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Old Aug 23, 2005, 06:46 PM   #1
Whyren
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Advancing Composition...

Sorry if anyone's heard this too much, but I'll try and lay out my question here.

Basically, I'm involved in composing music and have mainly been outputting it to MIDI files so far (as I've got little else). What I'd like to start doing is creating compositions and fleshing out the instrumentation better (with a greater variety of more realistic instruments). I've heard from some friends about Sound Fonts for sampling, but I'm not sure how "up-to-date" those are.

In any case, my setup thus far is fairly basic/outdated. I've got a keyboard that can interface with the computer for MIDI entry, Allegro (like I said, old), GarageBand, and Soundtrack.

What I'm looking to do more specifically, is creating music via notation (through a program like Allegro for example) or via keyboard entry. I'd then like to set voices to samples: ideally, a variety of realistic sounding instruments and choirs, and probably some more non-traditional instrument (such as rock/electronic/remixing instruments). It might be nice to have loops too.

In summing up, I'd like to know where I could get these sampled instruments and what programs would be best for achieving my goals. Thanks in advance!
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Old Aug 23, 2005, 09:28 PM   #2
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Well, many composers struggle with getting a "decent" example of how a piece may sound. Thats the rub though; a composition (in the traditional sense) will be performed by humans, and alas will always sound different.

However there are two choices that i know of, that have recently came to fruition: Finale 2006 and Notion.

Finale would be the cheaper of the two, but Notion's samples are totally sick. Very realistic. Supposedly, (composer gossip alert!!!!) Finale ripped off some of the Notion samples/programming for the 2006 version.

Personally i do not worry about what my music sounds like anymore, as i can hear it in my head, or when (if, lol) it gets performed. I write with pencil and paper, and finally notate after all of the writing is done. I am much more creative this way as i do not have to fight a notation program to obtain a certain expression marking. (Try notating flutter tongue speed changes with Finale!) I think Finale is around $200 or less with edu discount, and Notion is around $400-450 with edu discount.

Also take a look at Reason, as you can import a standard MIDI file into it, and use a sampler to obtain better sound quality. Reason also has some nice units as far as distortion, mixing, reverb, etc. Oh, and since the 2004 version, Finale can export to .aiff as well as MIDI.

Hope this helps!
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Old Aug 23, 2005, 10:51 PM   #3
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Very helpful indeed. I'd heard of Reason but never taken a very good look at it. So composing music fully notated and having the option of outputting complete sequenced files, it'd probably be best to get a combination of Reason and Notion/Finale. Notation looks quite interesting, especially since I've been less than impressed by newer versions of Finale. Thanks!
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Old Aug 23, 2005, 10:56 PM   #4
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I still use Finale. I am too lazy to learn Sibelius, but Sibelius is another notation option, just not that much on the "reproduction" side. Check out Finale 2006 if you havent. The interface/functionality seems to be the same but the audio playback is much, much better. (But then again, it could not have gotten much worse!)

BTW, Notion is only for Winblows machines. I do not know why they did it this way, but to me it is stupid. I know one of the founders of the company, and i told him, to his face that this was a dumb move. Oh well!

Glad to be somewhat helpful at least! hehe
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Old Aug 28, 2005, 12:52 PM   #5
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Well, I use Sibelius - but then Ive never even attempted to use anything else! The sound quality is poor unless you upgrade to their Kontakt player which is expensive.

In general though, I do like the way sibelius performs. Its is more intuitive to writing music I feel than even using a pencil and a rubber. There are complex harmonies that are simply best when you can hear them and think, "Ahh yes, and now what If I...".

So thats my two cents.

