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Topic: Better Sounding Strings

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  1. #1

    Exclamation Better Sounding Strings

    I've heard many of the demos posted on the Garritan site and within this board. I am constantly amazed at the clarity and authenticity of the samples.

    I have studied Danielle Davis' very helpful tutorials and have subsequently managed to make my solo strings "sing". Mod wheel shifts, velocities, pitch bends and timbre variations work wonders toward affecting a soulful interpretation. My issue is that after building sections from these expressive soloists, I don't get very good results. They sound great separately but not together. Collectively, they take on an eighties kind of synthy quality.

    Additionally, I have even less luck when I use the prepackaged sectionals, i.e., lush, lush mutes, sus and shortbows, etc.

    Any hints as to where I'm going astray, would be greatly appreciated. I WANNA SOUND LIKE YOU GUYS!

    Thanks.

  2. #2

    Re: Better Sounding Strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Knightoveregypt
    My issue is that after building sections from these expressive soloists, I don't get very good results. They sound great separately but not together. Collectively, they take on an eighties kind of synthy quality.
    I WANNA SOUND LIKE YOU GUYS!

    Thanks.
    I have the same problem...everything sounds good solo but starts getting real synthy when I begin putting it together. I always just thought it was my own overall ineptitude.

    Time for some "start to finish" tutorials for us audio-challenged types!
    ;-)

    Jim Jarnagin - no not THAT Jim Jarnagin, the other one.

  3. #3

    Re: Better Sounding Strings

    Quote Originally Posted by southportJim
    I have the same problem...everything sounds good solo but starts getting real synthy when I begin putting it together. I always just thought it was my own overall ineptitude.

    Time for some "start to finish" tutorials for us audio-challenged types!
    ;-)

    YES! YES! I'm definetely an audio-challenged type!

    A fully comprehensive manual would be great! I forgot to mention that I have no problems making the solo cellos and double basses sound realistic after ensemble building. It's actually the violins and violas that I can't get a grip on - especially the upper registers.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Re: Better Sounding Strings

    Ditto --

    too often the old synth sound is much to much work to get rid of --

  5. #5
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    Re: Better Sounding Strings

    Getting better sounding strings just takes a little knowledge and practice.

    Much has to do with the sound you are going after. Whether you want an intimate chamber sound, a big hollywood sound, a disco string sound, a Mancini string sound, etc.

    GPO will give you that flexibility and with a few tips you'll be able to get better results. The trick is to think like individual players and not in blocks. What makes strings sound great is the synergy of individual players. The individual players have different entrances, treat dynamics differently, and weave in and out of each other like a tapestry. You can do this by imparting expression and by layering solo strings or build ana string orchestra with solo strings.

    Coincidently, Robin Prinzing, a trained violinist, has just provided a tutorial titled "12 Step Program to Transform Standard MIDI" I'll post it on a separate thread. You can also see it here: 12 Step Program to Transform Standard MIDI".

    There are two other tutorials that you may find helpful:
    For information about using the Strings in GPO, see the following tutorials:
    GPO Ensemble Building and
    Master Class GPO STRINGS

    Perhaps we can have a mini course on strings in the GPO Academy.

    Gary Garritan

  6. #6

    Re: Better Sounding Strings

    Thanks Gary, just did a quick scan of the other thread. We'll work thru it this weekend!

    ;-)

    Jim Jarnagin - no not THAT Jim Jarnagin, the other one.

  7. #7

    Re: Better Sounding Strings

    Thanks for your speedy reply. I've already devoured the D. Davis' string tutorials. I will now take on your other suggestions.

  8. #8

    Re: Better Sounding Strings

    (1) Also avoid the situation when many instruments have their note-on events at the exactly same time. This leads to the "organ" effect. Often it is not sufficient to simply adjust CC#1 values/curves because that does not adjust the note-on times. The best way to avoid the "organ effect" is to perform each instrument separately, and natural human performance variation will give different note-on times. Several sequencers have functions to randomize note starts and/or durations (slightly). Failing this, entire tracks can be shifted a small amount (some positive and some negative).

    (2) I also refer you to this thread about solutions to the "sucking sound":
    http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/...ad.php?t=36718

    Where I wrote:
    For melodic passages, especially for strings, I recommend the "hill theory":

    The (hill theory) v-swell algorithm is quite simple: hill-like expression/modulation midi data is applied to each note (except short/fast notes, which usually do not need it). Then the peak of this hill is shifted depending on the next note (in a continuous phrase). If the pitch of the next note is higher, then the peak of this hill is shifted towards the next note (to the right) with a greater peak shift for greater interval distances. Similarly, if the pitch of the next note is lower, then the peak of this hill is shifted away from the next note (to the left). For GPO, a hill of about 0-13 (or 16) in midi CC#1 units is close to optimal.

    Completely pedantic examples can be found at:
    http://ybacuo.wusik.com/ (especially, the Franck, Brahms, Schubert)

    I started a thread about it here (but there are too many words, all you need to know is written above ...)
    http://www.northernsounds.com/forum...?t=28578&page=1

    (3) Finally, it should be noted that using individual solo instruments to create an ensemble will have vibrato problems. In true ensemble playing, often the vibratos of players are syncronized to each other and to the end of notes/phrases, and this is not easily possible using individual solos ...

    YBaCuO

  9. #9

    Re: Better Sounding Strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Knightoveregypt

    Any hints as to where I'm going astray, would be greatly appreciated. I WANNA SOUND LIKE YOU GUYS!
    Thanks.
    This always generates a lot of discussion about controllers and overlapping notes etc, etc - but don't overlook compositional issues. It's taken me a year of experimenting to perfect the strings in my own compositions.

    Too much use of high passages in the first and second violin section sounds unpleasant and unrealistic. I've had to drop down a whole octave in many places in my compositions or used diversi so that some of the violins are playing an octave lower. This creates a much more mellow and rounded sound. This was a hugh improvement.

    Similarly, it's all too easy to overlook the importance of the violas and cellos, again in creating a more rounded, realstic sound. In this case, let the cello (in particular) go up a bit higher and perhaps relieve the violin occasionally.

    Also, the strings are often too loud. I rarely go above pp (vel = 64 ish) these days in orchestral works and this gives the strings a more distant effect and the impression of a larger orchestra.

    So much depends on the type of music. In my case, I'm a great fan of Elgar, Walton, VWilliams etc. I've been listening to my CDs and taking note of what real orchestral strings sound like. For this type of music, the strings are more distance and lower in pitch with much more ephasis being given to the lower parts. Trying to emulate this in my own work with GPO / Finale has been very rewarding. Graham.

  10. #10

    Re: Better Sounding Strings

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamKeitch
    Too much use of high passages in the first and second violin section sounds unpleasant and unrealistic. Graham.
    Thanks to everyone. You were all very helpful.

    Ultimately, I maintained my original CC values, timing, velocities and such. The BIG DIFFERENCE was in adjusting the arrangment. I dropped both the violins and violas - suddenly everything sounded authentic.

    I'm basically using a mixture of solo strings with sections. I also made a special track for short bows that I weave in and out where applicable - the bow sound that they acheive makes everything sound all the more convincing.

    In my case, it was that the upper strings were voiced too high - almost two octaves above the lower strings. As you can tell, string arrangements are a new thing for me. I think it's time to pick up a few books on orchestrating.

    Anyway, I'm very excited that I've finally achieved a realistic mock up.

    THANKS AGAIN!

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