render (v) to cause to be or become; to represent or depict; to bring out the meaning of by performance or execution.
I looked on dictionary.com under render and none of the 21 definitions covered what I’m doing here, called rendering. What we’re doing is taking a composition, represented by marks on a page or MIDI data stored in a computer, and using orchestral samples (rendering almost always refers to orchestral or classical music) to turn it into an audio performance of the music.
Now, musicians and composers have been using synthesizers to store representations of music since before MIDI was created in 1981, and I used MIDI sequences to create my senior project in 1991. However, and this is really just my opinion, one rises to the level of rendering when you take whatever tools are available to make a synthesized recording that sounds as much as possible as acoustically recorded instruments.
One of the advances that makes this even possible is the creation of very detailed, very large sample libraries of orchestral instruments. Several years ago, a small company called Nemesis developed a way to stream samples direct from a disc drive. This meant that only the beginning of each sample had to be loaded into memory, and thus many more samples became available instantaneously. This means that a relatively powerful computer can play an entire symphony orchestra with a startling degree of realism.
These gentlemen from Nemesis sold their product to music giant Tascam, and now the Gigastudio is the largest disc-streaming sampler in the world. Although, it is now facing increasingly stiffer competition from the likes of Kontakt and Halion.
Well, I didn’t plan on spending this much time with the background of rendering, but in retrospect I think it laid good groundwork. Next time, I’ll talk about the specifics of rendering Praise to the Lord the Almighty, and the various issues I’ve had to work around.