Friday, November 30, 2012

Addictive Keys! OMG!

Oh, my good lord. I just read xln audio's latest newsletter and in there was.... Addictive Keys! Jeez, piano libs are all over the place! There is a free download of the instrument that's limited to 49 keys. Downloaded it and....

I daresay this is a very, very playable instrument. I'd added it to the cart and almost pushed the buy button, but stopped, slowed down and loaded up the pianoteq demo. Again (lol!).

Comparatively, I think Addictive keys sounds really, really nice, and is definitely the most playable sampled piano I've ever put my paws on. What I miss from it compared to Pianoteq is the dynamic range, I feel that I can play more intimately with Pteq or slam down the keys and get a response I'd expect. No so much with Addictive; on its own it actually feels very responsive, but when laid side by side to Pteq? Not as much as I hoped.

There is gamma control that remaps the input midi notes' velocity in Addictive Keys, but it doesn't feature the curve type control features in Pianoteq. Hope something like that will be added in future updates of Addictive keys. Gaaaah, really want it.....

Pianos: Playable, versus Sequencing.

Guess what? I bought yet another piano! This time it is "MyPiano" from FluffyAudio. And.... like Alicia's keys, I'm definitely not a fan of playing it live. There's something about the response that just feels wrong under the fingers, and I dislike the tone when I'm actually playing it - somehow, the high notes sound very close, whilst the low register sounds very distant >.> There is also an odd lag - as if I'd set my buffer size to 256-ish - that only shows up in certain passages. I'm already got my buffer down to 64, and tried it on Kontakt standalone as well as Konkakt inside Logic. Same thing.

Being not too happy, I booted up the Pianoteq stage demo for a comparison, and (*&£$ yeah, I loved how Pianoteq responds to my playing. However, I decided to record the midi this time, and applied it to MyPiano (as well as The Old Lady). And it sounds... pretty good! Especially after reverb has been applied and some mild limiting on the output stage. Old lady sounds good as well on this midi, just different.

Pianoteq on the other hand was more difficult to tame in the mix due to the immense dynamic range - perhaps that is why I don't really enjoy the rest of my virtual pianos - their dynamic range seemingly pales in comparison to pianoteq.

Hence, I think I've come to this conclusion that the many piano VIs I've licensed just don't play that well as a live instrument. Heck, I prefer the piano's onboard sound chip's response versus all the virtual pianos I've got, apart from Pianoteq.

Guess I'll have to get me a pianoteq stage license some time down the line for playing, and the rest of the piano VIs for sequecing, because I do love their tone :3 I played a bit of my jazz grade 2 stuff on MyPiano, again, it sucks under the fingers, but the tone is good, so I think this is a good purchase, with the caveat that I don't like it being played live :3


Edit: Tried some bach midi's off the web with all 3 vis mentioned above, sounds damned good, though arguably, I prefer the tone of both the sampled pianos. Best tool for the job I think; pianoteq for playing as a live instrument; sampled pianos for sequencing and tone/character :)

Edit 2: After tweaking the "Velocity Control" page, MyPiano becomes much more playable, though even with low buffers, it still feels laggy. Ah well.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Invention | Fünf | Sequenced

Bought Soundiron's Lakeside Pipe Organ over the Thanksgiving sales, and decided to sequence it in Logic as I thought I did a pretty swell job with this particular invention.

This was not the case, as my teacher picked out several places that could be improved, like the harmony being not as strong as it can be, as well as many improvements that could be done with the cadences.

Another point brought up was the repetitiveness of the melody. In any case, he feels that I have got a good hang of inventions, and we're moving on to 3 part counterpoint next. Woo!

Invention | Fünf

Another two part invention :) I think it modulates well between the keys, and I've made it as melodic as I can in both staves. Also, there are some fifths in there that I've purposely left in to smooth out the melody lines. I'll see what my teacher says.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A few piano VIs

Being the black friday weekend, I picked up NI's Alicia's Keys for at half off. It sounds pretty good - after increasing the stereo width control - but there was just something about the playability of the VI. On a whim, I decided to download the trial versions of two other pianos I've been meaning to try, Truepianos and Pianoteq.

