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#1682685 - 07/01/05 10:08 AM Adding strings to the mix
LiveMusic Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 02/23/01
Posts: 4737
Loc: Louisiana
I guess the question pertains to Indie records, since I'm just little ol' me. But if it pertains to label releases, enlighten me.

Question is can you / do they get decent 'strings' tracks without hiring a real string section? I mean, how could an indie afford that?

And if there is a certain keyboard (or soft snyth?) that is known as kind of a de facto 'standard' for RECORDED excellence, let me know. If so, do lost of studios have these or can you rent them?

Because I use strings in many of my demo's and I'm getting ready to do the real deal, my first record. Strings are important to me, haha. I like.

P.S. I mean a string section, like an orchestra string section, not just a violist or fiddler.
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#1682686 - 07/01/05 04:15 PM Re: Adding strings to the mix
Lee Knight Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 10/19/01
Posts: 1077
Loc: Encinitas,CA,UNITED STATES
I'm on the same quest as you. I just bought GigaStudio, hoping this will help me get there. I'm searching for a library but they're all so... oh, how do you say it... FRICKIN' EXSPENSIVE!!!

BTW, I've found that when I treated a string section as a lot of individual performances, the section sounds much cooler, although it's a lot more work.

In Acid, I painstakingly dropped in solo violins and trimed for rhythm, then pithshifted each one. It sounded really good but took forever.

I guess a sampler's going to be a little easier, eh?

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#1682687 - 07/02/05 03:17 PM Re: Adding strings to the mix
Bill@Welcome Home Studios Offline
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Registered: 08/23/03
Posts: 9613
I've hired in the strings, because nothing sounds like real strings. On the other hand, you really gotta have your shit together when you do, as they aren't jammers, and they want sheet music. It helps to have a musical director who speaks their language and can conduct.

Honestly, the libraries for various synths are so damned cheap that they will have paid for themselves in a portion of a standard live session. So if that is your desire, go for it.

As was mentioned above, it helps to tweek individual instruments, but that takes a long time and you gotta be careful. The results sonically can be well worth it, but be perpared to spend a lot of time.... a lot of time.

And watch out for cheap string players.... I had to replace an entire cello section once. The client-supplied string players had horrible intonation problems. I rebuilt their parts in MIDI and all that, but what a pain. And to top it all off, the strings got credit for the parts on the CD, in a 'diplomatic' move on the part of the producer.

Bill
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#1682688 - 07/03/05 01:15 AM Re: Adding strings to the mix
zele Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 01/12/01
Posts: 1136
Loc: carmel,CA,UNITED STATES
Kurzweil samplers !! --- We mix 3 to 4 different patches --and a local violin/cellos sometimes does the solos ,,,, in conjunction with the Kurzweils, if necessary.
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#1682689 - 07/03/05 03:45 AM Re: Adding strings to the mix
SpencerC Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/25/04
Posts: 45
Loc: Vancouver, BC Canada
Here's what I do as a string player myself:

If you want a large string section, use a decent string patch in the range appropriate, and then hire one string player to overlay the same part. It's best to get three passes per part, as pitch will be noticeable on even a good string player in a stand alone part. Two will sound a tad worse and three makes it all come together for some reason. It's hard to compete with those artificially perfect synth and sample patches. What the overdub does is add that random human touch, what I like to call that slightly drunk player at the back of the orchestra. for smaller sections, have the player move around the mic in different chairs or standing positions as if they are the various people in the section. If they have more than one instrument that works better. Don't close mic for classical sounding stuff. The nice thing with this method is that you can pitch correct the odd errant note.

Spencer
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#1682690 - 07/03/05 12:58 PM Re: Adding strings to the mix
Michelle (ggurl) Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 08/17/03
Posts: 2621
Loc: near San Francisco
Quote:
Originally posted by bpark@prorec.com:
I've hired in the strings, because nothing sounds like real strings. On the other hand, you really gotta have your shit together when you do, as they aren't jammers, and they want sheet music.
I agree! Really, nothing sounds like real strings. Is it possible for what you want to do that you CAN hire one or two string players and do overdubs of parts?

I wrote 3 and 4-part string parts for my project's CD for a couple of tunes, and had one guy overdub (he also specializes in both violin and viola, tho not all players do that). It wasn't really that expensive, and it sounds MUCH better than the scratch tracks of Kurzweil strings I had on before. Even playing one part on the keys at a time and controlling vibrato for each string does NOT sound anywhere near as good in my experience (which is limited to this one time, but it was an eye and ear opener).

If you can go the overdub route, you need to hire fewer players and have more flexibility in terms of where and how they are recorded (possibly saving you additional money). You will need to write out charts or have them made for you, but once you have that, you can go the overdub route possibly.

And Spencer, your technique of capturing the performance this way sounds right on the money.
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#1682691 - 07/03/05 01:03 PM Re: Adding strings to the mix
Bill@Welcome Home Studios Offline
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Registered: 08/23/03
Posts: 9613
Just from a sound standpoint, I like the sound of a section of diverse players over the sound of one guy overdubbing the parts. (Just a FWIW thing.)

Bill
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#1682692 - 07/03/05 04:02 PM Re: Adding strings to the mix
zele Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 01/12/01
Posts: 1136
Loc: carmel,CA,UNITED STATES
I perform ( a drummer ) with an all string band {viola ~cello~ 1st & 2nd violins} >> so when a client can afford them ...sure bring them in...but the Kurzweil samplers do fine for 99% of my budgets.

