This article is a guest post by composer Derek Bourgeois
Now let us look at how you would do this process using Vienna Symphonic Library.
The principal is exactly the same, but the interface looks very different. You have to load Vienna Ensemble Pro before you start to create your instance. You create the instance and link it to Sibelius.
Let’s take my Instance ‘VSL Percussion 1’. You start with a blank canvas and add instruments one by one except in VE Pro you are able to name them as well. In ‘VSL Percussion 1’ I have a sundry collection of 16 assorted percussion instruments as you can see from the picture below.
You create your instrument by clicking on the little icon bottom left of the dialog. You assign the name and the channel, then you select either the Matrix or the specific patch and drag it into the area top left of the screen. You can test it in a similar way to the way you tested it in EW Play.
Having created your instance you go back into Sibelius, and in exactly the same way you create a manual sound set for that instance selecting the soundset appropriate for the instance (in this case the soundset is VE Percussion). Not all the sounds will be definable in preferred sounds because they are not all defined in the soundset that VSL provides (though I am assured that this will be updated soon), so a lot of them have no sound IDs available in the manual soundset dialog and although you can tell preferred sounds.
Here is the Manual sound set dialog and you can see that a lot of the sounds simply have (none) as their sound ID.
So for the moment I am going to show you various tweaks to persuade Sibelius to play the correct sound.
Let’s start with channel 3 which you can see from the VSL editor dialog is a Bass Drum although it is simply ‘percussion’ to the manual soundset.
You tell preferred sounds that for Bass drum which Sibelius defines as unpitched.drum.low.bass drum.concert.* It must use VSL Percussion 1
The Mixer duly obeys this when you create a bass drum stave having selected it from the Add instrument dialog. But the mixer has no clue as to which channel to use, because as far as it is concerned it’s just percussion. So it will very likely pick the wrong channel and the sound will come out as anything found in the instance (in my case it usually sounds like a snare drum which is channel 2 not 3).
The first line of defence is to tell the mixer to use channel 3, and in most cases this will work, but, alas, not always. Even if it does work, you may prefer to use a particular one of the many bass drum sounds that the VSL patch has loaded.
So the next step is to highlight the stave and go into ‘edit instruments’. Bass drum should be selected so press the ‘Edit Instrument’ button. It should then appear as Unpitched Percssion in the next dialog. Click on ‘Edit Staff Type’ and you will see something like this:
Let’s concentrate only on the first entry which is notehead type 0.
Select Choose Sound and select VE Percussion as your soundset.
What you will see is bewildering in the extreme as you can see below.
You have to select one of the Bass Drum options for your Best sound but in order to decide which one you like best you’ll have to go into the VE Pro editor and try them all out using the keyboard and then remember which note plays the sound you most prefer. Let’s assume this is C#4 which is actually BassDrum secco (although I suspect that plain C4 Bass Drum is more than adequate). Make this selection and save it. Then go into the mixer and hit Auto for the initial playback device. This is important, because if you don’t you may well find that the mixer sound test plays a variety of bass drum noises, whereas your stave might sound like anything. The other day I had an excellent Wind machine sound in the Mixer, and a thumping loud Anvil when the staff played back!
Only if this doesn’t work can you then tell the Mixer precisely what Instance and Channel to use. Having gone through these steps the chances are you’ll get the sound you are expecting.
Sometimes it requires a lot of trial and error to get the Mixer, the staff instrument, and the preferred sounds to agree with each other. Personally I would very much prefer it if Sibelius allowed you to specify the precise Instance and channel for any particular sound. This would short-circuit a lot of the problems, though you would still have to use edit instruments to define precisely what sounds you want on which line or notehead.
You may occasionally find, as I do, that sometimes your score overloads any configuration you may have if it has very fast doubled woodwind scales, is full of rapidly repeated notes , trills and especially measured string tremolandos. The only recourse here is to make a special playback file and thin out all those doublings and duplicates which are not going to make a significant contribution to the playback. This has nothing to do with the amount of RAM you have, merely that you are asking the computer processor to do more simultaneous switching on and off of sounds than it can cope with. There’s always a satisfactory solution.
Some Extra Hints for East West playback problems
I always find it useful to create a special playback file where you can provide all sorts of tweaks without worrying what the printout will look like. Using East West Symphonic Orchestra beware of the following:
Flute only goes up to Bb6
Do a quick instrument change to Piccolo and back for the very high notes
Contrabassoon will only play up to written Bb3
Double up the second bassoon for the missing notes
Solo trumpet has no mute sound
Do an instrument change to Trumpet Ensemble which does have a muted sound
Muted trombone will not play higher than F4
Do an instrument change to trumpet ensemble for the higher notes.
A sf marking in Trombone only produces a note below C3
Make the sf inactive by using the Inspector and put in a hidden accent
Violins, either solo or ensemble, will not playany note above C7
The only recourse here is to have a hidden staff dedicated to VSL or Sibelius 7 Sounds and put the non playing notes on this staff and hide them (unless it’s a dedicated playback file where it doesn’t matter what it looks like). Most violin concertos and Brahms symphonies have violins going higher than C7. A serious omission in my view.
Violas are far too loud relative to the other strings
Reduce the mixer volume, but beware of muted sounds where the normal balance is restored.