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following from conversations on other threads, I was encouraged to start a new topic that I find quite interesting:

On one hand, I can't help noticing that the amount of comments and reviews of compositions (not just on this site, but widely on the internet) is directly proportional to the quality of the MIDI rendering. Trivial music that is well produced, with good sounding libraries will get far, far more attention than sophisticated music rendered by say Microsoft Wavetable Synth or MuseScore's basic soundfont (btw better soundfonts are available for MuseScore).

Maybe it's an age thing, but back in the 90s we used to show our work to colleagues, directors, producers on the piano. And if you were a lousy pianist like me, then you would play very basic lines and explain "this is meant to be the strings or the french horn", etc. That was followed by sequencers that had that awful sound that most people associate to the word MIDI. They were synthesised emulations of real instruments, but it was almost as much of a stretch of the imagination as playing on the piano and asking the listener to "imagine" what the real thing would sound like,

We jump forward to the last 10-15 years and we have become completely intolerant to anything that doesn't sound virtually real...

The comparison to CGI becomes very tempting. Computer generated imagery started back in the 70s and... Well, it hasn't aged well. I was surprised when I caught a glance of Terminator about 5 years ago and realised man that looks really fake, but when I was a child I remember believing it fully! (Surprisingly Star Wars has aged fairly well). But the point is, like early synths, there was a time when we accepted it and now we find intolerable! Low budget films today will often feature CGI that is of better quality than any massive Hollywood production of the past. However people will just laugh out loud and say things like "that's so fake".

Finally this opens up a whole other can of worms: decent libraries are expensive and producing a realistic playback is extremely time consuming (I certainly never bother unless I'm getting paid to do it). So in a way this is a form of discrimination, where only the  wealthy (or the wealthier) who can afford these technologies will ever get a chance to have their music heard.

I could go on, but I'm very curious to hear people's opinions on this!

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This is my feeling too, but I can add additionally that in a way I actually don't want to make my computer generated sound files seem too professional, since that might re-enforce some people's assumptions that I am trying to create computer generated music.  I don't really want a listener to one of my computer generated sound files to think, "This sounds really good;" I would much rather the listener think, "This sounds like it could be really good if it was performed by people."

This incidentally is why I use MuseScore, which is free and though basically an app to produce printed scores, also can produce mp3 sound files of decentish quality, though probably not good enough for professional use.

michael diemer said:

This question has been kicked around forums for years now. IMO, the bottom line is: if you plan on being a published and performed composer (hope you're either a genius or well-connected), stick with notation software. Otherwise you will waste years fooling around with DAWS, which can simulate a performance, but  will also consume massive amounts of your time and energy. At the expense of actual composing.

There is a chance that as technology evolves, there will be someday a much easier route to getting excellent playback on computer software. Things move fast these days, so stay tuned.

Claude,

Let me go a little deeper.

For the most part, I use Sibelius 7.5. Sibelius has lots of way to manipulate playback. Most users either don't know about them, don't want to be bothered with them, or don't think they make that much difference. They make a lot of difference, but it's still notation playback. 

The following is personal taste, so reader beware. NotePerformer does nothing for me. Great if it works for others. It's supposed to play your music in a more natural, musical way. I've had people run my music though it. It sounds different, but I can't say it sounded better or that it represented my intentions. But maybe I'm too negative. I go to the NP website every once in a while to listen to the samples. Years ago they had the Hayden trumpet concerto as sample. The trumpet sound was that of a Jazz player. Argh! Later they changed it to a totally dull, lifeless sounding trumpet. The last time I was there I listened to the opening of the 1812 Overture. Granted, my hearing isn't what it used to be. Even so, I found a score for the 1812 opened it in Sibelius and liked the default string sound better. And I never use the default string sound.

To be fair, a guy that does it for a living ran one of my pieces through his DAW. The sounds were wonderful. Far better than anything I could do. But he ignored my markings and put a climax in totally the wrong place, so I couldn't say the experiment was a success.

My version of Sibelius is getting on in years. In anticipation of it not working in Windows sometime, I've been playing around with MuseScore. The newest version is far superior to past versions. Sound fonts are getting better. Both still have a ways to go, but for free you could do much worse

I agree. To get good results, you have to know your software. 

Yeah, but this post is about crossing that barrier i.e. getting people to listen to them in the first place, once they are in well... Haw, haw, haw (evil laugh)!

Jon Corelis said:

This is my feeling too, but I can add additionally that in a way I actually don't want to make my computer generated sound files seem too professional, since that might re-enforce some people's assumptions that I am trying to create computer generated music.  I don't really want a listener to one of my computer generated sound files to think, "This sounds really good;" I would much rather the listener think, "This sounds like it could be really good if it was performed by people."

This incidentally is why I use MuseScore, which is free and though basically an app to produce printed scores, also can produce mp3 sound files of decentish quality, though probably not good enough for professional use.

michael diemer said:

This question has been kicked around forums for years now. IMO, the bottom line is: if you plan on being a published and performed composer (hope you're either a genius or well-connected), stick with notation software. Otherwise you will waste years fooling around with DAWS, which can simulate a performance, but  will also consume massive amounts of your time and energy. At the expense of actual composing.

