When Did Synthesizers Replace Live Orchestras?

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Re: When Did Synthesizers Replace Live Orchestras?

Post by commodorejohn » Mon Nov 10, 2014 7:37 am

CS_TBL wrote:You refer to two speakers creating phantom images of individual instruments that have been placed somewhere between (or beyond) left and right? The same problem would occur with orchestral recordings then.
And it does, which is why people still go to hear orchestral music performed live, hence my point.
But anyway: it's only 2014; just wait, and we'll get there. Just look at 3d and what we can model these days in film and what kind of virtual sets there are. That CGI-method was science fiction in the 80's, now it's normal and getting better with each film.
No. "Generic abstract technological progress will surely solve this problem!" is a proposition that pays out about as often as the lottery, and acoustics isn't some minor detail that you can handwave away. You're just not going to get the same results.
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Re: When Did Synthesizers Replace Live Orchestras?

Post by calaverasgrande » Mon Nov 10, 2014 8:36 am

some of us who have experience with sample based synthesizers can hear an obvious difference. Of course.
However, back in the 90's and early 2000's I played out as part of a drum machine based duo. A lot of people could not hear the difference between a well programmed HR16b and a real drummer!
And that was a 16 bit Alesis from 20 years ago.
Your average ticket buyer is oblivious to all of this.
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Re: When Did Synthesizers Replace Live Orchestras?

Post by commodorejohn » Mon Nov 10, 2014 9:06 am

That doesn't mean there isn't a difference.
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Re: When Did Synthesizers Replace Live Orchestras?

Post by Bitexion » Mon Nov 10, 2014 9:07 am

Vangelis' opera Mythodea has the entire orchestra played by synths and a really strange custom-made MIDI control system only he knows how to operate.

He plays it all live.

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Re: When Did Synthesizers Replace Live Orchestras?

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Mon Nov 10, 2014 10:29 am

The fact that a lot of flicks from the late 1980s/early 1990s were scored using ROMplers and early samplers rather than real orchestras was only owed to cutting corners everywhere. Like Mark Shreeve once told me, "they shoot the film for a year and a half, and two weeks before the premiere they realise they need a score".

Why hire an orchestrator and a fifty-people orchestra section plus the recording space and the recording technicians when using ROMplers -- or sample libraries -- is so much cheaper? Hey, even Hans Zimmer has to orchestrate "in the box" before he gets permission to record with a *real* orchestra. Ten years ago, Paul Haslinger had loads of server racks for his orchestral sample library -- now this would all fit into an iPad or something...

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Re: When Did Synthesizers Replace Live Orchestras?

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Mon Nov 10, 2014 1:57 pm

The whole point of experiencing live orchestral music is having the experience of live orchestral music.

The notion that it can be or should be simulated with samplers or software is kind of ridiculous. Listening to an orchestra live is not only an aural experience, but also a physical experience. It is distinctly different from recorded instruments being played through speakers. While many people could be fooled by such a thing, it would be extremely challenging to accurately create the physical experience and aural experience of actually hearing an orchestra play for reasons that should be really obvious.

But even so... we don't NEED orchestras, we WANT orchestras. It's not just about being able to hear music.
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Re: When Did Synthesizers Replace Live Orchestras?

Post by Jorvik » Mon Nov 10, 2014 2:03 pm

Last year Camel made its comeback following Andy Latimer's recovery from serious, life-threatening illness. The band played The Snow Goose in its entirety: the last time they'd done that was at the Royal Albert Hall with the LSO.

I doubt they have the following these days to pack somewhere like that, much less afford a real orchestra, much less the LSO. I'm sure they'd love to be able to afford to do it with a live orchestra. Instead, they did a fantastic job with an additional keyboard player (additional to the one that's a permanent band member).

Even the re-recording of the album was done with keyboards: again, a live orchestra would've been great but unaffordable. I must listen to it again, but I recall it sounded pretty good. But then it is in the context of a full mix with a rock band, might not sound so great on its own.

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Re: When Did Synthesizers Replace Live Orchestras?

Post by meatballfulton » Mon Nov 10, 2014 2:12 pm

ItalianStallion81 wrote:What if the same thing happened to live rock bands? The people that are the guitarists, bassists and drummers?
I have two friends who had problems holding on to a steady rhythm section for their blues band so they started using sequenced bass and drums while they played guitar and harmonica. It was completely surreal :shock:

Hey, no one complains when guitarists like Pat Metheny, Steve Hillage, Manual Gottsching or little Bobby Fripp rock out with only their sequencers on stage. Since all of them still work with live bands as well, I suppose that gives their solo endeavors more cred?

I once read an electronic dance musician claiming in an interview that you can't make dance music with live drummers, they are too inconsistent. That guy needs to spend some time locked in a closet listening to James Brown and Al Green records until his ears bleed.

Back to the original topic: The cost of musicians has gone up over the years so theatre productions have reacted just as other musical venues have, reducing the number of musicians needed. Which is better: having a real orchestra in the pit or having a helicopter crash on stage? You have to put the money where it counts...the helicopter :? It's been a boon for small productions like community theatre, where for years the pit band might be only a piano and drums.

I once asked an elderly square dance caller why barn dances in the USA shifted from live bands to spinning records after WWII. His answer was "You just couldn't find musicians willing to play for $5 a night any more." :o
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Re: When Did Synthesizers Replace Live Orchestras?

