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#1
I have a budget of £200, and I want notation software to create realistic sounding orchestra songs for the musical I'm writing. My heart's currently set on Finale 2011 (http://www.musiconmypc.co.uk/finale-2010-notation-software-educational-price) but I just want to check if thats the best option for what I want to do.
Musical Theatre! *jazz hands*


...what am I doing on this site...
#2
Usually the realistic sounds come from external sample libraries used as VST plugins with the notation software; in general, stock sounds from notation software (in my experience) aren't that great. Since I'm assuming you don't have notation software at the moment, Finale is good; I use Sibelius personally but I think it's more expensive.

If you do have notation software already, the best cheap sample library I can think of is Garritan Personal Orchestra - I grabbed a copy for $150 and it was certainly worth the price until I could pick up a better library.
#3
Well, neither Finale or Sibelius has an incredible built-in sound library. Both are about on par, but Sibelius' might be a little better for certain samples. So, with that in mind, don't choose one over the other based on sound libraries, choose the one that's better for what you want to do. I just switched over to Sibelius from Finale and while I still think you can have better control over your output and probably produce a slightly better output with Finale, across the board Sibelius is the better program. Unless you require total control over your notation (i.e. graphical notation, proportional notation, or any non-standard notation in general) I would recommend Sibelius over Finale.
#4
I'm just comparing the sounds right now. Finale 2011 uses sounds from Garritan Personal Orchestra so I'm a bit more swayed towards that one. I'm not too impressed by Sibelius's brass sounds. Of course, the other solution could be to get Sibelius and also get Garritan personal orchestra, but that would be more costly. This is hard...
Musical Theatre! *jazz hands*


...what am I doing on this site...
Last edited by MetaIronForce at Nov 13, 2011,
#6
Quote by MetaIronForce
I have a budget of £200, and I want notation software to create realistic sounding orchestra songs for the musical I'm writing. My heart's currently set on Finale 2011 (http://www.musiconmypc.co.uk/finale-2010-notation-software-educational-price) but I just want to check if thats the best option for what I want to do.


hi MetalIronForce, i wold not recommend any notation software with in £200. But what i would say Forte creates an ideal environment for making the kind of music you've always dreamed of. It's the first music software to strike the perfect balance between infinite creativity and deceptively simple recording tools. Let your imagination soar as you compose original scores or edit existing MIDI files. Either way, Forte does the hard work for you-recording tracks as fast as you create them, and capturing changes as fast as you make them. All the while, you can watch your music-making in real-time notation on a dynamic score.

The main features of Forte are:
Notation, Sequencing, Transpose, Transpose by Instrument, MIDI In & Out, Drag & Drop Edit, Quantize, Copy, Nudge, Piano roll, Real-Time notation display and the ability to Punch Record (In / Out), Loop Record & Playback.

Other new notable features include:
Professional sound quality the support is included for plug-ins, instruments and effects. Import /Export Music XML. Export scores or selected tracks to JPEG, BMP, TGA, TIFF, EPS (PostScript), Wave and MP3.
#7
Quote by Cadarn11
hi MetalIronForce, i wold not recommend any notation software with in £200. But what i would say Forte creates an ideal environment for making the kind of music you've always dreamed of. It's the first music software to strike the perfect balance between infinite creativity and deceptively simple recording tools. Let your imagination soar as you compose original scores or edit existing MIDI files. Either way, Forte does the hard work for you-recording tracks as fast as you create them, and capturing changes as fast as you make them. All the while, you can watch your music-making in real-time notation on a dynamic score.

The main features of Forte are:
Notation, Sequencing, Transpose, Transpose by Instrument, MIDI In & Out, Drag & Drop Edit, Quantize, Copy, Nudge, Piano roll, Real-Time notation display and the ability to Punch Record (In / Out), Loop Record & Playback.

Other new notable features include:
Professional sound quality the support is included for plug-ins, instruments and effects. Import /Export Music XML. Export scores or selected tracks to JPEG, BMP, TGA, TIFF, EPS (PostScript), Wave and MP3.


