Meet Garritan Director of Programming Chad Beckwith


Where do Garritan sound libraries come from? Does Gary Garritan create them all by himself in a secret laboratory hidden somewhere in the Pacific Northwest? Is the Yeti involved? No one has ever known – until now.

Starting today we’re going public and introducing the people behind the virtual instruments, starting with Chad Beckwith (pictured at left, above).

What is your title or role? 

Director of Programming, but I usually describe my role as a technical sound designer.  The team roles usually shift from project to project so I’ve always enjoyed that aspect of working with Garritan.

What prepared your for your work with Garritan? Are you a schooled musician? Engineer? Sorcerer?

I studied music at Northeastern University in Boston.  NEU has an amazing music technology program that focuses half on composition/orchestration as well as covering in-depth audio technology and engineering.

When and how did you first join the Garritan team?

I had previously worked with Gary on projects at Cakewalk as product manager of their virtual instruments.  The pocket version of Garritan Personal Orchestra (GPO) is included in the Dimension Pro sample library.  A couple years later I had seen Gary and the team at their NAMM booth after their release of the Authorized Steinway.  Gary followed up later if I’d be interested in programming more libraries for their new ARIA Player.  Coincidentally I was visiting friends in Oregon and was able to be interviewed in Portland on my way home.  The interview was at Coffeehouse Northwest, Portland has the best coffee.

Have any influential mentors that assisted you along the way?

René Ceballos was very influential to me early on.  He is the founder and developer of the SFZ open sample format.  He taught me the guiding principles of solid technical sound design.  We have a running joke about the time intensiveness of sound design work, “Three am is always a good time to be experimenting with EQ settings.”

Gary and David Viens from Plogue have also been very helpful mentors over the past seven years.

What was the first Garritan project you worked on?

Garritan World Instruments.  That was an intense project, over 300 new instruments each with their own unique playing style had to be programmed from scratch.  I would love to revisit and expand that library now with all of ARIA Player’s new features, body resonances, and sonic morphing.

Have any memorable Garritan-related stories?

Taking part in the recording sessions at Skywalker Sound was unforgettable.  I stood in the middle of the sound stage clapping my hands while the engineers changed the configuration of the studio walls and cut the decay time from 3 seconds to about .5 seconds.  It was incredible.  It’s clearly one of the best places to record in the world.

What Garritan accomplishments are you most proud of?

The development, along with Robert Davis, of Instant Orchestra. I’m very happy with the results from Instant Orchestra, the ensemble presets from IO are some of my favorite ARIA Player presets to play.

What aspects of GPO 5 are you proudest of?

I’m very happy with the shear amount of new instruments we were able to include for the update.  It is the largest update to the GPO library since the initial 1.0 release.

What aspect of your work on GPO 5 was the most rewarding?

The most rewarding aspect is when the library is finally finished.  I love hearing user demos within the first couple days after a library has been released.  Over the years listening to the activity of the Northern Sounds listening room has been wonderful; they are a group of super talented and active composers.

Check out the great sounds possible with Garritan Personal Orchestra 5 thanks to the hard work of Chad (and others) on the GPO 5 audio demos page. Would you like to meet other members of the team, or read about something entirely different? Please let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

Garritan Personal Orchestra 5 Made Even Better

Garritan Personal Orchestra Box

In just the few weeks since Garritan Personal Orchestra 5 was released, we’re received some incredible feedback on the new library, and have seen glowing video reviews from Todd Urban, Tony Cliff, and Time+Space, the latter having also interviewed Garritan founder Gary Garritan about the new virtual instrument library.

You’d think the Garritan development team would all be enjoying a much deserved break on a southern Canadian beach, but they’ve been very busy, too.

Earlier this week they updated the Personal Orchestra 5 download at This update is available, for free, to all owners of GPO 5.

