DAW to score? How to get professional musicians to play from MIDI performance instead of the chart?

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DAW to score? How to get professional musicians to play from MIDI performance instead of the chart?

Post by DC-Choppah »

https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/daw-score

Lately this aspect of music has become my main concern. I am getting professional horn and string players to play my music based on my songs where I have used VIs for all the real horns and strings.

This process of 'transcribing' my own performances into written parts is something I need to greatly improve on.

I really would rather that the musicians just listen to the MIDI and learn their parts from the music they hear. I can give out both the full song, and version missing their parts. But the professionals seem to expect written charts. So I try, but then we can get lost in the chart and the differences between the written page and the real sound and phrasing and style I am after. Then they want me to hire an arranger to get the chart right. But hey, I mean, play it like it sounds? Right?!?

I mean, I want them to listen to what I played mainly as their reference. But once committed to a chart, it becomes all about getting the chart right?!?

Anyone have any thoughts on this?
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Re: DAW to score? How to get professional musicians to play from MIDI performance instead of the chart?

Post by ManFromGlass »

The pros like their charts. I’m really slow with charts and would happily pay to have them done. I look at the chart as a roadmap from which to verbally fine tune what I’m reaching for. The pros will bring that to the table but might also have some great suggestions to make my ideas even better.
Doing it by ear will take longer. If you have players in mind I would ask them which way they are more comfortable working. A good chart reader will nail it in the first take, while more takes will bring on the magic.
I will admit that working on charts while referring to my orchestration book has made me a better composer due to knowing the options for each instrument.
Something else to consider is that midi instruments often play beyond the range of real instruments. With a midi wind or horn part there is no need to phrase so needed breaths can be taken. With real strings there are so many amazing phrasing options. Midi strings usually require a bunch of tracks with different patches to get close to what real can do. Sorry if I’m telling you things you already know.
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Re: DAW to score? How to get professional musicians to play from MIDI performance instead of the chart?

Post by RichardT »

There’s no getting away from the fact that classically-trained players will need high-quality scores to play from, including phrasing, dynamics, and articulations.

The better the scores, the better the results. If there are errors and inconsistencies, they will rapidly lose confidence.

I would definitely work with an arranger, preferably one who’s happy to give you some tuition so you can produce the scores yourself.
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Re: DAW to score? How to get professional musicians to play from MIDI performance instead of the chart?

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

DC-Choppah wrote: Mon Aug 09, 2021 2:03 am Anyone have any thoughts on this?

If you want to employ professionals you have to provide what they expect, and that's properly marked up scores.

Good though DAWS notation facilities are these days, you need to combine that output with understanding and experience of what each musician needs too, so a professional arranger makes a lot of sense. Although there's an expense involved, the output will be done much quicker, much more accurately, and with far less confusion and misinterpretation.

What you seem to want is basically someone who is willing to play by ear... and while some can, obviously, it's not what most pros specialise in! I'd say that was something you're more likely to find a willingness towards with a 'semi-pro' horn player.
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Re: DAW to score? How to get professional musicians to play from MIDI performance instead of the chart?

Post by MOF »

I don’t know how much arrangers charge for their services, but given the cost of studio time, MU rates and the number of musicians there must be a cutoff point at which playing back your midi track will be more expensive.
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Re: DAW to score? How to get professional musicians to play from MIDI performance instead of the chart?

Post by SteveKD »

Most professional musicians skill set is that they will be able to read the chart and record it straight away, little or no time wasted in 'learning' it. You will only need to pay them for the time you see them.
Some musicians are happy to learn the music by ear, the more complicated the music the more time it will take. Naturally you will have to pay for the time spent learning.
In my experience, on average, the chart readers (classically trained) will be the better performers, especially when it comes to strings.
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Re: DAW to score? How to get professional musicians to play from MIDI performance instead of the chart?

Post by DC-Choppah »

MOF wrote: Mon Aug 09, 2021 3:25 pm I don’t know how much arrangers charge for their services, but given the cost of studio time, MU rates and the number of musicians there must be a cutoff point at which playing back your midi track will be more expensive.

This is it then.

Arranger is $400 for my song.

I offer $75/hour for a session musician at my studio.
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Re: DAW to score? How to get professional musicians to play from MIDI performance instead of the chart?

Post by merlyn »

DC-Choppah wrote: Mon Aug 09, 2021 2:03 am So I try, but then we can get lost in the chart and the differences between the written page and the real sound and phrasing and style I am after.

What is different between the MIDI version with virtual instruments and what the musicians play from your chart?

What do the musicians think is wrong with your charts?

If you recorded the virtual instruments as MIDI, then the MIDI data could be a start in producing a chart. I remember from an earlier post that you don't use a click, so you will need to do a bit of work to get the MIDI aligned with the grid to allow you to export a MIDI file that lines up with the bars. You can then import the MIDI file into a score editor.

Then you can add phrasing and dynamics to get the musicians to play what you want, or as near as possible.
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Re: DAW to score? How to get professional musicians to play from MIDI performance instead of the chart?

Post by MOF »

This is it then.

Arranger is $400 for my song.

I offer $75/hour for a session musician at my studio.

Well studio cost is zero, but you are still going to waste at least fifteen minutes while the musicians modify your scored parts. They might be skilled sight readers but they’re not likely to be fast transcribers.
So the cutoff point is employing 21.33 musicians, that’s assuming fifteen minutes really nails the process, and it’s two to three fewer takes.
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Re: DAW to score? How to get professional musicians to play from MIDI performance instead of the chart?

Post by DC-Choppah »

merlyn wrote: Tue Aug 10, 2021 12:52 pm What is different between the MIDI version with virtual instruments and what the musicians play from your chart?

If I put a lot of effort into the chart, or have many iterations with the arranger then what they play sounds like what I played. But this takes time and iterations of working the chart itself.

merlyn wrote: Tue Aug 10, 2021 12:52 pm What do the musicians think is wrong with your charts?

They don't like when I tell them that what they played is not sounding like what the recording sounds like. They want the phrasing of what I played to be reflected in the chart so they can just read the chart and have me approve of the phrasing.

merlyn wrote: Tue Aug 10, 2021 12:52 pm If you recorded the virtual instruments as MIDI, then the MIDI data could be a start in producing a chart. I remember from an earlier post that you don't use a click, so you will need to do a bit of work to get the MIDI aligned with the grid to allow you to export a MIDI file that lines up with the bars. You can then import the MIDI file into a score editor.

Then you can add phrasing and dynamics to get the musicians to play what you want, or as near as possible.

When I play something with correct phrasing, the notation is hopelessly complex in the score view of the DAW. I can't even start with it for notation. I have to start from scratch to write out a readable score. I can do this and they love it but it takes much time and slows the process way down.
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Re: DAW to score? How to get professional musicians to play from MIDI performance instead of the chart?

Post by DC-Choppah »

RichardT wrote: Mon Aug 09, 2021 9:22 am I would definitely work with an arranger, preferably one who’s happy to give you some tuition so you can produce the scores yourself.

I think this is right on.
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Re: DAW to score? How to get professional musicians to play from MIDI performance instead of the chart?

Post by DC-Choppah »

Hugh Robjohns wrote: Mon Aug 09, 2021 10:57 am If you want to employ professionals you have to provide what they expect, and that's properly marked up scores.

I have always thought of the song as the final thing - the focus of the artistic effort - the end.

But I am seeing that there is a great demand for the chart itself since so many band directors want to play new music. The chart itself is also very valuable.

The benefit to having the charts done properly then is that I can have the music played more widely live by professional groups that demand full and correct charts.
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