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  • Saga, Symphonic Poem

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    Here is a piece I recently remixed in MIR Viennakonzerthaus. This is part of my desperate attempt to produce notated scores of some compositions that I had in MIDI, but not in digital scores. I did have an old paper score but can't use that for the actual sheet music, so I am converting the MIDI file to notation which is a nightmare. It is mind-numbing and makes me think about how Telemann had 3000 compositions and I am working endlessly on this one and so I am using various self-help procedures to continue working without total existential collapse. But as part of the process I did a new mix with MIR which I hadn't used previously. It is conductor's position with Miracle close hall enhance.


  • Bill, you sure have a way with an epic adagio! But then, what else would I expect from an admitted Bruckner freak. I've listened to this big, somber piece several times on Spotify...usually because I left it playing after listening to your symphony...and I always enjoy it; a fine entry in your impressive catalog.

    Your description of the struggles you undergo to get your MIDI pieces into a notated score leads me to believe that I misunderstand your process. I thought that you started with a score that you created in digital notation...either in a dedicated notation program like Finale or in the rudimentary notation tool in your DAW...then converting that to a MIDI file. After that, I figured you pains-takingly massaged the parts to get them musical and not just a mechanical reproduction of the notated rhythms, on and on through selecting the articulations and velocities, stretching and humanizing, etc, etc until the parts sound the way a human performer would play it. If you tried to have the MIDI file trancribe a notated score after this process, its own mother wouldn't recognize it, but you would have started with a straight-forward notation version of the score that could be sculpted into the parts you wanted. Am I completely off base? Did you start with a hand-written score then played the parts into the sequencer from the keyboard? Enquiring minds want to know. Please forgive my ignorance of this very basic concept.

  • Thanks Tom, it is not any ignorance but a result of a workflow - this piece was written long ago, and I had a handwritten score.  Then I did a MIDI performance off of that.  However now I am trying to do a publishable score in Finale, and so am importing that MIDI score.  It is a tiny bit less crazy-making than just re-writing the piece into Finale. 

    Amusingly, it is NOT less crazy-making to do another piece I am working on, which was in 12/8 in major section but in the MIDI I did it in 4/4 and used triplets!!!   This was insane, and results in utter chaos if one tries to convert that into proper notation. Finale completely breaks down into gibberish.   Also complete mental breakdown of the composer will result.  So on that piece I am just re-writing it into Finale off the old score written on paper.  Even though I have a MIDI file of it.  A boring explanation I know, of an insanely overcomplicated process.  

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    OK, with a handwritten score, that makes sense (did you write it with a quill and inkwell? 😉). I have one tune that I wrote in Finale for which I only have the printed paper copy, no Finale file (don't ask how that came to pass 😳). If I ever feel like resurrecting the chart, I can at least let OCR have a crack at it. Handwritten would be another kettle of fish altogether. My condolences.

  • The mix on this I'm not so sure of - something is bothering me about it.  

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    @William said:

    The mix on this I'm not so sure of - something is bothering me about it.  

    I took a listen on crappy phone speakers and the mix sounded nice and clear to me, which is a great sign for a mix!  I don't know if that's one of your intended listening formats, but if it sounds mixed well on crap mono speakers then something's going right.

    I like the music quite a bit; this piece is my kind of epic.  The brass in particular is very exciting and I appreciate the imitative contrapuntal lines; they add harmonic depth to the composition while keeping it from becoming over-complicated.  I think you struck a nice balance here.  The dynamics (as much as they could come through on phone speakers) had a good contrast and kept the "stream of consciousness" structure of the music from becoming too static and boring.

    A slight few of the high string phrases caught my ear as sounding a bit phase-y.  There's most likely some kind of release sample overlap going on (an easy fix).  I don't know what it is about string sample libraries but this kind of sample-overlap sound always seems to crop up with them compared to other orchestral samples.  I can't remember where exactly in the music this happened but it was so sparse that it didn't detract from the music, IMO, but it *was* noticable.  To me, at least: I highly doubt a listener who doesn't have orchestral sample sounds burned into their ears would be able to tell, FWIW.

    - Sam

  • Thanks Sam for your comments, and I may have noticed something similar with the strings.  I did this mix very fast and so am going to check it out.  

