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I have a feeling that symphonic orchestras will be extinct. A few hundreds years ago so called "horn orchestras" were widespread, where each instrument, and of course the musician who was usually a slave, could perform only a single note by the command of the conductor. These instruments and orchestras disappeared with the advent of multi-note instruments of the same or better quality of sound.

Now the parallel: Today, using advanced DAW and synthesisers, a single musician can perform sounds of the best symphonic orchestras and more. Not only he can write and have the music performed automatically, he can actually play and combine the sounds of different instruments in real time using a single synthesiser...

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Ditto!! =) I would give anything to see a living orchestra playing my music. that would be simply amazing.
I still love to see more integration with a VST orchestra and live performers. such as a 4 or 5 piece rock band with sampled orchestra in the hands of a capable keyboardist and add a string quartet to that and that can be a pretty nice sound.

Newport Hutchinson said:
...nothing would give me greater satisfaction to hear one of my works played by a real living, breathing orchestra. I could then die a happy man!
As a person who uses samples to compose, I can tell you right now that working on samples is more waste of a time and slowes me down than working with a real orchestra. You realize I spend half an hour to get 4 measures of strings to play a realistic sounding legato or portamento when a Real player can do so in seconds.

The advantage of Samples is that it could give you as close as possible preview of the projected work. But it will not replace real musicians for a long time. that being said though, technology is advancing and I have no doubt we will see some outstanding sample libraries that will be out there and will fully make a hard working person like me look like I'm wasting time inserting every note my self.

But lets not all forget that we are humans and we want to see humans and not machines to perform our work, its the most exciting thing in the universe!
I agree with the sentiment completely, however I see things differently. Jobs that pay money become more scarce. Software has let people who know next to nothing about composing and who are often bereft of any musical talent hit some buttons and create 'music' that has a decent aural quality (even if its musical crap). And more and more directors and producers are aware that they can get some clueless person who bought fruity loops to put music to their film, or more often from libraries for their TV show, for next to nothing. That translates to people who understand the pain involved in creating realistic digital representations and the time sink involved, people who love LIVE music who also understand technology, being forced to work at the pace of a team of 10 and get paid less than ever, unless we give up our scruples of what excellence is about. Most every time I have been hired to do mockup work, it ends up paying like $5 or $10 an hour when I do all the minute massaging and layering to make it sound plausible. I only do it anymore if the music is really excellent and I have something to learn from them on a deep level.

Of course there will be symphonic music, its a status symbol to the beourgois money people in any city so they will never go away completely. But as far as orchestras being used in ANYTHING else, that will go away unless major changes in public policy and a rennaisance of education in the arts takes place.

People are more concerned with 'how do i get my iPhone fully loaded with free MP3s?' then they are about art or real music. The combination of a broken music industry and technology that makes the art of composing become something lost in time while people push buttons on their computers are the two major factors involved in the deterioration. Even listening to almost every 'live' (non-orchestral) group out today, there is a definitive lack of lustre. A pointless meandering to the melody. Re-hash of chords and styles. Take a few hours and go to hulu.com and watch season 1 from Saturday Night Live, and listen to how amazing those bands are. EVERY player in every band is a master of his or her instrument, and they all have something they really need to say. Then compare it to any season of Letterman or whatnot in the last 10 years.... Even the really great bands of today are just too... perfect... cold... I saw Carrie Underwood on Letterman and her and her band were ... perfect... and ... really aweful... and no soul... and I have seen really nothing in teh last 10 years of new 'artists' to show me anything else. And I consider Carrie U. to be one of the best out there for modern groups. I mean what do we have? Spice Girls, 3-6 Mafia, Gwen Steffani, CMON WORLD, PULL IT TOGETHER! ;-)

DONT FOOL YOURSELF! A nice sample library does not make oneself a good composer, even if you learn to make it sound 'real'. But we are all forced to live inside these computers, to live inside the creative constraints of DAWs and sequencers, to think linearly in totality. It is a depressing and bleak future we have set ourselves up for. I believe that the only thing to do is, as much as possible, turn OFF the computer. Get outside and fraternize amongs living humans. Explore your musicality in non-electronic/computer ways. And while we all struggle to shut off the email and not answer it, the rest of the world needs to come to terms with the value of art and art music, especially live music, which again comes down to recognition on the governmental level and implementation of its value in the education system. IMHO arts and music are as important if not much more important to the survival of the Earth than any math or science. We learn learn learn, to be exactly how they teach us, but we become castrated emotionally and artistically...

Ok, doom & gloom off ;-) Now where is that email? lol


sherief said:
As a person who uses samples to compose, I can tell you right now that working on samples is more waste of a time and slowes me down than working with a real orchestra. You realize I spend half an hour to get 4 measures of strings to play a realistic sounding legato or portamento when a Real player can do so in seconds.

The advantage of Samples is that it could give you as close as possible preview of the projected work. But it will not replace real musicians for a long time. that being said though, technology is advancing and I have no doubt we will see some outstanding sample libraries that will be out there and will fully make a hard working person like me look like I'm wasting time inserting every note my self.

