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A Lycanthropes Lament

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In folklore, a werewolf, or occasionally lycanthrope, is a human with the ability to shapeshift into a wolf, either purposely or after being placed under a curse or affliction with the transformations occurring on the night of a full moon.

This is my first foray into the world of DAWs and using orchestral samples.  I first entered this piece into Musescore, then I exported a pdf, mp3 and midi.  I took the midi and imported it as a new media file in Reaper and copied the midi data into new tracks which were assigned to the BBC SO Discover Pack string orchestra.  For some reason, despite all the notes having different velocities, there were no noticeable changes in dynamics and I couldn't find a way to draw volume controller changes to the tracks... ???  If anyone can help me troubleshoot this I'd appreciate the help!  As it stands I actually prefer the Musescore rendition which includes the written dynamics.

Of course, I'd also appreciate any comments or critiques you have about the music or the score itself.

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The music is fine if rather faint. I had the BBCSO free version which turned out to be unworkable for me. But I seem to remember controlling the velocity of sustained notes using the mod wheel. I don't know if you've tried it. In case not you need to set up a CC channel in the midi editor: CC1. If I've got it right, you "draw" the velocities you want in the channel by clicking (LH button) and if you want to select a group of bars (velocity values) use the RH mouse button to select. You can also click in the CC area to select "affect all events in channel' to change the 'volume' throughout. 

Unless someone else comes on with a better answer I'll pop back in the morning. There's also mention of CC11 (expression) or some such.

Edited by Quinn
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Welcome to the world of samples!

BBCSO Discover is awful, even if free just FYI!


You can change the dynamics with the modwheel, which is MIDI CC1. If you don't own a MIDI controller, I really, really recommend you get a controller keyboard, one with a few faders on it (I recommend the oxygen pro and pro mini) as playing in the notes and controller information live always yields much better results than MIDI import.

That being said, you can still draw in the dynamics with the mouse. Double click on a MIDI item on the timeline, and in the bottom left, you will see a dropdown menu that will say "velocity" by default and you can adjust the velocity parameters here manually. Click that menu, and you will see "01 Modwheel MSB" as an option. Click it and set the snap/grid to at least 64th notes.

Then, in the blank area where the velocity sliders were previously, you'll find that you can draw in modwheel data if you hold down left click. The closer you go to the top, the louder it will be. 

However, why BBCSCO Discover sucks, is that it only contains 1 dynamic layer per note. So there are no more recordings of actual louder and quieter dynamics as there should be, and as a result this does nothing more than increase the volume of the individual sample as per Discover's scripting. =/

Also, just so you know, MIDI CC 11 is called "Expression" which normally controls the channel volume of the virtual instrument.

A handy trick if you get samples with more recordings, is to use both MIDI CC 1 AND 11 at the same time to control dynamics. Many find it helps add a bit more range to the samples as many libraries struggle with el niente and therefore can suffer from hard stops and starts.

I personally use the modwheel (always midi cc1 by default) and the fader next to it on my keyboard mapped to cc11. I have another fader mapped to CC2, which controls vibrato in many libraries.

Anymore questions about samples, making mockups and Reaper — you know where to find me. I've been using sample libraries for decades, and Reaper since about 2012 or so.



Edited by AngelCityOutlaw
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That seems to accord with what I remember. I have a keyboard but prefer to do the piano roll by hand as it seems more immediately controllable to produce a more realistic orchestral sound. With a keyboard I have to make further edits. 

Good point from AngelCityOutlaw about drawing in the velocity envelope (holding the LH button down and dragging it to the envelope shape you want. I set the grid to 1/64 for freehand drawing of notes and velocity levels and 1/32 if I want to snap to the grid. With triplets I set the grid to the appropriate tuplet note value. (makes sure it doesn't mess me up too much when exporting the midi to notation software. 

Four problems I had with the BBCSO freebie:

- You can't assign the keyswitches and CC channels as you like

- you can't place the instruments on the stage where you like

- you can't turn off the reverb altogether

- no solo instruments.

(I must admit I wasn't aware that in some versions of the library the samples only have a single layer so altering the velocity is just altering the volume).

Which limit a composer to work with what's provided. But that's an unfortunate feature of all sample libraries.

A last point, Peter. You may already be aware of it but in case not. You can set the midi editor to "one midi editor per project" which allows you to see all piano roll notes shaded down with the selected instrument highlighted (usually darker but depends on settings - it's always more visible). Along the tools bar of the editor panel, click the "track list" button on. You get a list of your tracks/instruments down the right hand margin of the editor panel. Then right click anywhere in that track list and up comes a menu, one item of which is "one MIDI editor per". Hover on that and a dropdown appears with the last item being "project".

I've found this so useful for checking what's going on over all. If you want to see every track in editable form simultaneously, press and hold Ctrl+shift, then left click any one of the padlocks in the track list. Useful to change the duration of notes or delete them when you have a whole (0rchestral) selection to treat. However, if you want to add new notes, be sure you've selected the instrument you want to add in the track list first. To unlock the full edit just ctrl+shift + left click any padlock. 


Reaper midi editor.jpg

Edited by Quinn
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I noticed this site while browsing through 


The various comments suggest you need two CC channels to control volume and velocity (no problem with that except which to use for velocity). Sometimes one uses both. I found it pretty confusing but with continued use it would probably become second nature. 

In my sample player I set the master volume to max then adjust reaper's faders for each instrument to get a consistent mezzoforte then leave them alone and do all the dynamics though the velocity channel. Most instruments have consistent dynamics but one or two don't. I'm able to adjust the dynamic range so I can get a niente with the velocity control. It also lets me adjust the volume for individual articulations which can be useful. I think this is possible with the BBCSO player.



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The thematic material has a resemblance to the  "Star Wars" theme.  I thought the music would be more strident and dissonant to bring out the werewolf metamorphosis.  It's a bit "sweet - lyrical" ......

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