On Black Friday 2017, I bought the Garritan Personal Orchestra (“GPO”) and Jazz and Big Band (“JABB”) libraries on sale. I installed them, and, from within Finale, it seemed like nothing had happened. I didn’t see any new Devices or Sounds via the Score Manager, or any new banks in the MIDI/Audio > Audio Units Banks and Effects screens.
I learned from Finale’s support staff that the installer doesn’t provide the “connective tissue” between Finale and the new libraries. Each library has an .xml and .soundmap file, necessary to make the samples show up in the Score Manager patch lists. I was happy to see, after manually completing the installation, the new Premium libraries show up in the Device list, and long lists of new Sounds under each instrument type.
The instructions for making these connections are here. MakeMusic is currently updating the installer to take care of this during the installation process.
Getting started with GPO
Taking these steps opened up a new universe within Finale. But now, with new libraries showing up in the Device options, and really long new patch lists showing up in the Score Manager’s Sound selector column, other bugs and idiosyncrasies began to appear.
MakeMusic has been has been working hard on Finale’s Human Playback (“HP”) technology, enabling the program to write continuous controller (“cc”) and keyswitch (“KS”) data into the file’s MIDI stream, leveraging score markings for realistic performance when using Finale’s playback engine. HP data can save hours for a composer striving for best-quality, most-realistic possible demos for their clients.
Creating a good mockup used to involve either starting the composition in a digital audio workstation (“DAW”) such as Logic, Pro Tools, Digital Performer, Ableton, Cubase, or one of many others, then doing extensive manual edits of controller data taking hours and hours. But it’s still a work-in-progress, with some known bugs we encountered immediately.
Problems with GPO and Human Playback
- Finale’s default HP configurations are missing some associations – you’ll need to create them
- Some obvious KS’s are missing from the default HP configs
- Some commonly used techniques are absent from the GPO library, even though they’re present in Garritan Instruments for Finale (“GIFF”)
- Multiple sounds have the same name in the patch lists
- It’s not possible for the user to assign KS to sounds that don’t have them
- It’s not possible for the user to edit articulations that trigger KS
- Some articulations work for some samples, but not others that share the same patch name
There’s a lot of work to be done.
I opened a score I was working on, and used the MIDI/Audio > Reassign Playback sounds command. With the soundmap and XML files installed, Finale automatically applied my new library sounds to the score! Here it is:
Problem no. 1: Flute vibrato vs. straight tone
The GPO solo flute sound is lovely, with vibrato. The GPO version has a non vibrato sound available via KS, and supported by HP, according to Finale’s Keyswitch Trigger list.
But, looking in Finale > Preferences > Human Playback > Garritan > Winds, the KS trigger for “no vibrato” is absent. I had to create it, right out of the gate. I needed to turn off vibrato after the first melodic statement, per instructions of the client.
A read of this page revealed how to get it working. In this instance, we had the means to switch from vibrato to non-, but the means to do so is not (yet) included in Human Playback’s default preferences.
Our solution was to set up a “Custom Text” technique to send KS #2 when HP reads the text “no vibrato”.
Problem no. 2: Violin tremolo
Finale’s GIFF is set up in such a way that using the tremolo articulation symbol triggers KS #7, playing a lovely tremolo violin section sample.
After loading and correctly configuring GPO, I created an orchestral score, with the new GPO soundmap loading “Violin I KS (GOS)” into the First Violins slot.
Unfortunately, for that library, the tremolo triggers something else — possibly a col legno. It’s definitely sending a keyswitch – probably KS#7. (MakeMusic is working on this issue).
The online manual’s recommended solution — deactivate the tremolo technique in HP preferences — didn’t work in our test. The sound changes, but not to a recognizable tremolo.
Using Utilities > Change Instrument does not work either.
The workaround solution is to add the legacy GIFF Violin I (either “Solo” or “Section” version) to another layer in the score manager, making sure it’s in a new bank, and move notes and expressions from the original layer to that layer with the GIFF sample assigned, for the duration of the score bars in question.
