Delay on playback

• Nov 28, 2022 - 15:19

I'd like to know if, for you, the attached score yields a delay between the piano and the voices of the order of a quaver, particularly from bar 5 onwards.
I can't think what is causing it!
Many thanks.

Attachment Size
The Raven 14.6 demo delay.mscz 36.98 KB


I think it's an illusion caused by the fact that the choir sounds have a slow attack compared to piano, causing the choir to sound a little behind. Those sounds are not good choice for fast-moving music where the difference is noticeable; they are better for slower music where you want the legato effect.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I don't think it's an illusion. There are other places in the score where it doesn't<-i> happen. The effect is quite pronounced - in this example the tenor voice is almost a semiquaver out, quite unacceptable for demonstrating to an audience.
For my sins I am a choral conductor and always rely on singers to attack the notes on time, so fail to understand why the Choir Aahs would be configured to attack fractionally late.
I can't demonstrate the piece using any other playback instrument - it would make no sense.
I suppose I could use the piano roll to move the playback slightly earlier but that's a pretty messy solution.
I tried to send you an mp3 file (but not allowed) - it demonstrates the problem even more remarkably, where the sopranos sing "lord or lady".

In reply to by Ali Wood

Where do you believe it doesn't happen?

I tried changing the playback sound to piano and it worked perfectly, that's why I'm pretty confident it really is an illusion. It doesn't have to be piano you change to - you could change to a woodwind sound, or one of the "fast" string sounds. Anything with a clearer attack. or maybe try a different soundfont to see if any have choir sounds that are specifically designed to work well in fast passages. Those sounds would be inappropriate in more legato passages for the reasons I stated - the faster attack would be pretty jarring - but probably someone has made such a soundfont for use in cases like this.

In fact, this a big part of why most choir people I know avoid those sounds and use woodwind or other sounds instead

Definitely don't fiddle with the piano roll - that's far more complicated and far more likely to turn out to be counterproductive the moment the soundfont changes.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

We agree that in a choir, the singers must attack the notes on time. The sound (especially when there's a consonant) is produced and heard absolutely on the beat, like a piano.
And we can both see that there's a delay using choir Aahs but that when the sound is changed to 'piano' it sounds perfectly in time. No illusions there!
I suppose the question is, could the "choir" sound in MS be made with a clearer attack, yet also handle legato passages? (I know we had a similar thread about the legato side before and it might seem as if I am arguing against myself) I understand how an "attack" is produced by a singer but not the ramifications of artificial playback.
I could have woodwind play it, but it's a shame because the choir sounds are otherwise quite realistic.
I'll also look into different sound fonts, Maybe, one of them might manage both legato and rapid passages. Or could I insert a different sound font just for the rapid passages?
I attach a section where the delay DOESN'T seem to occur.... (I muted all but the tenor and piano)

Attachment Size
The Raven 14.6 demo no delay.mscz 18.73 KB

In reply to by Ali Wood

After spending some time with your score, some observations come to mind.

I agree that the choir font is not very good for these passages. There is a lot of reverb that makes it great for slow passages. Not so great for your music. This passage requires cleanliness and precision. As you noted. The default font has neither.

This next you are free to ignore. But double check your dynamics and hairpins. Some of them don't work correctly. No mark at the end of some of them, etc.
Personally, I often have two scores for something I am writing. One score that I would hand to players. Another marked the way I need to get the playback I want. The second score is over marked in a way that real players don't need. An example might be over marking dynamics. In your score I might put double p's instead of one. Just to get a better volume difference.
This second score would not be suitable for posting on the web site. I don't post there, anyway.

In reply to by bobjp

Hi bobjp,
Don't worry - fully aware of the dynamics etc. - this is work in progress, and I wouldn't dream of publicizing it until those were all sorted out!
Regarding posting, I do post to, and am starting to get a small following there, but because the choral sounds are not great many of my friends aren't interested in listening to what I write. But I don't know of a better route to fame ;)
Ali Wood

In reply to by Ali Wood

Regarding your question:

"could the "choir" sound in MS be made with a clearer attack, yet also handle legato passages?"

Using SoundFont technology only, the answer is basically the same as the answer to, "could you have your cake, and eat it too". Any given sound with a SoundFont that optimized for one case won't handle the other well, that's just how SoundFonts work. It's why for strings there are "fast" and "slow" versions. So, presumably, the same could be added for choir sounds someday. But meanwhile, simply choosing another sound - or another SoundFont - is the way to go.

Your "no delay" passage sounds pretty much exactly the same as the original to me. But, that's the thing with illusions - it's all about perception. Perhaps your speakers - or your ears - emphasize different frequencies than mine do.

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