But lets not all forget that we are humans and we want to see humans and not machines to perform our work, its the most exciting thing in the universe!
agreed, totally! No wind controller will EVER be able to do what I can on a saxophone, its just not possible. I can play a single note 102938019283019238012 ways (at least! lol) and expand that exponentially for every tone we can conceive... woohooo! Unfortunately the business doesnt care - at all. Thats why there are feature films with a music budget of 50k, 20k, 5k, less even... because they dont CARE if a real orchestra sounds better, they would rather pay one person to work 20 hour days back to back for 6 weeks or 2 months than pay for a team of people and an orchestra to record. So it is up to educate people and to keep the highest of standards

Newport Hutchinson said:
You can never replace the human player. I have used various sample libraries through the years, and no matter how hard you try, it is impossible to capture that "human" touch. I currently use VSL samples and even though listening to the demos on their web site shows they are capable of impressive results, they just lack something. I spent many years playing brass instruments, and you just can't get that interaction with a real brass instrument via a keyboard or breath controller. In saying that, sample sets give incredible flexibility for working with, and it also gives people like me the chance to write for orchestral instruments which would otherwise be denied to us purely on financial grounds.
Let us consider some positive points. The technology changes, but it does not kill the human emotions. When first stone-age musicians made their whistles from animal bones, they probably got similar critics from their tribes: the sound is too pristine (compared to human voice) to express the soul; the instruments require too much efforts to study and play; some social issues raised etc. However, today both singers and artificial instruments are alive and well and sometimes cooperate.

Concerning the live performance (as opposed to mechanical one), do not forget that we can actually PLAY the instruments contained in our synthesizers. OK, my 88-key flute with breath controller is not the same as a real flute. It is ANOTHER instrument, suitable for expressing many interesting things and authentic emotions, just like 1000s years ago a flute, made from wood, was another instrument compared to human voice.
So sorry Andrew but I most vehemently disagree. While electronic instruments CAN be their own instruments (NOTHING like a great MOOG or ARP sound!) samples are trying to be recreations of something that IS live. I use them every day, because that is what my employers require, but I am not happy about it. If you want flute, either learn to play flute or hire a flautist. Recreating one with a sample is just ghetto flute, musical masturbation, etc. Now I am not saying that samples cant be used as their own instrument, but I have not heard anyone on this forum, except maybe Jan Civil that has really used samples and in a way that is_not trying to recreate a live, real, organic instrument they dont play. Post something with your flute samples that are not recreations of what you perceive a LIVE FLUTE to be my friend, then lets analyze and talk ;-)

Now today, one can IMITATE a very limited scope of most instruments in a symphony orchestra. Even as they get more powerful with more layers of articulations, you are still limited to the exact strokes and articulations provided you by the sample library. Symphonic music works best for sampling because the nature of the symphony has always been to play with as little personal inflection as possible and follow the leader. But you are still limited completely in how your samples are programmed. Which crescendos and decrescendos, articulations, bowing techniques, slurs, etc etc etc., WHat you end up with is a SUPER whitebread orchestra that sounds exactly like everyone elses. More personally expressive music like Jazz will never be plausible, it will just sound ridiculous. Now is that what the suits want? sure if they can get it cheap. But its not furthering music in any way, rather the opposite if you can gestalt to my position ;-)

edit: btw comparing a keyboard controlled sampled flute to a real one is not the same as comparing bone flute to the human voice. Its more like comparing a human voice that can sing in 8 languages to a duck caller. Have you ever worked with live orchestra or any type of live large ensemble? I cant believe you have and still say something like this

2nd edit: I have to say that of all the folks on this forum there is one guy that really owns his sampling and makes it sound real and live: James Semple. He is quickly becoming a master of orchestral composition with digital mockups. But even at the length which he goes (extremely extensive in his research and development!) he is limited to sound like the 'classic film score orchestra'. Even while he can come up with a better sound than most guys not with big LA studios like Zimmer, he is still limited in his scope, and ultimately stifled and constrained in compositional creativity as a result. And thats not meant as an insult in any way, I have the utmost respect for James and his work is beyond excellent. But it is the land of samples. He can never bend down with a grimace from the conductors stand and say HEY Horns! When you get to that trill, start it slower and then gradually build it to my queue with intensity and speed and then scream through your horns with a harmon mute in, or a billion to the billionth power of other very specific ideas that can only be communicated between humans and then performed by humans who are masters of their instrument ;-) OK im off the soapbox again

AndrewG said:
Let us consider some positive points. The technology changes, but it does not kill the human emotions. When first stone-age musicians made their whistles from animal bones, they probably got similar critics from their tribes: the sound is too pristine (compared to human voice) to express the soul; the instruments require too much efforts to study and play; some social issues raised etc. However, today both singers and artificial instruments are alive and well and sometimes cooperate.