Post by Weirdofromouterspace » Mon Nov 10, 2014 2:33 pm

Hi,
Jorvik wrote:they did a fantastic job with an additional keyboard player
I take your word for it and can imagine that works fine, because
Jorvik wrote:it is in the context of a full mix with a rock band, might not sound so great on its own.
However, I'm just trying to imagine Jon Lord's/Deep Purple's 'Concerto for group and orchestra' being converted into a 'Concerto for group and additional keyboard player' 8-) :lol: .
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Re: When Did Synthesizers Replace Live Orchestras?

Post by Psy_Free » Mon Nov 10, 2014 3:03 pm

Automatic Gainsay wrote:The whole point of experiencing live orchestral music is having the experience of live orchestral music.

The notion that it can be or should be simulated with samplers or software is kind of ridiculous. Listening to an orchestra live is not only an aural experience, but also a physical experience. It is distinctly different from recorded instruments being played through speakers. While many people could be fooled by such a thing, it would be extremely challenging to accurately create the physical experience and aural experience of actually hearing an orchestra play for reasons that should be really obvious.

But even so... we don't NEED orchestras, we WANT orchestras. It's not just about being able to hear music.
Herein lies the truth. Hearing & seeing a (good) orchestra live is a wonderful experience & something that everyone should do at least once in their life.

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Re: When Did Synthesizers Replace Live Orchestras?

Post by redchapterjubilee » Mon Nov 10, 2014 3:53 pm

ppg_wavecomputer wrote:Hey, even Hans Zimmer has to orchestrate "in the box" before he gets permission to record with a *real* orchestra.
Yup. I used to work with a guy that ran a production company with Zimmer and got to talk to him a bit about his process. As he scores he uses samplers and MIDI to play for the client before he hires the players. It's much easier to fix any problems with the score when it's just you and the machinery rather than having to re-record, which means studio time and musician time. Arif Mardin does the same thing, as I'm sure most other folks who score with live orchestras. There's a fantastic commentary on this process in Frank Zappa's autobiography about the economics and logistics of using real orchestras versus sampling and sequencing. Take it, he did have a very BAD attitude about symphonies and their musicians but based on his experience...can't really blame him.
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Re: When Did Synthesizers Replace Live Orchestras?

Post by gs » Mon Nov 10, 2014 6:47 pm

Probably in about 10 to 15 years, ALL forms of entertainment will emanate from a series of complex computer algorithms. No human intervention or involvement needed. That includes actors, technicians, gaffers, stage-hands, lighting specialists, musicians, screenplay writers, etc. The whole lot. All out of work.

All that will be left are a very small elite of entertainment industry owners/moguls and their automated technology devices running on auto-pilot. They will do nothing but drink champagne from their yachts while the entirety of the world's entertainment (music, movies, books... basically EVERYTHING) will be automatically created, produced and distributed from a centralized repository of supercomputers.

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Re: When Did Synthesizers Replace Live Orchestras?

Post by CS_TBL » Mon Nov 10, 2014 7:15 pm

At least many concrete things will be made virtual. And while it kills the tradition of film making, it also solves a few bits:
  • Virtual humans don't die halfway; think of Gladiator (Oliver Reed) and the Harry Potter series (Richard Harris).
  • The most amazing sets and creatures can be made.
  • Everyone with a creative eye can fabricate a film, because you can't keep such high-end technologies under the protective hood of secrecy. Being full indie means don't depend on nitwit producers' green light, and you keep all the freedom (and commercial rights) you want as a director.
  • You can distribute any way you like; paid or free.
  • You can choose whichever composer to use, without financiers demanding you use a composer from their publishing agency in order to recoup some money through music moneys. Yes, that's Mr. Experience talking, thank you.
Of course there'll be disadvantages too
  • The noise level will be gigantic, with everybody making their film and spreading attention like the plague. You really need communities/portals etc. to filter out the trash from the gold. Then again, this already happens with music, I guess.
  • The competition for a soundtrack gig will rise up to outer space. Many opportunities = much competition, and prolly with little to no fee.
Anyway, all this merely for film. As for the OT: between some four years ago and ten years ahead. But, this is purely from a loudspeaker point of view, in which there're phantom images. For soundtrack work this is no problem.
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Re: When Did Synthesizers Replace Live Orchestras?

Post by Ashe37 » Tue Nov 11, 2014 5:12 am

gs wrote:Probably in about 10 to 15 years, ALL forms of entertainment will emanate from a series of complex computer algorithms. No human intervention or involvement needed. That includes actors, technicians, gaffers, stage-hands, lighting specialists, musicians, screenplay writers, etc. The whole lot. All out of work.

All that will be left are a very small elite of entertainment industry owners/moguls and their automated technology devices running on auto-pilot. They will do nothing but drink champagne from their yachts while the entirety of the world's entertainment (music, movies, books... basically EVERYTHING) will be automatically created, produced and distributed from a centralized repository of supercomputers.

There is no other future. You have been assimilated. :lol: :twisted:
And then three years later, you can run those apps on your smartphones.

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Re: When Did Synthesizers Replace Live Orchestras?

Post by commodorejohn » Tue Nov 11, 2014 5:18 am

Yes, and every issue with every one of those problems will resolve itself by the sheer magical force of Progress and next year we'll all have hoverboards. I've heard that song before.
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