EWQL SO Gold\Platinum is a relatively strong library.
Most of the patches have reverb already turned on. I turn it off when composing – then turn it back on for final mix\mastering. (Or I use a different reverb plug-in).
As you’ve noted above… a HUGE part of orchestral realism is proper panning. You need to virtually place the violins in their position on stage right… the basses need to go on stage left, etc… Also, when applying reverb and delay, consider that the percussion is in the far back, so they would be a TINY bit behind everything because it takes their sound just a bit longer to reach the audience’s ears.
The only real way to get a (mostly) authentic sound from any orchestral library is to understand the nuts and bolts of live orchestration. What instruments go well together… etc.
2 big ideas when it comes to realism:
When you write a divisi for…say… 16 violins… In a real orchestra, this would put 8 violins on each note. In most patches, when you play 2 notes, you get double the players (or, for this example, 32 violins). You can’t do this. Try to keep the number of ‘players’ the same throughout the piece.
Also… Consider the timbre of instruments. A trumpet has a vastly different sound at FFF than it does at P. You can’t just turn up the volume of the trumpet playing at P and expect it to sound real. Always consider the timber of a REAL instrument when writing\mixing in dynamics.
Is EWQL SO the best? Probably not… but it is more than suitable if the composer employs proper orchestration techniques as they would with a real, live orchestra.
Surprisingly, I did rather well yesterday I’d love it if I could keep that momentum!
Ok… I’lll say it:
The Odd Life of Timothy Green
Christopher Tin’s “Baba Yetu”
This isn’t the recording from his album “Calling All Dawns”, but it’s close. Absolutely one of my favorite pieces—ever.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZBsuTC29BE
A close second is Gavin Greenaway’s score (with a short collaboration with Hans Zimmer) to Epcot’s “Illuminations : Reflections of Earth” firework show at the Walt Disney World Resort. I used to work for Disney (once on an internship, and once with Walt Disney Entertainment). I would go to Epcot at LEAST twice a week to watch this show… Absolutely stunning – mostly due to the incredible score.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gAnSBlvRZg
Growing up, we had a really nice baby grand in our house. I sat for hours just tinkering around with the keys… finding combinations that sounded ‘cool’... etc. It would have been easy for my parents to tell me to knock off the noise… but instead, my dad would come and sit and listen.
When I was around 8 years old or so, I had worked up a simple melody and a chord progression to go with it… (though at the time, I couldn’t read music, and had no clue what I was doing in the sense of music theory—just that the keys I was pushing was creating this really cool sound). As usual, my dad would come and sit by me and listen.
And he said… “That could be music like the kind you hear in movies.”
The rest is history (in the making).
Sometimes, it’s a mood I’m in… Sometimes, it’s a mood I WANT to be in… I’m flexible.
But it always starts with some small musical idea… usually something so tiny and insignificant, that if I’m not careful, I’ll blow it off my shoulder and it will be gone forever. I’ve trained myself to pay attention to those tiny melodies that waft into my head… because once I play with them for a bit, they grow into something quite remarkable…...
And sometimes… it’s the potential OF that growth that inspires me.
Sometimes… I’m inspired because my sales are down and I need something new.
And sometimes, I just load up an instrument I haven’t touched in a while and see what happens.
Sometimes, I let the music write itself – and I don’t force it to become something it’s not…. The music just lets me come along for the ride.
Given – all of this is only for library music. Composing to film is an entirely different animal altogether. When I am free to compose without timing, frame rate, or emotional restrictions, I don’t need to look far to find inspiration. As hippie\hew-age-y\cerebral as it sounds, the very fact that I am alive is frequently enough to get me started.
My advice… Don’t over-think it. Do your thing… Don’t force it! Don’t force it! Don’t force it! Composition is like raising a dog… You have to understand the dog’s needs and let it drink from the toilet… and piddle on the carpet on occasion. If you force it into submission from day one, the dog will never become “man’s best friend”... instead, it will snarl and whine …and probably bite.
Have a listen!
What’s the business about a ‘cup’ of coffee.
I’m not awake until I down the entire pot.
Try layering! (I don’t have Requiem, but I’m sure there are options!)
For example: Have “Do” and “Fa” played at the same time… or if there’s an effects patch (shouts, whispers, etc..) layers those on occasionally as well. This helps make it apparent that you’ve got a choir, but sort of muddies the perception of an actual syllable. I’ve noticed that syllables like “tus” take longer in EQWL choirs and Liberis as well….
There’s a reason for this. Sing it with me.. “FA!” “TUS!” No matter how hard I try, “tus” will always take JUST a little longer to say than “fa”. The programmers of the library knew this and are keeping it that way for realism sake. If you need a more rhythmically-specific line, use more simple syllables (then use the longer sounds to highlight end of phrases. “Fa do ra ma i luuuuus Do la meh re ta tuuuuuuuuus”. etc…
(Just gibberish… But if, on accident, I typed out something offensive, forgive me
I can’t say that I’ve ever tried this… but I think it’s worth a shot.
I do think your best bet would be to upgrade to Requiem Pro… Though I don’t promise it, I imagine that “Pro” has velocity triggers to get you a deeper sampling of dynamics… Maybe even mod wheel control. This will be ESSENTIAL for getting the sound you’re after.
It all goes back to thinking about the orchestration – take the French Horn. It can do some KILLER staccato… bop.. bop.. bop… But it can also do that famous heroic “rip”. Buddle-ump! The rip, while still VERY short, will always take more time than the staccato because there are more sounds packed into it… Same thing with ‘tus’... That ’s’ on the end will drag it out every time… kinda like the F.H. rip.
Heck, that might be your solution right there… Aim for syllables that end on vowels.. (except for maybe the long A sound – bake, cake, etc – because it’s a dipthong, being made up of two sounds, “eh” and “ee”...)
I could go on and on… Just finished my coffee, so I’m rather wired right now.
I hope you’ve found some useful ideas in this long and rambling post.
An amazing VST that has all the bells and whistles… but low on a memory footprint…
When you find it, do let us know
Honestly, it depends on what you’re doing.
You can have a choir working as a choir…
Or.. you can have your choir working as an additional orchestral instrument.
If you’re trying to do the latter, (but I’d never publicly say this)... the choirs might as well be speaking gibberish. Take John Williams’ music… “Dual of the Fates” perhaps. Is it French? Is it Tattooine?? Does it REEEEEEEEEEEEEEALLY matter to the average listener? No. The vibe, emotion, orchestrations are all perfectly suited to what Williams wanted to convey – without injecting pesky understandable lyrics into the composition.
Or even music in and around Cirque Du Soleil… Yes! Some of the lyrics are in French… but the composers have admitted that some of the lyrics are absolute nonsense gibberish – because they want the audience to ‘feel’ the music vs. trying to force-feed an intelligible line to them…. all to great success… (Though they seem to be adding more and more English into their shows… bah!)
Anyhow, my point is this. If you’re using the choir as an instrument, I implore you not to use any kind of actual text or language. I find it horribly distracting when listening to the piece as a whole. If this is the case, Requiem (Pro), Liberis, and several others can be sufficient if you massage them properly.
The closest I’ve ever come to replicating an actual choir (using EWQL Symphonic Choirs + WordBuilder) was…. maybe 65% convincing. I had to hide it all under a LOT of reverb… and even then, it was in Latin
I’d love to hear you and others chime back in to tell us what your goal is – and maybe we can discover a new solution!!
My 2.3 cents