Last night I attended a so-called "Listening course" where two cello players of our local orchestra (The Residentie Orchestra) explained the orchestral practice. We had a lively discussion about various aspects of "being a full-time musician". The following surprised me the most.
- The conductor is the dictator and overlooks everything. He is only conducting moods, tempi, rhythms and some other minor but important aspects of the performance;
- The concert master is his lieutenant, but only for the string section;
- The sections masters are the sergeants and they set out the rhythm, bowing speed, slurs, legato lines, bowing direction in cooperation with the concertmaster and conductor and dictates them to the rest of the cello section.
- The section master follows the concertmaster and conductor;
- The first row of cello players follow the section master;
- The second row follow the first row!!!!! etc....
- In instrument wise "crowded" pieces they don't hear all cello players play, they just listen to the man on the left or right, sometimes they don't hear themselves (depends on the acoustical environment); it is more visual then auditive.
Nobody is playing exactly on the beat, except maybe the section master. All others are a tiny bit later. It is like a wave from front to back.
We all knew that before, that when we render the string section, we shift back and forth the start and ending of notes for the benefit of "humanizing" the sound. But now against the sample libraries where we have e.g. 16 1st violins as one sample, etc..... playing back that one note isn't good enough. We should have the possibility to assign some irregularity within this sample, getting that "from front to back of the section" time delay.
It is rather stupid assigning 15 different solo-cellos for one staff/track. Multiply that by x, depending on the number of instruments you'd planned to use and multiply that by y for the different voicing (articulations) and we'll end up with numerous linked computers.
Since we have to do with the samples as presented (in GPO I think the first violins are made up of 12 players - in EWQL I can choose between 18,11 or 4 players) we must make a strategic decision, e.g.:
for violins 1 and 2 just "double" them 4 times
for violas 3 times
for celli 4 times
for basses 2 times
When rendering we now can shift the notes per section (some ticks or milliseconds) giving us that irregularity as in "real" life. This is very demanding, I know, but I think it will benefit your outcome a lot.
I am about to try this in the next project, seeing how it goes and what the result will be.
If this is complete nonsense, pray for me. If you think it has some value, experiment freely.