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Topic: Sampled Orchestra tricks

  1. #1

    Sampled Orchestra tricks

    Hello guys,

    I know this topic has been covered before, but we do have a lot of newcomers and perhaps some old farts like me have uncovered some new techniques for creating believable orchestral arrangements with the latest crop of sample libraries.

    So come on....can you guys share any tips or tricks or just plain anectdotes on how to achieve more and more realism with samples?

    Some time ago I read about the trick of layering tremolos with marcato strings to create more believable runs. I love it, I use it a lot and would like to add that half-note trills work even better IMHO. They also add quite a bit to arpeggios and even sustained strings if used sparingly to create more variation in the string passages.

    Will anyone else contribute some tricks?

  2. #2

    Re: Sampled Orchestra tricks

    So come on....can you guys share any tips or tricks or just plain anectdotes on how to achieve more and more realism with samples?
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Ooh yes please. I have my credit card standing by. [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]

    I read one of Thomas J\'s posts that said Bassoons are really great for warming up an orchestra. I too would love any and all tips on achieving greater sampling realism plus good arrangement techniques.


  3. #3

    Re: Sampled Orchestra tricks

    This is an interesting topic. There are many tricks that people use to get closer to the real thing, but the best advice I can give is to learn as much about orchestration as possible and know what the instruments sound like.

    Apart from that, here are some simple, basic and effective tricks:

    1) learn to ride the CC11 expression, it\'s your best friend.

    2) Make X-fade programs for EVERYTHING, including solo instruments.

    3) When you\'re sequencing rhytmical passages for strings try to load as many different variations of short bows as possible and play the rhymical passage as many times as you can with all the different patches. The result will be a very realistic and uneven passage.

    4) Never think piano, think individual instruments.

    5) Add an attack controller to your samples so that you can tweak the attack of a given note in realtime using any midi controller.

    6) Avoid writing for trumpets unless you got some really great samples. It\'s pretty much impossible to sequence realistic trumpets.

    7) Use as many neuance samples as possible for ensemble parts.

    8) Never quantize.

    9) Don\'t be a slave of your metronome.

    10) Add a solo violin on top of your string ensemble to add vibrato and definition if your ensemble sound is getting washed out.

    There are plenty more tricks but lets see what people have [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]


  4. #4

    Re: Sampled Orchestra tricks

    Originally posted by Thomas_J:
    6) Avoid writing for trumpets unless you got some really great samples. It\'s pretty much impossible to sequence realistic trumpets.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Granted, this is Thomas\'s opinion but I do not agree. It\'s probably from my personal experience in playing one for years, but a trumpet is no harder to sample than a good french horn, violin, or cello. In fact, the french horn would be harder to sample as the margin for error is greater because of the greater risk of hitting a partial.

    If you\'re going to stave away from writing for trumpet unless you have \"good\" samples, then do the same for strings, brass, and winds. Doesn\'t leave much left to choose from does it?

    I would not say don\'t write for trumpet, even if the samples aren\'t the best, but just be aware of how you write for it. Not writing for it because of a lack of great samples would make it sound like everyone else -- horns, strings, and some woodwind runs or tills every now and then. If you\'ve only got something along the lines of Miroslav or AO, then you\'re not going to get the best trumpet sound (or any sound really) in comparison to a level like SAM, EWQLSO, or VSL (or even Dan Dean).

    One comment I would add is be aware of the need for the \'player\' to breath. Don\'t alter the passage drastically, but make phrases. At the end of a short phrase leave off just a *tad* of a note, so as to simulate the player taking a breath. It may be my personal choice, but when I write solo and ensemble passages it makes it seems more human.

    Yeah, bassoons are good for a nice warm sound, but just make sure it\'s appropriate for what you\'re writing. It could make it too warm in certain cases, or just not be the exact type of warmth you want.

    My two cents.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Gary M. Thomas's Avatar
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    Nov 2002
    Myrtle Beach, SC (USA)

    Re: Sampled Orchestra tricks

    Wow, Thomas has pretty much covered it all ... One point that\'s worth mentioning....I find that it\'s extremely important to record EVERYTHING in real time and completely avoid \"Step Time.\" Except for maybe drums... Always record all your instruments \"live.\" Even if you have a repeating ostinato section, it sounds too artificial if it\'s sequenced and perfectly quantized (as Thomas mentioned.) Do this, and you\'ll find that your recordings will have a more natural feeling and won\'t be as mechanical sounding. Gary [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

  6. #6

    Re: Sampled Orchestra tricks

    Great thread, midiphase, and great tips guys. I\'m all ears. More, more, more! Question: In what order to you layer instruments? Start with the melody instruments, or lay the lower register foundations? I\'m not talking about an original composition, but one where you have the score in front of you.

  7. #7

    Re: Sampled Orchestra tricks

    Originally posted by Gary M. Thomas:
    record EVERYTHING in real time and completely avoid \"Step Time.\"
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\"><snip>

    Whats \"Step Time\"?


  8. #8

    Re: Sampled Orchestra tricks


    Starting the sequencer and playing a part in is considered \'real time\' note entry, which can be quantized to some beat division to force notes to play with metronomic accuracy.

    Step time is not a \'real time\' function in so far as the sequencer clock isn\'t running. You stop the sequencer, enter edit, locate the song position pointer to the place you want your fisrt note to be entered, select a beat division (usually what you would have quantized the part to if you were to have played it in real time), select \'step edit\', and enter notes and chords one by one - step by step.

    For example, say you set a timing division of 1/8th notes for step entry. Play a note. When you let go it will be entered as an 1/8th note and the position pointer will automatically jump forward by 1/8th. Play another key and the same thing happens again. You now have two notes entered on successive quavers. You can play as slowly or as quickly as you like - any notes or chords you play will continue to be placed on successive quavers. Different sequencers accomodate various shortcuts for adding rests, changing divisions size mid phrase, changing note duration (as opposed to note value) etc.,

  9. #9

    Re: Sampled Orchestra tricks

    Wow that was really helpfull, thanks for that!


  10. #10

    Re: Sampled Orchestra tricks

    I\'m paying attention....



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