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This piece is a mixture of modern and traditional so there are plenty of things to comment on.  This is my first use of the VSL solo string library which I like but I could use some criticism and suggestions on the use of that as well.

The attached score has some rough spots and omissions but hopefully it will work as a guide.

So all comments and criticisms are welcome.  Thank you for listening.

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The score.

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Brilliant!

Enjoyable; modern.

Much variation in the harmonic flow and thematic material. The harmony is never static. I look at the downward runs on Vns 1 and 2 in bars 36-38, subtle changes. I haven't studied the score in detail but the work appears to be through-composed so I'm not driven down a classical channel. It's chromatic, amenable. 

You've used the articulations available very well indeed, distinctions between detaché and legato. This shows well in a section that starts quasi-baroque in bar 29 (although as it progresses the harmony doesn't let it stay baroque-sounding for long!) Bar 62 sounded slightly festive to me, dance-like with the cello double stops. (By the way, as double stops they sound fine to me.)

There's possible room for adjustment in the dynamics - the violins entering in bar 7 seemed overwhelmed by the cello. Also there may be opportunities to use the sfz attack here and there (though it needs taming in VSL, I've found, slip the fader in the patch editor down just a shade - but of course, it's up to you, your work). It's generally a lively work so dynamic variation is possible.

I'm interested though in how you arrived at your score. It isn't something coming out of a daw, surely? What makes me wonder is that you hide unused staves here and there. That tripped me up when first following!! It's unusual in a quartet score - or maybe I'm just out of date.

So, a great piece; holds interest through to the last note - and it looks like you did better than me with a first try with VSL.

Congrats!

Bests,

Dane.

Wow Ingo, this is wonderful work! Not sure I would call it exactly modern as it is very tonal - but maybe that's no bar these days? The textures are certainly not traditional. In places the harmonies sound almost Appalachian to my ears - bars 62 through 79 reminded me a little of my neighbor Dennis Bathory-Kitsz's l'Estampie du Chevalier - festive and dance-like indeed as Dane said. I detected a hint of sonata form as well - with a shortened recap beginning in bar 91. I've only listened to it twice so far, and only the second time following along in the score, but structurally it seems quite sound.

The score doesn't correspond everywhere to what I heard so like Dane, I wonder how it was produced.

I have no experience with VSL so far, but I was impressed with the sound. My only complaint is that it seems you haven't "panned" the instruments to separate them spatially. The effect is of a mono recording. But I have no idea how easy or hard that is to do in a DAW.

Thank you Dane for the kind words.  I was going to credit you at the top for production guidance because I never would have gotten VSL to work without your help. But this is kind of an odd piece so I didn't know if we should tie your name to it :)

I struggled with dynamics here. I'd still be tweaking things but I just gave up. The velocity levels of VSL samples are great but they don't quite cover everything so I need to get into either cc11 or the DAW automation I guess and I need more study.  I tried sfz but it was like little bombs going off so again, more study required, thanks for the fader tip!

The score, ha!  Wrote it in Finale and yes it's through composed, then exported to Sibelius which did stuff like drop the empty staves without asking me when I exported the PDF so the score needs some work. Since the midi files functioned fairly well I haven't corrected the score yet.

Hi Liz, thank you for the encouragement.  Yeah 'modern' is sort of a useless term. I'm pretty loose about throwing different stuff together so it's kind of hard to categorize. Your neighbor sounds interesting I'll have to check him out, thanks. What little I know of sonata form I always thought of as being kind of a natural evolution of binaries and song forms but I wasn't really planning this piece that way, like I told Dane it's pretty much through composed without a lot of prep. I did sketch out some of the harmonies though. I repeated the opening thinking it needed another chance with a listener!

I wrote this while trying a demo of Finale and then I imported it into Sibelius and the two don't always get along. Since the midi export worked fairly well with VSL in Reaper I didn't do much fixing, I don't know why it dropped the empty staves, I didn't tell it to.

Good catch on the panning issue. Both VSL and Reaper have panning and stereo widening controls. Dane has given us a good explanation of VSL's panning in our tutorial thread but I just used a slight amount of Reaper to put the violins slightly left and the viola and cello slightly right. As you say, it needs some work when I get better with VSL

And thank you for that thought, Ingo, but absolutely not!! I feel your pain about the VSL player! And I hope I've got some of these things right. Besides, I'd have to credit you with a few ideas I nicked from you - like giving the solo piccolo an airing as just one example.

It hardly seems an odd piece to me. I'd say interesting and engaging and some clever scoring. Any improvements will be in using the velocity X fader; and the pan in the patch editor. (By the way, when you set the pan for any one patch you can right-click by the patch editor's volume fader and choose 'apply across the matrix' (or something like that) from the dropdown, and it sets every other patch to the same pan. You've probably found that out already!)

