Human Playback® has become core to Finale’s playback rendering, producing realistic demos at the default settings. We’ll discuss issues and workarounds to take full advantage of it.
- Automated Interpretation
- Human Playback’s Continuous Controller Data is Writable to the File
- Exportable CC Data Saves DAW Editing
- Human Playback Helps Learn Orchestration
- Tempo Handling Errors in Finale
- Note Durations
- Non-Standard Keyswitches
Human Playback Options and Preferences
Advantages of Human Playback
MakeMusic has invested considerable resources in the development and extension of Robert Piéchaud’s Human Playback. It’s designed to create realistic playback by interpreting score markings. It makes dynamic edits to midi data affecting tempo, duration, controller data, and KeySwitches to samples of alternate instrument techniques.
Human Playback reads score markings such as dynamics, articulation and tempo changes, and creates MIDI data to control these parameters.
Human Playback’s Continuous Controller Data is Writable to the File
It does this by adding or altering the midi data it’s sending to its sample players. Marks such as accents will trigger loud samples, while markings such as hairpins will write lines or curves in controller data for midi volume or an expression parameter that the sample will respond to. Changes from, say, arco to pizzicato in the strings will be read by Finale causing a keyswitch to be sent to the sampler, calling up a different sample for the duration of the expression. It also writes to its internal tempo map, which can be “printed” to the file.
Exportable CC Data Saves DAW Editing
This HP midi data will be included when you export a midi file while HP is turned on. Creating realistic playback in a DAW requires controlling many of the same parameters that HP is doing automatically in Finale. It can save hours of editing using HP for exported midi.
Human Playback Helps Learn Orchestration
Listening back to a score can be a thrilling experience. HP’s interpretive power can give a fair representation of what your ideas may sound like played by a live orchestra, allowing you to experiment with blend and balance and learn about instrument function and combinations in real life.
Drawbacks of Human Playback
As good as Human Playback can sound, it’s not without some problems we’ve encountered in a professional arranging and production workflow.
Tempo Handling Errors in Finale
Human Playback has some notorious issues with tempo interpretation, especially if you’re playing back or exporting audio for anything but the whole score. We did an article on this issue. The workaround is to apply the full-score playback data before exporting individual parts or sections.
Some of the note durations HP comes up with are too short to fire the samples in the sample player. There’s a setting that keeps HP from changing any note durations.
Most sample libraries write their keyswitches in the register of C1 – but Finale writes them 2 octaves lower that that. If you’re using Finale HP CC data, you’ll need to transpose your KeySwitch midi note numbers in the Midi Events List of your DAW.
Mushy Strings in Garritan Personal Orchestra
Garritan Personal Orchestra strings samples (GOS, Solo especially) are recorded with a slow attack, which is the default behavior of these libraries. The solution to this is not obvious (there’s no knob for the setting in the Aria Player), but it can be solved by creating a Text Expression in Finale.
- Create a Text Expression (“fast attack” or whatever – you can hide it in the score)
- Go to the playback tab and select “Type:Controller”
- Type “119” in the Controller Number field (the next field) and set the value to 127 (max) or something lower if you want whatever degree of the build effect.
This causes playback to start at a later point in the sample itself, cutting off the slow build at the start of the sound. The strings will suddenly play back “on time,” staccatos will be crisp and strong, and fast passages will all sound with clarity and no dip in dynamics.
Human Playback Options and Preferences
There are a lot of options for different performance styles and configurations. It’s possible to create your own HP controller triggers, and create them for other libraries. You can control aspects of tempo alterations and whether it edits note durations. All in all, it’s a very powerful and fantastic tool for arrangers and composers.