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  • "Inertia" comparing VSL/DAW combo to Finale

    "Inertia" was the first piece where I tried exporting the midi data from Finale (involved some fiddling with randomizing velocities before export) into cubase to learn to better manipulate midi data, work with Vienna Symphonic Library, experiment with articulation key switches, and expression. I had also just discovered the concept of velocity x-fade.  I purposely wrote this for an unrealistic ensemble (doubt I'll ever get this combination for a live performance) just to test how good we can get this combination of instruments to sound with Vienna: violin section (using Chamber Violins 1), horn, trumpet, trombone, piccolo, flute, oboe, bassoon, contrabassoon.  The Piano is the New York Grand from Kontakt.  My wife did the mixing and mastering - challenging with the interweaving of lines and trying to get the phrasing to move from one part in to the other seamlessly. 

    Here is the final version with Vienna instruments:

    I have also uploaded the original version I hear while composing in Finale which just uses their default instruments:

    I will leave this version up only for a week on Soundcloud because I would have loved to have a direct comparison like this when I was shopping around for instrument libraries and to learn how much more you can enhance the music by taking it into a DAW.  I am loving how much I can bring the music to life with VSL!

    Thanks, Dave

  • Hi Dave,

    I'm glad you inserted the original Finale file. I used to work with Finale too (now I use Notion) and I found it very difficult to produce a realistic performance within Finale. That was entirely my lack of skills, because I've heard pieces in Finale on this and other forums which were quite nice.

    You experimented with your VSL sections and instruments and that is good practice. The master is made by practice! Of course one could make a lot of remarks on the choice of articulations, the orchestral depths, the balance between winds, strings and piano (Kontakt tends to be more powerful, just like Aria), but that's a matter of perception and preferences and doesn't say anything about the qualities of your piece. You did the right thing and selfcriticism and perseverance will eventually open new insights and possibilities. We all had to go this path through trial and error.

    The composition is lovely and picturesq with lots of good inventions and atmosphere. It's exactly the kind of score to learn how to handle the VSL material. Don't be afraid to exaggerate in dynamic phrases and contrasts, they create tension and release, emotion, colour, together with the orchestration. A good DAW can add the necessary spices to make it really interesting with all its extra possibilities, but the notes must speak for themselves in the first place.

    Well done and keep on practising!


  • Hi Max,

    Many thanks for your insight and sharing some of the wisdom you've gleaned over the years.  Becky, my wife, (a professional clarinetist by trade) has done more than I to learn to navigate the world of mixing and mastering and Inertia represents her sonic vision for the piece which we're both delighted with, especially since we've been engaged in the wonderful world of Vienna for only 2 months now.  Basically, I imported the midi into Cubase, added all the initial keyswitches, and then she went to mix it and made some keyswitch changes (we're discovering that sometimes a different articulation than is "written in the score" is actually a better fit musically when you play the mix back.

    We've got many more pieces in the pipeline and with each one, we try to improve.  It takes soooooo much time though.  For instance, I wrote a 5 movement orchestral suite, approx. 25 minutes of music in two weeks.  Getting a mock up may take two months or more.  It's insane!  The backlog of music for which I've only got Finale renderings and which we're beginning to tackle with VSL, is huge.  I want to get it all done the moment it's written, but even a 5 minute piece like Inertia took 2 weeks to get together.  When I first started out, I believed the composition would actually take significantly more time than the midi realization.  This is where human performances still have a great advantage, in terms of time it takes to execute a great performance.  I'll be gone long before my catalog of works is "midistrated." lol

    Anyway, your comments were most appreciated and I'm glad this community of helpful musicians exists...composing is a lonely world!


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    Hi Dave,

    You're so right. A composition can be finished in a relatively short delay (when inspiration comes quickly enough), but the DAW settings for an 'acceptable' performance can take ages (if you are a good critic for your own work). The comparison with live musicians is not quite correct: there are many of them in an orchestra and they all do a little bit of the musical puzzle. In a DAW performance you're on your own for the whole composition... In Finale (or another notation program) the possibilities are limited and not always compatible with the present day instrumental libraries and their performance. (Such a pity that Finale has stopped developping for such a long time (Finale 2009 up to 2012... and what will be coming up if any?))

    And we must be humble and realistic: most of our music will never be performed by a live orchestra. Thanks to the wonderful VSL material, we can present our compositions to the outside world in a decent performance so that they offer a fair impression of how they would sound in the real world. Isn't that a fantasic benefit and worth the effort? And (I hope so for myself) we will be able to work faster and more efficiently if we practise enough... 😉


  • PaulP Paul moved this topic from Orchestration & Composition on