Um.. is this an adbot?

And I want convincing sounds because:
A) When this crazy ambition to make a musical is fufilled, I want to give it to my theatre group, so that means it will be performed on stage. Considering we're not a massive organisation, I don't see how we could get access to a real orchestra or the money. But I don't want an audience hearing it and recognising it was made on a program because that makes it seem more amateur and would take away from the music.

B) I'm fussy
Musical Theatre! *jazz hands*


...what am I doing on this site...
Last edited by MetaIronForce at Nov 14, 2011,
#8
Okay, well you'll not get that with either Sibelius or Finale and I'm not sure you could get that with any sound library. In either case, you'll have to shell out a lot more cash on a sound library to get close.
#9
meh, finale 2011's Garritan sounds are close enough for me. I can always upgrade the sound library later when I have more money if I need to. The average audience member isn't a massive audiophile.
Musical Theatre! *jazz hands*


...what am I doing on this site...
Last edited by MetaIronForce at Nov 14, 2011,
#10
Sibelius gives you way more option in terms of sample playback. It allows you to load any 3rd party DSPs, samplers, and synths, with a flexible system of "sound sets" that allow Sibelius to properly communicate with external sound libraries such as Vienna Symphony Library, LA Scoring Strings and other Kontakt hosted libraries, East West, etc. Neither the Finale nor Sibelius stock library are even close to being passable on professional standards. I guarantee you within a short time of listening to either playback you will start to pick up on how truly shitty the sound is.

Compared to Finale, Sibelius has a much easier learning curve and is much faster for any traditional notation need. So unless you are a heavy graphic notator like John Cage, Finale really doesn't have any advantage.

But in terms of making software instruments sound convincing, these programs are not meant to substitute a properly edited sequence that you would do in a DAW. If you are really serious about making your music sound good, then I might be able to help because mock-ups are one of my specialties. You can hear demos here: strings only, full orchestra
Last edited by Xiaoxi at Nov 14, 2011,
#11
Quote by Xiaoxi
But in terms of making software instruments sound convincing, these programs are not meant to substitute a properly edited sequence that you would do in a DAW. If you are really serious about making your music sound good, then I might be able to help because mock-ups are one of my specialties. You can hear demos here: strings only, full orchestra

That does sound quite good, I'd be interested to know how you did that if you wouldn't mind sharing. I have some pretty good VST libraries, but I'd assume there's something more at work there than simply exporting the audio from Sibelius.
Last edited by :-D at Nov 14, 2011,
#13
Quote by :-D
That does sound quite good, I'd be interested to know how you did that if you wouldn't mind sharing.

Well, I would say that there are 4 main components that go into making a convincing orchestral mock-up:

1. You gotta have great libraries and know how to use each most effectively, because they're all very different in terms of technical details and sound.
2. You have to be meticulous in MIDI editing and be very aware of every little detail in the performance. The Barber one alone took me 12 hours, and it's barely 3 minutes long.
3. You have to have effective mixing techniques. For orchestral settings that means mostly dealing with shaping a sense of proper space through convolution reverb and imaging.
4. If you're writing original music, you have to be able to write in such a way that will bring out the best of today's technology, which still has some limitations in performance. So it's about masking/avoiding things that will make it obvious that it's a MIDI sequence.

So my typical process for a mock up is:
1. Input the raw notes into Siblelius and transfer the MIDI data to a DAW called Digital Performer, which is my personal favorite for MIDI editing because it has the best tools to do detailed automation edits and other workflow stuff.
2. Set up all the tracks using proper bussing and routing, set up the sample libraries, and get a basic mix setup happening.
3. Start editing each MIDI track one by one, putting in articulation changes and editing velocities, mod, "de-quantizing", etc. You have to pay attention to every single note individually and edit them one by one to make it sound convincing.
4. After that's all done, start mixing and refining. Listening to every little detail over and over again.
5. Do any final revisions and print the audios.

