notes from the shore

Adventures in Home Recording

Making Music

I’ve run into some interesting issues in rendering Praise to the Lord the Almighty. First, there are two ways of turning MIDI data into music. The first and more obvious way is to simply play the music with the software synthesizer and make a digital recording of it. The second, and more desirable way of doing it is to do the rendering internally, without audibly playing the music. This way the computer can do it’s work at it’s own pace (usually faster than playing directly) and also allows processing of effects that are too cpu-intensive to process in real time smoothly. Continue reading

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October 1, 2007 Posted by | Piano Concerto | , , | 1 Comment

The Nitty Gritty

As promised, here are some of the technical details and what I’ve learned from using Finale to sequence this “mini-concerto.”

First, installing Finale from two CD-ROMs takes a little finesse. Namely, don’t tell the computer that you have placed the second CD into the drive until it autoruns and brings up a Windows Explorer window. Otherwise, the program will sit and do nothing until you cancel it. This one took several tries before I got it right.

Second, the Music Scan feature is pretty slick. I scanned 8 pages to .tiff files and all but one was brought in, and all but one of those were almost completely correct – I made a minimum of edits. The program even placed things on different layers where appropriate.

Third, you don’t see grouped staves in the Studio view. Where this is important is the grand staff for a piano part. In the studio view it is two totally separate staves with two separate volume, pan, etc. controls. In the scroll and page view, however, they are grouped with crossing bar lines etc.

Fourth, and finally for today, Human Playback (HP) is really cool, but a little buggy. Some of my woes might be due to starting from a scanned page. If I was starting over again, before I added any articulations or changed any clefs or anything, I would have set the left hand to a different channel, exported to a Standard Midi File, expunged all the controller data (there was a TON), and reimported the SMF into a brand new, clean, Finale file.

There are two ways to apply HP. One is to use the “Apply Human Playback” plug-in. This writes the MIDI data to the track, and you can edit it in a sequencer if you like. When I did this, all I got was a controller 7 (volume) = 0. That’s right, a big fat goose-egg. When you set your volume to zero, guess what? No sound! Never figured this one out.

The other method, and so far this is working for me, is to apply HP in the playback settings. This causes Finale to interpret the articulations, et. al. “on the fly”, and play them that way without writing any MIDI data to the file. Like I said, this is working so far, but I ran into a bug tonight. The string tracks executed a perfect fade-out that went to zero right before the final note of the passage. The down side is that I didn’t put a decrescendo anywhere near the passage. Actually, the passage is at a constant mp, and the next bar is marked f!

Unfortunately, I crashed the program before I remembered to save it, so tomorrow’s another day. My next entry will be more along the lines of craziness I’m using to orchestrate this piece. Nothing really traditional about it – I’m just trying to get what’s in my head onto the screen. Maybe a few readers (do I have any?) will chime in on the comments with what I’m doing wrong.

See you next time.

July 2, 2007 Posted by | Piano Concerto | , | 2 Comments