Broadway Lites in Notation Mode

Apologies for resurrecting an old thread, but I thought there might be some of you out there curious as to how this all worked out.

The short answer is - IT DIDN’T.

The so called Notation Mode that comes with the Fable Sounds “Broadway LItes” and “Broadway Big-Band” products is a joke. It was created by Fable Sounds as a means to make using what is essentially a product better suited to a live performance compatible with notation software like Dorico, Finale and Sibelius. They state that explicitly on their web site. See https://fablesounds.com/broadway-lites/

In notation mode the Fable Sounds products use an alternative set of key switches to control the various articulations. In process of creating my own expression maps (as advised above by other Dorico users) I tested each of the articulations by manually operating the key switch assigned to that articulation. Roughly half the articulations simply don’t work! Now I realise that not all articulations can be expected to work on all notes (as is the case in the real world with the real instrument), so I tested across the full range of each instrument to see if the missing articulation was hiding away in the upper or lower register somewhere. So when I say an articulation (stated in the user guide to exist) is missing, I mean it was genuinely missing!

The problem seems to have come about when the key switches were reassigned when Fable Sounds created Notation Mode. Some were forgotten and some landed up on top of other key switches that were already setup to do something else. Also, in Notation mode, each instrument is supposedly put back into it’s native range on the keyboard so that when you notate a middle C in your score, say, that’s what you hear being played, instead of one or two octaves up or down (as might be convenient for someone playing live with their right hand while operating key switches with their left).

Unfortunately, despite the user manually specifying that this is how the Fable Sounds products work in Notation Mode, it simply doesn’t work this way, causing instruments to play in the wrong octave. This problem could be solved when creating the expression maps if it were not for the fact that Fable Sounds failure to put the instruments back into their correct range causes collisons between key switches and notes. So you either get an articulation that works, but a hole in the playing range, or no hole without the articulation.

I twice tried to contact them with a list of problems that they need to rectify but I got no response. All I can say is, thank goodness I didn’t fork out for their full “Broadway Big-Band” product. I was going to but, given the totally absence of customer service, I won’t be buying anything further from them.

I trust this thread will serve as a warning to others considering using a Fable Sounds product.

I’m sorry you’ve had a bad experience with “Notation Mode”, but it ought to be possible to set up expression maps for the non-notation-focused patches in Broadway Lites, I would have thought?

I think you should be able to use some parts of Broadway Lites (in the regular non-notation mode) in Dorico, but I suspect that many of the articulations may be quite difficult to get working well because of the complexity of their state machine concept. So you might be able to trigger an articulation but then not be able to reset it, for instance. It depends on how much of the library you want to be able to access.

We’re looking at ways of enhancing our own Expression Maps for future versions which we hope will make it easier to use more of the articulations available in libraries like Broadway Lites.

Yes, this is possible. Requires multiple simultaneous key-switches to achieve some of the articulations, but Dorico seems to handle that just fine. This is eventually what I did.

I’m angry though because a) I wasted a lot of time trying to get Notation Mode to work as described in the Broadway Lites manual and b) I got no support from Fable Sounds when I got stuck. For fear of what might happen I will not upgrade to their full “Broadway Big-Band” product. And since I need a decent quality virtual “Big-Band” to inspire my work, I’d rather look elsewhere for one .

I have had great success with Audio Modelling’s “SWAM Strings” (although it took some effort to work out how to white-list them) since they use MIDI control channels to control the various articulations, which I personally find a lot easier to work with. So I am currently looking at purchasing their SWAM Brass which will be released at the end of this month.

You’ve hit the nail on the head Paul. Their Notation Mode was supposed to solve these issues by turning their complex state machine into something more notation friendly, with ONE key-switch (simple ON to enable the desired articulation and OFF to cancel it). None of this business where the ORDER you press the key switches ON and OFF affects the final result.

I guess this is why I am rather more fond of the MIDI CC method. All I do is record the MIDI cc’s in real-time, where I use a Novation Launch Control XL to generate the CC info. I then drop the desired articulation, playing technique or ornament into the score (even though it might not actually control anything). The end result is a recording that my students can listen to, to get an idea of what they are supposed to play when I place the printed music in front of them.

Incidentally, The Launch Control is easy to use and the knobs, buttons and sliders are easy to assign to any articulation I want to control. So all in all I have much higher hopes for the SWAM instruments from Audio Modelling as a means to mock up my scores than I do for the Fable Sounds products.

@GeoffBob Can you share your expression map? @FredGUnn and I both have this library and could benefit from what you’ve accomplished.

1 Like