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Getting realistic sound from Kurzweil Orchestral ROM?


Ben One

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Hi everyone,

 

For a piece I'm currently composing, I'd like to use some symphonic sounds on my Kurzweil PC2R rack module with the orchestral expansion ROM.

 

The beginning of my piece is sparse and has solo instruments. When I audition patches like solo oboe, they don't sound convincing on their own. I know that part of the solution is to play my keyboard with phrasings and notes that make it sound like an oboe, but I was wondering if anyone has additional tips. Does this particular ROM sound best when I just layer several instruments in a mix?

 

Any advice appreciated!

 

Ben

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Hello,

 

Well obviously it's very difficult to achieve a super convincing orchestral demo out of any synth (hardware or software), because nothing sounds like the real thing and on top of that one has to respect each individual instrument characteristics and way of playing, which is quite an important amount of knowledge. But I'm sure you can achieve a very clear demo of your orchestral composition out of the Kurz.

 

I would recommend using the program #042 Solo Dbl Reeds if you need to play oboe from the Bb below middle C to about a fifth above, because the lowest sample on the PC2's oboes isn't quite so great. Anything under that Bb should not be played by an oboe anyways. :)

 

Then there's always the usual touch of EQ, reverb and aftertouch that will make everything closer to perfection, once you have all instruments on different tracks. Try to keep everything on as many different tracks as possible.

 

What controller do you use for expression?

 

Finally, if you have more patience, there are other ways to optimize all those presets with programming. I don't know if the PC2 manager software works with the PC2R though. I guess it should. There are very interesting possibilities, but again it takes a good amount of time. I'm still at the piano patches myself. ;)

 

In short, I would continue recording your work so to keep focus on music instead on details. Because in my case, I lose great ideas losing too much time on little things. Then, once you have everything down on multitrack, you can work on improving what you find should be perfected, like sounds of individual instruments. :cool:

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Cyd, These are great tips--thank you so much!

 

I use an Alesis QS6 as a controller, so it's basic synth action without anything special. Tweaking the presets is a good thought--and the PC2 manager DOES work with the PC2R.

 

So far, I've been composing completely in piano--I'm very much of a piano guy anyway--but for some friends I wanted to render some excerpts with orchestral instruments. But that can definitely wait.

 

You are right--I will stay focused on the composition--which means staying mostly with the piano--and then maybe turn to the different timbres in the end. The final piece will just be a production in my studio, not meant for anyone else to play.

 

I really appreciate the tips on the #042 Solo Dbl Reeds Preset--I will try it out in the range you suggested.

 

I had been wondering if orchestral patches in isolation sound better with a Garritan-type program as opposed to a Kurzweil module. But in the end, I bet it's always a matter of proper phrasing, correct range, and tweaking of various parameters such as EQ, reverb and the like. I'm also imagining that it's much easier to make a convincing mix of several orchestral patches than

a single one playing all alone.

 

Thanks again!

 

Ben

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Ben, you're welcome. :)

 

I think those Alesis controllers have poly aftertouch, right? It's really sad Kurzweil didn't implement it in their PC2 series of instruments. Because when I use poly-AT with my older Kurzs, I can create great strings and orchestral chords.

 

About the tips... I wish I had more time to program my new PC2X (I bought it just last summer). The PC2 manager offers so many possibilities, it will take me months to achieve what I want. But I have all the basic ideas now that I have tried most of the parameters offered in the software. What's great is that you have so much more to adjust compared to what the interface on the actual instrument gives you. :)

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Yes, thanks for reminding about the poly aftertouch...It still amazes me how features like that were present in the QS6 with its inexpensive pricetag...I wonder if dB had anything to do with that...

 

I have to check out the PC2 manager. I'm decent at tweaking though I have yet to do any programming on Kurzweil synths.

 

But for now, I'll just plow ahead with my composition on the piano. Has the following been true for you: if it sounds good on a piano, it will also sound good in another timbre? I definitely know the reverse is not always true!!!

 

Ben

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When you're ready to spend some time on the PC2 manager, I invite you to read my little tutorial I wrote for it back last autumn. :)

 

As it became immensely popular (one person interested), I thought it would be best to forget about tutorial 2 for now. :D

 

But if you want to work on the orchestral ROM patches, you'll definitely need to complete it.

 

Hope it will help. :cool:

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Well, I'm glad to see I could help you. Maybe someday I'll add some sections for the Kurz-addicted on my Web site.

 

Because sincerely, I believe the Kurzweils are the best synths for orchestral sounds (and I don't work for them, imagine if I did). :)

 

I also think that the brass sounds on the PC2s are even more convincing.

 

And don't forget, you didn't even begin reprogramming the presets at your personal taste. :)

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Actually, the #042 preset uses english horn in that particular range (between F#3 and G#4).

 

But the particular samples there gives a much better overall double-reed ensemble.

 

I'm sure classical composers experimented a lot as well with real instruments back then. They probably exchanged parts between different instruments of the same families before being satisfied with the color they wanted. But what's incredible today is we can do all this just pressing buttons, instead of dealing with 60 people. :)

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I'm not much of an orchestrator myself, but one thing I can suggest is to play string, woodwind, & horn parts individually, like the actual musician playing the instrument would. It will take a little time to layer up a nice string section, but the slight timing irregularities in your playing will make the track sound nice & thick. It also gives you a better sense of each instruments responsibility/range in the arrangement.

What we record in life, echoes in eternity.

 

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Dan,

Thanks--I completely agree--I wouldn't dream of trying to layer this stuff until I got the individual instruments right. The programmers who create the layered presets on these synths really know their stuff!

 

I like the effect you mention, of the irregularities in the original parts creating a nice effect. I will try to lay some piano over other instruments and see what happens!

 

Ben

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Thanks. The advice in that thread is good--namely to learn the particular ranges of instruments, when the players add vibrato and slide notes.

 

That even might be a good idea for a book--how violinists, guitarists, oboists, etc., play their instruments and how this translates to synth parameters and performance.

 

Ben

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Yeah, I already started an educational project in french years ago. I would translate it by something close to "Emulation of traditional instruments on synthesizers". It incorporated a course on sampling as well.

 

Then I went to local music stores who also happened to offer whatever kind of courses (piano, guitar, etc.) to get a pulse. The demand was about zero and most people I talked to about this concept (that's made for computer + synth + MIDI live interaction in the classroom) looked at me as if I were E.T.

 

So I forgot about the whole thing. Still have everything on files, though. Maybe if I reach 65 and have a lot of money, I'll do something about it. I suppose I'd have more chances to interest 5 students in New York or California than here. :)

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