Incidentally though, if I'm really "previewing" a piece to show off before a live performance, or I'm scoring for media (Television or film being the primary cause) I will always export the file to Logic, and then start tinkering around with a host of Soft-Synths and Samplers that is incorporated in Logic Pro. The East West Symphonic Orchestra sounds absolutly Fantastic (http://www.soundsonline.com) [They have demos of what can be done].
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Old Aug 30, 2005, 12:04 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxiseller
In general though, I do like the way sibelius performs. Its is more intuitive to writing music I feel than even using a pencil and a rubber. There are complex harmonies that are simply best when you can hear them and think, "Ahh yes, and now what If I..."
Wow, we could not have more different approaches to composing! Not that either one of us is right or wrong, but i write everything by hand (away from a piano for the most part), and then eventually notate it in Finale when i am done writing the piece. I just found that i am about 1000% more creative when i do not have to use a notation program, not to mention doing graphical scores in pretty much any program other than Score is quite tedious. Though i do say that i like Sibelius, and i will buy it when my Finale copy gets outdated, but for now it is either Finale 2004 or Score on the schools windoze machine.
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Old Aug 30, 2005, 07:54 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by faintember
Wow, we could not have more different approaches to composing! Not that either one of us is right or wrong, but i write everything by hand (away from a piano for the most part), and then eventually notate it in Finale when i am done writing the piece. I just found that i am about 1000% more creative when i do not have to use a notation program, not to mention doing graphical scores in pretty much any program other than Score is quite tedious. Though i do say that i like Sibelius, and i will buy it when my Finale copy gets outdated, but for now it is either Finale 2004 or Score on the schools windoze machine.
Well, I guess if everyone did it the same we'd all be following a rule book! I usually will sit in front of a piano - but then being a pianist, I can generally find the exact harmony I want by just playing around with my fingers until they're as I want them - then ill directly score that in Sibelius, either with direct playing via MIDI data, or manual input.
I am interested in the Integrated Garritan Sounds in Finale 2006! What would you say the principal differences in using it are then?
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Old Aug 30, 2005, 11:52 AM   #8
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Maxiseller, it is always good to observe how someone else works. Sometimes you can learn some valuable things that way. I know that i have.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxiseller
What would you say the principal differences in using it are then?
You mean b/t using Finale 2006 and Sibelius? Not tooo sure about 2006 as i have only seen the demo and none of my composer friends have bothered with the upgrade. Now, since OSX, Finale and Sibelius are pretty close, but in my opinion, Sibelius tends to be a little easier on the input. The sounds in Finale 2006 do blow away anything i have heard in Sibelius though. Not that big of a deal to me, but it is nice that playback in these programs are at least making a few steps forward.
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Old Aug 30, 2005, 03:29 PM   #9
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You mean b/t using Finale 2006 and Sibelius? Not tooo sure about 2006 as i have only seen the demo and none of my composer friends have bothered with the upgrade. Now, since OSX, Finale and Sibelius are pretty close, but in my opinion, Sibelius tends to be a little easier on the input. The sounds in Finale 2006 do blow away anything i have heard in Sibelius though. Not that big of a deal to me, but it is nice that playback in these programs are at least making a few steps forward.

Well, it certainly is very useful to find out how other composers work; always going to be a big help.

The sounds in Finale sound absolutly fantastic - and the situation that I'm in is this: new upgrade to Sibelius 4 from my version (3) will cost me 99, then the added cost of being able to play back the sounds in a high quality player is a further 180 (Kontakt player gold) - but after looking at the prices for finale, it only comes out to around 300 anyway, with an upgrade cost of a lot lower!

I was just wondering in terms of usability, features, input etc how it works? I find sibelius brilliant in that if i want to do somthing unusual in a written score (any unusual expression marking, right down to the "do not photocopy" picture) I think to myself "whats the most logical thing to do" and it's right there; under that menu. Does Finale compare to this?
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Old Aug 30, 2005, 05:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maxiseller
I was just wondering in terms of usability, features, input etc how it works? I find sibelius brilliant in that if i want to do somthing unusual in a written score (any unusual expression marking, right down to the "do not photocopy" picture) I think to myself "whats the most logical thing to do" and it's right there; under that menu. Does Finale compare to this?
Hard to really say, as i have not used 2006 extensively (just a demo). I think it may be hard for you to move from Sibelius to Finale. You can do pretty much anything in Finale, but you have to play Finale's game to get it to work. Sibelius is a lot more intuitive, but Finale works just as well as long as you learn some little tricks and get used to the new program. Basically Finale is not as easy to use as Sibelius IMHO.
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Old Sep 29, 2005, 12:21 PM   #11
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The 2006 version of Finale looks pretty awesome. According to their website they have incorporated some samples from the Garritan Personal Orchestra to get their instruments to sound more realistic.
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