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Using Notation Software products with other (third party) products Find out from others, or share your experience, about integrating Notation Software products with sound libraries, audio processing software, and other hardware and software products.

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Old 06-09-2005, 04:42 AM
Sherry Crann (sherry)
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Default Howdy, If the soundfont thr


If the soundfont thread wasn't enough .....

Then there's Garritan Personal Orchestra!

Briefly, GPO is an orchestral library, with many instruments, each with variants of articulation and players of those instruments, which can be orchestrated (pun intended) to make some wonderful sounding music.

Composer/Pro makes the task of making great music much easier than it could be because Composer/Pro is so extremely intuitive to use. GPO is heavily reliant on controllers for fine-tuning the performance of the instruments, and Composer/Pro makes that pretty easy with the graphing capabilities, the midi event list, and the special instrument key-switching and mid-track voice change capabilities that it has.

To hear the difference that a good sound library makes, you can visit my mp3 page at and listen to the three versions of Communion Aire. The sound card version is done with just the FM quality sounds on my soundcard. The soundfont version was done with the Chaos soundfont, and the GPO version is done with GPO instruments. I think it's a pretty convincing comparison, as the same .not file was used (with negligible variation) for all the recordings.

(the following is an amalgamation, with minimal editing, of previous bits and pieces from around the forum, so please forgive any redundancies)
************************************************** ***********

Yes, you can use GPO with Composer - I've been using it for a while now, and really enjoy it!

First, if you haven't yet, I would strongly recommend reading through the GPO user's guide (not the entire Help documentation, but the small booklet that comes with it) as it will give you lots of pointers on using GPO with sequencing software, which is essentially what you need to know about using it with Composer.

To begin, you'll have to run Personal Orchestra Studio (if you didn't get this in your initial GPO disc package, it should be available at the GPO website as a free download). Be sure to run this first, before you start up Composer. Then, start Composer (you'll have to run them concurrently).

If you know what instruments you'll be wanting to use, go ahead and load them in one of the "players" in Personal Studio (you have up to 8 players, with 8 slots for instruments within each player).

In Composer, open the file that you want to use the GPO instruments with. For each track (the Track/Track setup dialog is more convenient here than choosing each track button individually), you can then choose which player and instrument to use.

In the Track Setup dialog, you'll see under Device, "GPO Studio 1", "GPO Studio 2", etc, which corresponds to the "Player 1", "Player 2", etc. that you see in the Personal Studio setup. Then for the Channel in the track setup, you choose which slot in the Player you have for a particular instrument.

For example, say that you have a file in Composer that has a flute track, a trumpet track, and a harp track (yes, I'm making this up :-) ) Then for Personal Studio, in Player 1, you have flute in the first slot, trumpet in the second slot, and harp in the third slot. Your Track Setup would be

Flute track: Device= GPO Studio 1, channel 1
trumpet track: Device = GPO Studio 1, channel 2
harp track: Device= GPO Studio 1, channel 3

I find Composer quite helpful in using GPO because you can use the graphing capabilities to sort of automate controller events (like the mod wheel, which my keyboard doesn't have) that can profoundly affect the performance of the GPO instruments. You may need to alter some of these controllers in files that you find on the internet, as some of the controllers for "regular" midi files have specific functions for some GPO instruments, and they may need "tweaking" to make the GPO instrument performance optimal.

Also, I should mention that you can save whatever instrument setup you have in GPO Personal Studio for each song. Then, when you want to work on a song, you can just open up that file in Personal Studio before you open up Composer, and you're all set. I usually save mine in the same folder that I have my song from Composer in, so that I always have them together.

Regarding possible memory issues:
Another related note is that I've had a few MIDI files that I tried with GPO and Composer, and I found that the instruments sounded "stuttered." What I found with these is that some MIDI files have "tracks" that don't have any notes in them - they're used solely to "mark" space so that the person who sequenced the file could put in text information, such as their name, email addy, any other credits, etc. If I left these tracks in, the stuttering continued. But when I removed these tracks (deleted them, rather than just hiding them) the stuttering problem went away. I'm presuming that this is probably because my memory was borderline for those files, with trying to "check" all those empty tracks, and that eliminating them sort of "focused" on the music tracks. Not sure of all the techno-geek stuff there, but I offer it as an observation with a solution :-)

I'm very blessed to have GPO as an option for generating sound, and what I find with that is that at a basal level, all the instruments always sound nice. But you still have a lot of controller parameters that can alter things a lot, especially the mod wheel, which is used with GPO sort of as a volume swell type of controller, which isn't necessarily at all what it is used for with other midi files. There are controllers that control attack, sustain, and all sorts of other aspects of the sound, and when I'm using GPO I find myself trying out as many different things with it to get an even better sound as I do when I'm tweaking soundfonts, albeit for different reasons. So there is a lot going on there, too.

All that said, even when the GPO instruments are playing a less than perfectly sequenced piece (which means a piece that I haven't tweaked to tailor to the particular controllers for GPO instruments) they still sound nicer than the soundfonts, and lightyears beyond most sound card default sounds. The performance may not sound totally natural, but I've always found it to be more pleasing even in those instances.

And it's much easier to get a natural sounding performance with GPO instruments than with most soundfont instruments partly because with a lot of soundfonts, you may get something of an "attack" and usually a nice "sustain", but very rarely do you get an "ending" that sounds anything better than just an abrupt cessation of sound. With GPO, the sound sampling is just so much better (and takes up so much more space as a consequence :-) ) that it's amazing. It also comes with Ambience, a nice reverb effector that lets you choose many parameters of reverb that can greatly affect the performance sound, too.

I should mention here that I upgraded my memory from 512 Mb to 1.5 Gb, and I can load an entire orchestra worth of instruments and have not had any major issues. One thing that I always do, though, when loading a lot of instruments is to turn off absolutely all nonessential processes on the computer before I start working on a song, including (temporarily) things like the printer in the tray. This way I don't get any interruptions or glitches because something else is suddenly sucking off a chunk of CPU capacity.

Okay, that's it for me for now Uncross your eyes and start making music!


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