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Playing doubling instruments (e.g sax/clarinet) with SFZ and Sibelius?
  • Hello all,

    I'm brand new to this as I just had to buy a new PC when the old one blew up. This meant that I lost my old Soundblaster sound card and no more automatic support of SF2 sound fonts.

    I have reinstalled Sibelius, which I use for creating my big band scores, and installed Sforzando. I successfully converted my customised big band SF2 file into SFZ, and it creates a directory tree with the bank/programme numbers for each of the sounds in the original file. That all seems well and good.

    I then managed to get Sibelius to talk to the VST and playback my trumpets/saxes etc. I seems I had to do this by creating a separate instance of the Sforzando virtual instrument for each of the 17 instruments in the band so that each can be configured with the appropriate sound.

    However, this doesn't achieve what I need! Saxophonists double on clarinet and the brass instruments have mutes! I achieved this with my soundfont because Sibelius sends MIDI bank/programme changes which can be controlled by text items in the score such as "cup mute". This worked seamlessly.

    But this implies that the virtual instrument must be able to change between two sounds (clarinet <-> sax, and open <-> mute). As far as I can see, this doesn't appear possible. Each instance of the Sforzando is simply loaded with one SFZ file, be it a trumpet or sax, and that is it.

    Am I correct in thinking therefore that I can't actually use Sforzando to achieve a big band playback with musicians who double instruments?


  • It depends on how you think about it.

    If you think of each instrument sound and score for that, you'll find it easier than thinking in terms of the musician that might be playing that sound.

    Of course, the fact is a musician would physically have to stop playing a clarinet to start playing a sax, so scoring them separately is perfectly reasonable -- indeed, you'd need two people if you had both sax and clarinet parts playing together, so having two instances of sforzando isn't really that peculiar.
  • Well, the whole point is that I wanted Sforzando to do what the normal MIDI drivers would do when interacting with the notation software, be that Sibelius, Finale, or any other.

    When you write a score which includes someone doubling clarinet and sax, you have just one staff in the score for that person and you write instructions to the musician to change instrument. In playback in Sibelius the instrument change creates, in the MIDI output, a programme/bank change, so the channel being used for that staff in the score will change from producing a sax sound to a clarinet sound. This can happen instantly even though (of course) the musician couldn't change that quickly.

    Each staff of the score is extracted as a part for the musician: the sax/clarinetist has one piece of paper, not two.

    Yes, I could make the score *play* correctly on the computer but it would mean writing a separate clarinet part and a separate sax part in the score, which isn't how it's supposed to be.

    If one instance of  Sforzando virtual instrument can't actually
    change sound in mid-flow, then it can't do this.


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