Other people like to actually play the notes into the DAW so that they can get a realistic performance from the beginning but I find that to be way too time consuming and really impractical for some situations.
#14
Quote by jazz_rock_feel
^In what professional context would you need a mock-up to sound that good (it does sound very good by the way)? Is it mostly useful for film scoring?

I think most people, even people who aren't musicians, can tell when it's MIDI. I've tried my hardest in the past with limited skills/knowledge and my nonmusician friends could tell pretty easily.
#15
No, I get that, but I only use a playback for my own compositional process with a piece or for giving performers an idea for how it sounds (particularly useful with vocalists). I was just wondering what context a mock-up that good is for.
#16
Sibelius does not let you export as PDF. At least not the version I have, and I dont know if finale does or doesnt. Other versions may be able to, however
#18
Quote by Xiaoxi

3. Start editing each MIDI track one by one, putting in articulation changes and editing velocities, mod, "de-quantizing", etc. You have to pay attention to every single note individually and edit them one by one to make it sound convincing.

With some experimentation and subtlety (ie, not just throwing down one pass with everything set to 100%), would a "humanize" tool work for doing that?
#19
Quote by jazz_rock_feel
It is extremely easy to get a print to .pdf application for windows, and Mac has one built in. In either case Finale 2012 and Sibelius 7 both have bulit-in export to .pdf now.


I have sibelius 6
#20
Quote by jazz_rock_feel
No, I get that, but I only use a playback for my own compositional process with a piece or for giving performers an idea for how it sounds (particularly useful with vocalists). I was just wondering what context a mock-up that good is for.

Oh ok, then yea you had the right idea. Any visual media where there isn't enough budget for live performers, or anything else that might need "live" music but can't afford "live" players

Quote by chantastic
I have sibelius 6

On OSX, exporting to PDF is a native feature.
#21
Thanks for that, I'll give that process a shot when I've got some of my current orchestral stuff done.

Out of curiosity, which string libraries were there?
#22
Quote by Cavalcade
With some experimentation and subtlety (ie, not just throwing down one pass with everything set to 100%), would a "humanize" tool work for doing that?

Humanize is the START of the process, but you gotta go in and manually adjust the notes. But it's more than just the notes. You have to manually tweak velocities and performance automation like volume, expression/mod (for example, lighter bowing to heavy bowing), attack/release times, and anything else that the library just isn't doing well on.
#23
Quote by :-D
Thanks for that, I'll give that process a shot when I've got some of my current orchestral stuff done.

Out of curiosity, which string libraries were there?

For the Barber, it was solely LA Scoring Strings, which is probably the best all-purpose string library out there right now. It's very detailed and takes into account a lot of performance factors like anti-repetition (not using the same exact sample if you need to repeat a note) and very convincing legato performances. It's also set up in 3-part divisi's for each section so you can really create performance variation even within a section. The Vienna Symphonic Library strings are great too...when you buy the $10,000 version... The one that I have is only their introductory and only has 3 velocity layers. And of course there's East West, but I think it's really only suitable for "epic war movie" type of sound.

For "Nice Place", it's a combination of Vienna Symphonic Library for winds, brass, and percussion, with LASS for strings. I really wanted to use Cinesamples CineBrass because the brasses sound so nice but the library itself needs an update before it's fully usable.

For all of my mockups I use Altiverb for convolution reverb, Waves for most of the DSPs, and iZotope Ozone for the mastering DSP.
Last edited by Xiaoxi at Nov 14, 2011,
#24
Quote by Xiaoxi
For the Barber, it was solely LA Scoring Strings, which is probably the best all-purpose string library out there right now. It's very detailed and takes into account a lot of performance factors like anti-repetition (not using the same exact sample if you need to repeat a note) and very convincing legato performances. It's also set up in 3-part divisi's for each section so you can really create performance variation even within a section. The Vienna Symphonic Library strings are great too...when you buy the $10,000 version... The one that I have is only their introductory and only has 3 velocity layers. And of course there's East West, but I think it's really only suitable for "epic war movie" type of sound.