    I guess I should mention this piece was based on a band piece I wrote in 1978 (dating myself I know) that was "Symphony for Band" and this was the last movement.  It was expanded a lot from the band version and I turned it into a tone poem in 1994.  That was yet another version with a much larger orchestration, and was played in rehearsal at the University of Nevada Reno and sounded pretty bad.  I still have that score though - it was somewhat inspired by my reading "Grettir the Strong" a Norse saga, about a violent outlaw who goes back and forth between Norway and Iceland getting in fights then finally gets killed by a mob of angry villagers.  He can ony be killed by a large number of heavily armed opponents.   In the previous version it ended as loudly as I could write, with FFFs for massed brass and percussion, but in this later version it ends softly, lamenting his death  (though all the people related to those he killed were probably glad).

  • Hi Bill,

    You have lush, beautiful, introspective, and serene down to a science (or is it an art?)  Of course, the dramatic, bold moments shine equally well.  A very sensitive, evocative performance, and I hope whatever isn't sitting right with you in the mix gets resolved to your satisfaction.  It sounds just about perfect from here, but I don't have "the gift" some of you have in dissecting sounds down to their individual wave forms :)

    Great job!


  • Thanks Dave.  I don't have that gift either but am going to check over that mix. 

    I am now continuing my insane project of transferring MIDI to score/notation (even on pieces that were originally scored on paper because the paper scores are unuseable now) so will post some more.   The piece I am working on now is largely in 12/8  but even though the old paper score was properly written, the MIDI somehow was written in 4/4 with triplets, which results in total insanity if quantizing via Finale using every tweak they have to offer.  So I am re-writing the entire score which ends up being easier than editing.

  • I feel your pain, Bill!  We're doing the exact same thing, now that we're moving over to Dorico.  For instance, I've got a Finale file for an orchestral piece that didn't have percussion in it (because at the time I preferred to export to Cubase, add percussion there based on my available VI's, before re-doing the Finale score to reflect the actual percussion I used.)  Anyway, the long and short of it is, that between OCR muddying up Finale files to Dorico, percussion tracks not properly exported from Cubase, and other annoying things, we've essentially had to re-do things from scratch in Dorico.  Eventually, we'll have a workflow that is efficient...

    Looking forward to hearing your other works as they become available!


  • What amazes me is how clear and delicate the softer sections of the piece sound.  At first I listened in my car, as I usually do, but those softer sections were canceled out by the road noise drone so I had to listen again at home on some cheap laptop speakers.  But even with the low quality speakers the quiet sections were so soothing even when tension was buuilding. 

    I've always had a hard time MIDIstrating Pianissimo.  It always sounds too heavy handed or even blaring but William makes it look easy.

    Another triumph as usual William and thanks for posting.

    BTW the conversation about MIDI to notation transcribing is rather scary because I wa about to embark on the same arduous journey with my work.  Not sure if it will help me but I always compose a piano arrangement of my larger orchestral works because piano arrangements are a skeletal representation of the larger piece and you can at least get an idea of the themes and harmonies.  Again, I don't know if that would make a difference.   

  • Thanks Jasen,

    The real problem with MIDI to notation is when you do it as I did, from a deliberately loose MIDI performance to notation.  I remember Paul McGraw talking about doing MIDI from his scores, but he first wrote them in notation software then transcribed to a MIDI sequencing program, which makes sense.  Unfortunately I didn't do that and am paying now.  However it does allow you to look over exactly what you did with orchestration  and decide whether anything needs to be rewritten.  It doesn't in my case, but never mind that.  All this is made ironic in that the pieces are originally in score form.  But on moldering pieces of music paper.     If I tried to scan them it would result in the detonation of the entire block I live on.  

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    @Another User said:

    If I tried to scan them it would result in the detonation of the entire block I live on.  


    I know the feeling.

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    Yes I never used to use any "humanize" settings and always did it myself by playing.  But then, at some point, I noticed that the VI humanize controls, with individual detailed versions for each individual instrument if you want - actually nullified anything one would do by playing.  And then like you, I started quantizing tracks.  Something unthinkable in the past.    Right now I am dealing with the results of non-quantized tracks in a MIDI transcription to notation.  😢

  • I very much enjoyed hearing this piece again. I think you did slightly improve on the previous mix, but it was already terrific. 

    I have a music forum friend, Doug Gibson, who transcribes VR tracks for media composers. Apparently many of them cannot or will not notate their own music. Even when it is going to be played by a live orchestra. Apparently Doug gets paid well for the work.

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    thanks Paul.  Yes the transcriptions - he ought to get paid well!!  Unfortunately I am not one of the wealthy composers who can pay for them... 😢

  • PaulP Paul moved this topic from Orchestration & Composition on