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Arranging For Strings, Part 2

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In this article:
Arranging For Strings, Part 2
Further North
Tension Builder
Hooray For Bollywood
Articulation Switching
CC Rider
Spoiled For Choice?
In Conclusion
Which Orchestral
Strings Library?
Order Of Play
Budget Measures
Primer
Buy PDF
Technique : Composing / Arranging
Published in SOS July 2012
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The second part of our string-arranging series ventures
into more dramatic musical territory, and explains how to
manipulate orchestral string articulations when creating
MIDI arrangements.
Dave Stewart
L ast month, we looked at an extract from a string arrangement I wrote for a song called 'Truenorth' by the UK band
No‑man (/sos/jun12/articles/string-theory-pt1.htm). The example I chose was a fairly simple, restrained and supportive
affair based on chord pads. This is something strings do supremely well, as evidenced by countless pop ballads down
the years, but it's only one facet of what they can bring to a track. This month, I'll look at other common performance styles
and discuss how to incorporate them into a strings arrangement.
Further North
Before moving on to more histrionic examples, I'd like to dwell on 'Truenorth' a little longer, to demonstrate how strings can
add subtle rhythmic and harmonic enhancement to a quiet, lyrical composition. This long‑form song features a flute solo
played over a rolling 16th‑note acoustic guitar part. The guitarist (Steven Wilson) had also overdubbed an African hand-drum
part, so there was already a fair amount of rhythmic action going on; however, I felt the strings could add something in that
department, so I wrote the arrangement in diagram 1.
These accented staccato punctuations add drama without
upstaging the main event (Theo Travis' flute solo). All the stabs
are played staccatissimo (ie. very short), and though notated as
eighth notes for convenience, their actual duration is more like
a 16th note. By way of contrast, the quarter notes in bars 8‑16
are played full length with no accents. The difference between
them and the short stabs is thus very pronounced (akin to the
difference between the open and closed hits of a drummer's
hi‑hat), and that disparity gives the rhythm a lift and a lilt.
As you can see from the diagram, the acoustic guitar chords
(played in an arpeggiated style) maintain an open high E and B
string throughout the changes, thereby creating the opportunity
for much enjoyable jangling. Sustaining those notes over the bass line of A, C and F adds an interesting harmonic dimension
to what would otherwise be a rather plain sequence. I tried to increase the exoticism by using close voicings in the string parts,
exploiting the mild dissonance of juxtaposed tones and semitones. Play the first Am9 chord on a keyboard to see what I mean
— its C and B semitone interval has a nice bitter-sweet ring to it!
A small refinement occurs in the second eight bars, where the stabs on the first beat of each bar are replaced by longer
notes and the staccato accents become a little quieter. That's because, at this point in the song, the flute solo finishes and the
vocal re‑enters, requiring a more supportive and less rhythmically pointed string arrangement.
Tension Builder
The staccatissimo strings style is commonly used for music of a less subtle nature, being the go‑to orchestral delivery for fast,
tension‑building action film cues. This delivery is highly effective in rhythmic ostinatos (repeated motifs of equal‑length notes).
I used it myself recently in a short trailer‑style piece, four bars of which are shown in diagram 2.
For this arrangement, I used string samples from Spitfire
Audio's Albion, but had I scored it for live players, I'd have given
the upper part to violas and the lower part to the cellos. Why not
use violins for the upper part? Well, although the notes
technically fall within the violin's range, I felt the violas would
sound tonally stronger playing the low As and Gs, since the latter
pitch (marked in red) is the lowest note on the violin, which can
only be played on its open bottom string. And, of course, the
lower part could only be played by cellos, as its lowest pitch (the
B flat in bar four, marked in blue) lies a tone below the playable
range of the viola.
Much of the cinematic music in this vein that one hears
nowadays is played in a minor key, often with an intermittent
flattened sixth interval thrown in to add an air of mystery and
anxiety. (You know the kind of thing — a repeated E-minor
arpeggio of E‑G‑B‑G, with the B occasionally changing to a C.)
Anxious to give that particular cliché a wide berth, I based my
short piece round the harmonically ambiguous scale of G, A, Bb,
Diagram 1: This 16‑bar extract from No‑man's 'Truenorth'
string arrangement occurs halfway through the song, at
around 6:20. The four string parts were scored for (from top
down) eight first violins, six second violins, four violas and four
cellos, and their accented eighth notes are played
staccatissimo (very short), contrasting with the long,
unaccented quarter notes in bars 8‑16. The chord names
shown apply to the strings parts; the guitar chords are Aadd2,
Cmaj7, Fmaj7#4 and Cmaj7 over E.
C, Db, Eb, E and F#, constructed from alternating tone and
semitone intervals. Like the whole-tone scale, this scale has no
fixed tonal centre — it actually contains four major triads, each of which can lay equal claim to being the 'home key', on
account of the identical set of intervals that arises from their root note. Can you work out what the four major triads are? (The
answer's at the end of the article.)
DAW Tips from SOS