For "Nice Place", it's a combination of Vienna Symphonic Library for winds, brass, and percussion, with LASS for strings. I really wanted to use Cinesamples CineBrass because the brasses sound so nice but the library itself needs an update before it's fully usable.

For all of my mockups I use Altiverb for convolution reverb, Waves for most of the DSPs, and iZotope Ozone for the mastering DSP.

Thanks, I'll look into all of this stuff - especially the LA strings, I currently have East West Silver. It's not bad (especially considering I've never done much post-writing mixing), but since I want to get further into film and game scoring I'd like to be more well-versed in doing these sorts of mockups. The only issue I've had with these strings is lack of variation, and they tend to sound a bit too regimented when doing longer passages with crescendos. Something like this (the part beginning at 1:15) didn't exactly capture what I was going for and still sounds "MIDIfied", basically, so I'll look into this in depth.

I had also looked at Vienna Strings for about four seconds before seeing the price of the library. One day.
#25
Quote by :-D
The only issue I've had with these strings is lack of variation, and they tend to sound a bit too regimented when doing longer passages with crescendos. Something like this (the part beginning at 1:15) didn't exactly capture what I was going for and still sounds "MIDIfied", basically, so I'll look into this in depth.

The glaring problem with this mock-up throughout the entire sequence is that there is no variation and natural rise/fall of bowings. In a piece like this where there are lots of sustained separated notes, string players are not going to be playing each note with the same velocity/intensity and volume from the beginning to the end of that note. That's essentially what's wrong with every single note in here, so I'm guessing no automation work has been done on it at all. You have to map the sample engine's mod/expression to the automation parameters on your DAW and draw out the lines note by note.

When we attack a sustaining, adagio note like this, we will start very softly and gently increase the bow speed and pressure, which should correspond with an increase in the velocity layer and volume of your sample. But towards the end of that note, as we need to change bow directions to attack the next note, we start slowing and lightening the bow again. The result means your automation line throughout this note should be a kind of arch. It's this the kind of thinking you have to take on when really committing to a mockup. You have to develop a sense for how that player will play and what the tendencies are.

This is the beginning of the vln1 part of the Adagio. The yellow line at the bottom control Modulation, or the intensity (and thus volume) of the vln1 library.


And that's just the beginning. There are other things you can do do really bring some life into this sequence but starting with that will already make a big improvement.
Last edited by Xiaoxi at Nov 15, 2011,
#26
Yeah, that's exactly the sort of thing I was looking for, thanks. That's the audio straight from Sibelius, so there's been so other work done to it. I'll check into the software tomorrow and see what I can do with it.
#27
Quote by :-D
Yeah, that's exactly the sort of thing I was looking for, thanks. That's the audio straight from Sibelius, so there's been so other work done to it. I'll check into the software tomorrow and see what I can do with it.

If you wanna import notes from Sibelius as you're working on an original score, I'd suggest having 2 versions of the project. The 1st one is for score presentation and contains everything you need in a score in the correct layout, and the 2nd one which has nothing except the notes (no slurs, dynamic markings, tempo changes, etc) and is laid out in a way that accommodates your libraries. For example, if the cellos will divisi at some point, then have 2 cello tracks instead of 1.

You can filter out all score info using Edit->Filter.

The 2nd one will be sequence ready because notes are always standard across any platform but other data like patch changes, dynamics, articulations, etc will get completely lost in translation, so it's a waste of time trying to delete them once you've imported MIDI into your DAW.
#28
Do you use Digital Performer for everything you do or do you use other DAWs as well? I've only used DP, never for anything this intensive mind you, just doing some basic electroacoustic projects. Just curious as to what you generally work with.
#29
Quote by jazz_rock_feel
Do you use Digital Performer for everything you do or do you use other DAWs as well? I've only used DP, never for anything this intensive mind you, just doing some basic electroacoustic projects. Just curious as to what you generally work with.

