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Your hints and tips for full and lush strings


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Hi all

 

Just started a new project recreating an mp3 backing track for an opera piece and this is my first time arranging strings. I am only using the virtual instruments in logic and have no other plug ins for this.

 

I was merely wondering if any of you guys or gals had any hints, tips and tricks for getting a really full sounding string section - and of course - if you wouldn;t mind sharing with me :)

 

Thanks a lot!!

 

x

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If you're going for realism, the first thing is to learn how to arrange for strings, not how to get a sound. The sound comes from learning how to arrange for strings, including the way the chords are voiced and the number of players in each section.

 

"Lush" can take on many many meanings. You can get "lush" from a quartet as well as a huge ensemble. So you're going to have to define "lush", but defining it has to do with what you're writing.

 

If you don't care about realism but just want a big, fat, sound, consider combining (say) Logic's stock orchestral strings with a synth pad. Balance the two to taste. Lengthen the release time for each so that you get a little bit of overlap or ring-out as you move from note to note or chord to chord. Then you can play whatever you think sounds good.

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A little amount of reverb can go a long way. Find a really nice room setting with Space Designer and assign it to a bus. Processing your instruments with the same reverb will make them sound like they are all being played in the same environment. With realistic orchestral strings, I tend to use a fairly short reverb tail. Add too much and it can start to get a little muddy and any low frequencies will add up quickly. That's another thing to keep in mind; Keep an EQ handy to remove any unnecessary low frequencies before processing with reverb. I very rarely use any compression on realistic strings, but there are times when I will use a little to color the sound to my liking. Good luck.

 

- xpander

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I've spoken to a friend who plays in an orchestra and done some research and so far have decided on a starting point along the lines of

 

Cello playing the root of a chord

 

Viola playing the fifth

 

Second Violin playing the third

 

First Violin playing root or seventh

 

I'll programme each instrument on seperate tracks and will come up with counter melodies etc which will largely be trial and error whilst based on teh backing track I have as a reference.

 

When I say lush, agree a very subjective word, I'm just looking for any enhancements that can be made to the sounds ie eq, reverb, double tracking etc which can create a pleasing wall of sound. Whilst I do not expect this to sound like a philharmonic it would be great to give it overall some breadth and depth. If that makes any sense what so ever!!

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A little amount of reverb can go a long way. Find a really nice room setting with Space Designer and assign it to a bus. Processing your instruments with the same reverb will make them sound like they are all being played in the same environment. With realistic orchestral strings, I tend to use a fairly short reverb tail. Add too much and it can start to get a little muddy and any low frequencies will add up quickly. That's another thing to keep in mind; Keep an EQ handy to remove any unnecessary low frequencies before processing with reverb. I very rarely use any compression on realistic strings, but there are times when I will use a little to color the sound to my liking. Good luck.

 

- xpander

 

Thats great!! Thanks!

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I've spoken to a friend who plays in an orchestra and done some research and so far have decided on a starting point along the lines of

 

Cello playing the root of a chord

 

Viola playing the fifth

 

Second Violin playing the third

 

First Violin playing root or seventh

 

Make sure you switch them up, don't just always have Cello player root, Viola playing 5th etc... interweave them at points. If you follow that formula for to long it will start to sound uninteresting.

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1. Buy a string library (or 2) that has a lush sound out of the box. Some of the great string libraries do, other great ones do not.

 

2. Run it through a really good reverb.

 

3. Buy at least 1 score of a composer who wrote and orchestrated lush strings like Ravel with "Daphnis and Chloe", and spend a ton of hours studying it.

 

4. Now forget about making it "real" and use your ears to make it sound lush.

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I've spoken to a friend who plays in an orchestra and done some research and so far have decided on a starting point along the lines of

 

Cello playing the root of a chord

 

Viola playing the fifth

 

Second Violin playing the third

 

First Violin playing root or seventh

 

:shock:

 

if you're looking for a sound that embodies parallelism and homophony, that approach makes sense. If you're not going for that kind of sound then it makes no sense at all.

 

And what about basses?

 

When I say lush, agree a very subjective word, I'm just looking for any enhancements that can be made to the sounds ie eq, reverb, double tracking etc which can create a pleasing wall of sound. Whilst I do not expect this to sound like a philharmonic it would be great to give it overall some breadth and depth. If that makes any sense what so ever!!

 

First you have to learn to write for string orchestra before you can think about what it sounds like. Voicing is everything. You can throw reverb and chorusing on string and pad sounds, and layer various sounds all day long, but if you don't write idiomatically for strings it's going to sound like mush rather than a wall of sound.

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First you have to learn to write for string orchestra before you can think about what it sounds like
I agree, and to help you along with learning orchestration:

 

http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/forumdisplay.php/77-Principles-of-Orchestration-On-line

 

http://www.youtube.com/user/OrchestrationOnline

 

3. Buy at least 1 score of a composer who wrote and orchestrated lush strings like Ravel with "Daphnis and Chloe"l, and spend a ton of hours studying it.
http://imslp.org/wiki/Main_Page
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