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Bunch of Template (and real orchestra) Questions

Discussion in 'Tips, Tricks & Talk' started by Rohann van Rensburg, Jan 3, 2019.

  1. Hey all. Rather than make individual threads, I'll just dump it all here. Probably more to follow:
    1. I recall Mike saying somewhere in the Template Balancing class to not worry about i.e. using extra voices in the strings, since it's not real. I can't find the position in the video though -- any idea if he qualifies this at all?

    2. When choosing string articulations, do dynamics typically correlate with vibrato intensity? Off the top of my head, this seems to be the case and sections seem to stick to "VB", never really moving into molto territory generally, but I'm sure there are exceptions (i.e. Danse Macabre).
  2. I think what that means is that if you have a violins patch that is supposed to represent 18 violin players, and you play 2 notes simultaneously, that's virtually 36 violin players but don't worry about it, because it won't sound like 36 violin players.
    Rohann van Rensburg likes this.
  3. Ah, that makes more sense. What are the implications for using multiple voices, though? I assume the principle that you can't have 4 voices spread across a single section of violins remains intact because divisi-ing that much will probably not sound great, or at least sound incredibly thin.
  4. I think the implication is that doubling or quadrupling notes won't sound like doubling or quadrupling the number of instruments but it could sound more full than real divisi and it might be a good idea to adjust the volume to compensate.
  5. To clarify: so "be careful" of doubling notes to make them sound more full? @Mike Verta I'd love if you could chime in but you're understandably busy.
  6. Check out mike's demo for adventure strings.

    Based on the four-note chords in the violins and violas at the beginning, I take it that his approach is to just stack the samples when playing divisi and not worry about the number of virtual players.

    I know Thomas Bergerson recommended in an old article to play chords, but lower the master volume of the track to compensate. Ex. if divisi a3 then set the patch to one-third volume.
    Rohann van Rensburg likes this.
  7. See the above reply by Noah Horowitz. I think that answers your question well.
    Rohann van Rensburg likes this.
  8. Yes I don't worry about the number of "virtual players" actually represented when playing, say, a chord on a full violin section patch. It doesn't sound like 100+ violins would. One of the biggest drawbacks of virtual instruments - apart from the dismally unmusical lack of articulation - is that each instrument/section exists in a bubble - they don't truly blend or interact with one another. So two violin "sections" don't add the way 64 actual violins would.
  9. Is it wise to divisi a string section 3-way? I'm thinking 2 as max, but not sure if that always covers all the needs nowadays
  10. Thanks for the clarification! Would a practical solution be to actually reduce volume, rather than dynamics, in a divisi situation, in order to get the timbre and colour of a smaller amount of players without the volume? Or does it not really matter?

    Ditto Jure's question. In the relatively few scores I've studied, I think I've only seen 2 way divis in a single section.
  11. Regarding divisi in more parts than 2:

    Mastery and usage of string divisi technique is very common in all of the great classical orchestrators (Strauss, Holst, Ravel, Resphigi etc). Sometimes it is for a coloristic effect (the color of divided violas vs the color of violas, violins and celli), sometimes it is for a thickening effect (the sound of some violins, violas, and cellos on each note of the chord vs the sound of violins on the top two notes, violas below, and celli on the bottom), but mostly it is because the composer wants more notes to convey a complex harmony. The two pieces that really show the most mastery of divisi are Schoenberg's orchestral version of Verklärte Nacht and Strauss's Metamorphosen. In film scores, just of the top of my head, the cue Leaving Ingrid from Seven Years in Tibet has the cellos div a4 almost the entire time.

    Regarding what to do about divisi in samples:
    Obviously virtual divisi has been an issue for a while, and aside from LASS there isn't really anything close to a perfect solution yet. I wouldn't stress it too much, just trust your ears!
    Rohann van Rensburg likes this.
  12. Yes, live divisi usage is governed by - geez - just a ton of factors. I'll be sure to talk about it if/when we do a Live Symphonic Strings class. For now, vi's are such a gross approximation I wouldn't worry about it at all. Just get the overall balance right. Remember, performance is 100x more important than sound.
    Rohann van Rensburg likes this.
  13. Yes, live divisi usage is governed by - geez - just a ton of factors. I'll be sure to talk about it when we do a Live Symphonic Strings class. [/QUOTE]

    Hi Mike, I've fixed that for you....:)
    Rohann van Rensburg likes this.
  14. Thanks for this. I'll have a listen to Schoenberg's piece soon, I've been listening to the quartet version quite a bit the last month but haven't tried the orchestral version. Schoenberg is a really underrated tonal composer.
  15. Hi Rohann,

