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Finished latest track - Lost Memories

Author blacksun

Some of you may remember a tune I posted a while back, a first attempt at something classical sounding. Firstly thank you everyone that commented and encouraged me. Secondly, I've redid parts of it, altered the structure and hopefully made a lot better attempt at it.



Thanks again to those people that offered advice and critisim after my first attempt, maybe you can apprieciate the parts youve helped out with. Lastly to Andre/Cognitone for such a wonderful program. It is truely amazing.


Tue, 2013-07-02 - 13:05 Permalink

Hi Blacksun,

Is this arrangement a tribute to your mother ?
It is a sensitive touching piece of music with the violins..the original version. 

Sounds familiar your arrangement with pachelbel...

It is your new arrangement of it this theme ..a start as i understand.

Also possible to use Musitek - SmartScore X2 : to extract the midi notes out from written scores
Synfire works  on GM level and needed is good reading level of classical scores for make adjustments in Synfire

I hope that Synfire Express comes with a improved light articulationsystem in the near future.
There is also the issue that i cannot make the same DAW structure without loosing one nestinglevel.
With this i can try to compose limited  classic an modern articulated sounds.

So i like to join you with classical composing, but Synfire Express is very limited.

Tue, 2013-07-02 - 16:19 Permalink

Hi janamdo, thanks for the comments, you aren't the first person to say it reminds them of that piece of music. To be honest it isn't based on that at all unless its subconsciously. Most was played in, then edited. That was the main problem with the first attempt it was all over the place time wise.

This tune could easily be done in Synfire express, I have used 4 levels but only to ease moving instruments around, I kept the bassoon, oboe and flute in their own containers vertically, but they could easily be combined but multiple horizontal containers... Hard to explain but easy to do.
I'll look at squashing it down and then upload it if you think it would be useful?

One last point I hardly use gm instruments at all, very rarely use device descriptions, mainly because I use hardware synths and vsts and like to play with sounds so they can't be picked through a patch change.

Tue, 2013-07-02 - 16:43 Permalink

ill repeat here
... beautiful work.
one thing i would change..
strings ( cello ? ) sound at the end of the piece...because of  sample loop point, its a bit disturbing I.M.H.O.

Tue, 2013-07-02 - 19:13 Permalink

Hi Blacksun

I'll look at squashing it down and then upload it if you think it would be useful?

Always useful for someone to study  see how it is done your arrangement..that is in general the case for me
It is looking in someone music is very personal.
All arrangements in Synfire format are studymaterial for me and listening to,  that on the first place.

Tue, 2013-07-02 - 21:55 Permalink

Hi sound case, thanks for pointing that out. I think its the virus strings that sound on du to me using auto chords with that instrument. I didn't realse auto chrds follow the progression and seem to ignore the midi notes, the root container carries on so therefore does the auto chord.

Wed, 2013-07-03 - 18:17 Permalink

Ok as promised to Janamodo, attached is the cognitone file. It has a root and 2 other layers so hopefully it can be opened by Synfire Express. The motif/sequence of the virus strings in the second half, it turns out is not used as I switched to auto chords after changing the sound a bit as it felt a bit full-er.

Please ignore the 'relaxed' timing. The eigen harp is great for ensuring you play in key and scale but doesnt yet help out with timing.

 Lastly, as i tend not to use device definitions nor shared racks, the instrument names dont always match the sound as it ends up. Please go by the category information if in doubt. The song contains piano, cello, viola (strings), bassoon, piccalo (might be called flute), oboe and second strings from virus and flute from virus.

I used midi drones throughout. A lot of the instruments are ableton live ones (everything except the 2 virus parts) and these cant be hosted in a drone, the virus should run in a drone, the au version does but since an update (not sure if it wsa synfire or virus) the vst version causes ableton to crash when placed in a drone.


suggestions, comments always welcome, even questions!


Wed, 2013-07-03 - 22:33 Permalink

Hi Blacksun here is "Janamodo"  (it looks like the "komodo varan" )  

I have set the chordruler on: to see the whole harmony structure
I noticed by meself that i find it still troublesome to  to find out how this arrangement is buildup.. i am still no confident with this.