Just mix the solo patches, with various string assembles --and for background ^^ they are great. Granted it usually takes about 6-8 tracks of sequences but, it is convincing enough for their pockebooks.....
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#1682693 - 07/08/05 12:19 PM Re: Adding strings to the mix
Eric VB Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 02/02/05
Posts: 5789
Good topic!

How to afford a "string section":
(1) Marry a string player and put 'em to work! \:\)
(2) Hire college students willing to work for less.
(3) Enlist local high school students willing to do it "for the experience".
(4) Pick up a violin and start learning. \:\)

For options (2) and (3), I'm only talking about hiring a small ensemble, like zele has, and then overdub a la Spenser. I've heard local high school ensembles that were plenty good enough for indie music; we're not Beethovens here, are we? ;\) College kids may not have transportation, so you might find it easier to come to them (maybe they can arrange some space in the music building). You probably won't find a Jean Luc Ponty (jazz) or a Charley Daniels (country), but they will be well schooled in classical styles, which is what I assume you want anyway.

I went for option (1) myself, although I haven't really cashed in yet. \:D She can't stand synth strings at all!

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#1682694 - 07/12/05 02:02 PM Re: Adding strings to the mix
Lee Knight Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 10/19/01
Posts: 1077
Loc: Encinitas,CA,UNITED STATES
This is a great topic to me. I've always liked rock songs that used strings, or horns for that matter that supported the traditional rock instrumentation.

Cellos doubling a decending fuzz guitar line for instance. Pizz, playing off of a funky guitar line. Cellos doubling the bass guitar 8ve.

For that, I've had success using samples because they're really not naked. I plan to explore more of this once I get my GigaStudio thing happening.

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#1682695 - 07/12/05 08:49 PM Re: Adding strings to the mix
eightyeightkeys Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 01/03/01
Posts: 556
There's an alternative to the hi-end string sample collections such as VSL.

Halion String Edition.

It's not VSL, but, it's damn good and I've achieved very convincing orchestral arrangements with it.

It comes with a decent manual about arranging for strings and, in fact, HSE will not allow you to do goofy things such as play out of the range of an instrument.

And as for Kurzweil strings samples ?....There are some good small libraries out there such as Denny Yaeger but I haven't turned on my K2000R for a long, long time. Ya want it ?
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#1682696 - 07/14/05 10:09 AM Re: Adding strings to the mix
Lee Knight Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 10/19/01
Posts: 1077
Loc: Encinitas,CA,UNITED STATES
Quote:
Originally posted by Lee Knight:
This is a great topic to me. I've always liked rock songs that used strings, or horns for that matter that supported the traditional rock instrumentation.

Cellos doubling a decending fuzz guitar line for instance. Pizz, playing off of a funky guitar line. Cellos doubling the bass guitar 8ve.

For that, I've had success using samples because they're really not naked. I plan to explore more of this once I get my GigaStudio thing happening.
I got the GigaStudio thing happening. See my post Gigastudio 3.0 YES !

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#1682697 - 07/21/05 03:16 PM Re: Adding strings to the mix
Mr Darling Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 04/15/01
Posts: 1313
Loc: The Blue Planet,BELGIUM
first you have to decide if you really need the sound and feel of real strings, not al genre or songs required that.
In one of our project we do use loads of "strings" sounds; When it was time to mix we hired a small section (I think there where 4 of them) and an arranger to write all the midi stuff for them.. It wasn't all that expensive and sounded great, but was really not necessary for all songs.
Infact, a lot of songs benefit from the sort of string sounds that come out of synths.
When using synths, I tend to use few different patches from different synths.
We also used layered a solo violin player with great result (but it doesn't sound like a string section)
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#1682698 - 07/21/05 03:35 PM Re: Adding strings to the mix
Philip O'Keefe Offline
10k Club

Registered: 12/17/00
Posts: 17674
Loc: Riverside,CA,UNITED STATES
I've done a lot of string tracking over the years... I've had twelve players in my room and overdubbed that. Sounds wonderful. Nothing like the sound of REAL strings. \:D

But if you're careful, and you know about orchestral instruments and their ranges and characteristics, and how to write and arrange with that "realism" in mind, it is possible to get prety darned good results from a good Giga sample library, or with soething like the Garritan Personal Orchestra... and GPO isn't all THAT expensive - in the $200 ballpark, IIRC.
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#1682699 - 07/24/05 10:31 PM Re: Adding strings to the mix
gaotu Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/10/04
Posts: 211
Loc: Indianapolis
Hey, keep this in mind:
I hear songs on the radio (mainstream music that is) all the time that are using synth-based string sections. Even though I can pick it out, it doesn't necessarily have any negative impact on the mix or delivery of that song. I think your choice should really come down to what the strings are doing in your song. If they're just a very back-up, background sort of thing, save yourself the money and go synth. If it's more of an important role, you might want to get real strings, but possibly not. If it's a total, out-in-front, lead thing going on, it's going to sound fake and cheesy if it's a synth (unless you're producing super poppy-pop, hip-hop or electronica). Whether you want to use the real-deal or a synth should really come down to how you envision it in the mix and the importance and how "out-in-front" the part is.

There are a lot of good synth options out there. Listen to the recommendations of the other guys for that.
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#1682700 - 07/25/05 02:24 PM Re: Adding strings to the mix
Eric VB Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 02/02/05
Posts: 5789
Well, yeah, there's always that All My Love sound that John Paul Jones got on Led Zeppelin's In Through the Out Door. But that was 1979.

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