not EVER hear the errors EXCEPT when using NP. So either it IS a Sibelius bug that shows up differently in different versions (and Arne and I have different versions of Sibelius), or else it is hardware dependent, or Arne and I are hearing different things entirely. I think it's unlikely that Arne and I have different Sibelius versions since I'm a new customer and have their most recent version, and I'm sure Arne does too. So that leaves hardware, or else we're not even on the same page.

And I'm noticing the distortion is even worse in the string orchestra arrangement. Even in quieter passages I hear a swell on each note that at the peak is noticeably distorted. I do not know at this point whether it's in the audio file or in my sound system. This is getting very frustrating and I'm on the verge of giving up on the whole thing. I tried to attach an mp3 to show you what I mean, but the site gives me an error now "sorry, we are having an issue with that page". I've had that error when trying to post other file formats such as .xml, but never with mp3. I've just about had it.

Sorry to vent. :(

Second try to post an mp3 showing the distortion...

Yay! It worked this time. Please let me know if you hear the distortion. It happens immediately before a note ends and the attack on the next note begins, and it seems to be mainly triggered by the 1st violin line (farthest to the left). I hear it in quieter passages but it becomes really bad when things get loud (toward the end fo the clip I posted). I think it is the same thing I heard as "scratchiness" in the Beethoven variation for string quartet, just manifesting a little differently - I also hear the "swell" effect with solo violin. This is mainly with NotePerformer; at least with string orchestra, I do not hear it with Sibelius Sounds, nor with General MIDI.

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Hi,

I think the variations were done very well, but I also think that the sketch itself is not one of Beethoven's best, and this is an understatement. A any rate he didn't imagine it to be great or even good music after all it was only a sketch. I know what is a sketch I have many of these myself, most of those go into the trash bean.

I don't know what is the merit of the sketch itself, what Beethoven has thought about it and to what importance he granted it.

Perhaps he only thought that it was junk and should stay that way, and then we come and believe that whatever Beethoven thought to be junk is good music as it pertains to us. I believe that if Beethoven thought that it was only a sketch then it should not be given more importance then what the composer has thought about it to be.

So to summarize: Liz did a wonderful job with this variations. 

The music itself is a sketch or junk as the composer has labeled it to be so. 

Regards

Wait... Saul, I've only done one variation so far!! Are you perhaps confusing my incomplete work with Gerd Prengel's lovely set of variations on the same sketch?

And if not, thank you Saul for the kind words! Personally I don't really care what Beethoven thought of the sketch - he is dead and has been for nearly 193 years. We are free today to do whatever we want with it!

Dear Liz,

I just listened to your piece and I just say "wow!" . In particular I love the 1st variation - what I tenderness you unfold here! Truly , as you said, a "mood of rapture" which I love so very much in Beethoven's late works and which also you convey here in such a beautiful way. I am proud that I could bring up Beethoven's theme here to inspire you to such a wonderful work - I am curious about the coming variations and wish you much inspiration!

Gerd

Saul, I am very astonished about your assessment of this theme! Junk ?? I just can say that I adore it as a true gem coming out of Beethoven's genius! 

Gerd

Saul Gefen said:

Hi,

I think the variations were done very well, but I also think that the sketch itself is not one of Beethoven's best, and this is an understatement. A any rate he didn't imagine it to be great or even good music after all it was only a sketch. I know what is a sketch I have many of these myself, most of those go into the trash bean.

I don't know what is the merit of the sketch itself, what Beethoven has thought about it and to what importance he granted it.

Perhaps he only thought that it was junk and should stay that way, and then we come and believe that whatever Beethoven thought to be junk is good music as it pertains to us. I believe that if Beethoven thought that it was only a sketch then it should not be given more importance then what the composer has thought about it to be.

So to summarize: Liz did a wonderful job with this variations. 

The music itself is a sketch or junk as the composer has labeled it to be so. 

Regards

Gerd,

I have listened to Beethoven's sketch and your arrangement of it. Your arrangement was worthy and well crafted. But I thought that Beethoven's sketch was awful what I would describe personally as a drivel. Thus I believe that he has never used that sketch in any real official capacity and I don't know where you got the sketch from.

From a personal note, I also think that taking a sketch of a composer, something that he himself didn't want to be known for, and making it famous kinda runs oblique to the composer's intentions. When I throw a sketch in the trash bean I don't want someone 200 years from now taking it out from there without my consent and reworking it and posting it for the public.

Music is a very personal thing, and I don't know what it the merit of reviving a work that the composer didn't think much of.

Again, this has nothing to do with your craftsmanship which I say again with worthy and well done. This is only about the merit of doing such a project, especially when the music itself is evidently not in par with the other works by Beethoven.

If I was Beethoven, I wouldn't have like this piece to be known to anyone else but myself.

Regards



Gerd Prengel said:

Saul, I am very astonished about your assessment of this theme! Junk ?? I just can say that I adore it as a true gem coming out of Beethoven's genius! 

Gerd

Saul Gefen said:

Hi,

I think the variations were done very well, but I also think that the sketch itself is not one of Beethoven's best, and this is an understatement. A any rate he didn't imagine it to be great or even good music after all it was only a sketch. I know what is a sketch I have many of these myself, most of those go into the trash bean.

I don't know what is the merit of the sketch itself, what Beethoven has thought about it and to what importance he granted it.

Perhaps he only thought that it was junk and should stay that way, and then we come and believe that whatever Beethoven thought to be junk is good music as it pertains to us. I believe that if Beethoven thought that it was only a sketch then it should not be given more importance then what the composer has thought about it to be.

So to summarize: Liz did a wonderful job with this variations. 

The music itself is a sketch or junk as the composer has labeled it to be so. 

Regards

Yes Liz I hear it. Have you gone on the Sibelius forum with this? Perhaps later when I get time I can do a version with my system to compare.

Liz Atems said:

Second try to post an mp3 showing the distortion...

Yay! It worked this time. Please let me know if you hear the distortion. It happens immediately before a note ends and the attack on the next note begins, and it seems to be mainly triggered by the 1st violin line (farthest to the left). I hear it in quieter passages but it becomes really bad when things get loud (toward the end fo the clip I posted). I think it is the same thing I heard as "scratchiness" in the Beethoven variation for string quartet, just manifesting a little differently - I also hear the "swell" effect with solo violin. This is mainly with NotePerformer; at least with string orchestra, I do not hear it with Sibelius Sounds, nor with General MIDI.

Liz please read my response to Gerd's question I would basically give the same answer to your question.



Liz Atems said:

Wait... Saul, I've only done one variation so far!! Are you perhaps confusing my incomplete work with Gerd Prengel's lovely set of variations on the same sketch?

And if not, thank you Saul for the kind words! Personally I don't really care what Beethoven thought of the sketch - he is dead and has been for nearly 193 years. We are free today to do whatever we want with it!

Hi Gerd,

Thank you so much for your beautiful words regarding my variation... it means a great deal to me as I love your Variations, and I have you to thank for bringing this sketch to my attention and for inspiring me to try to do something with it myself. As I said earlier in the thread, the inspiration for more variations is just not coming to me at the moment, and most of my creative energies are going into other work. I am still hopeful that that will change in time. When I have more I will post it.

Again, I so very much appreciate your opinion and am happy that it spoke to you.

Liz

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