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The MAESTRO-2 Music System
The MAESTRO-2 music system consists of the following hardware components:
After the Christmas holidays 2009 I decided that it was time to upgrade my music computer system PC MAESTRO-1. I had set up this computer back in 2003, when it was state-of-the-art, but now it had somewhat deteriorated: The case fan of the Shuttle barebone case was getting quite loud, the Windows 2000 OS took forever to boot, and appeared to be quite slow, for some reason I was not able to instally any new software upgrades, and the existing sound recording setup with SONAR 4 and the GPO samples did have ever more acoustic "hick-ups", hereby limiting the number of parallel audio tracks which I could play simultaneously. The last recording which I was able to manage under great technical trouble was in April 2009 the first movement of Janacek's Sinfonietta - this rendition is not yet published, as I think it needs still more work.
I did a brief survey and decided on the following hardware configuration:
For the OS I needed a 64 bit system, to be able to address all the 12 GB of memory, which would finally eliminate the sample capacity limit and would allow to have a large number of samples in parallel being played. So I also bought the Windows 7 operating system, in the 64 bit version. The choice for 64 bit meant that I was not able to use any of my existing software. But since I planned to upgrade anyway, this would not matter that much. So the new MAESTRO-2 music system is based on the following software:
The first recording that was made with this system in February 2010 was the first movement from Leos Janacek's String Quartet #2 "Intimate Letters". The next plans are to prepare several symphonic movements from Gustav Mahler's Oevre, in celebration of the 2010/2011 Mahler Year.
In 1993 I bought a Yamaha SQ-16 MIDI keyboard music station with a built-in 16-track MIDI sequencer. With this system I began to create MIDI recordings of classical orchestral music. The very first completed recording was the first movement of Borodin's Polovtsian Dances. Further works followed (Smetana: Moldau, Dvorak: Symphony No,9, 2nd movement). At that time I did not have the goal to create audio recordings, but solely MIDI recording. Soon I realised that the audio properties from the MIDI mapping of the SQ-16 were not comparable to other synthesizers, and I began using this device only for getting MIDI sequences initialised, that is I recorded all the notes and then processed the MIDI file on my Windows 3.1 PC with a built-in sound card. For this I used the sequencer "PowerTracks". I wanted to share MIDI sequences through the online service "Compuserve" which had a large MIDI section; however, the MIDI file sharing section was closed down sometime in 1994/95 due to copyright issues.
At the beginning of 1996 I bought a Yamaha MU-80 external synthesizer and began using this as the main General-MIDI synth. This was the synth I took with me when moving to the US in March 1996. When in 1998 the MP3 format became predominant, I began to record the audio on the PC. I had bought the synthesizer Cakewalk Pro Audio, which allowed to record both MIDI and audio within one synthesizer program. In addition I used a Soundblaster AWE soundcard for playing soundfonts. For recording the audio from the MU-80 I used an Echo GINA soundcard with external breakout box. With this system I recorded many pieces and published them online, at that time on MP3.COM, later on TopTempo.
In 2003 I bought a Shuttle PC, with the goal in mind that this PC would be used solely as a music instrument. Therefore I chose that compact form factor, so that I would be able to easily transport this PC around and use it "on the road" or when meeting with other music friends for a music session (I actually never did this, but instead always kept MAESTRO-1 locally attached to my stationary music setup). The PC ran Windows 2000. The soundcard was a M-Audio Audiophile 2496, Midi interface was a Midiman USB MidiSport 4x4, and the keyboard was a Rolad A-30 Midi controller. I installed the Garritan GigaSamples with the GigaPiano and the Garritan GigaStrings. In 2004 I added the first version of the Garritan Personal Orchestra. Maestro-1 was the computer which I took with me when moving to the UK in August 2005.