Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Path of the Reindeer

Totally forgot about updating the music blog :P This above piece was the assignment I chose to orchestrate from a piano score to a full chamber orchestra. Must say working on this took a long while, and highlighted how little I know about orchestration.

In the end, I hunkered down, wrote the string parts first, added in the other parts in. I think the starting few measures are quite good, but halfway through, it loses its focus and appears lost (now that I think about it, it may be good to see where I went wrong, if I ever need that!) then picks up at the end.

IIRC, this is near 100% vsl - apart from logic and a limiter plugin from toneboosters.

The next assignment is on harp and percussion, which again is unknown territory for me. On the flip side, this assignment had me pick up the Harry Potter And The Scorcerer's Stone Suite for Orchestra. Have had it for almost a year now, and haven't done more than flip through it.

Starting slowly going through the score to examine how John Williams orchestrated it. My OSTs don't seem to match the score, but I did a quick search on youtube and this orchestra appeared to have played it exactly note for note.
Something to do over xmas break? :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Upgraded to Printmusic 2014

Have been using Printmusic 2011 since I started my musical journey, and it's served me very well. I honestly didn't see or have the need for the full version of Finale. The only feature I thought would be very useful would be the indication for out of range notes. Been just checking with my tiny orchestration guide, but the recent Printmusic 2014 release included the out of range note indication, so woot! Upgraded it for a hair under 40 bucks.

Off hand, there are some odd issues with Printmusic 2014. For example, I can't seem to open my EOS reverb plugin interface inside Finale. But the other reverb plugins I got open fine, so I'm wondering if it's something on Audio Damage's end. Upgrading to the latest au had no difference. Annoying. Guess I'll go back to the au matrix reverb.

The first playback of music also stalls on my machine - it does the calculation for human playback, then nada - but stop and re-play and it runs fine, so a little quirk there.

The out of range notes are _somewhat_ helpful, though if I go below the absolute playable range of an instrument, there does not seem to be any difference between the "out of range" for player capability vs out of range for instrument, period.

For example, if I go too high on the flute, the out of range notes show up as orange. Great! Now if I went down to A below C, it still shows up as orange... I would think in a case like this, the notes would display as Red, to indicate I'm scoring something impossible to play on a regular flute.

GPO4 also worked fine with Printmusic 2014, though I needed to upgrade the player (else printmusic will hard crash!) and install some packages as directed on the finale website.

Will be writing my next piece in PM2014, so hopefully the learning curve won't be too difficult!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Rule Britannia for Wind Ensemble

So, after finishing up the quartet version of this piece, I was about to submit the assignment when I realized... I did it wrongly >.>

It was supposed to be for 8 woodwind players, and obviously scoring for half of that wasn't going to earn me brownie points. Sigh.

In anycase, I decided that the original instruments would still be the main players, and the extra instruments for added punch. The piccolo I used to add ornaments - I really love the trill patch - and the english horn for some back and forth with the oboe.

I kept the bass clarinet and contra bassoon mostly out of the piece till the end, using them to add more weight to the lower end, as well as filling in the harmonic gaps.

I also took this chance to add in one of the melodies heard in the Ultima 6 version of Rule Britannia, so that was fun :) 

Also used the vsl miracle plugin, which I thought added alot of mid range thickness, and made the piccolo really sing. Unfortunately, it seems like my notebook is at its limits; 8 vsl instruments, mir pro (conductor and rear mics)  + miracle have the cpu over 80%+, and that's with the buffers at 1024 samples.

Oh well, chugging on to brass next :)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Rule Britannia for Wind Quartet

Spent a few minutes each day the last week to finish this piece, and spent a good half day today sequencing it in Logic. I think overall it's ok, though I am very pleased with the short moment when the flute trill came through, I thought that added alot to it.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Setting up for speakers... again.

The last year in Montreal was my first time I had speakers for composing/mixing/general purpose listening and they were wonderful. This year, I'm located a fair distance away in Adelaide, South Australia. Having sold most of my music gear, I'm looking to build up a small setup.

First up, the audio interface. The last two I have owned, the Onxy Blackjack (really good!) and Focusrite 2i4 (generally very good, but I've had rare occasions where the audio interface would play back distorted audio - needed a reboot to fix). This time, I've decided that I will not sell the next audio interface I buy and just bring it along with me. Much review reading later, I've decided that it'll be the Komplete Audio 6. Ideally, the interface I want would have one input suitable for either mics or guitars, ouptut for speakers, and a good driver for headphones. The KA6 appears to tick all these above with seemingly quality components but without a crazy price. Was going to get one today, but the place here don't seem to have it in stock >.> Online purchase it is!

Speaker wise, I am very torn between buying a good pair to tote around wherever I travel for work, versus buying a low end pair and selling before I leave, or, actually getting some regular desktop speakers that do not weigh 7kgs each (international shipping is costly!!!).  The fact is, I'm not a pro, and I won't use the speakers for composing/mixing for more than a few hours - if at all - a week.