Trouble with that player, maybe more so the Pro version, is it can do just about everything which means a lot to learn. A good example of how they assume things is in their video on polyphonic legato. They blithely mention the sustain pedal. There's no sustain pedal on the player so I had to write to ask if they meant the conventional CC64 sustain or had I missed something on the player. Nope. it IS CC64. How would a newcomer guess that?

With the velocity cross fade, doesn't CC2 work in reaper? And yes, you have to lower the patch edit volume or velocity curve right to the bottom left to tame the sfz! 

I still haven't worked out how to pan in Reaper, though, can you believe? It never seems to work even when I narrow the stereo image.



Ingo Lee said:

Thank you Dane for the kind words.  I was going to credit you at the top for production guidance because I never would have gotten VSL to work without your help. But this is kind of an odd piece so I didn't know if we should tie your name to it :)

I struggled with dynamics here. I'd still be tweaking things but I just gave up. The velocity levels of VSL samples are great but they don't quite cover everything so I need to get into either cc11 or the DAW automation I guess and I need more study.  I tried sfz but it was like little bombs going off so again, more study required, thanks for the fader tip!

The score, ha!  Wrote it in Finale and yes it's through composed, then exported to Sibelius which did stuff like drop the empty staves without asking me when I exported the PDF so the score needs some work. Since the midi files functioned fairly well I haven't corrected the score yet.

I really enjoyed this little musical journey. Lots of great musical ideas and varying textures to please the ears. I can't add to the detailed musical and technical analysis from Dane and Liz. The VSL instrument sounds are very good but somehow don't all feel like they are in the same "space." That may be a matter of further tweaking of dynamics and mix, or possibly a change to whatever you are using for reverb for the overall mix. Nice work! Thanks for sharing. 

I enjoyed this and was especially impressed by the creative parts construction. Begins with a very baroque  feel which seemed to depart from rather quickly while still retaining some of that flavor.

I hear what seemed to maybe be three different  smaller movements? I only say this because there are two larger breaks in the music. Breaks aren't long enough to give a total detached feeling.

The VSL sounds themselves are pretty good, I especially noted the cello part which sounded like a real cellist. The group play sounds were a little less convincing to me since the slight vibratos were synced. Didn't sound like independent players in a group. Sounded like a patch attempting to sound like independent players ;) I know this is a tough thing to pull off in any string library. Ingo, Can you tell me if the VSL orchestra library in Kontakt full is similar to the VSL you are referring to?

Probably not. The name is the same causing me to question if it came from the same place. I occasionally use those sounds and they sound ok. 

Ingo you are quite the talented original composer, especially for someone who hasn't used this library for any length of time. Congrats on it!

Just to echo Timothy's mention of the breaks - I noticed those too and wondered if they were supposed to be separations between movements, or just silences within the music (sort of like in Carter's 1st Quartet)?

I'm guessing the VSL solo strings is probably the best. I did a fair bit of listening to demos before buying. There weren't many on offer that gave all (regular) string instruments. VSL's full set contains 177,580 samples compared with, say, Spitfire that has 41,270 samples so either there's more detail or less trickery. Of course, that doesn't mean one is a better sound than another but I confess that the Spitfire demo didn't convince me. It demonstrated none of the articulations I'd expect to have available.

As usual, Spitfire make it (at least superficially) impossible to find out what articulations are included which is a no-no to me. I mean, it must be there somewhere. They can't sell stuff at these prices without telling you what you get, surely! 

Cinematic studio has fake con sordino. EW only has violin and cello solos.

But this isn't the place to compare sample libraries. Just that I think Ingo is on absolutely the right track and it's more wrestling with the player that really is most things to most people, where improvements will notice. I listen to some of the pieces I posted here during my early days with VI and cringe!  I suppose back then it was pleasing enough to get anything going with that player in Reaper!

.

Hi Ingo. Wonderful work here! I enjoyed this very much. I like your sense of harmonic movement - reminds me a bit of neoclassical style in that way.
The ebb and flow of the rhythm felt natural and very effective.
I am not able to view the score, but it seemed like there were some places where the cello had double-stops using an interval of a 5th. If that is true, you should be aware that That interval is very difficult to do on the cello, (unless using the open strings).
I have a feeling that it may not be in the range of the viola - (to allow the viola to help out) but also, the viola may be already occupied at those spots.
The ending - last 10 seconds or so, I didn't quite get. That half-step mordant threw me a bit, in the context of the piece. The ending seems like more of a question and resolution - but I am thinking that is what you were going for. Even so, perhaps you might consider giving a tad more definition.
Thanks for posting!
correction: 'The ending seems like more of a question Than a resolution'.

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