It offers several improvements to the instrument definitions, as well as addresses issues we’ve heard about from users. Highlights include:

  • Default volume levels for new brass and string instruments have been optimized to create a better blend across the library
  • Brass keyswitch instruments have been fine-tuned to create a better balance across the keyswitches within the patches
  • Loop points were adjusted for violins 1 and violins 2 harmonics patches
  • Stereo Stage controls were added for all new brass instruments

We also addressed some bugs:

  • Ensemble presets are now loading all of the instruments properly
  • Ensemble presets are now loading with enough default memory
  • ARIA Player AAX plugin is now recognized as valid in Pro Tools
  • An outdated ARIA Player user manual PDF has been removed from new installations in favor of the comprehensive online ARIA Player User Manual
  • GPO 5 now appears in the Programs and Features control panel on Windows

Finally, the Personal Orchestra 5 User Manual has also been updated.

If you already own GPO 5, download the update for free by logging in at  If you don’t own it yet, check out the audio samples and more at the Personal Orchestra home.

Want to share your GPO 5 review with others? Reach out via Garritan’s home on Facebook and Twitter.

Todd Urban Reviews Garritan Personal Orchestra 5

Good news travels fast! Just last week we released Garritan Personal Orchestra 5 (GPO 5), and already this week Todd Urban, of Urban Sound Studio, has released a YouTube video review of GPO 5. Todd’s review offers a great glimpse inside of GPO 5, relevant both for those new to GPO as well as those who own previous versions.

Please let us know what you think, about the video or GPO 5, on Facebook or Twitter.

Introducing Personal Orchestra 5

Now Available: Garritan Personal Orchestra 5

Today we launched Personal Orchestra 5, a major update to the acclaimed sound library.

Garritan Personal Orchestra (GPO) democratized the creation of orchestral music by making a comprehensive collection of virtual orchestral instruments both accessible and affordable.

GPO 5 continues in this tradition by vastly expanding the number of included instruments (it’s 5 times bigger) and offering new techniques, performance spaces and reverbs, and instrument body resonances. GPO 5 can help you produce truly inspiring symphonic sounds with a much higher level of realism.

The Garritan website now hosts GPO 5 audio samples, features, system requirements, and details on the GPO 5-specific changes in the ARIA Player.

GPO 5 is available for download today for just $149.95; owners of GPO 4 can upgrade for just $49.95.

Please share your thoughts with us and the entire Garritan community on Facebook and Twitter.

Garritan Personal Orchestra 5 Coming Soon

GPO 5 is Coming Soon

At the 2016 NAMM show, we announced that Garritan Personal Orchestra 5 (GPO 5) would be coming soon, and simultaneously placed a “Coming in February 2016” message at We’ve been delighted with the volume of interest (and questions) this advance information has produced. While we will release GPO 5 before the end of February, we hope to answer some of those questions in this post.

Personal Orchestra is the virtual instrument library that democratized the creation of orchestral music by making access to great sounds affordable. Scheduled for release in February 2016, GPO 5 takes Personal Orchestra to the next level.

GPO 5 is five times larger than GPO 4 and offers more than 500 instruments. Some of the additions include:

  • New Orchestral Strings including 94 section string patches, 33 small sections, and 28 solo strings in a wide range of bow strokes and techniques.
  • Seven additional choir groups with 23 patches, including boys’ and children’s choirs as well as sopranos, altos, tenors and basses.
  • Updated brass instruments from the renowned ProjectSAM’s “Orchestral Brass Classic.”
  • Two new concert grand pianos: a legendary 9’ Model D and a 7’ Model B.
  • Completely new harp instruments with harp pedaling emulation, a custom organ console for expanded pipe organ control, more than 16 new impulse response presets, and much more.

New instruments are just part of the GPO 5 package, with many advances also made in new techniques, performance spaces and reverbs, and instrument body resonances. The result empowers musicians to produce truly inspiring symphonic sounds with a much higher level of realism.

Want to hear it in action? Take a listen to the full orchestral demos, brass and woodwind examples, several short string techniques, and some choir and organ excerpts.

Also included will be an updated ARIA Player, with additional controls, and a tree view making it easier than ever to load virtual instrument sounds.

