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Midi and composition, rendering dynamic and articulation in a score

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Midi and composition, rendering dynamic and articulation in a score

Postby Curranr » Thu Apr 09, 2020 7:51 am

Hi there,
Hoping someone here has some knowledge of this they're willing to share.
I write string arrangements. My process ends with the production of a score in Sibelius, complete with dynamics and articulation. I would like to be able to audition each score I produce for clients before it's performed but the midi files created by Sibelius don't contain any of the dynamic and articulation information. Also Sibelius seems to be very hit and miss when it comes to interpreting its own scores when playing the music.
Is there currently a file format out there that would contain this information? Something like a cross between xml and midi perhaps.
Thanks
Curranr
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Re: Midi and composition, rendering dynamic and articulation in a score

Postby Logarhythm » Thu Apr 09, 2020 9:48 am

A MIDI file can do this for you, but for some elements you'd need to also have the right type of sound source to be able to interpret the MIDI data in a useful way.
The dynamics elements can be achieved through MIDI note velocity and channel volume (MIDI CC 7) data, at least to a reasonable extent.
Articulation is more complex as the capability of the sound source to play the different articulations is the limiting factor on what you can achieve, and different sound sources may require different data inputs to tell them to play any given articulation. Alternatively you could work your way around that to some extent by having a separate track for each articulation, but then you'll end up with huge numbers of tracks if you need a different one for each variation of every instrument.
I'm not a Sibelius user so hopefully one will be along who is more familiar with it and can give you more advice on exactly what it can/can't do in this area, but with more traditional DAWs (rather than scoring packages) it is certainly possible to do what you need. If Sibelius can't do it then I suspect you could use it to generate a MIDI file that you can then import into a second piece of software (Cubase, Reaper, Logic etc) and, with the right Orchestral Library (or equivalent for other instruments) you could generate a reasonable "performance" of the piece to give an idea of how the score should sound.

The magazine did a set of features that may be a useful read for you if you haven't seen it previously: The Sampled Orchestra Part 1 (there are links to the other parts of the series at the bottom of this article)
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Re: Midi and composition, rendering dynamic and articulation in a score

Postby Curranr » Thu Apr 09, 2020 10:14 am

Thanks Logarhythm that's really helpful. I have a copy of Studio 1 which I sometimes use for manipulating samples, but whenever I import score generated midi it doesn't appear to recognise any dynamic. I'd settle for just dynamic to be honest, I suspected that articulation would require numerous tracks and there's only so many hours in the day!
Thanks again.
Curranr
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Re: Midi and composition, rendering dynamic and articulation in a score

Postby Logarhythm » Thu Apr 09, 2020 11:49 am

I'm not familiar with how Sibelius deals with score indications for dynamics - it could be that this is just "printed" for display, rather than included in a MIDI rendering of the score, but there might be a way to set it up to do both. I'm afraid that a thorough read of the manual may be required!

Once you become familiar with the process, handling multiple articulations within one track doesn't need to be overly complex if you're just after a reasonable "what does this sound like?" version and not expecting it to replace a live session with the Berlin Phil - some libraries use "key switching", where you "play" a specific note outside of the actual playing range of the instrument and the software interprets that as an instruction to play subsequent notes as e.g. play pizzicato, and then you'll use another key to tell it to move to another articulation and so on. It's quite efficient once you get used to it, and with a bit of practice it becomes possible to play e.g. the 1st violin part with the right hand and use the left hand to move between the different articulation options, or alternatively to just draw in the relevant key-switch notes into the MIDI data in the DAW.
Some versions of Studio One support VST instruments IIRC, so something like this would allow you to transfer MIDI files across from Sibelius and turn them into a somewhat passable (you're unlikely to mistake it for a real orchestra, but it's not bad) audio version of your score, without it costing a fortune: https://www.garritan.com/products/personal-orchestra-5/

(N.B. Lots of other orchestral libraries are available - I just happen to be most familiar with this as it's the one I use at present, for my own very basic tinkering.)
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Re: Midi and composition, rendering dynamic and articulation in a score

Postby Curranr » Thu Apr 09, 2020 5:04 pm

Perfect Logarhythm, I'd given up on Sibelius tbh, it's so clunky in every other respect I suppose I just thought my first attempt was decisive. It would certainly be worth pursuing further.
The program change thing is interesting too. I've seen it in other midi files and often wondered.
Thanks again,
Richard
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Re: Midi and composition, rendering dynamic and articulation in a score

Postby Logarhythm » Thu Apr 09, 2020 7:14 pm

A program change message is used to tell the source of the sound (synth, orchestral library, sampler etc) to change to a new patch, e.g. from piano sound to a trombone, but you could use it to move from a pizzicato patch to downbowed etc.
The keyswitch thing makes it even simpler though. Playing with it is the easiest way to learn, but an illustration may help.
This is the interface for the Garritan Personal Orchestra instrument, and you can see that I've got "Cello KS" (KS = key switched) loaded as the patch. The non-shaded notes on the keyboard along the bottom indicate the playable range, the greyed-out notes do nothing, and the red section shows where the keys/notes are that allow you to swap between articulations. In this picture I've just played E2 and you can see it's highlighted yellow, and to the side the keyswitches box is telling me that this means that when I play the cello patch I'll get downbows:

Image

In the next image, I've played whatever part of the score I needed to with that particular articulation, and the next part is a pizzicato. I've still got the same cello KS patch selected, but have played F2, and you'll see that the highlighted yellow key has moved from E2 to F2, and the little information box is now showing "pizzicato":

Image

Using this approach, you can import your MIDI file from Sibelius, and then the only thing you need to add in Studio One (or other DAW of your choice) is the relevant note within each part each time you want to change articulation.
It's simpler to use than it is to explain, TBH ;)
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