Frustration, technical and musical.

I feel like I’m into my stride. In two weeks I’ve managed another 5 minutes of music so now up to 6.5 minutes where there’s a brief pause in the flow of this mighty river. I’m discovering/rediscovering how beautiful this music is but also becoming frustrated. My current modus operandi is to take a chunk of about a minute or so, work up the strings first, then the choir, then harp, keyboards and percussion, then brass and then woodwind. It’s wondrous to hear each part building up, hearing what the two double bass parts sound like and then adding cellos etc until all string parts are sounding and adjusting balance and bringing out interesting parts and lines within. The frustration is as I add each section of the orchestra those exquisite details realised in other sections, and apparent in each new section, become lost to the Sorabjian complexity and there’s a constant battle to prevent the texture becoming too loud as you try to compensate for losing parts heard clearly before. I suppose that’s the nature of this complex and intricate Persian rug and of course certainly lends itself to repeated listening as you can constantly pick out things that you’d missed before, and of course to repeated performances where different shades and emphasis can be brought out. The result is a glorious wash of ecstatic sound.

I’ve just reached the first section where the strings divide into 3-4 parts each and am using the VSL chamber strings for the first time. This threw up a technical problem not of my making (for once) but of the VSL/Sibelius interface. What I am doing is extreme for Sibelius and VSL. Most Sibelius orchestral scores wouldn’t get beyond 20-30 parts/staves and most VSL templates would not get beyond 20 or so virtual instruments but I have over 200 staves and 120 virtual instruments. The difficulty is trying to get Sibelius to communicate the correct stave with the corresponding VSL virtual instrument. Sibelius doesn’t like having multiple instruments with the same name so having the violins divide into 8 parts (and later 16) which for Sibelius purposes are all called chamber violins caused it, and by consequence me, all sorts of angst. The good thing is that after many hours of jiggery pokery and creative thinking I have found a workaround which works. It’s thrilling to hear eight violin parts (of six players each) weaving the Sorabjian web and indeed the four violas (4 players), cellos (3 players) and basses (2 players). I shall post an extract shortly.

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