Into a DAW with GPO using Human Playback and the Aria Player
Exporting this Finale score into a DAW (I use Pro Tools) required several things to be done on the Finale side before opening a session in ProTools.
The plan is:
- Export the midi with all the HP data
- Import it into Pro Tools
- Load ARIA Player banks with my score configuration (three banks saved in Finale) into Aux Inputs in Pro Tools, assigning the correct bank and channel for each midi track.
This creates a session with 20-odd MIDI tracks for my orchestral score, but only three instances of the ARIA player, which is easy enough on the CPU to run an orchestral session on a 2012 MacBook Pro.
Step 1: Saving the banks
Go into MIDI/Audio > Audio Units Banks and Effects. There’s a pencil icon adjacent to each bank that opens that instance of the ARIA Player.
All your instruments are assigned, but we need to save this particular combination in order to use it in a DAW without having to recreate it completely.
After saving it in the default location, it will appear in the user dropdown menu:
At this step, it’s very useful to take a screenshot of each bank setup in the ARIA Player, and save it. You’ll use it setting up your session in the DAW.
Step 2: Export the MIDI
Go to File > Export > MIDI, but make sure to do it with Human Playback turned on in Window > Playback Controls > Human Playback Style in order to get the KS and CC data.
Step 3: Open a session in your DAW
Step 4: Import the MIDI
Step 5: Set up Aria Player instances (one for each bank you’ll use)
Step 6: Route each midi track output to the correct bank/channel for each instrument, referring to your screenshot printouts from Step 1
When this is done, you can add some plug-in inserts to your aux inputs for sound enhancement.
You can also make use of the ARIA Player’s built-in effects, adjusting them instrument by instrument.
In order to make the effects controls active for a particular patch, you’ve got to click on the exact spot in the ARIA Player interface that selects the patch. When you click, a barely perceptible white light goes on, and your control adjustments will apply to that patch only.
It’s easy to miss this feature at first. Making a selection of a particular slot enables granular, specific effects control, offering considerable mix control from within the ARIA Player. You can solo your tracks in the DAW (with the auxes solo-safed) and bounce individual audio tracks for maximum mix control.
How to tell what note a keyswitch number (or MIDI number) is
One example of a further glitch that can arise happened with my GPO flute sample. The default setting for the sample has a nice vibrato. In my score, I had a text expression that triggered “no vibrato” after the first theme statement.
When playing back the score in the DAW, the non-vibrato sample was triggering right from the start. I guessed that the previously used sample stayed loaded in the ARIA player; it didn’t automatically reset to the default patch. I had to add a KS#0 keyswitch reset to the MIDI event list in order to do that. How do I do that? I know it’s a note. But what note?
This turned out to require more research than I had anticipated, although the answer turned out to be simple: KS#0 = C-2. That’s C minus two — the pitch 5 octaves below middle C — a 13th below the lowest note on the piano. The other keyswitch numbers ascend in numerical order, chromatically.
Matching instrument playback levels within Finale for a good basic mix
Some samples are louder than others.
Using GIFF, I noticed my E-flat Clarinet sound (for example) was so loud, I had to write really exaggerated, incorrect dynamics (pppp) for it to blend with the other woodwinds. It had not occurred to me that putting it in its own bank would provide exponentially greater control over the general dynamic level. With all your “too loud” instruments in a bank together, and your “too quiet” instruments (notably drum sets) in another, it’s possible to get global levels correct and starting dynamics in the same universe. Additional mix tools are available via Finale’s “Mixer” window (Window > Mixer), Studio View, and the Score Manager.
Because of my need to create high-quality orchestral mockups with minimal editing, I’m excited by the power of Finale’s Human Playback, and the potential of Garritan libraries. One huge advantage of starting in Finale is the two-fold usefulness of interpretive score markings, not only in musicians’ parts, but as CC data. The result is not only a finished, usable score playable by musicians, but also a lot of useful CC data available in the DAW immediately.
Jon Burr owns Arranger for Hire.