Garritan instruments, again

Just to bring all this up to date (see three previous) – and in case there is anyone else out there who suffered in a similar way – I have discovered that, if I import the MIDI file (which is how you’re supposed to do it!) instead of dragging the file into the tracks area of Logic Pro, as you do with loops, all the instruments sound, both the native Logic and the imported Garritan ones.

But I’m still open to advice concerning why Finale appointed itself to be the default program when dealing with MIDI files generated in MuseScore.

Garritan: the saga continues

Two blogs ago I claimed that MuseScore, my scorewriter of choice, produced ‘clean’ midi files, that I’ve been dragging into the Logic Pro tracks window. This is a fair claim, supported by experiment. Today I had problems with MuseScore midi files and discovered that, when I opened the midi, stored temporarily on the desktop, it opened in Finale! Somehow Finale has appointed itself to be the ‘default’ program. This explained the problem. I had to select ‘open in MuseScore’ and export it again as a midi file. (I chose a different name to be quite sure.) It worked, on three occasions. The score in question was also taken into Finale some time ago and the file still exists, which could explain the mystery.

Each time I closed the unwanted instance of Finale an on-screen message informed me that Finale had quit unexpectedly and a report would be sent to Apple. I hope someone reads them.

Having believed, at one point, that a move to Finale was required I produced scores in the program. Because of this and the fact that, for example, I haven’t yet found a flugelhorn or bass trombone in Logic’s suites, I can’t dump Finale.

No one expects life to be easy – mine never was – but life really shouldn’t be like this. Suddenly, I’m getting a message to sign into iCloud when I start the computer. Now where did THAT come from? I’ve never used iCloud.

It’s easy to feel there’s something sinister going on here.

Garritan Instruments: an afterthought

I’d hoped that when I opened the Garritan instruments in my newly-acquired Logic Pro X they’d be the answer to my poor playback facilities. As always with virtual instruments, some sounds – tuned percussion, horns, drum kit etc. – are OK but the trumpets, especially, are poor and the muted sounds even worse.

To be fair, Finale isn’t a sequencing program and its playback is OK for a composer’s own needs or when sending demos to established customers who know your worth. My epic struggle to get them to work (see previous) was  not entirely a waste of time because, at least, I learned how to clear unwanted clutter from MIDI tracks. (It was my own ears that alerted me to that problem.)

Then I discovered something that so many young composers will already know. The ‘Legacy’ heading in the downloadable files list in Logic Pro isn’t a set of legal terms and conditions, it opens around 15GB worth of instruments! Some of this is in the form of additional loops but there are so many sets of instruments I’ll have to write a family-tree kind of diagram and set up some small music files as a handy way of making a choice.

Many loops are MIDI files which can be dragged into the tracks area in Logic or Garageband and tailored at will using either the pencil tool or by option-dragging etc.

Despite all this, the only way to achieve broadcast-quality demos is to buy some of the expensive instruments that are available.  In this connection I’m indebted to fellow-blogger Jim Gramze for pointing me towards two sites that didn’t arise in my own search:
http://www.soundsonline.com
https://www.vsl.co.at/en

[Until 1994, when I acquired Encore, I had been – since 1958 – a traditional pencil scores and manuscript knib craftsman so my current quest, which will be old stuff to first-year music students, began comparatively recently. During my radio days I just handed the score over to the BBC’s copyists. My own manuscript parts frequently drew some very kind remarks. Interestingly, I spent so much time writing in this way that I lost my ability to write in longhand and now have to write everything in capital letters!]

A Garritan instrument problem solved

An old buddy of mine, a fine trombonist, once commented that young players start where we leave off and I’ve just experienced another example that proved the point.

This story begins with my decision to buy Logic Pro X three weeks ago. I already had Pro Tools. I also doubled the RAM in my 27” iMac which now stands at 16 GB, with 16 more to come.

I know the keyboard inside out but I have limited technique so the easiest way for me to assemble the midi tracks is to export my scores to the desktop as midi files, drag them into a new project in Logic and assign the virtual instruments. I generally use MuseScore for notation because, despite the fact that the program still lacks some of Finale’s features, it’s far quicker overall. (I can add the other stuff manually.)

The problem is that I needed to supplement Logic’s excellent instruments to provide all the options I required. I haven’t complemented them with third party stuff yet because I want to avoid duplicating what I already have. As I expected, with the industry’s obsession with rock and pop, there are tons of drum, guitar, keyboard and bass sounds.

I have Finale and its Garritan instruments so this seemed to offer a way out.

I bought my first Mac in 1988 and have worked with Illustrator, PhotoShop, Quark XPress, many word processors and three different notation programs. In other words, I’m no stranger to learning curves and the frustration of learning new tricks. But nothing could prepare me for the week of misery I experienced as I tried and tried (and tried) to get the Garritan instruments to sound in Logic.

I consulted every source I could find and watched the Aria Player video over and over again. The problem here is that the images bear no resemblance to what I see on my computer.

My daughter Vicky had been watching me in silence.

‘Can I use the computer?’ she asked ‘I’ve had an epiphany moment and I think I can solve this’.

“Yeah, yeah’ I thought.

Unknown to me, because she is so unassuming, Vicky had used music software while acquiring her degree in computer animation. I often proudly describe what I’m doing but I now know that she’s been pretending to be impressed for a long time.

‘The files are corrupted’ she explained. ‘If I export them to the desktop and place them back into Logic the computer will create files the program can recognise’.

To my indescribable relief it worked.

The files are still corrupt to an extent because Finale converted the score dynamics into *step-edit stuff that sits in the background. I hadn’t used step-edit. This has caused some difficulty in assigning the dynamics (with the automation feature). I can’t find any save option in Finale that will help me to avoid this. MuseScore exports clean midi files, so that will be the way to go. It’s just that, with the current project, I had used Finale to create the score because I believed that, with so many accomplished composers worldwide using the program, I obviously needed to overcome my ‘silly’ dislike of it.

Wrong.

It’s likely that, struggling with deadlines, and with the knowledge of how time-consuming it generally is to learn new stuff, composers just stick with what they know. I did, for a long time. There’s also an element of snobbery about using free programs such as MuseScore.

[An impressive feature of the piano-roll edit feature in Logic Pro was revealed when I took  the midi files featuring 4/4, 5/4 and 11/8 time signatures into a project set up simply in the default 4/4 metre and it all worked! To make matters even more diabolical, I had subjected the 3,3,3 2 structure of the 11/8 to permutations, so that the ‘2’ portion moves around cyclically.]

*I’m grateful to a contributor to the Logic Pro forum for a clever solution to this problem. My files are now clean and the improvement to the overall sound is dramatic.