Also, the places I stay at are generally tiny. The place I got this time round, is probably the smallest room I've rented ever. It's actually student accommodation, and the room is maybe 8feet, if not 10 feet square? Reaaally small! As such, I started looking for smaller speakers, with woofers 5 inches or smaller.

Of course, I'd love a pair of Adam A5X monitors, but face it, it's overkill for noobs like me. And they cost a bomb, and are super heavy to boot. The Adam F5s are another option, I've tried them and they sound great. Still a pretty penny though.

Another speaker that piqued my interest really bad are the Eve Audio SC204s. I remember testing the 205s in Montreal, expensive, but I thought they were ok. The thing going for the SC204s are the size - at 3.8KG each they would be perfect to tote around if I move. The main concern is the cost - they run exceedingly expensive in Australia, but oddly if I bought through Thomann, the price is much more reasonable. But still, again, those are probably overkill for my needs.

I'd like to diverge a bit about prices in Australia. The Adams are insanely expensive here for some reason. The price I see online range from almost 550AUD for *one* A3x speaker, to almost 900 AUD for a pair. Thomann, on the other hand, costs just under 500AUD for a pair, including shipping! And if I understand correctly, purchases under 1k AUD are not subject to tax, so if I really wanted Adams I'd definitely get them from Thomann.

Much review reading on gearslutz then eluded me to the Presonus Eris series of speakers, particularly the E5. This speaker checks all the boxes - AUD349 for a pair from storedj- in this instance, thomann has those speakers at almost 400 with shipping. In addition, the speakers have specs that call out to me.
- Front bass port
- 5.25in woofer - bass goes down to 53hz
- Relatively lightweight, under 5kg each!
- Balanced connections
- Many eq settings to match the room.

Once I settle in, it's very likely I'll get this speaker. I'll update when things happen!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Classical Guitar Del Camp

So, after a long bout of deciding on an instrument that would be more friendly to the travelling nature of my job, I decided to pick... a travel guitar. The other option would be a flugelhorn (omg so sexy) or cornet, but they do cost a fair bit and I do know I suck at instruments requiring breath. The guitar has several appeals: the travel guitar I got is supremely light, only 2.5kg and does not take up too much space. I've also never player the guitar, and am curious to see how far I can take it. Finally, the music I've heard, especially the early renaissance pieces (see previous post) just make my heart go :3

I found a free online resource/forum, classical guitar del camp.
Free classical guitar lessons on the internet
Lessons given by Jean-Fran├žois Delcamp
The lessons will begin in September 2013 and finish in June 2014.
These classical guitar lessons correspond to the first five years at music school.
The lessons are free. They are aimed at the isolated amateur who does not have the opportunity of having a teacher.
The conditions for registration are available on the forum:
As you might surmise, one of the conditions of attending this online resource is to publicise it. As above :3

Hopefully, I don't get murdered by work this year, and have a better work/life balance so that I can spend more time looking into music. Haven't posted anything in months as my sample drive has been on a 2 month+ journey on a ship from Montreal to Singapore.

As luck would have it, the boxes arrived the day before I left for Australia, and I managed to send the sample drive over to the office - it should arrive by next week. But... honestly, I have just been down in a funk. Half a year of 50-70hr 6-7 day work weeks just killed me, and I am not entirely over it.

Let's hope music will sooth the beast, or so the saying goes :)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Been studying woodwinds lately, having played the sax and flute helps a little, but now properly learning to orchestrate for a woodwind in pairs or for quartets, it's a very different beast altogether.

For one, I never really knew the ranges of the other winds - the clarinet is one very impressive instrument! Bassoons too. Mixing all the different timbres together has been quite interesting.

Basically following one of the exercises from the Kent Kennan book: The Technique of Orchestration. Putting up 8 bars of one of Bach's masterpiece chorales, and layering the with those notes.

Really fast feedback in Finale, and with the new GPO4 setup, I think sounds great! I am, thinking of loading up VE Pro and letting the vsl instruments come through though. We'll see.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Finale Printmusic + GPO4

I have had GPO4 since forever, but only last night found a FAQ how to use Finale Printmusic together with GPO4. After installing the files as indicated, I setup another string orchestra score, switching the playback device from the softsyth to the GPO4 libraries in the setup screen.

It actually didn't do anything, but after I removed the original instruments in the setup page and replaced them with the proper GPO4 instruments from the list e.g. KS Violins 1 (keyswitched violins 1) they worked right off the bat.

I only tried simple stuff like staccatos and legato lines, and they seemed to work. Good stuff, as I was really jealous of my teacher's fantastic sounding samples in Sibelius XD Not that GPO brings it up to that level, but at least now I have at least _some_ kind of sampled orchestra with individual patches not a generic "string ensemble" patch to be used for all the string sections.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Wednesday, January 1, 2014