Because I deal mostly with sample instruments and film, I use DP most of the time. It's got a steep learning curve but it makes the most sense once you're clear on the concept of signal routing. It's got more useful tools for MIDI editing and finding sync times as well. It's also got "Chunks" which allows for different sessions in one project, which is very useful in film scoring. For example, if you're scoring on the 4th chapter/reel, each cue can be on its own session and are independent of each other but you can switch between 4M1, 4M2, 4M3, etc very easily and saves a lot of load times. That's compounded by "V-Racks" which are global tracks that stay put regardless of which chunk you're in, so you can have all your samplers and master DSP's there ready to go.

If I have to do extensive audio editing though, Pro Tools is the fastest way to go. It's dead simple and has the most responsive interface for both non-destructive and destructive editing.

Ever since I got used to DP, I can't stand Logic. It just doesn't make any sense anymore (loool). The routing is a complete mystery and there's no transparency on how Logic is routing the tracks, and you can't really control that at all. Its automation system is also very misleading and it's notorious for having "hidden" automation that screw with your tracks and you waste hours trying to find what the hell is wrong. And if you have a fairly complex setup, you have to deal with the Environment window, which is almost as esoteric as MaxMSP, so that's great... But if I have to do anything loop based or straight forward electronic, Logic would still be the most suitable, and it does have the best workflow interface compared to DP and PT. But overall just a giant pain in the ass.
Last edited by Xiaoxi at Nov 15, 2011,
#31
Quote by jazz_rock_feel
Interesting. I've certainly noticed the learning curve associated with DP I find it's such an insanely large program, but certainly workable once you start to figure it out.

Yea there is certainly a lot of things in there that you just don't know about until someone tells you. If you have any questions just shoot me a message or something.
#33
I've decided I'm getting Sibelius 7 (Academic edition as its cheaper, and I'm a student with a form of ID; so I can qualify). With the idea of mock ups, sound libraries don't really matter

Xiaoxi, when the songs are finished, would you be willing to mock them up to make them sound more realistic? Seeing as its you with the technical know-how and the software. In return I'll put your name, a message of thanks, and a link to your music in the credits. Bear in mind that songs won't be done for at least half a year, and the musical probably won't be widely successful.
Musical Theatre! *jazz hands*


...what am I doing on this site...
#35
Yeah, a percentage of the profits as well. I don't think I'll be the one in charge of the money stuff when it gets made so I don't know how much that percentage will be. Plus, there's the matter of getting it to you. And converting it into dollars...

How long on average would it take to mock up a 3 minute song?
Musical Theatre! *jazz hands*


...what am I doing on this site...
Last edited by MetaIronForce at Nov 16, 2011,
#37
Quote by jazz_rock_feel
To be clear, I'm not Xiaoxi, nor do I have any idea how to do mock-ups I was just anticipating a likely response (or what my response would be )


I know you're not Xiaxio

Now this is the moment where Xiaxio decides whether he'll need the promise of money or not to be motivated to get it done. Don't worry, you have a long time to decide, considering I don't even have the notation software yet .
Musical Theatre! *jazz hands*


...what am I doing on this site...
#38
We can negotiate on the money. It all boils down to what your budget is and how complex/long the project will be.
#39
I have Sibelius and it's far superior to Finale. It's more stable, hogs less resources, and the built in sounds, in my opinion, sound better. I rarely use them though since I have East West Quantum Leap Colossus and Specsatronics Omnisphere.

In my experience, Sibelius is just quicker and easier to use and the only real mallus that I have against it is that triplets are a pain to do(they're not on the main interface, you have to go to a drop-down menu). Aside from that, it's great.
#40
Quote by Xiaoxi
We can negotiate on the money. It all boils down to what your budget is and how complex/long the project will be.


I'll write them first before talking about that. I'd also have to talk with my theatre group about the budget.
Musical Theatre! *jazz hands*


...what am I doing on this site...
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