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Topic: Layering Real Strings with GPO - "Year of the Comet" by Hummie Mann

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Orcas Island

    Layering Real Strings with GPO - "Year of the Comet" by Hummie Mann

    One of the tricks that the professionals use is to layer real instruments with sampled ones. Sometimes the composer has a limited budget and cannot hire a complete orchestra. And sometimes trying to emulate all the nuances of a flawless string performance using just samples can be very difficult if not impossible. Having live players play along with samples can impart realism, expression and add a whole new dimension to the performance.

    Last summer at the GPO Course held at Napier University, Edinburgh, Scotland; Ged Brockie demonstrated the techniqiue of layering real strings with samples. Ged conducted the Edinburgh String Quartet in his demonstration. Here are the cues:

    Maggie goes to Scotland #1...This is the full GPO version that Ged created using just samples:


    Maggie goes to Scotland #2...This is the GPO version (including GPO strings) as well as the audio of the Edinburgh String Quartet playing along with the cue.


    The cue they worked with was the 1992 film "Year Of The Comet" which was scored by Hollywood composer Hummie Mann. Hummie led the Pacific Northwest European Summer Intensive of which the GPO course was a part. The cue that this film alludes to a scene where Maggie eventually convinces her father that she should be allowed to take part in her father's wine business as a full partner having been overlooked for the dubious talents of her older (and childish) brother.

    Ged writes: "The film clip was imported into Cubase SX and the students rendered the cue with GPO against the picture. On Thursday 2nd of September, the Edinburgh String Quartet were kind enough to provide their services. Paul Ferguson, Napier's sound guru took the best part of a working day setting up the mics, recording equipment, tv monitor, foldback etc for this cue. I then was asked by Hummie to conduct the cue...which was a bit of a last minute surprise. From a conducting point of view, I had a screen to my right and had to conduct slightly ahead of the beat in order for the strings to sync correctly to picture (think bowing). The cues that are presented let you hear the difference (or similarities) between GPO strings and the combined GPO with the Edinburgh string quartet."

    Ged did a fabulous job conducting from Hummie's score and the cue was successfully recorded.

    We are planning to write a tutorial on layering real instruments with GPO. Anytbody want to help out?

    I hope that you enjoy this wonderful cue that Hummie has given us all. Thanks also to Ged for sharing this.

    Gary Garritan

  2. #2

    Re: Layering Real Strings with GPO - "Year of the Comet" by Hummie Mann

    Oops- your links don't apear to be hyperlinked!!

    I really want to hear these- I want to conduct my own experiments layering GPO/GOS with solo string players when I get time. I've been worried the solo players would stand out too much. It's more or less just what he did.

    I'll be happy to post my results if I get a chance to do it in the next 2 or 3 weeks...

    Ah, I see links are fixed!!

  3. #3

    Re: Layering Real Strings with GPO - "Year of the Comet" by Hummie Mann

    Hmmm, OK!

    Well, the all GPO version sounds pretty doggone good. The version with the real strings is something though. The strings are much more present. Since it doesn't sound like a quartet I guess that means the blend is pretty seamless. What I notice the most is that the improved string realism "sells" the GPO woodwinds; they in turn seem to sound even more real. The bits I want to work on will be simulations of a much larger string section, really playing ful out. I'm really excited to try this!!

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