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Topic: Need Tips on Creating Realistic Quartets

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  1. #1

    Need Tips on Creating Realistic Quartets

    Hi all,

    I would love to hear tips on creating great string quartet sounds with GPO on Logic. I've read the tutorials on the site, but was wondering if anyone has some other tricks or tips to share.

    I would certainly appreciate it!

    Thanks,

    Scott

  2. #2
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    Re: Need Tips on Creating Realistic Quartets

    I am very interested in this as well. I'm working on a piece for string quartet plus woodwind quartet, but the foundation is the string quartet. All the tutorials I've seen, as well as the orchestration books I've checked out, deal with working with the string sections.

    One interesting thing I noticed with GPO-- I loaded up the string quartet "Multi" patch, and it loaded up the Cello 3 solo intstrument rather than Cello 1. I tried both of them and realized that Cello 3 does indeed sound better in the context of my piece... it blends better, while Cello 1 might sound better in a solo context.

    I would love to read about others' experiences with string quartets done in GPO.
    Nigam Shah

    American Songbook Project
    www.nigam.biz/songbook

  3. #3

    Re: Need Tips on Creating Realistic Quartets

    I've only done a little bit in the way of solo string ensembles so far, but here's a few observations.

    1. Solo strings are very unforgiving of hastily prepared MIDI information. If you're going for realism, make sure you're prepared to edit a lot of mod wheel, pitch-bend, velocities, portamento, etc. In particular, don't be shy with mod-wheel messages. You may often find that the last note in a phrase benefits from having a CC#1 slope down to zero at the last moment. Long notes sound best with various changes in CC#1. Vary the up and down ramps between instruments, so that they don't each have the exact same shape.

    2. Vary attacks between the instruments, both velocity and timing. If you have "humanization" features in your sequencer, this can be helpful.

    3. Choose your reverb carefully. Best to use a small hall or stage setting, and usually less wet signal than you think.

    4. Try the various instruments in different combinations with each other. Some groupings blend better than others, but this will depend on the style of music you are creating. Make sure you use two different violin patches, or you'll get phasing problems on unisons.

    5. Pan the instruments from left to right: Vln I, Vln II, Vla, Vlc. I usually prefer a subtle spread, as opposed to extreme left panning for Vln I, e.g.

    6. If you are using a sequencer program that allows it, load each instrument into its own GPO instance, so that you can tailor the sound as necessary. You may find you want to EQ or compress one instrument seperate from the others, or send a different amount of the signal to your reverb bus.

    7. Frequently solo each instrument track to make sure it sounds natural by itself. The best way to reach a realistic ensemble sound is to make sure that each instrument sounds realistic by itself. If the cello is covering for a less-than-perfect viola line, you may not hear it directly, but it will subconciously send a "something is wrong" message to your brain.

    I hope this helps. Why not post some of your progress for comments?
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  4. #4
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    Re: Need Tips on Creating Realistic Quartets

    Progress? What's that?

    Seriously folks, heh heh...

    This is what I'm doing...

    The piece: an arrangement of "Over the Rainbow," featuring string quartet, with plain jane woodwind quartet (flute, oboe, Bb clarinet, bassoon) and 2 Horns.

    1) What I've done so far: I started by loading up the string quartet 'multi' in GPO and fiddling around (umm.. no pun intended) with the introduction. A very beautiful introduction, btw, that is never recorded, but was in the movie. After sketching out the parts on paper, I recorded them in Cubase.

    2) Insights (some musical, some GPO):

    --my original violin2 part was WAY too busy. I already had the viola doing a counterpoint thing to the melody in the 1st violin, then I added a third counter-melody with the 2nd violin. didn't work at all. each part sounded fine by itself, and with the main melody muted. but with all four instruments going, it sounded cluttered. I thought it was a balancing problem, so I changed the panning, the reverb, the relative volume levels. Wrong. The problem was the writing. When I finally accepted that, and rewrote the 2nd violin part as mostly half notes, the whole thing fit together real nice like...

    --you really got to ride the mod wheel. much more than you do with the sections. i found that there was so much controller work that was needed, that I couldn't really input notes and then draw the controller data in... playing it in real time works better (for me).

    3) what I'm doing now: I'm writing the score for the rest of the song in Overture. The solo strings sound horrible if the notes are entered via step input, which is mostly how I write. so I have it set up to the piano sound. I will then print out the score and play each part separately into Cubase.

    as I work more with the strings I will post again.
    Nigam Shah

    American Songbook Project
    www.nigam.biz/songbook

  5. #5

    Re: Need Tips on Creating Realistic Quartets

    Well, what I'm doing is just writing! This is my first truly instrumental use of Garritan. I just wrapped up an album of pop stuff that utilised the library quite a bit but tonal quality wasn't as important as it is in this instance. You probably all know how that goes with pop stuff.

    So working in a different genre feels like learning not only GPO over again, but my sequencer too (which is Logic 7 by the way...). A lot of my "modus operandi" just dosen't apply in this instance.

    For example: How do you modify mod wheel stuff after the track is recorded? How do you get the strings to really "dig in" and get that fat, ringy tone like say, in a Bartok Quartet? How do you get a single note that sounds for quite a few bars to sound natural, yet precise? I recently did a piece for flute and harp that sounds great with no editing at all. I assume that's just the nature of those instruments lending themselves to the process of sampling just a bit better than strings.

    Anyways, I'd love to post the quartet as it is now in it's raw state to get some feedback, but I have to post one more message before I can URL I guess.

    Scott

  6. #6

    Re: Need Tips on Creating Realistic Quartets

    Wait! That was my fifth post there! Is it ok to post the URL here as part of this discussion? Or should I go to the demos section?

  7. #7

    Re: Need Tips on Creating Realistic Quartets

    Please post here to discuss techniques and the post in the demo section when you are "done."

  8. #8

    Re: Need Tips on Creating Realistic Quartets

    Excellent! Here's the link:

    http://homepage.mac.com/ewoh24/Music...Theater60.html

    Please note the viola, which I'm having the hardest time with. The first note needs something, some sort of variation or 'verb or something.

    Thanks for listening.

    Scott

    Please note also that this is a "sketch" of ideas in the extreme. I'm waiting to move forward with editing until I get a handle on the sounds.

  9. #9
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    Re: Need Tips on Creating Realistic Quartets

    do you have your stuff as mp3? i'm at work and, for some reason, the IT ~~~~ here won't let me install Quicktime on my PC (maybe it is because I'm supposed to be working and not listening spending my time checking out forums about music).if not, I'll check it out when I get home.
    Nigam Shah

    American Songbook Project
    www.nigam.biz/songbook

  10. #10

    Re: Need Tips on Creating Realistic Quartets

    Quote Originally Posted by nigamshah
    do you have your stuff as mp3? i'm at work and, for some reason, the IT ~~~~ here won't let me install Quicktime on my PC (maybe it is because I'm supposed to be working and not listening spending my time checking out forums about music).if not, I'll check it out when I get home.
    I could email it to you, but I'm having a tough time with my .mac web space stuff. It won't let me upload an .mp3 without zipping it and blah...blah...blah...something I have to get to the bottom of.

    It's small (file size). Right around 2.5 MB.

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