Something very different for your remixing pleasure this week…
The smart folks over at the Berliner Philharmoniker want you to send them your original re-creations of music from Gustav Mahler, an extraordinary Austrian conductor and composer.
To commemorate a hundred years since Mahler died, the Berliner Philharmoniker invite you to create your own remix of the sound tracks from the first movement of his Symphony No.1, which you can find here. Entries will be judged by Matthew Herbert, SoundCloud and Berliner Philharmoniker staff. Simply enter and upload your final remix by September 30th!
More info can be found at remix-contest.berliner-philharmoniker.de
Avid has released a new version of Sibelius, number 7. It is compatible with the new OS X Lion and has an Office-like ribbon at the top. I did read some comments on how this makes it look somewhat foreign (i.e. Windowish) and therefore ugly on a Mac. Since I did the Lion upgrade and that broke Notion, I downloaded the 30-day demo of Sibelius 7.
The new Sibelius integrates nicely with the VSL Vienna Ensemble, which was not working for me so smoothly in the previous version. The ribbon interface is a mixed thing: some things are now easier to find but if you’re used to browsing the menu for a particular option, you’ll have to relearn stuff.
At a $199 crossgrade price from Notion, it is seriously tempting. We’ll see in a month.
NOTION 3 notational software
For almost a year now I have been using NOTION3 as the notational tool. It is more than that, with a suitable orchestral library it can almost replace your other DAW!
The main contenders for musical notation are without any doubt Sibelius and Finale. The big drawback for these two can be the price. Without the academic discount (which means you are a teacher in a musical school) they will cost you from 500 to 600 € (the academic discount slashes the price to half that). NOTION3 by NOTION Music is around 200 €, but that does not mean it contains only a third of the competitors’ features. It is however limited compared to the big players. It does not include less-used notations and for instance the height of a slur can not be adjusted manually. On the other hand though NOTION3 includes functions commonly found in sequencers and DAWs like Logic, Ableton Live or Cubase.
With the sequencer overlay switched on we can adjust MIDI parameters - note length and velocity. We can introduce a bit of inregularrity and avoid the machine-gun effect. That way we can introduce some irregularities (and shorter rests that are part of the performance but not notated) and avoid the machine-gun effect. For more complicated manipulations we can use ReWire mode.
Notes and symbols can be input by using the mouse and the computer keyboard, or we can use the MIDI keyboard. For import and export NOTION3 uses MusicXML. I find the Sibelius method of input via computer keyboard much more useful though. There you use C, D, E, … for notes and the keypad for lengths, ties, slurs, accents and so on. With NOTION3, Q means quarter note, Shift-S is a slur, while the note has to be moused in.
NOTION3 includes more than 10 GB of samples from the London Symphonic Orchestra, but don’t expect too much from that. The program does however include an integration with major orchestral libraries such as Vienna Symphonic Library (Special Edition with regular Vienna Instruments player od the PRO version), EWQL Symphonic Orchestra and Miroslav Philharmonik. If you have any of those installed you can use NOTION3 without any lenghty configurations of your orchestra sounds.
On playback (“performance mode”) you can use rit. and accel. to change tempo (or do an immediate change by stating the quarter-note-per-minute tempo) or “conduct” your orchestra by pressing a key on the keyboard. This can come in handy when NOTION3 is used to accompany a live musician.
Blah, blah, blah … When evaluating the program (you have two weeks for that) I was mainly interested how well it fares with the playback. When you put in the whole composition, how good or bad does it sound without any additional tinkering? Is the dynamics and articulation OK? I have tested it with my Miniature for Guitar and String Orchestra using Vienna Symphonic Library Special Edition for all instruments. Here is the result (and here’s the PDF):
Not bad at all.
You can download a fully-functional NOTION3 for a 14-day evaluation from the NOTION Music web site (minus the London Symphonic Orchestra samples). If you have experience with NOTION3, feel free to leave a comment of opinion!
(Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with the company making this software.)
Engadget is blogging live from the Apple iPad 2 event. They have ported Garageband to it and it looks great!
I composed this shortly before November 1st. On that day we have a custom to honour the memory of all those that have passed away. The song is dedicated to my good friend Tom who died last year aged 40 from a very rare form of cancer.
I used the resulting audio track in Logic and have myself recorded four real violins (2 first, 2 second parts) and two violas over this track. They are put low in the mix and impossible to distinguish (except on one or two occasions where I made a mistake playing) but I think this contributes to the mix substantially.
There’s some quiet crackling noise on some parts of the mix which is clearly the result of compression of the audio done by soundcloud.com. I’m guessing that the cause could be Notion’s built-in reverb or not enough EQ on the track (I didn’t chop low-end and high-end in the mix). If you know what’s causing this, I would love to know. The same thing happens on Bandcamp (there’s an older version there).
If you’re a Soundcloud user, I’d appreciate a comment, otherwise you can place it at the bottom of this post. If you like the composition, please feel free to donwload it by clicking the down-arrow on the right edge of the player above.
Miniature for Guitar and String Orchestra
Many years ago while I was playing through several easy baroque pieces on the guitar, I composed a short piece in a similar style. Short and simple it illustrates the extent of my classical guitar skills (right hand sucks, violin is my first instrument). This composition is an arrangement for a guitar and a small string orchestra done recently. I used the Notion 3 musical notation software and the Vienna Symphonic Library Special Edition (VSL SE).