To ratchet up the angst in this music, I wrote a bass line that fluctuates unpredictably between F# and G. This undermines the tonality further: on hearing the first four notes of the top line played over an F#, the ear assumes a major key, but that's subverted as soon as the bass note moves up to G, at which point the same four notes take on a diminished feel. Establishing

100s of great articles!

Cubase

Digital Performer

Arranging For Strings, Part 2

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul12/articles/string-theory-2.htm

Arranging For Strings, Part 2 http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul12/articles/string-theory-2.htm the 'tonal centre' (ie. key) of a piece of music

the 'tonal centre' (ie. key) of a piece of music is all a question of context and expectation, and, as you can probably tell by now, my personal preference is to avoid the expected and try not to make the context too obvious!

Hooray For Bollywood

Like many people, I'm very fond of Indian film and pop music, and have always enjoyed the wonderful stringorchestra styles associated with those genres. The players attack the melodies with enormous gusto, and their trademark style of sliding between notes adds a fabulous, sinuous feel and (to Western ears) exotic atmosphere to the music. This particular technique doesn't seem to occur much in the European classical tradition, and some purists might even consider it vulgar, but for me it's a highly appealing performance style with great applications in pop and rock. I was therefore pleased to be able to employ it in my string arrangement for Porcupine Tree's 'Sleep Together', a song from their album Fear of a Blank Planet.

Live

Logic

Pro Tools

Reaper

Reason

Sonar

The chorus of 'Sleep Together' is based on the simple yet original chord sequence of D, Eb (two beats each) and one bar of A, played in a slowish, heavy rock style with a thundering, John Bonhamesque backbeat. After a few choruses, the music subsides and a long, slow, agonisingly tense buildup begins; the bass and drums eventually come back in, and finally, at the

6:20 mark, the guitars are unleashed and the band explodes into the final choruses. I felt that this climactic moment, arguably

the high point of the whole track, called for something unusual and attentiongrabbing, so wrote a soaring, Bollywoodstyle lead line to be played in unison by the 22 string players.

Diagram 3 shows the first four bars of this tune, featuring the characteristic 'Indian strings' pitch slides (in other words, 'portamento') between most notes. In order to further accentuate the Bollywood flavour, I used the notes of Bb and D# (respectively, the flattened second and sharp fourth) over the A chord, as, to my (admittedly uneducated) ears, that particular combination of scale intervals has a distinctly Indian ring to it!

This lead line was scored for 14 violins (eight firsts, six seconds), and doubled an octave lower by four violas, and two

Diagram 2: Staccatissimo strings ostinatos are commonly used as a tension ‑ building device in action

Diagram 2: Staccatissimo strings ostinatos are commonly used as a tensionbuilding device in action film cues. If played by live players, this fourbar extract would be most effectively orchestrated by assigning the top line to violas and the lower part to cellos.

octaves down by four cellos. The threeoctave unison created a big, strong sound which was very effective in this setting, though it's not a technique I'd recommend for general purposes. I thought long and hard about how best to notate the melody. The copyist advised against "overloading the parts” with too many instructions, but since some notes are played without a slide and others feature a grace note instead, I felt I had no alternative but to notate each slide individually.

