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Production Tip 4 – A breakthrough in writing for synths


The story begins

As a songwriter and composer, who does not play keyboards I have always struggled to create realistic synthetic parts. Then I was introduced to Sibelius by a lecturer. I experienced a breakthrough in writing for synths. My brief is that I have to write a piece of music for a string quartet. The finished piece will also be played live. I like a challenge but it was a bit daunting.

The breakthrough

Enter Sibelius and the breakthrough happened. I had used it briefly before as a notation package and found it difficult. Then it was explained that not only was there a whole series of short cuts that made writing a lot simpler. Also there was a playback function that responded to dynamic changes that I wrote into the notation. Simply put I could write the parts and hear them played back accurately. This meant I would get a realistic idea of how the finished product would sound.

Added to this I could program playing techniques like pizzicato (plucked) and phrasing (playing a series of notes in one bowing action) to make it even more realistic. I have now spent an incredible number of hours writing for strings, piano and even drums. Added to this I have become very good at short cuts and moving at speed. The program doesn’t slow me up as much as it once did.

I was a little annoyed that this was not shown to me before but that is outweighed by the exciting future ahead. Don’t get me wrong, Sibelius has its issues but they are one’s I already have solutions for.

Moving Forward

Then came the next revelation – Sibelius is made by Avid who also made the Pro Tools program that I use and they talk to each other. My world has become more exciting. I love it when technology offers real solutions and not just more questions.

Watch this space for some more, in depth, thoughts about Sibelius.

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