BBCSO Discover on a $100 miniPC ...

edited February 2022 in Share Your Music

Believe it, or not, but a tiny 1.7Ghz Atom CPU and 4Gb RAM still couldn't stop me from making some orchestral experiments. My main computer broke down and all I still have is this 3 year old miniPC I could use for email and some communication. But since I had nothing better to do, I installed at least BBCSO Discover and MuLab (DAW). Sure enough, it works! Playing in isn't too rough, but editing is a little harsh. However, HURRAY, it works and I made this little test:


  • Hey Taron - was wondering where you had been - sorry to hear about the computer - and just when you had got your hands on Core as well! Why do I have the feeling though that the apocalypse itself wouldn't stop you from "making some orchestral experiments"?! Or me for that matter; )

    This sounds great - well done! Gave it a few listens earlier and found lots of new details each time. Would love to hear you do something "larger scale" at some point (when your IT permits of course).



  • Ahhh, man, that's great, I didn't expect any reactions, haha, so this is wonderful, THANK YOU!

    Well, in many ways we are already in an apocalypse, so...what a time to prove a point, hahahaha! ๐Ÿ˜‚

    I've just updated the track a little, taming some of the harmonies when it gets to the lead sections, while I also brought down clarinets and flutes in the beginning to dare a tiny bit less. Now it's a bit less cluster like, but still naughty enough, I hope. ๐Ÿ˜Š

    You're absolutely right! I'm even flirting with the idea to make this track a longer thing, because it's such a nice setup to start a larger story. It gets a little dicey on this miniPC, the longer it goes, but hey...

    ...I also wonder, if I later may try to migrate this to Core!? Should be a nice opportunity to test this out, because I'm not doing any wicked stuff with "faking legato" or the likes. This is very much straight Discover! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜Ž

    Again, I'm thrilled to find your message here, that's really sweet, thank you very much, Retro! ๐Ÿค—

  • Hey- no worries - nice to hear the piece! I got Core on offer about three days after my free copy of Discover showed up and haven't looked back so can't advise from any informed position on how the mode-switching will go- sure it'll be ok - I do remember Core having quite a lot more clarity than Discover when I switched over the one project I was working on - so you'll probably need to do a fair bit of rebalancing /remixing etc.

    My one New Year's resolution was to try to get away from "loop-based" composition (i.e. having an A section on repeat for 5 minutes) and I have been tinkering with classical forms as a way to get to longer music - quite good fun having an A section and a B section (and maybe a C section) written and then figuring out how to get from one to the other and back again. Watch this space - there's a symphonic Rondo about 90% of the way there (although, of course, that last 10% usually ends up taking more time/effort than the first 90!: )

  • Hahaha, tell me about it! Amount of required care goes exponentially higher, too, regarding the last 10%. I've just now updated my little track once again.

    But, yeah, I'm really ramping up orchestration confidence piece by piece, still seeing quite some journey ahead of me. Feels like I wouldn't quite help myself by approaching a larger composition with it just yet. With synths I've done half a symphony already many times, hahaha, but it's just such a different mindset "AT FIRST". Something tells me eventually they'll ask for the same mindset, just making music, really. I'd love to do it right, though.

    Well, here's to a year of musical evolution for us all! ๐Ÿ˜„

    As for migrating the track to Core, yeah, it will become very interesting! Finally legatos...wheee... to think that it's literally sitting here, 15cm away from my knee in a dead tower....tssss, hahaha... the universe knows when it's time! ๐Ÿ˜‹

  • So funny that you say that - I also write synthy stuff and have often thought about whether there is really any difference between that and orchestration and particularly whether I am "putting the orchestra on a pedestal" in a way that I don't with synths and in a way that makes me unduly insecure abut writing orchestral stuff. Maybe the answer is that I am not respectful enough of synths(?) That said, only 1000 years ago, there were no rules whatsoever about writing for orchestra and so, at least in objective terms, it is a bit odd to say that there is a "right" way to do it. There are only guidelines on how to make an orchestra sound "pretty" passed down or intuited from 400 or so years of work by very clever people who were very good at making orchestras sound pretty. BUT, it is worth remembering that, of those clever people, the ones we revere most tend to be the ones who, to greater or lesser extent, tore up the guidelines that existed at the time they were writing their stuff.

    I am coming round to the view that there are more similarities than differences between writing for synths and for orchestra- you have bass lines, harmonic "pads", lead lines, counter melodies and "twiddly bits" in both synth music and orchestral music and you should always have at least half a mind on voice leading when writing for both. I suppose the big and obvious difference is that if the synth is not "fitting" a musical line, you have the option of dramatically sculpting the sound of the synth (and the effects applied to it, sidechaining, delay, etc) so that it fits. Whereas with orchestral instruments you have to sculpt the music to fit the instrument - you of course could sculpt the orchestral instruments with effects, but that sort of defeats the point of shelling out so much money for a realistic sounding Spitfire library!: )

    Anyway, that's enough philosophy for a Friday evening: ) Enjoying the chat though!

