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.


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.


4 thoughts on “A Garritan instrument problem solved

  1. I’ve always hated Finale, and a few years ago when they fired the heads of software development because of severe quality problems I finally jumped ship. I went to Sibelius for a while and finally landed on Notion which is drastically easier to use and much more robust when employing third-party virtual instruments. That Notion is also on the iPad and iPhone and fully compatible with the Mac version is a huge bonus. For ease of use reasons I’ve also stopped using Logic in favor of Studio One, which also makes Notion. Presonus is the company.

    The Garritan Library of sounds is simply not very good and never was. It costs a lot of money to get good quality virtual instruments and there is a learning curve to use them well. Orchestral movie scores are made with tools like Logic and premium libraries. I’ll provide a couple links to sites that provide such sounds, expensive as they may be:



    • An afterthought on the above. I find that instruments vary in quality with tuned percussion, horns and woodwind (except oboes) being easy to find but trumpets are not good and the muted sound in Garritan is really bad. I was disappointed to note that the evocative muted horns sound is not available, either. The examples you pointed me to are really professional but, of course, these demos have been enhanced a little for marketing purposes in ways that are not available on our desktop machines.

      • I agree. Getting their results in the demo audio tracks is difficult at best. What I find helpful in researching virtual instruments is noting where they are willing to present an instrument in isolation rather than couched along with other things. If they find the need to bury their product along with other things then the product in question might not really stand up to scrutiny in isolation. It is very difficult to make purchasing decisions and I have made many mistakes along the way. It’s hard.

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