As always, phrasing was an important consideration: string players usually play all the notes of a phrase under one continuous bow movement, followed by a short gap as they lift the bow prior to starting the next phrase. These gaps (analogous to the breaths a singer or wind player takes between lines) give shape to the music. Phrases are notated by placing curved lines over groups of notes. As you can see in diagram 3, the second and third phrases start on the second eighthnote of the bar rather than the downbeat, and the last bar is made up of a triumphal high note followed by two fast descending phrases.

In the end, such notational issues proved largely academic, because as soon as they read the words 'Bollywood Chorus' on their parts, the players instinctively knew what to do. From the moment their bows hit the strings, we were transported from cold, drizzly Islington to the humid, sultry climes of Mumbai, the temperature in the control room rising by a few degrees as a little bit of India was grafted onto the music of an English rock band.

Articulation Switching

Whereas successful acts can command a budget to hire live string players for their albums, most musicians aren't in that privileged position. However, with the creative and intelligent use of samples, it's possible to bridge the gap between real and sampled strings. When working with orchestral samples, one of the keys to creating a successful MIDI arrangement is instant switching between performance styles (aka 'articulations') in real time, emulating the sudden changes in tone colour and dynamics one associates with a real orchestral performance. To make this possible, most sample libraries now utilise a technique called 'keyswitching'.

Diagram 4 shows the keyswitch displays of three leading orchestral strings libraries. Although the graphics vary, the principle remains the same: a key outside of the instruments' playing range is used to switch between articulations, enabling you to make instant changes on the fly. Keyswitches are usually located at the low end of the keyboard below the instruments' playing zone, but sometimes (notably in the case of lowpitched instruments such as double basses and contrabassoons), you'll find them placed at the top end.

Diagram 3: A soaring, 'Bollywood' ‑ style strings lead line from Porcupine Tree's 'Sleep Together'. The

Diagram 3: A soaring, 'Bollywood'style strings lead line from Porcupine Tree's 'Sleep Together'. The melody (which features portamento pitch slides between many of its notes) is played by violins, violas and cellos in three parallel octaves.

Some manufacturers allow you to create your own keyswitch setups by assigning individual patches to a keyswitch note of your choice, while others provide preprogrammed 'keyswitch patches' combining all the articulations for a particular instrument or section in a single patch, with each articulation preassigned its own switch. In some libraries you can alter these default keyswitch pitches, which is essential if you want to make your keyswitch articulations identical across different libraries.

One of the most flexible articulation switching systems was designed for the Vienna Symphonic Library's Vienna Instruments sample player by Christian Teuscher. Software for this proprietary player is provided free with every VSL library. A 'matrix' (roughly equivalent to a Kontakt 'multi') holds up to 144 'cells' containing single or layered articulations, and you can switch between the cells via keyswitches, MIDI control change (CC) commands, pitch wheel, velocity or even playing speed (ie. the elapsed time interval between notes, as opposed to the speed/velocity of a key press).

In diagram 5 you'll see a very simple Vienna Instruments keyswitch operation between staccato and sustained violin ensemble articulations (as utilised in the 'Truenorth' string arrangement above), using the low note of C1 to select the staccatos and C#1 to select the sustains. These keyswitch notes are userdefinable: you can change them to whatever pitches fit your requirements.

