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On-Going Orch Tracks Project 
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Post On-Going Orch Tracks Project
OK, so I decided to create a new thread at the risk of being slapped with the "search" suggestion but finding threads isn't a problem nor the issue. That other thread is old and I'd rather not drag up a thread in which a bunch of promises and goals I made were never met/kept. LOL. :oops:

But here's a VERY early 'rough draft' of "I Saw Him Once".

The main string part heard is courtesy of sheet music I purchased online.

The clarinet heard at the start and the DX-7 harp is courtesy of my hyper sensitive, floppy ears.

I realize the parts are assigned to the wrong instruments. For example, most of the string section here should be played by a combo of woodwinds and strings, and the separation of the simplified main string section provided by the sheet music into violin, viola, and cello sections is quick guesswork on my part, so I apologize for any nasty balance issues.

Like I said, very early draft and it's synth-city quality, all of which will change as I work on improving its accuracy and adding the (many) missing parts.

The tempo is what was indicated on the sheet music, which we all know is wrong; way too fast! That will also change.

Sorry if the volume is too low.

Listen onsite or download here: http://yourlisten.com/channel/content/6 ... Him%20Once

OTHER PROJECTS:

-STILL working on improving "On My Own."

-Will continue working on "I Dreamed a Dream," a project I had no choice but to abandon when my iMac died. Have since recovered most of those files.

-Will continue work on "Rainbow High" from Evita. I've been asked about my version of "Requiem For Evita" but that was compiled spontaneously and mostly for fun without concern for perfection and I never intended to complete it. But since there's interest, I'll probably have a go at the rest of it in the coming weeks.

I listed only the projects I've progressed on and the ones I realistically can complete, unlike other times where I'd promise entire shows in a week, LOL.

Purpose of this thread? I have faith there are still people interested in orchestration and I think simply dishing out finished copies of "karaoke" ( :roll: ) tracks for strangers to wail to isn't very effective. I hope people who had no interest in this can find something of interest in following the process of taking individual orchestral parts and merging them to create a language of sorts, each component contributing its unique flavor. Most of all, I get a kick out of it and just put it out there to make it available.

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Wed Nov 03, 2010 12:40 am
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Post Re: On-Going Orch Tracks Project
"On My Own" Update:

I've been working on producing realistic strings for this song since 2001, and before you think I'm a chronic procrastinator, it hasn't been continuous and there are substantial gaps in between. I didn't really get moving on this until late last year, which produced the nearly completed "Preview Version" I've been posting as of late. However, I've never been satisfied with the string section.

I'd say it sounds realistic enough but I've always adored that really raw, scratchy sound you get from a lower number of players. The other version is much more symphonic sounding, which means it's both fuller and more lush but sacrifices the intimate details heard when played by anywhere from 5-10 string musicians.

While the lush and wide sound of huge string sections is certainly appreciated and welcome, I prefer a balance where lush and wide can also include that intimate detail and rawness I love. In all the years I've listened to the Les Miserables score, I've found no better balance achieved than at the Imperial Theatre; the original Broadway production's 13-year home (1990-2003).

The string section standard for the original Broadway run at the Imperial was 6 violins; 2 violas; and 2 celli. Perfect!

I've tried to recreate that sound and have used "On My Own" as a sort of starting point for every other song from this show that I will create an orchestral track for, which explains why it seems I'm obsessed with this one song over the others, lol. Although I do enjoy the song's string section and overall orchestration above most of the others (with the exception of orch faves: BHH, ECAET, R&B, ATEOTD, and the final chorus).

I *think* I will soon feel satisfied enough to produce a final version of the songs I've been working on since the strings have been holding me back. Below you'll find a link to yet another orchestral track of OMO but you'll notice many inaccuracies as opposed to the Preview Version I've recently posted here. The reason for that is I had lost everything due to my PC's hard drive having died on me this past August. So I am using a much older project/sequence file that I had saved on a disc (I believe it's from late 2008 and the more recent Preview Version project/sequence file that I lost was last modified just shortly before the hard drive crash). As a result, the tempo is all wrong, instruments that are on the latest version are missing (some cymbals, the 2nd timpani roll) and other instruments just sound bad (the "lazy," slurry sounding french horn toward the end). All instruments were left untouched and only the strings have been worked on in this particular improved string section version.

Minor parts, like the very ending and others sound blah. About 90% of it, though, has that lush yet intimate rawness I looooove. I also like how the lower number of string players allows greater clarity of the other instruments. You can listen onsite or download here:

http://yourlisten.com/channel/content/6 ... %20Strings

I've created it to specifically produce the sound of 6 violins, 2 violas, and 2 celli, just as heard at the Imperial on Broadway. I even added that distinct dramatic trill (heard at the end of the lyric "...still I say there's a way for us!") that is heard along with the rolling timpani and sweeping cymbals and always made me almost involuntarily take a deep breath due to the sheer emotion produced. I think the trill was unique to the original Broadway production's pit musicians because I've yet to hear another orchestra produce it so beautifully in both timing and expression. The way the strings' trill, the rolling timpani, and cymbals merge during that short moment is gorgeous yet absolutely devastating at the same time.

