The Orchestra “Machine”
The idea came from a conversation some time back between Joseph Alessi and Stan Adams. A friend had sent Mr. Alessi an audio file of an accompaniment to Ravel’s Boléro made up of the two bars before the trombone’s entrance looped eight times to cover the duration of the solo. There are some harmonic issues to deal with but that’s another matter. Mr. Alessi loved the idea of having an orchestral accompaniment to practice excerpts with and said it would be fantastic to have them for the rest of the important works. Since Mr. Adams had been dabbling a bit in audio and virtual instruments he thought he could give it a try and create some audio files for the repertoire. And so the Orchestra “Machine” was born. Why the Orchestra “Machine”? When they first put the pieces to the test at Mr. Alessi’s biannual Seminar in Fossano, Italy in June, 2014, now and then in the middle of a lesson Mr. Alessi would turn to Mr. Adams and say, “turn on the machine.”
The Stereo Picture
What makes the Orchestra “Machine” special is the stereo image that you get when you hear the music. Above is a picture of Mr. Alessi playing in the New York Philharmonic in Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center in New York City. (He’s the one in the red circle).
So what we’ve done with the Orchestra “Machine” is put you in the driver’s seat. If you listen carefully in a correct stereo environment, it will seem as if you are sitting in the first trombonist’s chair of the New York Philharmonic. Thanks to the Virtual Sound Stage 2.0 (a software produced by Parallax-Audio), we’ve been able to recreate the aural impression that you’re hearing the music as if seated in the trombone section. Here you can see how the orchestra is distributed on the Virtual Sound Stage. (It’s a picture of the set-up for Wagner’s The Ride from Die Walküre.)
The two intersecting white circles represent the mike position (in our case the listener’s perspective) placed right at the position of Mr. Alessi in the orchestra.
Ideally, when playing along with the Orchestra “Machine” the music should be reproduced over a hi-fi audio system connected to your computer or iPad with the speakers set up as shown in the illustration here:
The speakers should be at a 60° angle to the listener forming an equilateral triangle. This is not always possible, it’s just a suggestion for the best user experience with the Orchestra “Machine”. If you’ll be using the Orchestra “Machine” with headphones or earbuds, don’t take one of the sides off (or out) to hear yourself better, you’ll be missing half of the orchestra!
We sincerely hope this tool will help you in improving your trombone playing and make a difference in how you perform at your next orchestral audition or concert performance.