Structure the song is for me everything : for instance what are the instruments in the intro and those in the verse ?
To tell this from your arrangement i must hoover the mousecursor over the instrument name ...
There was a discussion a long time ago to improve the structure of Synfire...i find the oversight of the instruments also a mess in Synfire.
On this way it is difficult to learn from a another arrangement.

By memory keeping oversight of the arrangement instruments is useless.

So the pleasure of studying your arrangement is spoiled by the clumsy structure oversight.
Do you use the draw pencil to paint in the symbols ? 

 I should also use the chordruler to see the whole harmony structure
I set the View function: Parameter explanation on , but can't remember what it does
Explanation of all the functions in Synfire seems to my also a mess..because were to find the meaning of all functions?


By using the chordruler you can experiment with the chords ..





Thu, 2013-07-04 - 00:30 Permalink

Hey janamdo sorry for getting your name wrong....

I agree with the issue with instrument names, but most of the sequences in this piece are quite short. If you use the - button near the bottom right you can zoom out then you should be able to see the full sequence in a container with the instrument names on the left. Use the m button to minimise any instruments that aren't playing in that container. Also the virus strings and virs flute don't come in till 3rd verse container so you can ignore those instruments till then.

I tried very hard to play in much of this tune, but did move notes around once I'd picked a different chord progression. I tend to do that with the cursor keys, synfire plays the note after every move so you get to hear it. Pressing play will the start play back just before the selected note so you can then hear it in context. The magic is that as you move the note up and down, sometimes the pitch stays the same so it fits with the progression.

I also played around with the interpretation setting, you should be able to see that in some of the containers/instruments. This had quite a big influence on the notes that got played although subtle at times.

On the whole I only scratch the surface with synfire. I started with very little music theory so probably not one of their target customers. I tend to experiment, moving on when I like what I hear. This is more complicated than it sounds as my hearing has a low pass filter permanently set to a cut off of around 3khz! Oh and tinitous in one ear too! Bad for me now, but its been a fun life getting to this point.

Thu, 2013-07-04 - 13:17 Permalink

Hi Blacksun,
You made a funny new name of janamdo..haha

O, yes the m button ( shows only the content of the container)  ... i can't  keep on track with all those functions when i don't use synfire for a while.

It is not Synfire related that i loose the sharpness of memory ofcourse, but to see what the actual  instruments are in a container is a important fact..for me it can be placed on the foreground of the GUI..or a more dedicted positions.

Experimenting is important especcially with the chordprogressions, but is neccessary to know about functional harmony and the mode of the scales ( major versus minor ), modulations, and to apply this in your arrangement too.
For me you get more oversight what you are doing, and it is repeatable and start than to experiment with variations.

Again.. it is not working the  m button to clean up containers ...than easily can be seen what instrument is playing in a container in your arrangement
If i use Ctrl + click on instrument triangle .. it collaps all instruments , than hoovering the mouse over the instrumentnames gives a idea  what instruments are playing in the container

So there must be a visual sign in the arrangement window what shows the playing instrument in the container.
Perhaps has it to do with your positioning of containers ? that i can not get a clear oversight of the used instruments in a container start with all instruments in a rootcontainer and than "pack" this instruments in a another container where you can repositioning the instruments further..  

Thu, 2013-07-04 - 13:53 Permalink

If you control click again, does it expand every instrument? Then click the m and it will collapse unused instruments, at least it should do.

Also my workflow s slightly different to what you've described. I normally edit th parameters of the root container and make the length long e.g 124m
I then mark out an area on the ruler at the top and create a new container. This normally becomes the verse or chorus. I then edit that container adding instruments, recording or dragging midi into instruments to come up with a basic idea. I'll then try out different chord progressions although the progression might end up in the root container.
After that ill mark out more time and create a new container for the chorus or verse and repeat what I did for the other container.
Then I copy those containers around editing one f them to become an intro which I simplify and the same for an outro.
Then I try some child containers with different instruments or sequences to add interest. I might end up snapshoting the result which can reslt in long sequences.
Lastly I tweak the sequences, progressions, etc then do a final mix down in ableton.
Hope that insight helps in some way? My composition method is very much based on my ears and not my brain.

