Demystifying Music Technology: Wallander Solves The Case

Demystifying Music Technology: Wallander Solves The Case

(If you've never seen Kenneth Branagh in this role, just forget this title ever existed)

Christopher Steller
Melbourne, Australia

Demystifying Music Technology: Wallander Solves The Case

(If you've never seen Kenneth Branagh in this role, just forget this title ever existed)

Work continues on the piece I'm composing for my virtual piano/violin/clarinet trio, but I'm still experiencing problems with the clarinet instrument that I've been using. When the clarinet is playing a legato part, it has a nice smooth attack, and blends well with the other instruments, but when it needs to play a quick flurry of notes the upper layers of the sampled instrument don't have a quick enough attack. Unless a sampled instrument has a very comprehensive range of layers (i.e. Gigabytes of individual recorded notes), you will occasionally encounter this problem.

An alternative solution to sampled instruments would be to use a physically modelled plugin, but finding one to do the job is another problem.

I remembered meeting a software instrument developer in Anaheim at one of the exhibitions I attended some years ago, who had developed a virtual instrument that emulated a sound environment and a range of brass and woodwind models. Arne Wallander, of Wallander Instruments, was demonstrating his software at the show, using a computer, keyboard and Yamaha BC-3 breath controller (which allowed him to introduce extra expression into the performance of the instrument by blowing).

http://www.wallanderinstruments.com

I contacted Arne and asked about the product, and he directed me to his WIVI plugin - after downloading and installing the software, which was a painless process, I began to explore the sounds.

You can select the sound environment that the instruments will perform in, with theatre, church or recording studio the basic choices. At the front of the stage is the ‘listener’, so all instrument positioning relates to that spot.

Clicking on the ‘+’ button at bottom right opens the instrument list (I downloaded the orchestral & band brass, and woodwinds & saxophones), and after selecting an instrument from the list it appears on the stage in an appropriate position, which can be changed by dragging to a different location. If you are playing your keyboard while you drag, you will notice the reverb effect changing, more reverb as you move away from the listener. You can even change the direction that the instrument is playing with the red arrow - towards the ‘listener’ or facing the instrument away.

The bottom right section of the plugin gives you the choice of input device, which for most people will be the mod wheel and velocity option - this choice allows you to control playing expression from these two controls. For those fortunate enough to own a BC-3 breath controller from Yamaha, this option allows you to add breath control to your instruments,giving a more natural feel.

If you are a brass/woodwind composer I strongly urge you to visit Arne's site and listen to some of the demonstrations he has available. He has also developed virtual instruments for iPhone and iPad, so a more portable format, plus a unique instrument package to work seamlessly with Sibelius software, which I may explore at another time.

Enjoy your music!