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  • Percussion Mapping solution for Finale

    Ok - this is a solution to a problem I've been having with percussion mapping in VSL and which was being discussed back in 2006. I've copied the info here as I think this may be of interest to Finale users writing for percussion.

    Let me just reiterate what the problem is and why it is in fact impossible to use VSL to write a percussion section in a manner common in today's practice.

    In most post 1930's music percussionists are called upon to do a lot more then play one instrument at a time. It is only in the classical orchestral repertoire that this approach is taken. In most modern instances (be it jazz drums or the performance of the ensemble music that is most common in post 1950's music) a percussionist is almost always called upon to perform on more then one instrument at a time. Indeed if one opens up any of the important books on percussion scoring (Reginald Smith Brindle's seminal "Contemporary Percussion", Kurt Stones "Music Notation in the 20th Century" or even Samuel Adler's "The Study of Orchestration") you will find that this is the approach now considered normal.

    So this makes it difficult if not almost impossible to score using VSL. Whilst the mapping is not really the biggest problem (it can to a degree be circumvented using say Finale's Percussion mapping capabilities in which notes which appear on a particular line in a score are in fact mapped to a different MIDI Note Number), what makes life much more difficult is that we can't map multiple instruments to the same VI instance. Key-switches do not work as a solution as it is common to perform on two or three instruments simultaneously. I know that the knee jerk response to THAT statement is that VSL is designed for the scoring of (pre 1900's type) orchestral music but this is VSL painting itself into a stylistic corner and I'd very much like to promote a way out!!!

    I've given this problem some thought now and have come up with an effective solution for those using Finale. However it does require the use of an intermediary programme called MaxMSP (a graphical programming language used by many electronic composers and installation artists).
    As I am hosting my VI's as Audio Units in Finale there is the small problem of sending the note MIDI information via the IAC bus to the MaxMSP programme. (Finale can't use BOTH Audio units and MIDI for some reason!) I have used a sly little programme designed to allow Garage Band users to send MIDI data using a software instrument plug-in called MIDI-O. Its dirty but it works.
    So what happens is that Finale sends its percussion stave data via the MIDI-O/IAC bus to MaxMSP. This then receives the data and remaps it both in terms of pitch (I can now have my drums on the correct staves without resorting to the complexities of Finale's percussion remapping) and I can also remap different staves to different instances of VI. So now the lowest ledger line can be a Bass-drum, the next two ledger-lines can be the tenor drums, and so on. MaxMSP in turn hosts its own instances of VI which you need to set up separately. It works really well.

    If any would like to use this then I'm happy to pass the programme on as a runtime version (i.e. you won't need to buy the programme, you can just run the finished encapsulated programme).

    However I would love to see something like this being implemented directly in VSL... perhaps as part of the new VEPro?

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