Re: Bug when using percussion
Reply #12 –
No, as Flurmy said, you could have multiple synths or share channels.
Actually, it's not really that difficult, or quite as limiting as it seems.
Firstly, combining an organ and a piano is probably not the choice I'd make... But using the same channel for identical or very similar instruments is exactly what I do.
This gets a bit long-winded. Sorry 'bout that:
Using a Concert/Military/Marching/Wind band score, you might lay it out like this:
* Using a flute patch for piccolo is probably not the best idea, but if you have some flute players on flute and some on piccolo at the same time and not enough channels then this might be an acceptable compromise. Just make sure the octaves are correct for the instrument. Add an instrument change to a staff that changes the transposition and this will not affect other staves on the same channel. E.G. Piccolo is an octave higher than flute, so an instrument change that transposes up 12 semitones will give an octave change on that staff only. Later you can restore the octave with an instrument change with a 0 transposition when it goes back to flute. Piccolo is normally written an octave lower than it sounds (written C4 sounds a C5) so the instrument patch is the easy way to go.
|1||Flutes (and maybe piccolo but using a flute patch*)|
|13||Piano (both hands)|
|14||Basses (either Double(string) Basses or Bass Guitar)|
|16||Tuned Percussion (***Glock, Marimba, Tubular bells etc. excluding Tympani****)|
** there is no Euphonium patch on the MIDI standard so I use a tuba patch - the instrument construction is basically identical except for size so this is a reasonable substitution. Euphonium (Bb) is 9 feet, BBb tuba is 18 feet long - both are conical bore construction. At a pinch you can even use the same trick for Baritone (Bb, 9 feet) and Tenor (alto) Horn (Eb, 7 feet) if your synth/soundfont is good enough as they also have a conical bore construction, but please note the rate of change of the bore diameter is less and the relative bore itself is also less so the real thing sounds "thinner" than a Euphonium or Tuba in the real world. In the MIDI world you don't really have a choice as there are no Baritone or Tenor Horn patches. If it's really necessary you could even use a Tuba patch for a Flugel Horn (Bb, 4 feet 6 inches) but this is stretching things a little... The tuba patch would need to be pretty good. There are other ways around these substitutions if you have access to suitable soundfonts/virtual instruments, but this reduces the portability of your score to other NWC users and of any exported MIDI file.
*** you would need to have in staff instrument changes. However, if you need say, Marimba and Tubular Bells at the same time then you'd need to find another available channel.
**** In this example there aren't enough channels for Tympani as well, though you might be able to use channel 13 as most bands of this type don't have a piano.
You don't have to use this exact schema, it's simply an example. The sharing of channels for the "same" instrument is quite reasonable. After all, if 3 staves are, say, Trumpet, they're all using the trumpet patch anyway, so sharing a channel is fine.
The Tuba/Euphonium example is also logical as explained above.
Channel 10 is percussion. Actually untuned percussion, so using this channel for every untuned percussion instrument/part is essential anyway. You could easily have many staves on this channel depending on how many percussion parts you choose to write.
If you're really stuck for channels, you could combine similar instruments. The easiest would be Alto and Tenor Saxes. In the real world there are definite timbre differences, in the MIDI world you could get away with using either a Tenor or Alto patch for both and put them all on the same channel, thus freeing a channel up for, say, Tympani. If you're really stuck you might even be able to add the Baritone Sax to this combo but the effectiveness of this would depend greatly on your synth.
If you don't need a guitar, then you have a free channel to assign as needed, again E.G. Tympani.
Ultimately, the key is to combine identical or similar sounding instruments on the same channel.
This example is for Concert Band (etc.) type scores, but you can use the same technique for an Orchestral score, or a Big Band score, or whatever you need. At first glance, 16 channels seems very limiting, but a little creative thinking can stretch those 15 non-percussion channels a looong way.
No worries. I hope the above is helpful.
<edit> the lengths of the brass instruments in ** are not exact but close. The Eb Tenor Horn length has been edited a couple of times as I've tried to confirm it with conflicting data - pretty sure it's about right now.