Orchestral Strings: How Do You Use Them ?

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Proboscis
Posts: 749
Joined: 28 Aug 2019

Post 06 Feb 2020

I'm working on a piece that is begging for cello & viola, but as is usual when I work in this space, I find that the sounds are lacking in authenticity.

Now, I'll say this from the outset, I'm not looking necessarily for better samples, I have enough to play with, and the sound character of what I have is fine for me. But my sticking point is the playing technique, and that using a MIDI controller doesn't seem to get the bow strokes behaving realistically. For example, in the real world, a musician may play an out stroke, then an in stroke of the bow. Whereas the attack of MIDI based strings is all the same direction, on any given patch.

And how does one go from a sustained note to a staccato note ? Sure, it can be achieved by running two instances of separate sequencer tracks, but that's a slow way to get the job done, and can;t be performed on a keyboard in one take. Or maybe there are ReFills / VSTs that have different attacks mapped out across different octaves. I'm using Sonivox Orchestral Companion at the moment, and the only way to change the attack is by selecting a button on the VST between sustain/staccato/spiccato/pizzicato/tremolo. I may try and automate those buttons, but I think it will be a bit cumbersome a workaround.

And if I recall correctly, the Miroslav ReFills are not mapped for different attack types, but I will have to double check that.

So hence my query - what are some tips & tricks in getting a more authentic orchestral track laid down when using a Controller keyboard ?

On a side note, when I'm in this zone of playing with strings, I often catch myself wobbling the held keys horizontally, expecting a tremolo effect :lol: I guess that's where the ROLI seaboard is a winner. However I'm never likely to own one, since I have set a 'no more gear' policy for myself.

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BRIGGS
Posts: 857
Joined: 25 Sep 2015
Location: Orange County California

Post 06 Feb 2020

Miroslav patches are mostly organised by articulation. If I want to change between staccato and sustained, I'd have two tracks to switch between. I'd bus them, too.

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NekujaK
Posts: 625
Joined: 09 Oct 2016
Location: USA

Post 06 Feb 2020

If you're looking for flexible and realistic sounding string performances in a MIDI environment, my recommendation is to venture into the land of Kontakt libraries (including proprietary players like SINE, Play, VSL, etc.). Most of these libraries are created by developers who focus exclusively on orchestral instruments and have decades of sampling and scripting experience. All that quality comes at a price, so be prepared to pay a premium, but the results far outstrip any RE, Refill, or VST.

That said, you should be able to switch articulations in Orchestral Companion using keyswitches. Just load the main general patch for an instrument into the plugin, so all articulation samples are loaded. I believe the keys that switch articulations are displayed in the UI beside each articulation. So something like C-1 is sustain, while staccato might be C#-1. Just include these notes in your MIDI sequence. Each time one of these notes is encountered, the plugin will switch to the corresponding articulation.

Good luck!
wreaking havoc with :reason: since 2.5

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Proboscis
Posts: 749
Joined: 28 Aug 2019

Post 06 Feb 2020

NekujaK wrote:
06 Feb 2020
That said, you should be able to switch articulations in Orchestral Companion using keyswitches.
Well, that's a little embarrassing - the solution was hidden in plain sight, right in front of me ! I almost never use keyswitching, so I didn't give those indicators a second thought, but that will be the way forward on this request. Thanks.

As for buying Kontakt instruments, I don't use orchestral instruments enough to justify the cost (any cost) and music is strictly a hobby for me these days - the SoniVox was an exception because it was dirt cheap in a PiB deal that included brass & woodwind VSTs as well, I think I paid around $10 USD for the bundle

And I did install the SINE player a little while back, but never the components. From memory the files sizes were huge (likely an indicator of the great content and quality).

Thanks also to Briggs for the reply. It inspired another idea when you mentioned switching, to rig up several different string instruments into a Combinator, and arm mute on/off to introduce various octaves while playing.

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