Humanity and Imperfection

If you are a film composer, I’m sure you use sample libraries in your daily work.

There is a tendency in contemporary sampling techniques which I love and that is the fact that a while ago sample developers started not only to leave noises, imperfections, and small tuning issues in the samples, but even to add them in the recordings to infuse them with more realism and intimacy.

Humanity and Imperfection - Alessandro Mastroianni's Blog

We live in a great time for technology and today’s samples are gigantic packages of detailed recordings, capturing every nuance of the performance.

As I said, I like that very much.

There is something beautiful about capturing a human performance in a way that can be reused by other composers to write new music.

If you think that samples put the work of professional musicians in danger, you’re not alone but I suggest you watch this video, it made me think a lot.

That said, something paradoxical happened last week and I want to share it with you.

I was on the team of composers to score a show and I had a revision note from the music supervisor that more or less said three things:

  • I love your piano playing, I can always tell when composers play in their parts rather than inputting them on a piano roll.

  • I really appreciate that you recorded a real piano rather than using samples

  • I can hear too much of the pedal noise, would you be able to EQ it out somehow?

If you know me, you know I’m a horrible piano player and even though I own a piano, I sadly don’t own the 9’ 1955 Steinway model D that I used in the track.

So:

  • I did play the part in but quantized it harder than I would have liked because I know what editors expect. In other words, it’s almost like I input notes on a piano roll.

  • It wasn’t a “real” piano.

  • All I had to do was turn down the “pedal noise” knob.

The revision was made in about 17 (give or take) seconds and the track was delivered.

Later that day I saw on a popular Facebook group a post from a colleague complaining about the fact that the noises in a string library, although beautiful, were too much for this kind of use.

It’s funny, we spend a lot of time cleaning up “real” recordings and we spend a lot of money buying samples with noises because of the “human” quality.

That said, I don’t want to change that and I love my Spitfire, CInesamples, and Orchestral Tools samples.