CC Rider

Keyswitches have their drawbacks: being commonorgarden MIDI notes (albeit silent ones), they will appear in your score as extraneous pitches, requiring a major tidyingup job before a score or part can be printed out. An alternative switching

Diagram 4: The keyswitch displays of (from L‑R), Cinematic Strings 2.0, Audiobro LA Scoring Strings 2.0
Diagram 4: The keyswitch displays of (from L‑R), Cinematic
Strings 2.0, Audiobro LA Scoring Strings 2.0 and East West
Quantum Leap Hollywood Strings. Keyswitching allows you to

Arranging For Strings, Part 2

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul12/articles/string-theory-2.htm

method that avoids this hassle is to use MIDI CC commands rather than keyswitches for articulation switching. Not every

switch instantly between different articulations, and keyswitch notes are often depicted in a distinctive colour on the sample player's onscreen keyboard.

library supports this method, and to do it in real time requires a MIDI controller capable of generating userdefinable CC data. but you can add individual CC commands after the event by inserting them in the MIDI 'event list', 'controller display', or

whatever your sequencer program calls its itemised display of MIDI data entries.

Although it's a bit of a faff, it is possible to create custom CC commands without owning a dedicated MIDI controller: simply hit 'record' on your sequencer and perform a quick upanddown move on your keyboard's mod wheel, which will generate a string of CC1 (modulation) numbers. Then open up your sequencer's event list, select one of the entries, and edit the controller number from CC1 to a new number of your choice, as shown in diagram 6. I often use CC23, but it can be any of the 'undefined' numbers in the MIDI Control Change table. If your sequencer can't display this, examples of the table can be found online. Having altered the CC number, copy and paste the edited CC command to the desired location in your arrangement, placing it just before the point where you want the articulation switch to occur.

Every MIDI CC number has 128 possible values, so once you'd selected CC23 as your controller, you could switch between (say) six articulations using the values CC23 10, CC23 30, CC23 50, CC23 70, CC23 90, and CC110 — always assuming that (a) the sample library in question supports this particular switching method, and (b) its articulation switching page is set up to correctly respond to these commands!

Diagram 5: A simple Vienna Instruments keyswitch between staccato and sustained violin ensemble articulations. The low

Diagram 5: A simple Vienna Instruments keyswitch between staccato and sustained violin ensemble articulations. The low note of C1 selects the staccato articulation, while C#1 selects the sustains.

Diagram 7 shows the Vienna Instruments player programmed to receive CC commands as the articulation switch controller:

'Hspan' and 'Vspan' refer to the horizontal and vertical axes of the matrix grid, while the two rows of numbers on the right represent each CC zone's numerical thresholds. I specified CC23 as the horizontal controller and CC24 as the vertical, so selecting the highlighted '14 Violins portamento' articulation, as shown in the diagram, requires a CC23 value of between 32 and 41 (which selects the fourth cell from the left), followed by a CC24 value of between 21 and 31 to access the third cell down. It sounds complicated, but, once you latch on to the concept, it's actually pretty simple!

Spoiled For Choice?

A final word on this month's musical extracts, and the samples you need to play them: to accurately emulate the contrasting shortlong deliveries in 'Truenorth' (shown in diagram 1) with samples, you'll need two different articulations: staccatissimo and sustained vibrato. You might think you can get away with just using sustained notes and playing them long and short, but believe me, that sounds pretty bogus: the attack of a short staccato note is completely different from that of a sustain, so you'll need good versions of both.

While every halfdecent string library contains these articulations, it's worth considering that the trend for very short staccatissimos (as used extensively in contemporary film, TV, trailer and game music) is comparatively recent, and that some older libraries' staccatos tend to be longer and less urgentsounding by comparison. Another important consideration is that the realistic 'performance legatos' and portamentos, now almost standard in string collections, didn't reach their current exalted state until the advent of the pioneering Vienna Symphonic Library back in 2002, so any libraries released before that date will inevitably lack realism in that particular department.

Diagram 6: A MIDI CC1 (modulation) event can be edited to a new number of your

Diagram 6: A MIDI CC1 (modulation) event can be edited to a new number of your choice (in this example, 23). When renumbering CCs in this way, take care to avoid predefined numbers such as CC7 (volume), CC11 (expression) and CC64 (sustain pedal). The value of the CC (currently shown as 127) can be altered to any one of 128 numbers. Note that the numeral '6' shown refers to the MIDI channel, and has no relevance to the CC number or value.