There is a chance that as technology evolves, there will be someday a much easier route to getting excellent playback on computer software. Things move fast these days, so stay tuned.

You can't compare NotePerformer to an already edited playback, NP is meant as instead of fiddling with playback. When I was on Sibelius I always preferred my own editions than NP when I used to demo it. Nowadays I enjoy my rehearsal time with my virtual orchestra... I find it relaxing and occasionally insightful!
 
Bob Porter said:

Claude,

Let me go a little deeper.

For the most part, I use Sibelius 7.5. Sibelius has lots of way to manipulate playback. Most users either don't know about them, don't want to be bothered with them, or don't think they make that much difference. They make a lot of difference, but it's still notation playback. 

The following is personal taste, so reader beware. NotePerformer does nothing for me. Great if it works for others. It's supposed to play your music in a more natural, musical way. I've had people run my music though it. It sounds different, but I can't say it sounded better or that it represented my intentions. But maybe I'm too negative. I go to the NP website every once in a while to listen to the samples. Years ago they had the Hayden trumpet concerto as sample. The trumpet sound was that of a Jazz player. Argh! Later they changed it to a totally dull, lifeless sounding trumpet. The last time I was there I listened to the opening of the 1812 Overture. Granted, my hearing isn't what it used to be. Even so, I found a score for the 1812 opened it in Sibelius and liked the default string sound better. And I never use the default string sound.

To be fair, a guy that does it for a living ran one of my pieces through his DAW. The sounds were wonderful. Far better than anything I could do. But he ignored my markings and put a climax in totally the wrong place, so I couldn't say the experiment was a success.

My version of Sibelius is getting on in years. In anticipation of it not working in Windows sometime, I've been playing around with MuseScore. The newest version is far superior to past versions. Sound fonts are getting better. Both still have a ways to go, but for free you could do much worse

I agree. To get good results, you have to know your software. 

Claude,

"You can't compare NotePerformer to an already edited playback" 

Not sure what you mean. The person took my Sib, file and realized it with NP. 

Sorry Bob, I think I might've gotten my wires crossed... I presumed that the Sib file you had sent to your friend/colleague was one you had already fiddled with i.e. the velocities and timing (possibly also keyswitches and dynamics curves). So what I meant to say that Noteperformer wouldn't sound better since it ignores all those things (except timing I believe) and just reads the score. So its meant to interpret a score without the user having to do any playback alterations whatsoever. Consequently it can only be compared to a Sib file that hasn't had any editing... The human element always makes the difference even with crappier sounds...

Bob Porter said:

Claude,

"You can't compare NotePerformer to an already edited playback" 

Not sure what you mean. The person took my Sib, file and realized it with NP. 

The Sib file had dynamics and hairpins, and tempo. To me that is part of the score. Velocity and timing are not part of the score. I admit to having no direct experience with NP. I just haven't been impressed enough with what I have seen/heard. 

Yes, I don't mean score markings but just the "behind the scenes" stuff. Like that added with "~" and the properties windows.

I haven't been impressed either, but considering it's a one stop solution without any hassle it does remarkably well! Also, every version gets a lot better, but it'll never substitute a manual editing for example on a DAW or even Sibelius' rudimentary tools...

Bob Porter said:

The Sib file had dynamics and hairpins, and tempo. To me that is part of the score. Velocity and timing are not part of the score. I admit to having no direct experience with NP. I just haven't been impressed enough with what I have seen/heard. 

"Trivial music that is well produced, with good sounding libraries will get far, far more attention than sophisticated music rendered by say Microsoft Wavetable Synth"

I get it, but this is still disturbing. Seems to me that as a result, the overall musical quality of what's out there is diminished. 

Again, my music is perfectly average, or lower, and I don't write professionally. So it doesn't really affect me. 

Yet, If I choose, I can nudge the timing of notes forward and back as well as velocity of individual notes (I don't choose). I can also define holds, hairpins, tempo change text and so forth (i do choose).

Of course, I want to produce the best file that I can. Depending on what I have written, "best file" is subjective.

If someone listens to my music and can't hear the music for notes, not much more I can do. 

Obviously but if the OP thinks a sample library is expensive he's in for a shock concerning the cost of musicians. Samples are there to substitute and sometimes very convincingly.

Jon Corelis said:

The best technology is a system consisting of living human beings using physical instruments and voices to project music into the ears of other human beings who are physically present. Everything else is a substitute.

But I never have paid and never will pay to have my music performed.  I don't pay for love, and I don't pay for listeners.

Charles Holt said:

Obviously but if the OP thinks a sample library is expensive he's in for a shock concerning the cost of musicians. Samples are there to substitute and sometimes very convincingly.

Jon Corelis said:

The best technology is a system consisting of living human beings using physical instruments and voices to project music into the ears of other human beings who are physically present. Everything else is a substitute.

Jon,

If one is a professional composer that needs A live recording, you can't afford to wait around for an orchestra that might play your music. You need good musicians now, and for that, you have to pay. Besides, musicians need the work. 

Other that that, I have no idea what you are talking about.

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