Today I began to explore the possibilities of orchestral sounds in Finale, the music software I use. Last year’s upgrade included a version of the Garritan Personal Orchestra, an AudioUnit instrument set. The sounds are sampled from the real thing and are quite subtle, especially if you can tweak them.
The problem is that they’re a huge memory hog. My poor little laptop is three years old and can barely keep up, even after upgrading the memory to 1 GB, its capacity. Still, I took “Blake’s Wonderful Car” and switched over the SoftSynth orchestral sounds to GPO.
Problems immediately arose, of course. Huge distortion marred the opening measures, “blowing out” the music entirely for a couple of measures. When it settled down, the sound was incredible, at least until the trombones and trumpets re-entered at forte, at which point the distortion took over again.
I wondered whether the distortion would transfer to a sound file. I went to Save Special, and lo, the mp3 option was no longer there, only AIFF or WAV. I tried both. Of course, the file is huge: 16MB. “Wonderful Car” is only 33 measures and still uses a chamber sound; I can only imagine what “Milky Way” will be like, with its 101 measures and full orchestral sound.
So I go to my desktop to hear the AIFF file, huge as it is. No distortion, but no coherence either. It sounds as if the separate tracks simply slid forward to their first note and started playing. This made no sense, because the program plays through the piece to record the GPO instruments to disk. How can the AIFF be anything but what I heard?
Oh, and the other issue: no vocal sounds. I am not the only one who has complained on MakeMusic’s forums about feeling snookered into the upgrade based on the Garritan AU instruments, only to find that there is no choral pad available. And one cannot mix SoftSynth and AU instruments in one piece. So what I’m ending up with is the orchestral accompaniment. For those pieces where the voices are not doubled in the orchestra, you’ll just have to sing it yourself. I’ve looked for an AU voice instrument online, but I can’t seem to find one.
So close, the sounds are really wonderful, and yet so far. Onward.