GPO 5 will have a list price of $149.95, and registered owners of GPO 4 will be able to upgrade for just $49.95.

We’ll share more details (including a complete patch list) in the next few weeks as we release GPO 5 and the updated website, and we’ll send an email to owners of Garritan products upon launch. If you have questions in the meantime, please let us know by clicking on “Comments” below.

Using Your Tablet to Control the ARIA Player


Do you use Garritan sounds and the ARIA Player in your music? What if you could control various parameters in ARIA, in real-time, using your hands on your tablet (instead of clicking with your mouse)? 

There are many options available on the market for MIDI controller applications for iPad/iPhone, Android, Chrome OS, and Mac/PC, and many of them are inexpensive or even free. A few that come to mind include Augmented MIDI (free, supports Android/iOS), MIDI Controller Pro (free, supports iOS), and TB MIDI Stuff ($2.99, supports iOS).

The MIDI controller application that we’re going to be taking a look at today is Lemur. It allows you to create and customize MIDI controls in virtually any way you can imagine, and you can even create your own MIDI device. Lemur is available for both iPad and Android devices for $24.99. 

In a previous post, “Introduction to Reverb in the ARIA Player,” we identified some basic controls and settings in ARIA you can adjust to enhance your compositions and arrangements. With this app and a tablet you can easily control these parameters to great effect.

Meet Nick Morris

Nick Morris is a Garritan support expert who has created his own interface using the Lemur app to control the ARIA Player. Nick is also a skilled musician and composer with a focus in electronic/dance music, and is one of our resident experts on MIDI/DAWs. 

Michelle: What does using a tablet-based controller offer you?

Nick: It allows me to interact with music I am creating, in real-time, and to record this interaction for further refinement. In my home studio I use Logic Pro in real-time to create ideas and brainstorm. When I find something I like, I’ll record it live and Logic captures all of my MIDI data. Then I’ll go back with my mouse and refine the data.

Michelle: Why Lemur?

Nick: Lemur has an interesting history. It used to be a hardware touchscreen MIDI controller, but was discontinued. I’ve seen it go for $1,300 on Ebay. But Liine picked it up and was able to make it available on iPad. I chose the Lemur app for its versatility and freedom in control setup.

Michelle: What is your favorite patch in the Garritan Instant Orchestra library to utilize with a MIDI controller?

Nick: Probably the Big Brass Agg patch. By adjusting the attack time and vibration settings, you can make the patch sound more synth and string-like. Once you add other instruments and reverb to the equation, the sound morphs into something unlike you’ve ever heard – it’s awesome!

Michelle: What is the advantage of using a real-time MIDI controller for the ARIA player with Garritan sounds?

Nick: The biggest advantage is not having to use the mouse to click and adjust the various Aria controls. Instead you can adjust them evenly with your hands, even when the screen is not visible. It’s faster, more fun and more ergonomic. Also, if you’re using DAWs such as Logic or Ableton, doing a live automation recording makes it easy to personalize performances in unique ways. Another benefit concerns effects. For example, if you load a percussion patch in the ARIA player and adjust the Low Pass knob, you can create the illusion that the sound is being heard from a distance.

Michelle: How did you create your own MIDI controller using this app, and how can others do the same?

Nick: It wasn’t that hard. The ARIA Player itself lists what MIDI CC messages are mapped to a specific control. So when I designed the layout, I programmed the knobs to transmit the specific MIDI CC messages. For instance, because the ARIA Player’s Attack knob is CC 20 (at least for Instant Orchestra), Lemur’s Attack knob must transmit MIDI CC 20.

Let’s look into this in some more detail.

The Lemur Interface

The interface shown below is designed specifically for Garritan Instant Orchestra. However, with Lemur you can create you very own MIDI controller for any of our Garritan libraries, and many other software plugins. This was also designed mainly for the controls view, to be used with another external MIDI keyboard:

Lemur 1
Most patches in Instant Orchestra will have these parameters. You may or may not see these controls, based on the patch you have selected.

