Does anyone insert MIDI files created in their notation software directly into their DAW for the final product? Other than less control over dynamics, what are the drawbacks for this approach? It seems like wishful thinking to even hope that this approach could ever be a viable option.

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  • Hi Luke, welcome to Composer's Forum.

    There are a variety of approaches to recording a final product with virtual instruments, and inserting MIDI files exported from notation software into a DAW  is one that a lot of composers do use.

    The reason is that high end sound libraries have a lot of instrument articulations that are MIDI controlled but are not accessible with notation software. So for example through MIDI a DAW actually gives you much better control over dynamics than notation software can.

    The drawbacks are that this process is time consuming and has a steep learning curve. There are many composers who get good final results using notation software linked directly to a special audio library set which avoids these extra steps.

    You should study the various methods and especially the results that composers on this forum are getting with different methods before committing a lot of time and money to this effort.

  • Thanks for the welcome and response Ingo. I'm very excited to be here! I recently exported a composition out of Sibelius and into Protools and it seemed to work okay although I haven't yet heard the audio due to some sound device complications with Protools and my PC. I am still a little bit confused; where does most of the time come into play in this particular process?

    Does most of the time come from editing the sampled sound in the DAW? The actual process of composing followed by exporting seems rather quick. I'm pretty fast in Sibelius and exporting is just a couple clicks away. 

  • I'm definitely game to spend the time in a DAW with plugins to make the MIDI samples better, especially since this business of exporting MIDI files takes out the emotional impact of performance. I think that investment of time will pay off financially with added quality to the recordings. Thanks for all the suggestions!

  • MIDI files can be very expressive and emotional, you can edit each note forward or backward in time by tiny increments which allows you to be very creative. DAWS have quantization, humanization and "groove generators" to do some of that editing quickly also.

    There is also a huge collection of loops and clips available for $ or for free that you can use freely in your own compositions to add in whatever you might want. I'm not fond of that approach but it is quite common.

    Luke Stephen Gray said:

    I'm definitely game to spend the time in a DAW with plugins to make the MIDI samples better, especially since this business of exporting MIDI files takes out the emotional impact of performance. I think that investment of time will pay off financially with added quality to the recordings. Thanks for all the suggestions!

    Exporting Notation Midi Files Directly Into DAW
    Does anyone insert MIDI files created in their notation software directly into their DAW for the final product? Other than less control over dynamics…
  • It is also possible within Sibelius to nudge notes forward or back and adjust the velocity of each note. May or may not be worth it, but the ability is there.

  • Hi I'm a little late to the conversation but thought I'd add my advice too. This is totally valid but time consuming. You still have complete control over dynamics and with a good set of sound samples you can get a pretty good result.

    I create my piece in Logic Pro with EastWest before exporting into notation software. There doesn't seem to be one solution for this at the moment.

    It will always be quicker and easier to record live musicians and while you can get close with sound samples, it will never sound quite as good. My ideal solution is to create a quick mockup in Logic then export to notation to record the musicians, but without the recording equipment, sound samples are a nice compromise.

    It's up to you if you want to invest the time into learning a DAW and all the techniques to get the best out of a sample pack but it's a separate production.

  • "It will always be quicker and easier to record live musicians".

    I guess it depends on how big the group is and how good a recording you want. You might be able to get away with two run-of-the-mill mics for a string quartet. Hopefully you know where and how to place them based on the size room. But for an orchestra in a concert hall, you will need several quality mics, cabling, mixers and recording equipment. Neither is very cheap, quick, or easy.

  • I'm generalising there, and it does take the recording knowledge and experience but it's still possible to get great results from a handheld recorder that don't cost too much. I've had great results using a Zoom H6 but I have studied recording and you can record an orchestra with just an H6 for around £300. If you want to spot mic you will need all the extra stuff though.

    Bob Porter said:

    "It will always be quicker and easier to record live musicians".

    I guess it depends on how big the group is and how good a recording you want. You might be able to get away with two run-of-the-mill mics for a string quartet. Hopefully you know where and how to place them based on the size room. But for an orchestra in a concert hall, you will need several quality mics, cabling, mixers and recording equipment. Neither is very cheap, quick, or easy.

    Exporting Notation Midi Files Directly Into DAW
    Does anyone insert MIDI files created in their notation software directly into their DAW for the final product? Other than less control over dynamics…
  • Don't forget you need access to musicians. I write for orchestra. I have no viable way to use a real orchestra. 

  • There are musicians everywhere - unless you are in a remote area of course. But then there are online options, together with multi-tracking and layering.

    Bob Porter said:

    Don't forget you need access to musicians. I write for orchestra. I have no viable way to use a real orchestra. 

    Exporting Notation Midi Files Directly Into DAW
    Does anyone insert MIDI files created in their notation software directly into their DAW for the final product? Other than less control over dynamics…
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