OK, so I wrote a novel. Ahhh, I can't get enough of Les Mis orchs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

EDIT: A little trick users of iTunes could use to sometimes enhance (other times degrade, depending on the way the song was mixed in-studio) orchestral tracks is turning on the program's built-in "Sound Enhancer." It sounds lovely with this track (and also the Preview Version) but you obviously need to download the song and play it on iTunes. Durr, lol. You can invert the stereo image somewhat and get a different listening perspective by:

Going to iTunes' Edit menu, selecting Preferences, checking (or ticking) "Sound Enhancer", and moving the slider all the way to the High or 12 position. Click OK to set (make sure "Sound Check" isn't enabled. I've found most audio sounds crappy with it on).

It at first seems like it only increases volume but if you listen through headphones, you'll notice the mix is inverted and most of what was buried in the background can be heard (whether instruments or the awful "bubbly" noise that is a part of most every mp3. Grr. It's not too bad here). It's worth it even if the sequencing cut-offs are usually revealed and illusion of seamlessness compromised. Generally, in this file at least, what you gain in return is more detail in the strings. Give it a shot.

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Sun Nov 07, 2010 12:09 am
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Post Re: On-Going Orch Tracks Project
OK, this addition is just for fun (well, if you find comparing tiny nuances, orchestration adaptations, and other minor differences "fun," lol).

Yet another old OMO project/sequence file I found stored on a random disc. For those who have no clue as to what I'm talking about, and are interested, skip down to "Les Mis Orchestral Project and Adaptation" for a detailed, in-depth look. For those who can't be bothered (boo!!):

In a nutshell:

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I found an old file from an earlier attempt (dated 2007) of the OMO original orchestration. I opened it and applied my current software instrument sounds to it and the results are surprising--the string transitions from one note to another are much more seamless and boast more realistic expression than the ones created for and heard on the more recent and overall more accurate/complete Preview Version. However, the file is unique in that it contains a minimal number of string players, equal to what was typically used on lengthier stops of the show's 3rd U.S. national tour. It includes 2 violins; 1 viola; and 1 cello.

Thinner in overall sound, it boasts an even greater rawness. Be advised that since this is using an old project file, expect many of the parts I've since completed to be way off and some instruments missing, most notably the cymbals. And includes a partial acoustic guitar during the second half ("And I know it's only in my mind" up to "Still I say..."), which is absent from the most recent version. It also includes many more inaccuracies than the previous one above. So listen only for the strings since that's the only section modified in the old project file (and for a taste of that rarely heard guitar of the 2nd half--buried in the background on most recordings).

Listen onsite or download here:


http://yourlisten.com/channel/content/6 ... %20Strings

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Les Miserables Orchestral Project and Adaptation

A project file contains every last thing compiled for the track including the actual midi sequence (which is really just a set of instructions telling the instrument patches what notes to play and when); the software instrument settings; tempo info; and any other manually created nuances, expressions, articulations, effects that one might add. One thing it doesn't include is the actual software instrument patches. These are usually in separate plug-in programs that are linked to the main sequencer/composition program, and without them, you've got no virtual orchestra! Well, unless you use the built-in General Midi synth. Eww.

So locating these old files is fun (for me, lol) because it shows the progression of the track. But since it doesn't include the instrument sounds, but only the 'instructions' that tell them how to behave, I must use the instrument patches I currently use. Obviously, the old project file will try to locate the ones it used to be linked to and will fail. Therefore, I have to re-link or re-map each instrument sequence channel to its appropriate corresponding external instrument plug-in. The results could be terrible or wonderful and this depends on how well each plug-in responds to the old settings saved in the old project file.

This project file is from 2007 and I am surprised the string transitions are superior to anything I've done recently; they bend and articulate in a very realistic fashion. This particular file also used a minimal number of string 'musicians'--2 violins; 1 viola; and 1 cello--the standard used on lengthier stops of the Les Miserables third U.S. national tour or "Marius" company, as it was nicknamed, as required by Equity. Short, one-week engagements utilized an extra 2 keyboards in place of a real string section. Double eww.

No, it wasn't as "full" sounding as Broadway's 10-member string ensemble, but contrary to popular belief, smaller orchestras don't sound crappy. What's crappy (and what I actually am really referring to when I rant and rave about the cutting of pit musicians) is the REPLACING of real musicians/instruments with ugly synths that the orchestrator never intended for that given section. Here's where orchestration adaptation comes in.

