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Topic: Arranging Strings

  1. #1

    Arranging Strings

    Hi Fellow Composers

    I purchased myself a bunch of string libraries, but am totally new in this realm.

    I am a classical Pianist, and know the piano as my Instrument. I wish to start composing score like string sections, but am sitting with the tools and dont know how to use them.

    Can anyone give me advise on how to start aranging a simple string section. How is this done?(Give example)

    The samples on AO and Ultimate Strings claim 11 section strings of viola etc. How does one arrange(Do you only press one note on the keyboard at a time or would you use let say C, E, G and press them altogether to create a string section?

    How do you composers start putting strings together, can you give us examples on how to start. I am anxious, and wish to use these libraries. I just need all the input I can get to get started on how to arrange strings.

    Let your ideas benefit us all, and bring dimension to all composers.



  2. #2

    Re: Arranging Strings

    In very simple basic terms, less is more, and less is most always better. You do not want to clutter your music with thick and heavy strings playing many different notes or parts at the same time. Keep your strings \"open\" and \"airy.\"

    In very simple and basic general terms, if you have a string section part with four notes in a chord, or four different string parts, the 1st violins are on the top note, then the 2nd violins, then the violas, then the cellos on the bottom, bearing in mind that all notes played by the various instruments need to be in the range of the particular string instruments playing those particular notes. Quiet often, it is better and more effective to have more \"open\" string parts with wide intervals, rather than having the notes of the various string instruments clustered in close intervals, though at times, close clustered intervals can be effective for certain situations and effects. In general terms, it is often more appropriate in an audiable sense to have closer interval spacings between the 1st and 2nd violins, with wider interval spacings between the violins and violas, and violas and cellos.

    What I have stated above are not by any means hard and fast rules. They are very general comments. Another thing to experiment with is to have certain string parts move while other string instruments are sustaining longer notes.

    Another thing to bear in mind......if you are playing a really busy arrangement on your piano, you want your string parts to be much more simple so that the piano and strings will not get in the way of each other and clash. If your piano arrangement is simple, you can have your string arrangements doing more.

    There are also books available on arranging which you may want to look into.

  3. #3

    Re: Arranging Strings

    Imagine you are going to play a string instrument to make your samples sound like the real thing. Generally they dont play chords (C E G). its very difficul to play a violin like a piano in this way. This is because the tunning of each string, for them it\'s easier to play open chords(E C G) and not like in piano
    (C E G).
    Use one midi channel for violin 1, another for violin 2 and this way for all the instruments in the orchestra.
    Try to use different sound for violin 1 and violin 2. If you have enough sounds try mixing or crossfading several sound till you obtain the rigth sound. When you use the same sound for 2 string sections and play unison, you could find phase troubles.
    If you don\'t have enough midi channels try using PGM (program changes) to use different fx in the same instrument:
    imagine violins 1 in channel one: first 16 bars,pizz. then bars 17-22 tremolo. bar 23 to 30 pont, etc, and this way all the instruments in your arrange.
    The most important thing for me is this: try to think like the instrumentist you want to emulate,ask some instrumentist how they obtain certain sound and fx and try all that you can in your keyboard,velocity, after touch, Modultion wheel, expresion pedals etc etc.

  4. #4

    Re: Arranging Strings

    You certainly should invest in an Orchestration book and study music written for string orchestra. That will be more help to you then anyone of us can give you here verbally.

    My recommendation for an orchestartion book is \'The Study of Orchetration\' By Samuel Adler. There is also a 10 CD\'s that you can buy that has a performance of every example in the book.

    You should be able to buy it at www.amazon.com or www.barnesandnoble.com.

    Good Luck!!!

  5. #5

    Re: Arranging Strings

    Hi JT
    ok, the thing with books is alright, orchestration is a profession after all and you need to know many things before you can give a score to a real orchstra. While you are waiting for all these wise books here some \"quick and dirty\" advice:
    1. Explore your libraries. Play around and make notes, wich patch sounds good in what tonal range. Do this without playing chords or any attempt to arrange. Just try to get the color of the different string instruments.
    2. Choose your favorite string instrument and start playing around with different playing techniques to become familiar with the diferent shades of that color.
    3. After having a idea of your palette you can start your first simple painting. Do the \"grounding\" with a bass and allways keep it very simple. You will need a lot of space for things to come.
    4. Do the melody line with your favorite instrument.
    5. Fill in the background with your other strings, playing in the range you found out at step 1. One instrument at a time, no chords for now. Coming from the piano you might have the tendency to use narrow chords, but with strings you can create space - keep it wide.
    6. Go back to step 1. You will find out that sounds you didnt like at start, can be very usefull in combination with other sounds.
    7 to 99. Listen. Try to figure out, why you like some string arrangements and dislike others. Did you know that most of the great old painters learned ther art by copying there masters?
    Have fun!

  6. #6

    Re: Arranging Strings

    It is really a beautiful experience sequencing string section on any sampler.with the giga sampler it is all the more easier&perfect.layering of different samples of the same insrument is most important,in my experience.for example in the advanced orchestra string library you have violin samples such as 23vs,visordinoetc.if you layer these two in the correct proportion,you can make a wonderful sustain note played by a violin section.now,you have to check each and every sound on the cdrom and find out the appropriate layering of each tone and store it as gsps.you will have to go through some orchestral scores to understand the frequency balance between violin,viola,cello and the double base.also you have to clearly understand the slurs,the staccatosetc in the sample cdrom.as for your question,try giving the violins the note G,the violas the noteE&the cellos the root note C.you can here the basic chord with the frequency balance.of course you have to work a lot into these to do the perfect sequence.

  7. #7

    Re: Arranging Strings

    Try adapting your music for string quartet and string quintet. What may also be helpful is to find some of the Bach Chorales, and assign each voice for the following: soprano-violin I; alto-violin II; tenor-viola; bass-cello. To add the contrabass, double it with the cello so that is plays an octave lower. This should start to give you an idea of how you can use your string libraries.

  8. #8

    Re: Arranging Strings

    Look, we are using samplers now. Anything goes. There are really no rules these days. You play. You listen. Ask yourself: Do I like it? If not, what don\'t I like. Make adjustments.
    if you want the violins to play C-E-G or small cluster chords then go ahead. you are your own boss!!!

    If there is any rule it is: to play as much as possible.
    If there is a second rule it\'s: Listen to other\'s music and copy what you like. it will always turn into your own thing...don\'t worry.

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