I'm still wrestling with the demo score for my musical. I have two cellos, which play in unison about as much as they do divisi. I have three solo strings libraries -- none of which includes a patch of two cellos playing in unison. I am not happy with the sound of any two solo cello instruments from these libraries playing together. Nor do I care for any combination of two cello instruments from the GPO library. (I'm sorry, but they just seem harsh and muddy to me, no matter what I do to them.)
The most realistic to me so far is the three cellos in unison in the Dan Dean Solo Strings Advanced library. I am wondering if three cellos in unison sound all that different from two cellos in unison. Other than the increased uniformity of tone and less scratchiness that I would expect from having an additional instrument. And couldn't I compenstate for these differences with the "cloaking" (i.e. randomizing) feature in DDSS?
When I have the cellos playing in unison there is usually a lot else going on in the score. Typically, all the violins are playing in unison, and frequently the string bass is doubling them at the octave, and less frequently in unison. Usually, some or all of the wind instruments or one or more keyboards are playing as well. I have to wonder if a listener would be able to discern the difference between two or three cellos on the part. (Though with only one cello playing it does seem different enough where I think one would notice. The solo patches have a lot of color and tend to draw attention to themselves. Not so good at blending. But the GPO solo strings blend way too much for my taste.) Keep in mind that this is only a demo. The real score hopefully will be played some day with real cellos. I just don't want a prospective producer to listen to this and assume he needs more musicians than required, since he probably won't see a printed score initially. (Readers for theater companys like to HEAR a demo of the score while they are evaluating the script.)
First of all, in any small production of a musical, anything other than just having a pianist or two keyboardists for a small production is already breaking the budget... So, this is not something to worry about, since it's a demo of the music, and you're lucky if it gets produced with just a pianist... At least that's what's true in New York... Second of all, any prospective producer really doesn't hear orchestration and wouldn't know 2 cellos from a chamber orchestra... They're in the business of producing...
I say these things because I think you're sweating the small stuff... Use the patch that you think best represents your music and then try to sell it with all your might... When and if something finally happens, it will be quite different than what you expected... And a lot of small productions are just using backing tracks... And with that, the sky is the limit...
I understand where you are coming from, but my questions are well considered.
I am familiar with the NY thearer scene. I haven't had anything produced yet, but that's mainly because I have been devoting nearly all my attention to my acting career and the focus needs to be mostly there because hardly anyone makes money writing a musical. I had a few staged readings of an earlier show that I wrote and an offer to include one of my songs in an off-Broadway review (which I turned down because I didn't want to break up the score).
This is my second effort (if I don't count the shows I wrote and produced back in college). It's a loose adaptation of a classic with 8 principal roles, plus a chorus with a minimum of another 8 performers. So, this isn't going to be a small production, no matter how you look at it.
According to the Dramatists Guild latest Resource Directory, there are only a handful of theater companies nationwide that will conisder new works that are self submitted (and virtually no literary agents that will read unsolicitied manuscripts or listen to scores by anyone they don't all ready know.) Of those which are capable of producing a show with a cast this large, most are budgeted for a pit orchestra of Broadway size or a little smaller. So, that's what I am aiming for. I am also planning a reduced orchestration version for a couple of theaters that are limited to 7 or 8 pit musicians ... which is probably what we'll use if I can't get a production and decide to workshop or showcase it. (I haven't done the reduction score yet because I am still working on the full score, but it may not be anything more than one or two pianos, with a bass and drums reading from the piano/vocal score.)
I sent out scripts a couple of years ago. It got pretty positive responses, but no production offers. My impression was that most were expecting to hear a more polished recording of the score (in particular, one reader mentioned that she felt the music needed to be more evocative of the time period). So I did a little re-writing and re-working the music and I've been been spending the last couple of years trying to learn enough about orchestration to put together a demo that nails it.
Since orchestrating and arranging is relatively new to me, I am reading everything I can find and asking more experienced musicians and orchestrators for advice when things come up that aren't in the books. Or, in this case, when sampled instruments fall short of what I think I need.
While I think it's probably true that readers don't hear orchestration -- at least not in the way that a composer, or an orchestrator, or even a musician would -- I think all of it subtly contributes to the tone of the work and their perception of it. Especially if it's in period. That first impression they get of your production is really the only shot you've got, so I want to make it the best that it can possibly be.
Well, I still say, make it the best you can, and if since music production is a big selling point in any kind of music, I think it's going to work in your favor, in spite of the seeming size of the orchestra in the recording. I don't think that if they're interested in producing the play, that's going to be a deterrent. It's not like you're presenting an orchestra that suggests west side story, just whether they can hear the difference between 2 or 3 cellos. Also, if the melody is within the same range, try a good solo cello sample and a solo viola sample. That may have a enough of a difference in color to sound like 2 cellos. Anyway, good luck with all this, definitely getting a new play produced nowadays is a very big challenge.