Diagram 7: As well as responding to keyswitches, playing speed (etc.), the Vienna Instruments player can

Diagram 7: As well as responding to keyswitches, playing speed (etc.), the Vienna Instruments player can be set up to receive CC commands as the articulation controller. When fully expanded, the VI matrix holds up to 144 articulation cells arranged in a 12 x 12 grid — for the purposes of legibility we've shown just 42 of them! In this example, CC23 controls the horizontal position on the grid while CC24 controls the vertical axis.

The choice of which orchestral strings library to buy is a big question, and depends largely on what style(s) of music you want to create, as well as on your budget. Listening to the manufacturers' product demos should give you some useful pointers, and our indepth SOS reviews aim to throw further light on the subject! To help give you an overview, I've listed the most prominent orchestral strings libraries of the last ten years, along with links to their SOS reviews, in the 'Which Orchestral Strings Library?' box.

In Conclusion

If we go back in time to the 1970s, string arrangers (then considered a star turn almost on a par with the producer) would simply write out their scores by hand, pass them to a copyist and proceed straight to the studio, where the recording artists (if they bothered to show up) would hear the arrangement for the first time. If the artists didn't like what they heard, it would be too late to do anything about it — because although you can make microchanges on the day, it's not practical to completely rewrite a string arrangement and scribble out new parts for 30 players in the tight time-frame allotted to an average string-recording session!

Those days have long gone. Today's string arranger needs technological knowhow as well as musical chops, but it would be a mistake to prioritise the former over the latter. Knowing how to lash together a sonically convincing MIDI orchestration bristling with keyswitches, dynamic modulation and impressivesounding samples is arguably not much of an achievement if the music being played is bogstandard and boring.

Diagram 8: Some string libraries contain rhythm tools for the automatic creation of ostinatos. The two

Diagram 8: Some string libraries contain rhythm tools for the automatic creation of ostinatos. The two shown here are from Spitfire Audio Albion and Audiobro LA Scoring Strings.

Arranging For Strings, Part 2

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul12/articles/string-theory-2.htm

The moral, as ever, is to keep focused on the music and try to be imaginative and exploratory in your musical ideas, at the same time as keeping a firm hand on the technical chaos that can ensue when working with MIDI and samples. I hope some of what I've written will be of help for both of those endeavours. Next month, I'll be joined by the gifted composer and arranger David Hearn, who'll serve up some useful masterclass tips, while I continue to give you my personal take on the big subject of arranging for strings.

'Truenorth' (Bowness / Wilson) is from the 2008 album Schoolyard Ghosts by Noman www.noman.co.uk.

'Sleep Together' (Wilson) is from the 2007 album Fear of a Blank Planet by Porcupine Tree www.porcupinetree.com. Thanks to the composers for permission to use extracts.

(Quiz answer: the four major triads that can be constructed on the scale of G, A, Bb, C, Db, Eb, E and F# are A major (A, C#, E), C major (C, E, G), Eb major (Eb, G, Bb) and Gb major (Gb, Bb, Db). Their minor variants (A, C, E, and so on) are also possible, making this a very adaptable scale indeed!)

Which Orchestral Strings Library?

Samples are an essential part of an arranger's toolkit. Whether you're writing for real players or creating a MIDI orchestration, you'll need your sampled strings to sound convincing. This applies equally when writing for real players — even if you're capable of imagining the whole arrangement in your head without the aid of any audio backup, you'll still need samples to demo it so the band can hear what they're paying for!

The following libraries (listed in order of their Sound On Sound review dates) represent the cream of the crop of stand-alone orchestral string collections recorded within the last 10 years and available in current sampler formats. All contain multisampled, multidynamic, fullsized violin, viola, cello and double-bass sections. For product demos and details of their contents, visit the company web sites and/or follow the links to read the SOS reviews. Apologies to any libraries we've inadvertently omitted!

