Guitar Fascination

Guitar Fascination

 I’ve been contributing music to a theatrical production of “Beauty and the Beast”, being produced by the fantastic Synetic Theater in Crystal City, Virginia. This piece is not as dark as some of the music being used in this production; it presents a more hopeful expectation.

I used virtual instruments from four libraries:

1) Stefano Maccarelli’s library titled Elements: Modern Scoring Synth for the classical guitar,

2) Aaron Venture’s Infinite Woodwinds for the bass clarinet,

3) Stefano Maccarelli’s library Ethera Gold Atlantis 2 for the solo vocals,

4) Stefano Maccarelli’s library Elements: Cinematic Rhythms for the percussion, and

5) the co-production between Native Instruments and Orchestral Tools of the Arkhis cinematic sound design library.

As you can see, I am a big fan of Stefano Maccarelli and his gorgeous set of sample libraries and synths.

I began the composition process by starting with a classical guitar arpeggio preset from the Elements: A Modern Scoring Synth library. This video shows two views of the guitar as it is being played as a solo instrument. The track view is in the upper panel, and the piano roll view is in the lower panel in the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) that I use–namely Cakewalk. The preset that I use here is a guitar arpeggio that repeats 1/8th notes. As you play the video, look carefully at the lower panel, and notice how it is structured. In each measure, there is a single bass note, followed an eighth note later with a chord. The preset is structured to give a guitar-strumming effect. I also helped it, by adding a random number of milliseconds of delay to the higher notes in the chords. 

This video features a solo of the bass clarinet from Aaron Venture’s wonderful Infinite Woodwinds library. Why is it so wonderful? Because it uses a hybrid sample/model approach, that allows a musician to play the instrument directly into the keyboard without worrying about keyswitches to control the articulations.

In the video, the upper panel shows the track view. The horizontal purple bars indicate the notes. The vertical lines represent the velocities–the note attacks. The yellow envelope represents the vibrato strength. In the lower panel, the piano roll view again shows the purple notes, and the orange envelope represents what is known as “Modulation”, which is really the intensity of the sustain portion of the notes. About 14 seconds into the video, in the lower panel, the blue envelope represents the pitch bend being applied to some of the notes. This is my attempt to add a little bit more realism into the performance.

This video shows the (treble and bass) staff view while the instrument ensemble plays. The guitar instrument is shown in the top staff. Note how the bass note precedes the chords by an eighth note. The next two treble staves represent the two solo vocal tracks. Note that it would seem like each note is an eighth-note too early. This is an artifact due to the latency of the “true legato” instrument. There are multiple methods for applying a “time offset” for a track. This is the easiest method for me.

The next staff shows a set of whole and half notes, for the voice ensemble instrument. The second bass staff from the bottom is actually the Arkhis bass instrument. The bottom staff represents the percussion instrument. Each note on the bass staff represents a different percussion instrument, and has nothing to do with the actual pitch.

So, here is the full piece, shown as a video of the DAW in piano roll view. The structure of the piece is shown near the top of the video. The structure is ternary–that is, A-B-A’. Preceding each A and B section, there is a 4-bar introduction.  At various points in time, the particular music clips are indicated. Turn up the volume and enjoy!

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