John Cameron's original London/Broadway orchestration was skillfully adapted by Mr. Seann Alderking for use by a smaller orchestra on the national tour. He adapted it so the smaller number of musicians on tour (including those hired locally to supplement the touring orchestra on longer runs) could produce something as close to what is heard on Broadway and in London as possible. The adaptation doesn't only concern number of musicians but also a limited variety of instruments. The original Broadway production orchestra was made up of 19 different, distinct main instruments with a total of 30 pieces/units (including drum set and percussion--which is a variety of many small percussive units--controlled by one musician each) and played by 25 musicians (not including the conductor and his/her assistant whose 'instrument' is the entire orchestra!).

Longer engagements of the "Marius" tour hired a small number of local musicians and was made up of 17 distinct instruments (cut by only 2; piccolo trumpet & flugelhorn) with a total of 23 pieces/units played by 19 musicians, 6 less than on Broadway. However, the sound was just as good despite the very much reduced string section and the orchestration adaptation was hardly noticeable.

Short engagements of the "Marius" company typically reduced instrumentation down to 14; 21 pieces/units (w/ clarinet & sax doubled up and 4 of those pieces/units = keyboards); and made-up of 15 musicians. Piccolo trumpets, flugelhorn, violins, violas, celli were cut and substituted by an additional 2 keyboards and an added clarinet and sax. As many as 4 different woodwinds were played by a single musician and there were 2 musicians who each controlled 4 (no more than 2 woodwinds were played by a single musician on Broadway and each one of the 3 who made-up the woodwind section played woodwinds different from the ones the other 2 played), which means substantial adaptation of the original arrangement had to be implemented. Still, while the synth strings left much to be desired, the overall brilliant work of Mr. Alderking very much maintained the show's distinct orchestral language and 'character' even if the adaptation was apparent and synth sounds dominated.

I'm sure the above three arrangements aren't the extent of it and there are many more by Alderking and others. These DO NOT include the RE-ORCHESTRATION (more than just an adaptation but a new composition that chucks the original sound/character/language). It also doesn't include the "updated" (more like "updated for use on fake instruments played by a laptop in a budget tour") orchestration famously used on the 25th anniversary U.K. national tour and will likely be used on the forthcoming U.S. leg of it, as well. Many, MANY parts of these "new" orchestrations cling onto the originals but are considered to be a part of a different category other than "adaptation" due to how much new stuff, which amounts to not much more than added ornamentation along with severely reduced or reassigned parts that have also been partially re-composed. It drives me nuts--it's "new," but it isn't. One thing for sure, it pales dramatically in comparison to what we all know and love that has been the show's sound, it's voice for 25 years.

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Sun Nov 07, 2010 5:23 am
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Tony Winner
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Post Re: On-Going Orch Tracks Project
Quique, this thread is a marvel. These tracks are absolutely brilliant, and I'm always happy to read a shout-out to the Imperial Theatre orchestra. Good memories of that one, aye. I remember keeping my fingers crossed in 2003 for some sort of official recording of the closing cast on Broadway, so their fantastic interpretation of the score would be preserved, but it was not to be. Your knowledge obviously exceeds mine and that of most mortal men on this subject, but I thank you for your continued analysis and look forward to reading/hearing more!

Completely off of your points here, but I distinctly remember when I was seeing the show at the Imperial on a fairly regular basis (1999-2003), that the keyboards did not have the sound of the old DX-7's, but something closer to the TAC. I remember the term "Kurzweil" being thrown around a lot at the time, but I had no idea what it meant. I remember you writing elsewhere that TPTB had adapted the score for the Royal Albert Hall, re-programming the keyboard sounds and assigning some lines to other instruments, and that while obviously they weren't about to throw a harp into the pit at the Imperial, the new patches (Is that the right term?) created for the TAC had become the standard. This sound became the standard at the Imperial from the 10th Anniversary Broadway cast through the end of the show's run, as well as in other productions worldwide, and can be heard on the Duisburg and Antwerp albums. Do you have any idea why this particular re-arrangement was abandoned internationally after only a few years? Because I thought this relatively simple move was a terrific update to the score that provided *exactly* the "timelessness" that a certain producer claims the new orchs provide.


Wed Nov 10, 2010 11:14 am
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Post Re: On-Going Orch Tracks Project
Thom_Boyer wrote:
Completely off of your points here, but I distinctly remember when I was seeing the show at the Imperial on a fairly regular basis (1999-2003), that the keyboards did not have the sound of the old DX-7's, but something closer to the TAC. I remember the term "Kurzweil" being thrown around a lot at the time, but I had no idea what it meant. I remember you writing elsewhere that TPTB had adapted the score for the Royal Albert Hall, re-programming the keyboard sounds and assigning some lines to other instruments, and that while obviously they weren't about to throw a harp into the pit at the Imperial, the new patches (Is that the right term?) created for the TAC had become the standard. This sound became the standard at the Imperial from the 10th Anniversary Broadway cast through the end of the show's run, as well as in other productions worldwide, and can be heard on the Duisburg and Antwerp albums. Do you have any idea why this particular re-arrangement was abandoned internationally after only a few years? Because I thought this relatively simple move was a terrific update to the score that provided *exactly* the "timelessness" that a certain producer claims the new orchs provide.


