NotePerformer question for a real dummy!

Hi there

Pardon my ignorance, I’ve tried reading though all the forums and specs for NP, and still can’t get my head around it!

  • I have Dorico 5. If I get NotePerformer 4, does it work with the Dorico sound libraries, or do I need to buy the extra supported sound libraries?
  • If so, are all the supported sound libraries the classical/orchestral ones I’ve seen listed? My work is more in the jazz/big band/other kind of arrangements, usually not orchestral.

Thanks!

NotePerformer is a wonderful product, but it’s not especially well-suited to jazz, big band and commercial music – it’s definitely stronger in the classical sphere. (I find all of these terms carry heavy connotations, so forgive me for using them as shorthand here.)

NotePerformer 4 comes with its own sounds, but if you want to use any of the libraries that have NotePerformer Playback Engines (NPPE) provided, you must not only purchase the appropriate NPPE, but also the third party sound library itself.

OK thanks - does NP4 also work with Dorico’s Halion sounds, or just it’s own sound library?

NP has its own sounds out of the box. It’s a relatively small installation that isn’t very demanding of system resources and it’s really easy to use.

You can try it for free for 30 days here, and they have a small installment financing plan too if you like it but would rather pay for it over time. It’s not difficult at all to remove it if you decide it’s not for you.

Optionally you can hook it to some of the fancy 3rd party orchestra libraries (purchase the expansion, plus own the library you want it to use). Check the NotePerformer home page for more info and demos of what 3rd party libraries are supported.

For Jazz combo work…the stuff that comes with Dorico is pretty good if you take a little time to MIX it and set up some staging.

I really like the stuff in HALion Sonic Collections (Or better yet, full HALion 7…The full H7 adds some really nice jazz drum kits, and extra keyswitching saxes and brass that were made back in the HALion 4 days). The collections libraries add that smooth Yamaha MOTIF quality to it…some nice section brass and saxes with interesting keyswitched articulations (falls/shakes, and velocity layers for sweet syrupy mellow sounding brass or bright, tinny, and vibrant). Easy to use in a more or less General MIDI style.

For ballads, simple funk, bop, and the smoother cool jazz sounds Collections will give you some easy to use and convincing sounds.

If you do much with tight harmonies and big sections…nothing on the market gets the drop 2 big band sound quite like Garritan in my opinion (needs extra work on your part to make it sing tho).

I supplement HALion with Saxes and Brass from Garritan’s Jazz and Big Band v3.2. Garritan is OLD and doesn’t get much if any ‘love and support’ from MakeMusic anymore (doesn’t even come in VST3 yet for Windows users), but for the money it can still be pretty expressive and realistic sounding if you need stuff like stacks of individual trumpet and sax players with mutes (straight/cup/harmon/plunger/etc), brass has kisses, doits, falls. Air noise and valve/key clatter and flutter tongue can be faded in or out of a mix. For the wind instruments you can actually control vibrato via channel aftertouch-pressure (if it’s there or not, and the rate). You can add ‘breath’ sounds if you want that. Loads of automatable filters on hand for each instrument to get extra expressive. It has stacks of individual soprano and alto saxes, tenors, baris, a decent tuba or two, flugel, jazz flute and clarinet, harmonica, interesting basses, guitars, and keys, some of the best vibraphones ever put into a VSTi, the acoustic and electric pianos are nice and easy to mix, and of course you get loads of tenor and bass trombones with a full assortment of mutes, etc.

The drum kits with it sound ok (base samples are good, from a nice kit), but it is opcoded dynamically weak out of the box in my opinion (users can dive into the SFZ and adjust this if desired); though it does have potential. I find the two jazz kits that come with JABB3 need a bit of tweaking and extra processing with track inserts to make it really sparkle in a mix. Now that Dorico comes with Groove Agent…I’m using that more and more these days anyway.

JABB3 does take work to make it sound right though! The sample are dry…out of the box it sounds like someone crammed a mic up the bell in a really dead room. So…learning to mix it and drop in the right reverbs and eq is essential. Each individual instrument really needs his own stave/track to get the most out of it (light versions are provided that can do harmony on the same track, but the true solo instruments are monophonic). You have to work out the mix and staging yourself. It needs a good bit of expressive controller data. You need to know the library well (best ranges for different moods and feels for each individual instrument in the library). Main reason I still love it is…few libraries out there give you so many ‘individual’ instruments/players to work with that are all ‘unique’. Most libraries these days ‘might’ give you 2 or 3 unique players if you’re lucky, and a ‘tutti’ section or two. JABB3 is a very different animal in that respect. Stacks of ‘truly unique’ individual players/instruments with their own sets of samples.

With the HALion and JABB sounds, it’s not plug and play. I have to build my expression maps or controller lanes as I go. I’ll usually start with simple stuff from HALion using the basic default/velocity expression maps and not worry too much about the fancy articulations, mutes, and extreme dynamics until I’m done ‘composing’. JABB comes out ‘last’, and rather than try to make interpretive expression maps for these, I’ll just dot what’s needed on controller lanes, and add keyswitches to an open stave that ultimately gets ‘hidden’ from write and engrave modes. Set it for auto-legato, and ‘overlap’ notes in the key-editor that should be legato or slurred. Touch note lengths ‘by hand’ to get true tightness and precision our ears are accustomed to with big band orchestra articulations.

I’ve pondered trying to make universal sound maps for JABB, and to be honest, every score just needs different things. Other than some basic dynamics, I find it’s better to leave most of it ‘free’ to be added by hand on the controller lanes.

Without the ‘custom’ touches. JABB can sound pretty BAD, but if you learn it well, figure out how to stage it and set up a good ‘mix’, go in and tell it exactly what to do and how for each individual instrument, it can produce some of the most convincing jazz mock ups you’ll ever get from all digital instruments on computer.

If you’re not interested in doing that much work…HALion Sonic Collections is probably about as good as it gets for a first time, unsupplemented complete library for jazz/pop. The stuff that comes in the box with Dorico is pretty decent too. You’ll just need to spend a little time playing with Sonic, and Dorico’s mixer and effects. Learn how to MIX it, and it’s pretty golden for combo type arrangements.