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Topic: Notes sound abrupt, please help (beginner)

  1. #1

    Notes sound abrupt, please help (beginner)

    Hey all.

    I'm working on a piece right now called ANIMA, but the string parts at the beginning don't sound as great as I'd like. People have commented on the fact that they sound too abrupt and not smooth enough. I am not building my own string sections yet, I'm using the "lush" sets for each of the string parts. The mp 3 can be download here:


    Please listen to the top one (ANIMA original score). Maybe someone can suggest a way to make the strings sound smoother? I'm using cakewalk home studio 2004 and garritan.



  2. #2

    Re: Notes sound abrupt, please help (beginner)

    Hi Chris,

    Try using the Sus+Short instead of the Lush strings.
    Also more importantly, you need to extend each string note into the next by a small amount. In other words, lengthen each note so that it overlaps into the next one, try it, you'll like it.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Chandler, Arizona

    Re: Notes sound abrupt, please help (beginner)

    The harder you play a note, the faster the attack. Try playing with lower velocities. Use the legato feature to go smoothly from note to note.

  4. #4

    Talking Re: Notes sound abrupt, please help (beginner)

    Reverb is also great for blending strings.

  5. #5

    Re: Notes sound abrupt, please help (beginner)

    Put a 0-16 (in midi cc #1 units) hill on many notes. Then for notes "connected" in a phrase, shift the peak of the hill as follows: if the next note is higher in pitch, shift the peak towards the next note; if the next note is lower, shift the peak away from the note. The greater the interval, the greater the shift. For an octave or more the shift should be about 80% of the note's duration (then it looks like a sawtooth).

    PENDANTIC, UNIFORM, FOR DEMONSTRATION ONLY examples can be found at http://ybacuo.wusik.com/ Here every note, for every instrument, uses this algorithm and sometimes it helps and sometimes it doesn't.

    In addition, there has to be the correct separation between one note end and the next note start (usually 0-2 clicks, where there are 96 clicks per beat). And do not forget to use the "legato" pedal correctly, as described in the manual.

    More words, but less useful NS thread here:


    If you post a midi file, I can play with it a little ...

    Good luck -


  6. #6

    Re: Notes sound abrupt, please help (beginner)

    Thanks for your help everyone. Here is a MIDI file, it would be great if you could play around with it. (don't do anything too complex though, I need to be able to see what you've done :P).

    Horn 1
    Horn 2
    Bass drum

    Sorry, the MIDI won't sound good because the instruments etc.. arnt correctly assigned but at least the notes are there.

    geocities.com/hurnchris/ANIMA2.mid (copy and paste into your browser window)


  7. #7

    Re: Notes sound abrupt, please help (beginner)

    The MP3 that uses the cc#1 hill+peak shift can be found here (I added a bass part identical to the cello part but an octave below):


    PM me with your email address and I'll send you the midi file.

    This helps solve the abruptness in the string parts. But understand that during the conversion process, other problems arose. But the question posed was how to solve the abruptness. The solution is a combination of the correct note end/note start spacing (slightly overlapping for better legato, or one can engage the legato pedal) and the 0-16 cc#1 hill with peak shift as described in a previous post above.

    There are two basic problems with your midi file:
    (1) There is essentially no "expression", that is the mod wheel data which controls volume/timbre is essentially flat.
    (2) Many tracks have more than one actual line (notes of a chord or two actual independent lines sound simultaneously). It is best two separate these two parts into two different tracks, so that different mod wheel curves can be drawn for each.

    GPO is intended to be "performed." There are many ways to do this, and I encourage you to ask others what they do. You can:

    (1) Use a keyboard (or other) controller with one hand playing the keyboard and the other one "riding" the mod wheel.

    (2) If your keyboard skills are not sufficient, then use "Finger Conductor" (search the forum here), which allows any key (i.e. the same key and use just one finger to trigger notes) to trigger notes while the other hand rides the mod wheel.

    (3) Use your sequencer to enter the mod wheel data in (automation, or some x-y plugin) with the mouse or your controller. The sequencer plays the previously entered in notes and playbacks/records your mouse/controller movement which is controlling the mod wheel data.

    The algorithm described earlier will give you a clue how to "perform" mod wheel data to get better note transitions. A slight entry and exit will help eliminate the abruptness; hence the "hill." The peak shift simply helps mimic the human voice, so when the next note is higher in pitch, shift the peak close to the next note and "glide" into the next note. If the next note is lower in pitch, then shift the peak away from the note, mimicking the voice muscles having to first relax and then retension. Other easy tricks that will help is to have one section (the bass for example) be slightly late with all notes compared to the violins/cellos. Most sequencers will allow one to select an entire track and with a couple of mouse clicks move the whole track a couple of 256th notes. This will help to lessen the "organ" effect when all tracks start notes at exactly the same time. Of course, by playing in the notes, there will almost automatically be some randomness for this.

    Anyway, good luck,


  8. #8

    Re: Notes sound abrupt, please help (beginner)

    In your MP3 it sounds as though the strings are doing a sort of fade-in on each note. This will not make the end of the note abrupt, but the beginning of the next note too quiet at first. This is how lush strings is unless you do the sustain pedal thing. The "lush" strings patch (I beleive) is ment for very emotional, smooth, rich music, which yours is. (very nice composition, by the way) And the fade-in type thing sounds very good for that style of music untill you must slur, which is when you depress the sustain pedal. That will take off the slow attack and get right into the next note.
    And also take everyone else's suggestions. They are very good. (as well as mind, of course! )


  9. #9

    Re: Notes sound abrupt, please help (beginner)

    "0-16 cc#1 hill with peak shift as described in a previous post above."

    Thanks for sending the MIDI. I see what you've done there. I don't have a MIDI keyboard, so is my only option just to manually draw the mod in? that could take a while. I'm not sure if Cakewalk home studio has this algorithm thing, does anyone know? I'm guessing it would take a while to do all that manually, for every track!

    Thanks a lot for helping out.


  10. #10

    Re: Notes sound abrupt, please help (beginner)

    It's teadious, but if you don't have a keyboard, it's the only way I know of. I don't know about your version of Cakewalk, but in mind I can draw a continuous line of controllers rather than manually drawing a line. Your only other option is copy and paste, which isn't good if your going for maximum realism, but OK for a quick sketch of a part.

    Hope this helps,

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