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 Posted:   May 12, 2022 - 12:43 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

I'm currently wading my way through a lot of new scores of the year, and I'm struck by one thing, in particular -- how many of them use sample programs over actual musicians. It becomes especially glaring in scores that are supposed to sound big and symphonic, but that use sample programs (sophisticated or not) to mimic it.

We've seen this for many years, due -- for example -- to limited economic funds. But the extra prevalence of them now makes me think this must be the result of covid in many cases, and the inability to use real musicians over the last two years. This is understandable, but it also causes a problem -- they all sound so thin and fake.

What I don't get, is -- why not use the covid limitations to do something completely different and creative? Something more on synth's own terms, for example, or smaller acoustic ensembles or whatever?

Anyways, just an observation.

 
 Posted:   May 12, 2022 - 1:03 AM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)

Yes, I have noticed that with some recordings, and I've been turned off by the orchestra emulation. I have no problem with electronics or effects, and even synth choirs and instruments, if they are used for effect (as James Horner sometimes used sampled choirs, as in Titanic). But if sampled orchestras try to sound like the "real deal", they still fall terribly short.

 
 Posted:   May 12, 2022 - 2:03 AM   
 By:   DaveM   (Member)

I have, to a certain point, no problem with sampled orchestras. I compose music myself and don't have a orchestra in my garden. So I got really fast used to the sound. The one instance with truly bad samples is Blake Neely's Arrowverse music. All the synth effects are awesome but he still uses the same orchestral samples that he used for Arrow Season 1. That was 10 years ago. They're beyond outdated.

And Thor's idea of synth only stuff... as long it's musically still interesting, why not? The thing is that we mostly get rather atmospheric stuff like "Dune" or "Dunkirk". Scores that are exceptionally good produced, but musically just boring, at least for me. The filmmusic of today is more for the feel and not for the music. While good orchestrated orchestral music easely achieves both.

 
 
 Posted:   May 12, 2022 - 2:03 AM   
 By:   brofax   (Member)

Nobody likes real orchestral scores more than me, all of my favourite film composers used them and there is nothing out there that will equal the quality of their sound, but, and it's a big but...

...there is a danger here that we could morph into similar beings to those who deride or look down on film music as something lesser.

If I happen to like a score produced on keyboards that simulate real instruments and if it does the job it is supposed to do I have no problem at all with it.

I have to be honest. Having streamed countless films/series at home over Covid time I can't recall a single case where I sat back and thought, nah, that's no good because it was played on keyboards rather than with a real orchestra.

 
 
 Posted:   May 12, 2022 - 2:15 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

I have to be honest. Having streamed countless films/series at home over Covid time I can't recall a single case where I sat back and thought, nah, that's no good because it was played on keyboards rather than with a real orchestra.

It becomes more apparent when you listen to the soundtracks than when watching a film or series. I should have listed some examples, but I've already deleted the folders. We're still far off from samples being able to sound just like the real deal (although it's getting closer every year), so it just sticks out to me. It's one thing to add a few sampled instruments on top of something that is more synth-driven, that's OK. But when it tries to mimic a big, old-fashioned orchestral pirate score or whatever, with zero dynamic, abrupt ends to chords and so on, it just grates on me.

 
 Posted:   May 12, 2022 - 3:28 AM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)

Yes, I am not sure how relevant this is to when you are watching a movie, when the music is just part of the sound mix. But it becomes very, very noticeable when you listen to a film score as music. One could of course argue that if a film score does the job in the movie, that suffices, and the sound quality on a music only release doesn't matter. Fair enough, I would just pass such a release then.

I have some recordings with a sampled orchestra and I hardly ever listen to them... they sound slim, artificial, sterile... there is no depth or warmth in the sound.

I think BSX re-recording of THE THING is interesting, as half of that score was electronic anyway, so that part is well recorded, and to have an orchestral emulation of the other half of the score is strangely fitting, as if it's a THING version of the score, an emulation. So I have grown to like that one, even though I prefer the original Morricone orchestral recording, as a companion piece.

 
 
 Posted:   May 12, 2022 - 3:53 AM   
 By:   KeV McG   (Member)

When I hear something like those old THRILLER & TWILIGHT ZONE scores, or something like TESTAMENT by James Horner, which created incredible soundscapes, using only a handful of players, it makes me really sad to hear a tinny, thin sounding modern midi score, that is straining at its seams to appear BIG, but just comes off sounding VERY small.
Is it a lack of skill (or effort) at an arranging/orchestration level, on the part of the composer, to be able to think outside their (limited keyboard) box and try to create something more organic or acoustic or inventive?
I only know it sucks in comparison.