    PS - feeling your pain on the dead tower - hope all gets well soon!

  • Always love hearing your work! Thanks for sharing!

  • This is amazing! I remember starting out like this ๐Ÿ˜ with a small computer and BBCSO discover. I still remember that day I was super excited to get it for free. Oh well, now I still have a small computer, but with a ton of other plug ins and it just makes me think of back in the day when you can create so much with so little. The soundtrack is amazing!

  • AH, sorry for not having replied earlier. I finally have a new machine for over two weeks now, I think...time flies. But I still have to resume my online activities properly.

    My new machine is also a tiny computer, super quiet but very powerful. I'm really happy with it thus far! Got BBCSO Core back up and running and just today revived some LABS stuff.

    Thank you, @calebjtoth & @Londoneye330, what a nice surprise to find some more feedback here! ๐Ÿค—

    @Retroblueman , sheeesh, I had to read my own post again and it reminded me to try migrating my Discover track to Core. I should try that!

    Probably the weirdest thing is, that this tiny $100 machine somehow provoked an extra motivation, trying to squeeze the most out of it and accepting expected slowness and/or tedium. But, wow, am I happy about this new one! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

  • Hey Taron - very glad to hear you are back in action IT wise! Look forward to the results: )

    I just got a 2GB external SSD and have surprised myself by successfully migrating my SF libraries to it (life missed a golden opportunity to throw me a curveball on that one, although I suppose there is still plenty of opportunity for me to leave it on a train or something; ) Dangerous investment though, I have had very few GB left on my hard drive for about two months and that has kept me away from seriously considering any new libraries. Now the world is "my oyster" (yikes).

    Nearly there with my long form symphonic thing - trying to work out whether a French horn melody at the end is "charmingly behind the beat" or just "out of time" such that I need to go back in and do some editing. Going to let it sit for a bit then decide. It should be up and shared here by the end of next week either way.

  • I'm heavily assuming, you've meant 2TB, hehehe.๐Ÿ˜„

    Yeah, that's a massive relief, I'm sure! I'm still having to hunt for an external USB3 case to harvest my internal SATA SSDs from my old machine. I properly loaded my 1TB SSD on that one.

    You know, with this unexpected detour, having to work on this tiny machine for a while, I did get to realize something that probably wouldn't be too popular to write about here in this particular forum... ๐Ÿ˜‹

    ...thing is, I believe that most artists aren't actually ready to really take advantage of all the beautiful libraries out there, such as I had to realize for myself. When I had to resort to free, little libraries, I began making music differently with so much more appreciation for the opportunity and then so much more focus on the music itself. It was staggeringly liberating and triggered a very different approach to it all.

    Now that I have a really powerful tiny machine ๐Ÿ˜ I find myself more... oh jeez, how should I call that... distracted by the possibilities? There's a level of challenge gone, which made me focus so very deeply on making music, like achieving to make music, so to say. I really have to adjust my thinking/feeling to the lack of limitation, so to say.

    But then, with the new machine I also get to resume other obligations, which are naturally grabbing a large portion of my available focus. That's certainly part of it, too. However, it's also very liberating to populate a nice template with all my BBCSO Core gifts and start playing with those. Just wonderful. Like I'm still discovering the glorious might of a full orchestra unisono, HAHAHAHA... making a neat run with all the strings, sheeeeesh... so massive. And then to start dissolving those, falling into chords, merging more orchestration into it as it progresses... it's just amazing. I'm still just so amazed by all this. It's like I woke up from a 300 year long slumber and find myself in space-age, instant symphonic manifestation time. Just surreal. I mean, not like I haven't played with these libraries and/or sample based orchestra for over 20 years, but there's something truly different these days. Almost overwhelming.

    Anyway, can't wait to hear what you're making!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Ha - yes - I meant 2TB (that should give you a hint as to why it is a miraculous thing that I managed to move my libraries without incident: )

    I think I see where you are going - by way of what I think is an analogy, I recently invested in Zebra2 (and could immediately see why a certain film composer loves it!) and sympathise entirely with the problem of being distracted by possibilities - I struggle to get a bad sound of it, but I want to get a great sound out of it and where do you stop?! ("ooh, I like that, but what if I twiddle that knob on the LFO, what if I carve off some of the top end with EQ, or the bottom end, ooh what does that MSEG thing do, what if I use two of them, do I use the built in reverb or my lovely Fabfilter, or both?".. etc). I spent about 30 minutes on Sunday trying to decide whether a noise generator was adding the right amount of colour to a pad with the volume on 3.20 or 3.30 (bliss: )

    I really must sort out my BBCSO workflow - current approach is:

    1. hear musical line/theme in head,
    2. decide on best/closest instrument that sounds like the noise I heard in my head,
    3. load that in an empty DAW file, and then build the orchestra around it

    I know a template is clearly a good idea, but keep failing to get my act together. I think it's because I am worried about overloading the CPU from the get go but, at the very least, I should load my "top ten" instruments in to a template (which I think would be flute, oboe, bassoon, french horn, trombones, and the 5 string voices) and have that set up as a blank with send effects, routing etc.

