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JOS 220C Projects

Classical Guitar Part for Handel's "Oh sleep, why dost thou leave me?" (for Elena's project)

I love doing "classical covers", and this is my typical workflow:

1. See if a printed score and/or MIDI file are available:

  • Web Search (without quotes): "Oh sleep, why dost thou leave me? handel midi"
  • First search result is fine
  • Also download a score PDF if available, or make one from the MIDI
  • Open osleep.mid in Logic Pro X
  • Play it and watch the score to see that it's ok, which it is in this case
  • Edit as desired to make it look and sound better (set the key, choose instruments, add effects, etc.)

2. Learn the music like a guitar player :-)

  • Switch the bass to treble clef and transpose it up two octaves to make it look like a guitar part
  • Play the bass along with the playback until I more or less have the structure in my head (use "cycles" to scrub tricky parts)
  • Write out the chord chart (by hand) except when it's easy to memorize (as it is in this case)
  • Play along in free form on guitar until I feel I "know it"
  • Think about a nice guitar accompaniment for vocalist and cello or bass or something (for Elena's project)

3. I am normally arranging for my "band" consisting nowadays of an imaginary drummer, bass, guitar (me), one or more synths, and often a featured soloist (voice, flute, violin, etc.):

  • Settle on a final tempo, key, and parts (MIDI editing)
  • Record each part myself using a synth patch for each voice/part (normally sticking to Logic instruments and effects so everyone will have the ones used)
  • Sometimes it is necessary to lay down an audio track or two, which is still fine as a placeholder (it can be time-scaled and/or pitch-shifted in a pinch)
  • This is now my "demo" for the band (the original MIDI can be muted forever)
  • In reality, the "band" may be just me and a flute player, or the like, and we play live to a Logic playback (or "bounce") with our respective tracks muted
  • In the lucky event of a full band, we all play our parts and Logic can take a rest (and we are more free with tempo and vibe, etc.)

My workflow for original music is similar, but without the initial MIDI and/or score. The parts may accumulate in any order, but I normally work on one musical "stretch" at a time, but don't fail to capture your ideas in some form immediately!

Handel Status Update 2021-04-22

  • Latest Logic project file (last updated 2021-05-06) is here
  • Cello part defined as the bottom note of the harpsichord part (from the found MIDI)
  • Guitar part is the harpsichord part minus the cello part and any duplicated notes, although I left in any doubling of the soprano because Handel apparently wrote it that way
  • Voice placeholder is synthesized flute
  • Cello and flute parts "played in" on MIDI keyboard to give them better note velocities
  • Overall volume for cello and flute were sculpted using "automation" in Logic driven by an external MIDI controller, which can be applied to any parameter
  • Guitar part is still original MIDI events because I plan to mute that and play a real guitar; also, I believe the original events were played in, so they're not bad to my ears except that they too sound early compared to the cello (I would soften the stroke and add delay as my next move)

To most clearly see the velocities and volume-automation, select the flute track, say, press p to open the piano-roll view, and press a in that window to show the automation. If the pop-up menu on the left doesn't say "Main: Volume", then click and select that. (The other active choice is Ch. 1: Note Velocity.)

Handel Status Update 2021-06-01

  • Learned the cello part on my iPad (physical modeling cello synthesis), and laid down a few takes
  • Wrote a viola part, because my guitar was not bringing out the occasional 3rd voice in the music very well (having to do both chordal accompaniment and sometimes also a 3rd voice)
  • Changed the key from E to D to make the classical guitar part (now just smooth chordal strumming) sound its best ("6th in Re" aka "Drop D Tuning") - also deepened the cello nicely
  • I plan to make some carefully recorded guitar takes over the summer for Elena's album project, both classical and cross-over Ramirez versions, and she plans to record a cellist and violist she knows - no MIDI, no synths!