  • Attack – the time from silence to peak volume
  • Decay – the time from the attack peak to the sustain level
  • Sustain – the sustaining level of the sound’s duration
  • Release – the time from the sustain level to zero after the key is released
  • LPass – allows more low frequencies to pass and reduces high frequencies
  • HPass – allows more high frequencies to pass and reduces low frequencies
  • VibSpd – controls the speed of vibrato
  • VibAmt – controls the depth of vibrato using aftertouch
  • Saturation – adds harmonic richness
  • Bright – adds brightness, particularly for brass
  • Blend (1,2,3) – adjusts the volume of the various textures in the Blending Textures patches
  • Delay – adds a small delay to percussion instruments
  • Offset – offsets the actual sample start of percussion instruments (removes from the attack)

As an added bonus, an onscreen keyboard is included in this example. The keyboard is a great way to control the ARIA Player keyboard if you don’t have a MIDI keyboard handy. The octave switches are located above the keyboard. The All Notes Off button sends a MIDI message to stop all notes from sounding.

Keyboard 2

Configuring the app with the ARIA Player

Now that we’ve taken a look at the app, let’s get it set up. To start:

Lemur 2
1. Register with

2. Download the Lemur Daemon (seen at left) on your computer:

3. Connect your iPad and Lemur Daemon to the same WiFi network – the Daemon will recognize    
the connection and link the devices.

Now open the ARIA Player, and:


1. In the ARIA Player choose Tools > Preferences (ARIA Player > Preferences on Mac).

2. Next to MIDI Devices select Daemon Input 0 (in).

3. Click OK.

4. Load your Instant Orchestra patches as desired.

Next, open the Lemur app on your device:

1. Select Settings > More Settings.

2. Tap ‘From:’ in the MIDI Targets and find your computer.

3. Tap Daemon Output 0.

4. Repeat for the ‘To:’ setting.

Once the devices have been synced, you are ready to control the ARIA Player using the Lemur app. If you’d like, you can even download Nick’s template

We encourage you to test different setups and applications and utilize whatever works best for you. Let us know in the comments if you have a preferred setup that works great for you!

Michelle JonesMichelle Jones is thrilled to join the MakeMusic Customer Success team. A recent graduate from the University of Colorado at Boulder, Michelle received dual B.A. in music performance (bassoon) and music education.

Michelle enjoys performing and hearing all kinds of music, and is particularly fond of Broadway musicals and Colorado Symphony Orchestra performances. She has taught elementary and middle school band, choir, and general music in the Denver Metro Area since moving here from Northern California.

Nick Morris
Nick Morris is part of the MakeMusic Customer Success team, originally from Minnesota and now relocated to Colorado. He graduated from McNally Smith College of Music, receiving his B.S. in music production.

Nick enjoys finding new music to listen to and designing sound patches in his free time.

Introduction to Reverb in the ARIA Player

ARIA Player

As musicians, we hear the word “reverb” bounced around often. We clap in auditoriums and amphitheaters to test for the ideal acoustic performance environment, but what exactly are we listening for?

Reverberation is the prolongation of sound, created by reflecting sound waves. In an electronic environment, we simulate how sounds reflect in an acoustical space using performance settings.

There are two primary options to apply reverb in the ARIA Player: Convolution and Ambience. In the screenshot above you can see what these settings look like in the Effects view in the ARIA Player.

Let’s clarify the difference between these two options:

  • Convolution simulates acoustic environments using actual recorded samples of performance spaces.
  • Ambience simulates the reflections of a performance space, much like a synthesizer can be used to simulate musical instruments.

There are adjustments within both Convolution and Ambience that can be set to fine-tune your sounds:

Reverb Options
Not familiar with all these terms? Here are some brief descriptions:

  • Decay: Controls the time it takes for the reverb to fade to silence.
  • Diffusion: Adjusts the reflecting surfaces’ ability to spread out the reverb. This control has a subtle effect and is more noticeable in smaller rooms.
  • Size: Refers to the size of the room. For best results, avoid putting a long delay in a small room.
  • Predelay: Determines the amount of time between the instrument sound and the first reverb reflections.
  • Width: Controls the stereo spread. Mono is 0% and full stereo glory is 100%.
  • Quality: Controls the sonic clarity of the reverb, but uses more CPU resources.