Thu, 2013-07-04 - 22:44 Permalink

It is normal workflow seems to me what you use ..make the rootcontainet de length of the song and start with a intro and build further from left to right up with containers ( music sections)

Take verse1: can you ascertain what instruments are playing there ( yes you can ), but this information is not permanent easy visible
Using the Ctrl click combined with m is not enough and labourius.. i need a visual mark in the instrumentlist .
You can work with instruments for this  verse1 by : OH yes let me combine that instrument with a another one 

, but is is now a big puzzle. 

Fri, 2013-07-05 - 02:37 Permalink

You are going to have to draw me a picture as I'm not sure why you can't see very easily which instruments are paying in a container. The m will minimise all instruments that do not have a figure in the selected container, if you start with all instruments expanded, it becomes simple to see what's paying. It's all the instruments that are expanded. Just don't expand an empty instrument and its always obvious which are playing in a container.
When you ave nested parameters it becomes harder to work it out. Turn on the option that highlights the active container further selected parameter/instrument combination, all throughout the tune.

Lastly, I hardly ever start with the intro,if you look at the intro in this song you will see the piano in the intro is just a small part of the verse copied and repeated.

Sat, 2013-07-06 - 10:20 Permalink

Hi Blacksun,

I stay with the example of Verse1 container

- what instruments are playing now in this container ?

Answer: all instruments minus the oboe and some instruments belong only to this container and some are related to a another container.
So the instruments without a figure don't play here, but how about a instrument with a greyed out figure ?
For instance : Piccolo : no figure found.Showing the Take instead
I am really getting tired of this...


Sat, 2013-07-06 - 11:09 Permalink

Hey jan,
I think the piccolo figure is empty as I moved it to the outro container. I'm not near the computer to check but did decide the piccolo gets lost in its original container, it didn't seem to fit when I listened back.
If a figure is greyed out but still plays its getting its midi notes from a different container. This is either a parent or child container or possibly the container you are looking at is an alias. But I didn't create any aliases in this tune so discount that. If you listen I don't think you can hear the piccolo at that time.

Sat, 2013-07-06 - 13:44 Permalink

HI Blacksun

Yes that is my own name Jan ...

Indeed the piccolo is somewhere interwoven in the arrangement connected with a container  .. ( it is easily to see where by hoovering the mouse on the instrumentname ) 
Note: there was also a handy option : Parameter Explanations? ( it slipped out my memory for now  )

I think the only way to see what instrument is playing in a particulair container is to open this container and look at the instrumentlist---> Only the instrumentnames written in bold font ..are the instruments who are here hearable.
You can clean the container further by pressing m to get rid of empty figures.

If i clear know what's in a container is playing, than i can make creative decissions on this :-)


Mon, 2013-07-08 - 00:48 Permalink

For verse 1  there is still a oboe and bassoon who are written in bold , but they are overwritten by de oboe in a another container below this verse1 container and a another container below this verse 1 container with bassoon and oboe.

So bold names gives no idea what instrument is playing in a container.. ( a contradiction with the conclusion i made earlier-->  not good ) "Oboe" and "Bassoon and Oboe" are playing in their containers and not playing in the verse 1 container what is left over for instruments to play in Verse 1 container ? 

Mon, 2013-07-08 - 02:41 Permalink

Ths is from memory, I think the verse1 container holds the strings and cello. The oboe is in a container that starts a few bars before verse1 and the oboe figure continues after the start of verse1 to smooth the change into verse1. Then there is a child container that has the oboe and bassoon. These could be separate if you can nest enough, with the oboe container lasting right across the verse1.

I'm sorry I can't remember the option, it might be trace parameter...bu if you can enable that, every time you select a parameter of an instrument, including the figure parameter, the containers that are active for that figure are highlighted with a green bar.

Mon, 2013-07-08 - 14:31 Permalink

Hi Blacksun, it is with the Take and Figure parameter and the menu Trace Parameters, that someone gets a idea what instrument is playing in a container. 

- acoustic piano played half time in the Vers1 container and is a figure constructed by a take ( o, yes how about  a take is this related to a figure ( figure recognition) --> so i get a new question here ).

