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:

[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!]


2 thoughts on “Garritan Instruments: an afterthought

  1. Hi John. I want to clue you into something before it happens. With high end virtual instruments in particular, after adding a few tracks you might find that your computer is having trouble keeping up. With enough tracks this will happen with any computer. Pure audio tracks are not very demanding. What you can do, if and when this happens, is to FREEZE the tracks you are not currently working on. What this freezing does is to temporarily render the virtual instrument track as an audio track while you are not working on it. Rest assured that you can unfreeze that track at any time in order to modify it. Doing this will allow you to have many more tracks than otherwise.

    • Thanks, Jim. I’m aware of the freeze advantages. This is what Apple says: ‘Freezing a track reduces its CPU usage to that of a high-resolution audio track with no effects plug-ins inserted’. What you’re doing is to temporarily dump the ‘baggage’ that goes with the file. That’s what speeds things up. I assembled a score from audio tracks, just out of interest, (which isn’t exactly what you said, I know) and the file size went from 12MB to 999MB. As you will know, if you do a ‘Save As’ Logic is one of those programs that dumps the history and the file size will drop to around 25% of its original size!

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