Note that there are also Equalizer settings (bass and treble controls) and Damping, which controls how the Equalizer settings change as the instrument sound decays.

It’s not uncommon for us to hear from a customer who has adjusted these effects, but can’t hear any difference. When that happens we direct them to the Mixer view:

At first glance any mixer can be a little intimidating, but it’s really just a few controls duplicated for every channel in the mixer (in this case 16 times). Once you figure out what the few controls do in one channel, you’re good to go.  Note that both the instrument and the mixer controls have corresponding numbers.

Above the vertical box highlights channel 1’s mixer controls:

  • The Send knob determines the level of unaffected signal that gets sent to the reverb. My rule of thumb is to use less reverb on bass instruments, as they can become muddy. Instruments in the higher frequency range will do better with more reverb.
  • The Pan knob places each instrument in the stereo field. Turn it hard left and it will only sound from the left speaker; straight up and the instrument will sound directly in front of you. Panning not only allows you to simulate where instruments are placed in your performance space, but also provides a way to find a sonic “place” for each instrument, making each one intelligible (equalization is another great way to do this, too).

I hope that this introduction to the ARIA reverb gives you enough information to experiment more freely with your music. Your ears are the best judge of what is right or wrong for you in any situation, so by all means explore different settings, and have fun!

Michelle JonesMichelle Jones is thrilled to join the MakeMusic Customer Success team. A recent graduate from the University of Colorado at Boulder, Michelle received dual B.A. in music performance (bassoon) and music education.

Michelle enjoys performing and hearing all kinds of music, and is particularly fond of Broadway musicals and Colorado Symphony Orchestra performances. She has taught elementary and middle school band, choir, and general music in the Denver Metro Area since moving here from Northern California.

Creating Realistic Performances for Sustaining Instruments

Mod Wheel

One of the primary challenges when using a virtual instrument library with a MIDI keyboard is trying to create realistic performances for sustaining instruments. Simply pressing a key harder to play a louder note works perfectly for a piano, but what about when recording a track for an instrument like violin or organ? This method makes it very difficult to capture the control of attack and sustain of many instruments. This is why Garritan libraries break with traditional MIDI convention and, rather than using key velocity to control volume, sustaining instruments use the mod wheel instead.

With a traditional MIDI control scheme, once you press the key on your MIDI controller, much of your control of the note ends. This differs greatly from a string or wind player who retains complete control over their volume curve and rate of decay. Garritan libraries allow you to mimic this control by keeping a hand on the mod wheel during your performance. In keeping with the overall characteristics of an instrument, you will also hear the natural change to the timbre of an instrument as you use the mod wheel to adjust the volume.

Users recording their performance into a DAW generally won’t have to change any part of their workflow as any performance on the mod wheel will recorded the same as the key velocity of other libraries. However, those making manual changes to the commands recorded in a MIDI track will want to note that volume will be controlled by MIDI CC1 (mod wheel) rather than CC 7 (key velocity).

A side benefit of using the mod wheel to control the volume of sustaining instruments is that it offers the freedom to use key velocity to provide even further control of your sound. For example, with a traditional library, if you want to have a trumpet play an accented note, you would usually need to go back after recording your performance and manually edit the MIDI commands. In a Garritan library, simply play the key on your MIDI keyboard harder to play an accent on the attack of the note without affecting the overall volume.

Keep in mind that every Garritan instrument is individually programmed to reflect the unique characteristics of it’s inspiration, rather than forcing every instrument to conform to MIDI guidelines designed for keyboards. To get the most out of any Garritan library, I always recommend spending time with each instrument to become familiar with the subtle differences in their control. This can make the difference between the computerized sounding performances we’ve all heard and a lifelike performance that can really give an edge to your music.