    Will give you a heads up when the new track lands - I think it is finished but I have probably listened to it too much to make objective decisions about it any more so, whilst I thought it was awesome a fortnight ago, now I'm not so sure... I will probably revisit in 6 months or so and blush but sometimes you just have to publish and be damned (and hopefully take what you have learned on to bigger and better things)!

  • I'm late to the party!

    I didn't realise you posted on the forums brother, I love the track and it's a fantastic example to us all that we don't need super computers to make music at a high standard, you truly are an inspiration!

  • Thank you, Brother! ๐Ÿค—

    @Retroblueman , ah, yes, U-He, yeah, I've made a few demo songs for their Hive 2 a year ago, I think, after I won an O.S.C. month with their Triple Cheese (love that one!). I have a whole bunch of theirs since and because of then. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

    Zebra is rough, because of the endless possibilities and U-He's sound is just so clean and powerful. Plus, this one isn't the worst CPU hawk, which makes it very tempting to go crazy with it, hehe.

    I'm totally weird with templates, because here and there I start one, then make a little track and literally forget about it. The only template I still have just has all the strings, haha.

    The thing with publishing tracks is, too often we're afraid that they might damage our reputation, but then....what reputation? Pull yourself together and throw your growth into the world. People cannot really hear what you hear in your compositions anyway and you'll give yourself a chance to find out what it is they hear. This is really the only way you can learn to communicate with your music. To me the big key to music is sincerity. This includes all the "flaws" that may still be in there, which you may know of and those you have never noticed. But sincerity helps you grow your intuition and bring everything closer to your true reason to make music. If you were to groom a lie, you'd let its evolution carry everything further away from yourself.

    I would love to give you feedback on what you're creating, let alone hearing it in the first place. On another level, all of us, who love to make music, are a family of souls. We should be the first to find harmony in our exchange! ๐Ÿ˜‡

  • Thanks Taron - and very well put! I think I lean towards the Hans Z school of thinking that I am happy if the music I make is "not sh*t": )

    I suppose one thing we have up on him is that he can hardly go back and rescore Pirates or Batman, whereas the stuff we are putting out there can be rewritten, re-produced or repurposed at our leisure (although, on the repurposing front, I note that the end of "Charlie Loses his Head" from Black Rain is suspiciously similar to the end of "Molossus", both of which I love, so fair enough I guess).

    Anyway, bit the bullet and posted my thing here last Thursday - see what you think...

    All thoughts very welcome, but hope you like it too! Some bits in it I am very happy with, still unsure about whether it works as a whole though - the perils of 7 minute pieces!



  • Thomas Lausen
    edited April 2022

    This is amazing. You're getting better results with Discover than what I do with Core..

    Do you use lots of external effects?

  • Taron
    edited April 2022

    Ahaha, thanks, @Thomas Lausen ! ๐Ÿ˜Š

    No, no, just a tiny bit of mastering with EQ, a reverb and a little maximizer and limiter. Since this was on my tiny miniPC I might've only added a bit of Valhalla supermassive as reverb.

    The real "trick" is to be very nimble and caring with the automation. It sometimes feels like the automation is more than half the composition. In case of Discover, you also have to really work the arrangement to improve the impression of each group, like how you use violin 1 & 2 to let them help each other over transitions. Once you have to put your head so deeply into it, you may end up actually putting a lot more love into, too, which eventually becomes part of the track and then transcends the quality or nature of the library you're using.

    Another trick is not to fight against your library, but accept what it has to offer and work it for how it is. The moment you force any part of it to do something it really can't quite do, you'll introduce trouble and end up showing its weaknesses.

    To me personally there is the ongoing journey to learn about orchestral arrangement. Forever and ever I will be grateful to Discover (and thereby Spitfire, naturally), because nothing has ever made me feel like I'm advancing on this quest as swiftly and pleasantly.

    It's the weirdest thing that I have Core now, too, for quite some time, but don't resume my journey as obsessively. It's so gorgeous, Core, and continues the ease of use and wonderful directness of Discover with mind-blowing leaps in quality and depth. But the nature of the challenge becomes very different with Core. It's unbelievable easy to get stunning sounding moments with it right away. Just put together an unisono set of all strings in legato, octaves apart, and they bring the house down in their glory, hahahaha, just ridiculous how brilliant it sounds. I wonder, if it somehow intimidates me or that I recognize the dedication it will take to master Core's potential. I love it dearly and hope I will soon really get to cuddle with it passionately, HAHAHAHA, where on earth is my head's at? ๐Ÿคช๐Ÿ˜

    But, yeah, never underestimate the fruit of a proper challenge, if you give yourself into it with the whole of your heart.

    THANKS, again! Would love to hear what you're doing with Core, though! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