    Just a few ideas here. First it depends so much on the library and also often on the patches. There are libraries which have a very thick sounding strings which when you start to play chords it will sound too thick. In general I would say: Don´t worry too much about playing string chords even if the number of players excel the "theoretical" numbers of a compared live situation. But you should imo always use your ears to evaluate what comes "in". Having said that: Also the micing settings can have a significant influence about the thickness of a sound and even single played string line. Tree / ambient or stage Micings let resonate ensemble instruments much more with the room and doing chords will cause a much thicker line and sound output. I would try the following: Lets say you have a divisi line for Violas, and lets say they play like a glue kind of harmony in the middle ranges, you can easily use 2 different viola ensembles playing that. But perform each line a bit differently, it can also help using different libraries, like the upper voice can be a Berlin Viola patch and the lower line could be a 8dio Viola. Let me demonstrate that later with an example. Such chords can sound too thick when people are using ensemble patches which are just strings because the voices contain often not only violins, but violas, and cellos on just one note and therefore the line and chords gets a way too thick. Again: Use your "ear", and listen to a recording and try to compare the results. I never go by the numbers in the ensemble. If the developers tells me: Look that is a 8 or 16 Violins patch, I say thank you and I don´t care any further.
    Rohann van Rensburg likes this.
  16. Yes I'd concur - only use Full Ensemble patches when sketching, but within sections, I personally have never worried about the virtual stacking of virtual players. YMMV.
    Rohann van Rensburg likes this.
  17. #17 Alexander Schiborr, Jan 9, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
    So, here is a quick example of what I was talking about.

    listen to both examples.

    dry version:

    The string department there is:

    Berlin Violins + 8dio + Spitfire chamber strings + Solo strings. So that are just on the paper, I dont know maybe..48 violins playing the same line? or whatever and that would be just not really fit to the numbers on the staff paper normally. But I go from what I like to hear in context with the orchestra playing together. And one library just doesn´t do the job for me, so I am starting to add more, but therefore I am having also more timbres available and I detune each line a little bit "on the fly" while peforming.
    Similiar approach for the violas and cellos (berlin, 8dio)
    Jure Jerebic likes this.
  18. Nice! I combine Berlin Strings and Chamber Strings Pro as well, they each have what the other one doesn't. I also add some Albion V, but only if I really need something very specific that doesn't exist in the other two.
  19. Sounds fantastic! Thanks for the examples. So the bottom line is not to write more than a realistic amount of lines (i.e. 1st violins probably shouldn't play a 5 note chord unless you really, really know what you're doing), but disregard the amount of "players" and pay attention to balance.
    Good point re: ensembles. I typically only use those for sketching as well, precisely because of the lack of control re: what sections are doing.

    I have HWS and SCS and I'm trying to see how those play together. I also have the solo cello and violin from Virharmonic which sound really fantastic (and most importantly, are extremely playable), and find they do well thrown into a section as well.

    Anyone have any pointers in regard to my initial question about vibrato levels? I noticed Mike uses the HWS NV NV VB MV (or was it NV NV NV VB?) patches for violins, I imagine because it's more efficient to just let vibrato scale with dynamics.
  20. Well I personally can´t get anough of molto vibrato though I know people who actually don´t like that, however, my example should just show you that layering those different libraries doesn´t mean automatically that it doesn´t work, in fact I believe layering carefully different types of libraries can "enrich" the coloring of the lines. I mean you have to programm the lines carful because they all have different attacks, and legato type of transitions so copying paste doesn´t work here in order to let them sound together.

    For the vibrato I honestly even don´t use any crossfade from non to vib. / When I listen to soundtracks I like, the strings are very often having some vibrato in the sound, besides specific restrained situation parts so imo I wouldn´t care too much about that. More important is that you can create a cohesive musical and expressive line with the patch.

    My recommendation therefore if you like drier sounds:

    Hollywood strings longs / legato, runs, trems ( I dont like that much the shorts)
    Berlin Strings, yeah they are ambient but you can kill the ambience when you know how. (longs, Shorts, Blurred Spiccs / Staccs + detuning), use there close micings, and a bit of ambient, reduce the release (release tail killer), and alter the attack to your needs. (use a send to a scoring stage with a very short decay to get back room)
    8dio Agitato (close micings for expressivo lyrical stuff, cello, vloa and violins kick ass)
    CSS Shorts for driving motion, one of the best out there. The longs are also nice of course but very dark.

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