Friday, 22 October 2010

Orchestral sounds are good stuff!

I've been dividing my time up between writing music and creating 3D models for our new project over at Bumpkin Labs. This has regretibly meant that I've been unable to spend time on writing much music for my album project or for any competitions recently.

However I did recently buy, obviously for music related projects, is Garritan Personal Orchestra 4 (GPO) and I've been thinking for a while how I can describe my experiences of it.

I actually bought it by accident! Honestly! Even though it's probably the cheapest orchestral VST you can buy at $150 that's still a fair chunk for a hobbiest like myself. I initially wanted to see the final paypal screen before buying so I could check to see if any VAT/Sales Tax was going to be applied - which it turns out is absorbed into the $150, so that's good news.

So the confirmation arrived and I attempted to download it, which through no fault of Garritan, was an absolute nightmare and so typical of my connection to drop to pre-broadband speeds just on the day I'd spent loads of cash on something I wasn't going to be sure about until I'd used it!

*Anyway* the next day I was finally able to download the huge file and see if it worked in Renoise, my musical software of choice, which thankfully it did.

I learned a few things very quickly, like how you need several instances of GPO working at once, which it's designed for, and how to create ensembles and to take notice of instrument ranges.

This probably works differently to how it does with many other music programs, Renoise is certainly a bit different to most! And luckily there's quite a bit of information out there on how to adapt Garritan to your preferred program. I noticed there was at least a Cubase tutorial on the Garritan site and I've seen this used in FruityLoops too somewhere.

Best to get used to the preset ensembles first, this really helps with learning how the system works and introduces you to combining instruments. Take special notice of the channels number to the right of every instrument you include, especially when using it in Renoise, as this can allow you to play instruments at the same time within the same instance. This can be changed just by clicking on it. Also there are some slight discrepancies in the tuning of some instruments, but luckily these can be tweaked too.

I also had a quick go at using the .mid importer in the aria player to convert a piece my dad wrote. It worked after a fashion but some of the instrument assignments were wrong and I could have done with a proper MIDI based program to make it work. If I know what the assignments are supposed to be though it would work fine! Maybe I'll try that again later...

Something else I learned quickly was that GPO is flipping brilliant and is usually the first VST I'll load when starting a new tune. I've already polished off a great menu theme for the Bumpkin Brothers project and also some in-game musical ideas that I'll be expanding on, but I can't really share those here (I need to maintain some degree of seperation between projects.)

However, when I said I hadn't had time to work on my piano album earlier in this post, well that was kind of a non-truth. I haven't been playing my actual musical keyboard recently, but I have written a piano piece using GPO and the excellent concert piano that comes with it (thank you, thank you, thank you for including that Garritan!)

And that's something I feel I can share, it's a work in progress so this could be different if anyone comes back and plays it later. It's likely to be the first or last piece on my piano based album (I really need a name for that) unless I use it elsewhere.

Anyway, here it is.