I must say I'm quite surprised. Pianoteq initially sounded quite boring, until I tweaked some parameters - I'm only on headphones, so changing the output type from "Sound Recording" to Stereophonic or binaural made a *huge* difference. Also, I love the ability to draw a custom velocity mapping curve, again, that helped greatly. Finally, the ability to adjust the difference in volume between the ppp and FFF - wow. What's best, is that after I fell in love with the playability, I checked out the website in more detail, and found out that the latest D4 piano in Pianoteq was actually modelled after a Steinway D! Even more win!

I then switched over to testing Truepianos. I must say, that the sounds of Truepianos has much more bite and character compared to the Pianoteq. Just A-Bing them made it painfully obvious. On the flip side though, I felt like I couldn't get as much dynamic range out of Truepianos versus pianoteq.

Other pianos I compared them to were my good old sampled Old Lady piano, which I now found quite thin compared to pianoteq. Maybe I need to increase the stereo width like Alicia's Keys to get the bite I want on headphones. But it still played very nice.

I think I definitely want to get the "stage" version of Piantoteq soon, I just love how it plays under my fingers. The others are great sounds, and will definitely be useful depending on different genres of music. However, in terms of playability, I think I like Pianoteq the best.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Invention | Vier

Pretty pleased with this piece. I made a lot of effort to get the modulations between the parallel keys as smooth as possible and I think I succeeded. About 6 or so hours in total. I need to do something else now :P

OpenSource/CC/Low Cost/Free Music Software and Samples

Just a post to keep track of stuff like that.

Rose Garden (linux)

G-Town Church Sampling Project

Impulse Responses for convolution reverbs:
Samplicity Bricasti M7 impulses
Samplicity Bricati M7 Impulses for Logic Pro's Space Designer

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Invention Drei

Working on this for several days now, and I'm pretty pleased with the modulation from Dm to A, though I think the modulation from A to Dm could be better. More practice!

"Contemplation" - Jazz Piano

I'm still working on several ABRSM Jazz Piano Grade 2 pieces, and this beautiful piece, "Contemplation", by McCoy Tyner, really spoke to my heart. What's more, the improvization section is very straightforward (improvise over Am7 and F) - very easy for us newbies, and I can just keep on experimenting. Hence, I thought what better piece to try out my new piano samples on :3

Sadly, my new piano samples don't react the way I expect from my midi data, so until I find out how to correct that, I switched over to my favourite, the SampleTekk PMI Old Lady. Steinways FTW!!!

While the piano sounds as awesome as usual, I came into some very nasty distortion issues when attempting to apply some compression. After much time spent, I finally figured out that there were certain frequencies that I had to cut out, if not there will be distortion after going through any dynamics processor.

It was actually a visual guess - I saw some frequencies poking way above 0db on the EQ's analyzer, and decided to deeply cut those frequencies away and hey, that worked! With that fixed, I applied some mild compression and got my limiter close to about 0.2dBfs.

Using the VSL Hybrid reverb nowadays, and picked the "Brown Hall" for my ER. I'd really wanted to pick an IR from one of the famous halls (so I can brag, hey, this is what it sounds like in the Mozart Saal Konzerthaus :P) but the brown hall just sounded the best to my ears.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Feels like I can improvise better....

Been putting more effort into doing improvisation recently - and I think doing the counterpoint exercises helped alot as I now tend to remember my scales way better than before. Re-visited some pieces that I could not really improvise on and found that I could do much better than before.

Another thing my teacher says, the idea behind counterpoint is really ear training, so that seemed to help as well. Counterpoint ftw!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Invention | Zwei

I think the modulation between keys is not as smooth as it can be, something I need to work on. Else, there are sections in there I'm quite happy with.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Saxophone Log: October 2012

Very rushed, only practiced an hour-ish yesterday, and another hour or so today for practice + recording. This is more or less the sheet music being used with a few bars of improv. Ergh.

Upright Bass: Kontakt Factory Library
Piano: SampleTekk Rain Piano
Addictive Drums