I'm working on a recording of quite a complex contemporary score, where the degree to which the string sections are divided varies considerably, and I'm wondering if anyone has any tips on how to distinguish between them most convincingly.
The strings are 12 each of first and second violins, 10 each of violas and cellos, and 8 basses. I've broken down the way they divide into separate tracks as follows:
Large div: about 2/3 of the section (sometimes all the violins together are divided into three lots of 8)
Div: half the section, as normal
Medium div: rather less than half
Small div: as few as three players (this only applies to violins and violas)
Solo: there are a number of passages where one or more sections are fully divided into solo parts - a couple with all 52!
Naturally, the solo parts are easy: use the solo instruments. In a few places there are just two players on a line, so I'm doubling up solo parts, but beyond that I'm not sure how best to approach the problem.
I thought of basing it all on the div (half) section and somehow beefing it up a bit for the large div and rather more for the full section, then somehow (how? EQ?) thinning it out for the smaller divs.
For the beefing up I've tried adding subtle chorus or delay, but whatever I do sounds like an 'effect', which of course I don't want. I've also tried doubling up for the full sections, moving the duplicate tracks a few ticks late and panning them slightly off from the originals, but even that sounds like an effect.
Maybe I should just do the whole lot as solo parts, multiplied up as need be, with a good dose of 'humanization' and some intonation and timbre variation?
Oh... and what do I do about harmonics? I haven't tried it yet, but I thought of pitch-shift and a bit of subtle EQ...?
For what it's worth, I'm using lovely new Digital Performer 5.1, but I don't have a budget for expensive plug-ins beyond what I've got with DP.