Sonivox (formerly Sonic Implants): Symphonic String Collection

www.sonivoxmi.com

/sos/nov02/articles/sonicimplants.asp

Best Service: Peter Siedlaczek String Essentials

www.bestservice.de

/sos/jul06/articles/sampleshop_0706.htm

Vienna Symphonic Library: Orchestral Strings I + II; Appassionata Strings I + II

www.vsl.co.at

/sos/jul06/articles/vslvienna.htm

/sos/may07/articles/sampleshop_0507.htm

Audiobro: LA Scoring Strings

www.audiobro.com /sos/apr10/articles/lascoringstrings.htm (original version).

(LASS Version 2.0 review elsewhere in this issue)

East West Quantum Leap: Hollywood Strings (Now also available in the budget Gold Edition.)

www.soundsonline.com

/sos/sep10/articles/ewql-hollywood-strings.htm

Cinematic Strings: Cinematic Strings 1 +2

www.cinematicstrings.com

/sos/may10/articles/cinematicstrings.htm

/sos/jun12/articles/cinematic-strings-2.htm

Kirk Hunter Studios: Concert Strings II

www.kirkhunterstudios.com

Audio Impressions: 70 DVZ Strings

www.audioimpressions.com

You will also find professional-quality string ensembles in the following fullorchestra sample collections that we've reviewed:

Project SAM: Symphobia and Symphobia II

www.projectsam.com

/sos/dec08/articles/sampleshop.htm

/sos/dec10/articles/project-sam-symphobia-2.htm

East West Quantum Leap: Symphonic Orchestra Play Edition

www.soundsonline.com

/sos/aug09/articles/symphonicorchestra.htm

Spitfire Audio: Albion

www.spitfireaudio.com

/sos/oct11/articles/spitfire-audio-albion.htm

Arranging For Strings, Part 2 http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul12/articles/string-theory-2.htm The moral, as ever, is to keep focused on the
Arranging For Strings, Part 2 http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul12/articles/string-theory-2.htm The moral, as ever, is to keep focused on the
Arranging For Strings, Part 2 http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul12/articles/string-theory-2.htm The moral, as ever, is to keep focused on the

Arranging For Strings, Part 2

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul12/articles/string-theory-2.htm

Arranging For Strings, Part 2 http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul12/articles/string-theory-2.htm 5 di 8 17/02/2014 08:35
Arranging For Strings, Part 2 http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul12/articles/string-theory-2.htm 5 di 8 17/02/2014 08:35
Arranging For Strings, Part 2 http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul12/articles/string-theory-2.htm 5 di 8 17/02/2014 08:35
Arranging For Strings, Part 2 http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul12/articles/string-theory-2.htm 5 di 8 17/02/2014 08:35
Arranging For Strings, Part 2 http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul12/articles/string-theory-2.htm 5 di 8 17/02/2014 08:35

Arranging For Strings, Part 2

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul12/articles/string-theory-2.htm

Arranging For Strings, Part 2 http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul12/articles/string-theory-2.htm Order Of Play String arrangers are expected to be a

Order Of Play

Arranging For Strings, Part 2 http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul12/articles/string-theory-2.htm Order Of Play String arrangers are expected to be a
Arranging For Strings, Part 2 http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul12/articles/string-theory-2.htm Order Of Play String arrangers are expected to be a

String arrangers are expected to be a onestop shop for recording strings, and the logistics are complex: the copyist, studio, arranger, session fixer and players all require paying (the biggest single cost usually being the players). Availabilities of all parties need to be checked well in advance, and coordinating dates can be a nightmare: successful musicians are busy; some acts work abroad a lot of the time; and there's usually at least one band member who'd like to attend the session. so you need to plan well ahead. Here's a suggested starttofinish procedure for creating and recording a real string arrangement:

  • 1. Before committing to the work, ask for a demo of the song, including vocals, and imagine the kind of string arrangement

you think it needs.