Jon CielinskiJon Cielinski joined MakeMusic’s technical support department in 2011. Today he’s a SmartMusic product specialist, answering SmartMusic questions for MakeMusic employees (including assisting customer support representatives) and collaborating with developers on future versions of SmartMusic. 

Jon also works as a music producer and recording engineer. When not on the job he enjoys exploring the trails around Boulder and taking in local shows.

Abbey Road CFX Concert Grand Player Perspective

Dummy Head

In previous Garritan blog posts, Fred Flowerday talked about the Contemporary and Classic perspectives of the Abbey Road CFX Concert Grand. Today I’d like to share my experience with the Player Perspective, which really shouldn’t be overlooked: It’s my favorite when I want to practice or simply escape to my own Abbey Road Studio 1 sanctuary.

Neumann KU100

One of the elements that contributes greatly to the immersive nature of this perspective is the Neumann KU100 dummy head, the binaural stereo microphone seen above. Not only does it look like an automaton from Metropolis, it has microphone capsules built into its ears to create (for users of high-quality headphones) the illusion of actually being present at an acoustic event. In recording the player perspective the KU100 was placed directly behind the pianist’s head.

I currently have to use headphones most of the time when I compose and practice. The Player Perspective takes this experience to the next level – placing me within historic Studio 1.

To hear what I mean, go to the Preset drop-down menu (in the upper left hand corner of the CFX interface) and choose 01 – Full > Player > Edward’s Reflection (as seen below). This preset’s name pays homage to Sir Edward Elgar who first recorded in the room back in 1931.

Player Perpective Image 2

Play some short loud notes to quickly get a sense of what it sounds like to be in this historic space.

Neumann KM84

In addition to the room sound of the KU100, the Player Perspective also uses a stereo pair of Neumann KM84 Microphones placed very close to the CFX and directly over the hammers. This provides an immediate sound of the piano with little coloration from the room.

To get a sense of this pair:

  1. Un-mute the KM84s – to do this find the three faders in the upper right corner of the interface. The left hand fader is for the “close” mics (in this case the KM84s). Click the MUTE button above this fader.
  1. Pull down the KU100 fader down all the way to get a sense of how the KM84s sound by themselves. For me the magic happens when combining both the close and ambient mics, so I recommend some experimentation.

One additional aspect I like to fine-tune is the EQ.  To do so, click on the Studio button. I might start by decreasing the low end of the 3 band EQ section, especially for the close mics. To my ears this cleans up any muddiness, especially if I’m playing any fast passages.

Player Perpective Image 3

To get an even more focused and dry sound from the close mics you can decrease the Release Crossfade and Release Decay parameters in the Piano Page. In the words of the User Manual: “Turn the Release Decay knob and the Release Crossfade knob down until you get the definition from each individual note that you need.”

Player Perpective Image 4

I hope this brief introduction helps you enjoy the Player Perspective as much as I do. If you have questions, or would like to share your experiences with the CFX, please do so by clicking on “Comments” below.

Bicycles and Music

Johnny Random screenshot

June is bike month in Colorado. While MakeMusic will participate in Bike to Work Day on June 24, bikes are a significant part of our world every other day, too. Moderate weather, ample bike paths, and encouragement from our upstairs neighbors at TrainingPeaks all contribute to making our office bike-friendly all year round.

That said, when bikes and musicians meet, magic can happen. Check out the video above to hear what composer Johnnyrandom can create using only the sounds of the bicycle. As he says:

“Through music, I want to change the way that people perceive their surroundings, and I hope this will inspire others to look at everyday objects with more curiosity and wonder.”

If, like me, you’re intrigued, here’s another well-done video about the found objects aspect of Johnnyrandom’s music, created at the Belgium Brewery in nearby Fort Collins.

Of course, no blog post on bicycles and music would be complete without mentioning Frank Zappa’s 1963 appearance on the Steve Allen Show.

Enjoy and ride safe.

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