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Topic: The Power of EQing on strings

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  1. #1

    The Power of EQing on strings

    Hi all,

    this is a little example of how much equalizing can add to the sound of strings.

    The piece itself is a little cue called 'Melancholy' that I wrote for this movie project: http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/...ad.php?t=47585. The piece itself describes the melancholy and loneliness of the protagonist, even when he is in company. I wanted to have a dark but rich strings sound, slowly moving but with strong intensity.

    Melancholy:
    http://www.palmrouter.de/compose/HFr...quencer_EQ.mp3

    The first 18 seconds are what plainly comes out of the notation program. Up to then the 'strategic' decisions are taken concerning instrument and note choice and basically the dynamics. Composition-wise most has been done at that point, but it is not 'sellable' of course .

    Secondly the phrase is repeated in a first reworked version (sec. 19 to 35): dynamics are played instead of notated. Both versions already benefit from the fact that in GPO the dynamics are linked to crossfading samples, so little timbral variations are already there. This version already sounds much nicer, but still not threedimensional.

    Starting at 0:35 min comes the final version. It includes better positioning in space plus some tricks to make the music more lively. The most important is the dynamical EQing, a technique I have learned from Steven von Kampen. It includes constant adjustion of the timbre by subtile EQing. For GPO users: very much can already be done with busily using cc24 of the upgraded version (X-Folder patches).

    More on that here

    http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/...ad.php?t=50318

    and here

    http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/...ad.php?t=50368

    I don't know if it works for you but for me there is a transition from the second to the third version. It seems to get life there.

    I constantly watch the demand of newer and better strings samples, and indeed the strings often stick out in midi work. And the better the original sound material is, the better are the possibilities. But what I ask myself is whether any new samples or software will ever be able to replace the human decision to make the sound a little softer or brighter right in this moment - as we for example can do by EQing.

    So I think there may be a programmed disappointment if the (correctly diagnosed) notorious problems with strings are being adressed with new libraries only. The more I work with samples, the more I tend to regard them as raw material (nevertheless valuable).


    Hannes
    All your strings belong to me!
    www.strings-on-demand.com

  2. #2

    Re: The Power of EQing on strings

    There is a definite difference as you add the cc's - wow! I am very guilty of allowing the notation program do most (if not all) of the work. But this and other examples you show certainly are forcing me to rethink how I approach mixing down a piece of music. I wish I knew what 'you know'. I am just begining to understand the use of the controllers. I am not that keen on using the keyboard (mod wheel and foot pedals) to control the musical line's expressions. I usually leave it to the "live" performer. But, it is excruciatingly difficult to get pieces out to real players. So, Hannes for driving me to re-examine and expand my knowledge of how to use GPO.

  3. #3

    Re: The Power of EQing on strings

    wrayer,

    I had a hard time learning what I can up to now, and still a long way to go. The whole midi tweaking/mixing thing is really a profession of its own.

    Nevertheless I decided to enter this because of the same reason you mentioned - I need a polished product now and do not have a symphony playing in my garden. BTW this would also need a sound engineer ...

    There is one more reason for it - mixing also influences the composition itself. For example my snippet - at the end of the first phrase the listener defenitely will become bored ... nothing is really happening any more. Then with the repetition (second version) this long note is even more boring ... but no problem here with the third version, at least for me. The sound is much more living, sparkling and changing in itself.

    So to cover potentially boring samples, we composers tend to stuff our writing - an understandable solution. If the tone itself does not change and 'speak' enough let us quickly throw in an oboe or the glockenspiel. But with a good interpretation and mixing we can allow ourselves even loooooooooooooong notes again. (I love long, evolving notes).

    BTW ... hey, I am a member of this forum since almost exactly one year. My Northern Sound Source birthday! ... I am really happy I have got the chance to learn from you all!

    Hannes
    All your strings belong to me!
    www.strings-on-demand.com

  4. #4

    Re: The Power of EQing on strings

    Hi Hannes,

    for me, at any production I have made I used equalizing for any instruments, because there is always a fight of the frequencies among themselves.

    You make a very great work with this! I am strained what goes on with this :-)

    Best regards
    "Music is the shorthand of emotion." Leo Tolstoy

    Listen to me, tuning my triangle http://www.box.net/shared/ae822u6r3i

  5. #5

    Re: The Power of EQing on strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Hannes_F

    So to cover potentially boring samples, we composers tend to stuff our writing - an understandable solution. If the tone itself does not change and 'speak' enough let us quickly throw in an oboe or the glockenspiel. But with a good interpretation and mixing we can allow ourselves even loooooooooooooong notes again. (I love long, evolving notes).

    Hannes
    That's a good point Hannes!

    I've listened carefully to this short extract and observed the points you are making. The final version is much more life-like so there's no doubt you are uncovering some interesting techniques here. Please continue to enlighten us.

    Regards, Graham

  6. #6
    Senior Member jonray's Avatar
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    Re: The Power of EQing on strings

    This is quite amazing, Hannes. Your last section is much more life-like.

    Just to clarify - is the general rule that you add a little treble as the note gets longer and louder? Or is there more to it than that?

    Thanks for your continued work on this - it's most useful.
    Jon

  7. #7

    Re: The Power of EQing on strings

    This is most, most interesting, Hannes; thank you.

    I've done a little experimenting along the way with
    dynamic EQ to pull back the highs (brightness) on
    softer dynamics; bring them up in louder passages --
    effectively, linking brightness subtly to dynamic.
    So far, in any production work, I am yet very unsure
    of my hand with it, so have kept it to a barely
    discernable minimum.

    What you say (and demonstrate) makes a great deal
    of sense; and I will certainly have to follow your
    lead and work more with this.

    My best,


    David
    www.DavidSosnowski.com
    .

  8. #8

    Re: The Power of EQing on strings

    This is definitely fertile ground for experimentation. I have a few realizations I think I may revisit after giving this a little try.
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  9. #9

    Re: The Power of EQing on strings

    A very interesting and successful application of your eq method here Hannes.

    For me, you still use it just a bit too much...push it just a bit too hard, but I can hear how you are refining the process, and this represents a marked improvement on your last posts on this subject.

    I am totally with you on the love of looooooong evolving notes, and I agree that the lack of this in most Libraries, can make people throw in a lot of cluttered writing to cover the static nature of the samples.

    With String Samples all the articulations seem to focus on the up and down nature of bowing, Staccato, alternating up/down, Marcato, Legato, Spiccato.......etc, etc.

    With your eq technique, I also get a feeling of left to right bowing, Sul Tasto toward Sul Ponticello.

    Lovely piece too, by the way.

    regards Joe

  10. #10

    Re: The Power of EQing on strings

    Hi everybody,

    thank you for your comments.

    I should mention that I did this with (relatively cheap) headphones and have good monitors exacly since today. So now I hear everything like under a microscope, and the colours are also slightly different. Conclusion is, the example needs a refining.

    General rule: if you watch string players on long notes you will notice that they often go to the bridge on the tip and frog of the bow, and more to the fingerboard in the middle. So one model of a crescendo tone (one of many possibilities) would be:

    bright - mellow - bright

    Decrescendo the same.

    Another one would be

    dark - medium - bright

    A third one would be

    dark - bright - medium

    If you watch a symphony next time, it is most interesting to look at the distance between bridge and the bowing contact point. The more to the bridge, the brighter is the tone.


    Hannes
    All your strings belong to me!
    www.strings-on-demand.com

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