Question : if a figure has a take and figure parameter(both)..what parameter always to select , because when you 
select "take" it can be empty for a figure this also the case for the figure parameter?
 - Virus string is pauzed

- Acoustic strings  ( only a figure parameter )
- and so on
You can analyse this Verse 1with the trace parameter as you mentioned on used instruments there

It seems that Verse 1 container has only 3 instruments playing: acoustic piano for the first half of this container and this instrument is recorded by you ( not imported ), a acoustic string imported  and lastly a Cello.

Note: there is a difference in the take parameter for acoustic piano and cello ..for both is the figure parameter litting, but for Cello (instrument 3 ) the Take parameter is not lit ... how to explain this ? 

Is there no more usefriendly way to get this information what instruments are playing in a container ?
( although you must understand the reasoning here above ;) )

Note: another way to get more oversight what instrument is playing in a particulair container is to nest the instrument from a pack container: each instrument get's its own container ( for Synfire Express is this a problem, because there is only one you used one nestinglevel for orginazing your instruments ( that's a bad case seems to me ?)  

Note2: it also handy to know what type of container you are using : a pack container : for instance is the Verse1 container a packed container ?..suppose a make a "packed" container from verse 1 ( what makes a "pack container"? )


Mon, 2013-07-08 - 15:06 Permalink

Hi jan,

as you can see, even just looking at a synfire file it isnt obvious how an artist ended up with the file or tune. This is the reason I suggested the idea of videoing ourselves making a tune... doesnt need any voice overs or explainations, just the sequence of events..


You should always trace the figure parameter to work out whats playing as this will give you the greatest idea, not the take. The take is used whenever you change the import method (e.g. import as chords, vertical, bass, static) which can be done repeatedly and will generate a new figure.

I tend to record or import a take then try out different interpretations but will then most often edit the figure. This is what happened with the piano. The timing was all over the place so I selected part of the figure and made that the motif to use on repeat. I think, but cant remember now if i snapshotted the piano and then applied 15% humanisation to it. Snapshotting the short figure turns the figure into something that lasts the length of the container.

The cello has no take as I copied from a figure from a different container. Probably same with the acoustic strings.

The virus strings are set to autochords so the figure is meaningless.


I didnt use pack.. I marked out a length of time on the root container and selected make container (or new container) which creates a child container in the position and length you have marked out. This was done for each container as I worked on that section and I started with verse1


I understand how using a container for each instrument makes it easier to follow, but i love the flexibility of just using child containers to override something. For instance I often have a 1 bar drum loop in a 32bar container, with another child container with just a 1 bar drum fill. You can then position aliases of this at 8,16,24,32 measures to create an interesting drum variation every 8 bars. The drum fill overides its parent drums pattern.



Mon, 2013-07-08 - 15:51 Permalink


Yes agree with video, always interesting to get ideas from someone else his approach to composing

as you can see, even just looking at a synfire file it isnt obvious how an artist ended up with the file or tune. This is the reason I suggested the idea of videoing ourselves making a tune... doesnt need any voice overs or explainations, just the sequence of events..

I like to control my arrangement and afterwards analyzing what someone did in his composition ..can be a learning thing

 but cant remember now if i snapshotted the piano and then applied 15% humanisation to it.


Once one knows what instruments you are using as maintrack you can override as much you like by using snapshots :)
Note: organising instrument tracks and one  snaphot of them exceed the max nesting level of 1 for Synfire Express( Synfire express seems to be too limited in use for me and gives not much freedom in theway i like to compose .. i wrote it several times more here about this issue). 
I like to have a sort of standarized arrangement where i can see without using the trace parameter what the arranagement is standing for is my approach
Other people don't do this, if they are not concerned to have a oversight of their composition at first glance in the arrangement window

I understand how using a container for each instrument makes it easier to follow, but i love the flexibility of just using child containers to override something.

Mon, 2013-07-08 - 17:41 Permalink

Just to clarify one thing... I meant snapshot a figure in the container that already has a figure not a child container. Wat this does is expand the figure out to the full length of the container. So eg you could start with a simple 2 bar loop, snap shot it and end up with a 64 bar sequence which you can further edit. In my case I did it to try add variety to the velocity so it sounded less like a 2 bar loop.

Wed, 2013-07-10 - 16:55 Permalink

Hi Blacksun,

I noticed in your arrangement that the chordchances are not on the same position as the measurenumbers.
Has this a reason ?