Concerning the live performance (as opposed to mechanical one), do not forget that we can actually PLAY the instruments contained in our synthesizers. OK, my 88-key flute with breath controller is not the same as a real flute. It is ANOTHER instrument, suitable for expressing many interesting things and authentic emotions, just like 1000s years ago a flute, made from wood, was another instrument compared to human voice.
Gentlemen, why you see the technology only in a negative light? Your synthesisers probably contain not only these problematic classic instrument samples. There exists a plethora of ambient noises, artificial instruments with deep effects, and a whole industry of creating new expressive sounds outside of that 99 classic instruments. And you have all this at your hand, just try and combine this with the classic sounds, just like Craig Hopkinson brilliantly does. Look also at brilliant pieces by Ronnie Doyle, to name a few members of this forum experimenting with new technological sounds.
the symphonic orchestra is earths best export...
Didn't the aliens speak musical language in close encounters?
The scientists included one of Beethoven works in the voyager deep space probe.

the orchestra is not going anywhere.. it will evolve... and we will find new uses for it.
there is nothing else that we have to communicate emotion with the same clarity. NOT one other thing comes remotely close.
Like Ray, I don't hate technology or think of it in itself as negative. But I see the largest problems we are facing in pro composing biz is the advent of technology that 1. Makes it so easy to make some non music that has high quality sounds (like fruity loop crap) which fools a very young composer into thinking he has created a masterpiece 2. The unbelievable overflow of mediocre to poor musical product that has flooded the market to such a degree that the value of ALL music has disintegrated and 3. The "American Effect" where the freedom we are told we are given is in itself just a managerial tool to keep the masses placated and to not strive for excellence. In other words we are given this freedom of cool software that we can do all these incredible things with, but ultimately we are actually being limited, forced into the constrains and confines created by the programmers.

And while it is cool and fun to mess around with samples I have to reflect on the amount of time I wasted focusing for the last seven years on production instead of creativity, too much analytical brain being forced with marathon sessions of minute detail. Of corse I love it, that's the trap, just as email is a trap for your mind. And as for your argument about your samples being their own instruments, well I am sorry man, but it's just not true, but rather it is a crutch. That is truth and reality as I see it as uncomfortable as it might be.

I might be short in my words, but they are only meant in the best of ways and to consider and contemplate where we are going. I just happen to have a lot to say about this subject as it has been deep in my mind of late, as I try and grasp what all the problems are and where they have come from and where we are headed - stuff recently spurred by the LA gang trying hard to unionize with the teamsters. So I have done much research and soul searching and these things I mentioned coupled with an industry based almost exclusively on greed and desire to exploit kind and caring musicians is a major portion of how we have arrived at this lowest of lows business and industry wise

AndrewG said:
Gentlemen, why you see the technology only in a negative light? Your synthesisers probably contain not only these problematic classic instrument samples. There exists a plethora of ambient noises, artificial instruments with deep effects, and a whole industry of creating new expressive sounds outside of that 99 classic instruments. And you have all this at your hand, just try and combine this with the classic sounds, just like Craig Hopkinson brilliantly does. Look also at brilliant pieces by Ronnie Doyle, to name a few members of this forum experimenting with new technological sounds.
Let me nevertheless highlight some positive points in this dark picture...

I agree non-music with high quality sounds overflows the media, and this happens not only with music. The effect of free copying devaluates anything however good is the original, especially if this is a tool for creating art which should be unique by definition. Computer games frighten me still more, since they produce an illusion of creativity, while everything was already created by the game designer, so this is the illusion of insight and discovery that may program anything into the head of the player. This devaluation started more than 100 years ago, when Marconi and Edison introduced radio and recording device (BTW, the eclipse of Symphony Orchestra, which was unbelievably widespread phenomenon before, started approximately in 1920 exactly because of this). Maybe even earlier, when first hurdy-gurdies with perforated codes appeared, and this probably leads to far more wide discussion about social and philosophical aspects of information copying, which I didn't intend to rise here; note only that we witness positive aspects of this too, e.g. many new and beautiful art genres have appeared.

I disagree we are being limited and forced into the constrains and confines created by programmers. Remember that Beethoven sometimes had to do the work with hammer and metal for engraving his scores; imagine how much time and efforts he spent on this. Why you complain about bad-programmed samples and not strive to program yours? It may be easier than it seems, although needs some training and efforts orthogonal to a music writing.

Samples being their own instruments; is it a crutch? Well, EVERYTHING artificial can be considered a crutch, but... we apply a fork to better hold food, a car to better move (continue ad libitum) and do not consider ourselves crippled because of this. I do not consider my synthesiser a crutch (well, I have quite expensive one, which is Yamaha S90ES, with very good phones) and sometimes find or create voices which allow me to create the music I like.

I completely agree that the industry we deal with is based almost exclusively on greed and desire to exploit kind and caring musicians. But isn't ANY industry based on greed and exploitation? Alas!
I don't think its necessarily an either or choice. Electronic instruments are just additional instruments in the arsenal to create a composition. And the two can blend together -- recall Rick Wakeman's "Journey to the Center of the Earth" which blended 70's electronic with symphony and symphonic choir. If that same piece were to be performed today using only electronic, something would definitely be lost.

I think the orchestra is safe for decades to come!
Ray Kemp said:
Donald McLaughlin said:
I think the orchestra is safe for decades to come!

"decades" ........was that a freudian slip?

Not really. "Centuries" sounded a bit presumptuous. I mean who knows what musical instruments will be invented 100 years from now.

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