Correct! That's why the current "update" to the orchestrations is a bunch of bologna and is really an attempt to reduce costs by simplifying the orchestra requirements. I thought the simple patches update heard on the Duisburg and Antwerp albums--as you said--more than sufficiently brought the show out of 80's. It was PERFECT. The current changes are unnecessary. It makes me happy that at least someone else out there ACTUALLY notices things like the patch changes, or at least cares enough.

I'm on my lunch break but will continue this post after work. And I'm glad you enjoyed my tracks! Thanks.

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Wed Nov 10, 2010 1:27 pm
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Young Hoofer
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Post Re: On-Going Orch Tracks Project
Quique wrote:
John Cameron's original London/Broadway orchestration was skillfully adapted by Mr. Seann Alderking for use by a smaller orchestra on the national tour.


It's nice to know that someone appreciates Seann's hard work! LOL I'll mention it to him the next time I see him. :)


Tue Nov 16, 2010 6:15 pm
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Post Re: On-Going Orch Tracks Project
Arriba, Seann!! :mrgreen:

You know how when you're a kid and everything that isn't a 1st grade-level sight word turns your brain into mush? So you skim the word/name for as long as humanly possible to avoid the extra decoding work, only to feel like a total dufus once you finally take the three seconds necessary to read it properly, and realize you were wrong all along?

Well, I knew this man as Mr. Seann Albertking, as a stupid child.

But, yeah, he had/has a fan who'd nervously scour the orchestra listing in the program and feel a sense of comfort/relief every time dude's name showed up alongside it.

He's awesomesauce. :thumbup:

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Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:36 pm
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Post Re: On-Going Orch Tracks Project
Quique, I still love them! Would you mind me singing OMO to one of your versions and then putting it on youtue? It would probably be the Dutch version though :) 'Heel alleen'.

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Post Re: On-Going Orch Tracks Project
I don't mind at all. You were originally to be the voice I wanted anyway (like 246017453 years ago, LOL!!!). You could use any version you wish but this one is the most accurate and complete: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=7368FMUV

Although I like the strings on the 6 violin; 2 viola; 2 celli one the best, hehe. Thanks God you're not a picky mofo like me. :mrgreen:

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Mon Nov 22, 2010 11:16 pm
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Post Re: On-Going Orch Tracks Project
Spent all day on this.

"What Have I Done?" - Valjean's Soliloquy [Chucked string section]

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Mon Dec 20, 2010 1:17 am
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Post Re: On-Going Orch Tracks Project
See, now, that's just pretty. I still don't understand why TPTB can't re-instate the cello line from the OLC arrangements to bring an approximation of the counter-melody to the new orchestrations. I don't mind the re-programming of the keyboards under "If there's another way to go..." etc., because at least the current patches keep the keyboardist from just plowing through that passage, reigning in the tempo and giving it the breathing room it needs, but the re-arrangement to Valjean's change of heart being underscored by Bear McCreary's Battlestar Galactica orchestra is...well...it's either criminal or funny, depending on my mood.


Mon Dec 20, 2010 2:42 pm
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Post Re: On-Going Orch Tracks Project
It was depressing for the longest time but I've learned to quit avoiding the changes and instead pay attention to how most of the remaining changes are actually variations or "cut, rearrange, and paste" jobs that are directly built upon what was already there. In fact, I can't think of a single "new" part that would actually be considered new. I'm specifically referring to the revision last used on the U.K. tour (from May, 2010). Obviously, I agree with you, because the current revision of Valjean's Soliloquy is definitely inferior to the original no matter how much it resembles it.

Btw, the strings from Valjean's Soliloquy posted above = synth city, and my ears practically began to bleed when I listened to it this morning. Ewww.

So I spent half the day trying to make them sound as real as possible and I think I did good considering how, in the end, it's still a synth (that happens to use real string samples). Ironically, the most challenging part of all this is the insertion of imperfection that is as much a part of that authentic orchestra sound as it is of the living musicians who literally breathe life into it. The magic lies in the details.

Listen: http://yourlisten.com/channel/content/7 ... ection_v.2


Speaking of details, for those of you who appreciate them: I've specifically recreated the sound of the original Broadway production pit standard of 6 violins; 2 violas; 2 celli, with an added double bass.

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Wed Dec 22, 2010 4:19 am
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