With the start of the new year 2010, what's better than a Finale 2010 challenge?

This time, the challenge is:
How realistic orchestra sound can you get out of a Finale file?

The piece in question is the first 116 measures of Mendelssohn's "Italian" symphony.

challenge3-thumbThe original Finale 2010 file is called challenge3-rawfile.mus and is not intended for printing/publishing. It's also a quite basic file entered in Finale 2010 (based on the Maestro default) with a few corrections.

The file only uses the default SoftSynth playback and has no playback editing made to it at all, so the result obviously isn't very realistic. (A mp3 version of the raw playback is available in the Downloads area as well.) A PDF version of the score is also available for those of you who are curious, but don't have Finale 2010. All these files are available for download in the Misc. Files->Challenges category of the Downloads area.

So the challenge for you is to modify the Finale 2010 playback of that file to as realistic listening experience as possible, without using other music applications (such as sequencers).

To make the challenge a bit more "fair", the submissions has to fall into one of 2 different categories (although you can submit material to both categories).

Category 1: Only the software instruments that ship with Finale 2010 are allowed. That would basically SmartMusic SoftSynth and Garritan Instruments for Finale. Only the Ambience VST effect that ship with can be used, not other VST effects.

Category 2: Any kind of VST instrument and VST effects can be used.

Rules for the challenge (both categories):

  1. The ONLY markings you're allowed to add to the score itself are expression markings to switch (for example by switching channel). These markings has to be PRINTABLE so they'll appear on a PDF.
  2. You may not change any existing markings in the score.
  3. You can change anything in the VST Instrument setup, Instrument List, Mixer and the HP Preferences for the file.
  4. You can change anything in the MIDI/Audio menu to get the file to playback the way you want it.
  5. The sound must be recorded through the Export to Audio File feature (in the File menu) or directly as heard from the Finale playback. No other music software applications can be used to enhance the sound, but you can use another application to convert (no editing!) directly to a less lossy mp3 file if you need to.
  6. You must explain what you did in Finale to achieve the audio result, such as what instruments you used, what balance, what panning, what HP settings, etc. Explain the important stuff, not tiny details.

Submitting material:

Submit your material by using the Upload File menu item after you're logged in. Upload it to the Misc. Files Section and Challenges category. (The submitted material will then appear in the Downloads section for everyone to review.)

It's best if you can make a ZIP file with a mp3 sound file of the playback together with the resulting MUS file (or a PDF file where the expressions for playback you inserted show) and perhaps also a text document that explains what you have changed.

Before submitting material, listen through your mp3 playback file and verify that it sounds as the playback on your computer does.

The total size of the submitted file cannot exceed 3MB. Make sure to put your name in the file name, so other users can identify your version from others.

When you've uploaded a version of your own, make sure to announce it by posting a comment to this page!

Deadline for material is on February 15, 2010.

Have fun and happy music mixing!

Some hints that might be helpful:

  • When a single line appear in the wind instrument with the stems up, it's the first player playing only (unless there is a "a 2" marking).
  • In poly-rythmical measures, the wind section appear in layer 1 and layer 2. If needed, you can separate the layer playback to different instruments in the Instrument List.
  • The staccato passages has already been enhanced with non-printing staccato dots for the whole passages.

Feel free to post your comments on the challenge or on any submitted material!