 
 Posted:   May 12, 2022 - 5:16 AM   
 By:   Erik Woods   (Member)

I'm currently wading my way through a lot of new scores of the year, and I'm struck by one thing, in particular -- how many of them use sample programs over actual musicians.

Which scores, Thor? How many exactly did you hear that are doing this? And how do you know they are sampled compared to organic? Is it mentioned in the liner notes?

-Erik-

 
 
 Posted:   May 12, 2022 - 5:26 AM   
 By:   Prince Damian   (Member)

All synth= no sale! smile

 
 Posted:   May 12, 2022 - 5:34 AM   
 By:   First Breath   (Member)

All Orchestra = No Sale

 
 
 Posted:   May 12, 2022 - 5:57 AM   
 By:   Prince Damian   (Member)

All Orchestra = No Sale

D'ya wanna take this outside? big grin

 
 
 Posted:   May 12, 2022 - 6:07 AM   
 By:   Alex_Less   (Member)

All Orchestra = No Sale

 
 
 Posted:   May 12, 2022 - 6:14 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Which scores, Thor? How many exactly did you hear that are doing this? And how do you know they are sampled compared to organic? Is it mentioned in the liner notes?

No liner notes, just an experienced ear. They would never "give it away" in the liner notes if it was all-sampled anyway, if the goal was to sound big and symphonic. Of course, in some cases, it might indeed be all-sampled, other cases sampled dubbed on top of acoustic and other cases yet again all-acoustic that somehow comes off as sampled (rarely happens, but a pinched sound mix might give that illusion -- like on Henrik Skram's CLUE).

I've deleted the scores in question now, but some off the top of my head include EMILY AND THE MAGICAL JOURNEY (Kraemer), NINJAS DOWN THE STREET (Kieboom), PLUNDER QUEST (Sammi), THE LOST CITY (Toprak), THE GREEN PLANET (Merrison & Slater), QAZAC (Silliotto), OUR GREAT NATIONAL PARKS (Schweitzer), BLASTED (Westad), others I can't remember right now.

This as opposed to something like Rombi's LES TEMPS DE SECRET, which in my ears clearly sounds acoustic and natural.

 
 Posted:   May 12, 2022 - 6:50 AM   
 By:   McD   (Member)

This is like digital film or computers playing chess. When it appears it feels unnatural and a cheat. It gets better, we get used to it and, eventually, it feels even better than the real thing.

 
 Posted:   May 12, 2022 - 7:28 AM   
 By:   EdG   (Member)

I'm not sure this is ALL Covid related. There are hardly any full-orchestra soundstages left in LA for one thing; scheduling can be a nightmare. For another, producers & directors are endlessly sending notes to composers and making last-minute editing changes - it's just the unfortunate way the industry works now. There's very little time for anyone to write and record a traditional orchestra score anymore.

 
 Posted:   May 12, 2022 - 7:47 AM   
 By:   Erik Woods   (Member)

No liner notes, just an experienced ear.

Ok, so you don't know for a fact, which is fine. Thanks for the list... I give them a listen. BTW, engineering can also come into play which might make a real orchestra sound sampled... one such example is Moon Knight, which to my ear sounds like a sampled orchestra but in reality wasn't.

-Erik-

 
 Posted:   May 12, 2022 - 7:54 AM   
 By:   Basil Wrathbone   (Member)

I compose music myself and don't have a orchestra in my garden.


If I like gardening but don't have a greenhouse should I plant plastic flowers in my garden instead of real ones?

 
 Posted:   May 12, 2022 - 8:03 AM   
 By:   McD   (Member)

I compose music myself and don't have a orchestra in my garden.

If I like gardening but don't have a greenhouse should I plant plastic flowers in my garden instead of real ones?


Its a good analogy in this instance. As it works on the wildly incorrect assumption that flowers need a greenhouse to grow.

 
 Posted:   May 12, 2022 - 8:07 AM   
 By:   McD   (Member)

What you think it 'sounds' like isn't the same argument as 'does it work?'

Children of a Lesser God was always discussed as two orchestras playing, not one, for added texture. To my ears, it sounds like potentially none are playing at all and it's all a 'creation'.

But there's no doubting it's one of the finest soundtrack CDs you'll ever hear, regardless.

 
 Posted:   May 12, 2022 - 8:24 AM   
 By:   DavidCoscina   (Member)

Yes, I have noticed that with some recordings, and I've been turned off by the orchestra emulation. I have no problem with electronics or effects, and even synth choirs and instruments, if they are used for effect (as James Horner sometimes used sampled choirs, as in Titanic). But if sampled orchestras try to sound like the "real deal", they still fall terribly short.

Doubling a sampled instrument line with a synth line actually helps in many cases. It adds an extra dimension and then the ear isn't as critical of the sampled part.



 
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