  • 2. Estimate how long it will take you to write and demo the arrangement.

  • 3. Decide how many players are required and how long it will take to record them, bearing in mind that there are

restrictions: for example, you can't book musicians for a threehour session and expect them to record two and a half

hours of material!

  • 4. Check the current session rates, session fixer fees (a fixer will give you this info over the phone), copyist's fees and

studio rates, and decide how much you'll charge for the arrangement.

  • 5. Make a spreadsheet budget and send it to the band's management and/or paymaster.

  • 6. Once the budget is approved, ring a fixer and check the players' availability. (It's advisable to plan at least six weeks

ahead.)

7. Ask the band's producer to send you stems (submixes of drums, bass, guitars, vocals

...

)

of the song, so you can hear

exactly what's being played on the track. The same stems can be used as a backing track for the strings session.

  • 8. Ask the band to send you a demo of any ideas they have for the strings — I usually ask for a MIDI file as well as

a stringsonly audio file.

  • 9. Check the availability of copyist, studio, favourite engineer (if you have one) and members of the band or their team

(including producer) who would like to attend the session.

  • 10. Book the players, studio and copyist.

  • 11. The important bit: write the arrangement.

  • 12. Send a demo of the arrangement to the band for comments. (I usually send a mix and a stringsonly version.)

  • 13. If necessary, send a second demo incorporating the requested changes.

  • 14. Once the arrangement is approved, send a score, MIDI file and audio demo to the copyist.

  • 15. Check the copyist's work well before the day of the session. Typos often creep in.

  • 16. Make sure the stems and copyist's parts arrive at the studio in good time for the session. Even if everything is

Arranging For Strings, Part 2

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul12/articles/string-theory-2.htm

technically perfect, it can take almost an hour to put out parts, check backing track balance, sort out click track, etc.

Although a little daunting on the face of it, most of these are merely logistical tasks which can be solved by sensible forward planning. The most important thing is to create a string arrangement that works well for the track. Once you've nailed that, you can proceed with confidence!

Budget Measures

Budget versions of some allinone orchestral libraries offer a more affordable solution to those whose income stream doesn't quite measure up to their professional aspirations. Though the lack of fancy performance styles could be a problem if you want to recreate a full orchestral score, these slimmeddown volumes (which offer upgrade paths to the full libraries) maintain the high sound quality of the originals and can deliver very good musical results:

Vienna Symphonic Library: Vienna Special Edition (80GB)

This contains a full orchestra of instruments and sections presented in cutdown form, though still featuring VSL's excellent legatos and portamentos. The supplementary SE Plus volume introduces more of the atmospheric articulations media composers require.

www.vsl.co.at/en/211/261/314/183.vsl

/sos/oct07/articles/sampleshop_1007.htm

/sos/oct08/articles/sampleshop_1008.htm

East West Quantum Leap: Symphonic Orchestra Play Edition (Silver) (11GB)

This library focuses on essential instruments and articulations, and contains only one mic position and 16bit samples, thus offering a more affordable alternative to the full 24bit Platinum version.

www.soundsonline.com/Symphonic-Orchestra

/sos/aug09/articles/symphonicorchestra.htm

For composers who don't require a fullon, Hollywoodstyle sound, I can recommend:

Arranging For Strings, Part 2 http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul12/articles/string-theory-2.htm technically perfect, it can take almost an hour to put

Garritan: Garritan Personal Orchestra 4 (2GB)

Although not as sumptuous or lushsounding as the top-end libraries, the complete instrumentation and flexible sections of this easytouse, modestlypriced set are a great educational asset for wouldbe orchestrators.

www.garritan.com

/sos/jun10/articles/personalorchestra4.htm

Arranging For Strings, Part 2 http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul12/articles/string-theory-2.htm technically perfect, it can take almost an hour to put
Arranging For Strings, Part 2 http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul12/articles/string-theory-2.htm technically perfect, it can take almost an hour to put

Published in SOS July 2012

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Arranging For Strings, Part 2

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