What's new

How do you like to strum chords?

d.healey

Senior Member
I'm working on a guitar library at the moment and looking for an approach to strumming chords.

My initial idea is to have the plugin translate the user's piano chord into a guitar voicing and then provide a couple of keys to strum it up or down. I've seen this in some other guitar plugins and as a guitarist it kind of makes sense to play chords with one hand and strum with the other. So I implemented this in my plugin but I'm finding it's rather clunky to perform live and the idea of sequencing a strumming pattern this way in my DAW doesn't appeal to me.

The other approach I've seen is to use a single key per chord. For example pressing D would strum D Major. And using various methods of modifying the chord to get different types like minor, augmented, 7ths, etc. This approach seems like it would be more straightforward to use in a sequencer and perform live, but being limited to a set of pre-designated chords puts me off. If I want to be able to play D major and D minor one after another how would I switch in real time?

So what are your thoughts, do you have some suggestions for other ways of tackling this issue that I could try out?

Thanks
 

Sarah Mancuso

Esselfortium
Whatever you do, please provide a "just let me set the hand position and strum the actual notes I'm playing without second-guessing me" option so that I don't have to mess around with various keyboard voicings trying to trick it into playing the guitar voicing I want. This has driven me up the wall with certain guitar libraries, especially when it wants to pick voicings from all around the fretboard when I'm looking for "move as few fingers as possible between these two similar chords".
 

mcovarrubiasi

New Member
To me, Strummed Acoustic 2 works great. In its most basic form you simply select different strumming patterns (which you can edit), play any chord you want, with the modwheel you choose how up the fret you want to play and with the pitchbend you can emphasize some strumms. It also has deeper options to manipulate transitions, bass notes and other stuff. Its pretty amazing.

The only thing that can be improved is that the strumming is too perfect, so if sufficiently exposed the listener can feel there is something precooked. Your idea of strumming with the left hand is cool. It would take practicing, and in general libraries who requires its own playing technique are niche by design (nothing wrong with that). I cannot think of a simpler solution, the challenge seems huge.

I do not like the idea of one chord per key and using keyswitches to control the chord voicing. Keyswitches are a distraction from musicality, and we all like to play proper chords so we can experiment.
 
OP
d.healey

d.healey

Senior Member
Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
Whatever you do, please provide a "just let me set the hand position and strum the actual notes I'm playing without second-guessing me" option so that I don't have to mess around with various keyboard voicings trying to trick it into playing the guitar voicing I want. This has driven me up the wall with certain guitar libraries, especially when it wants to pick voicings from all around the fretboard when I'm looking for "move as few fingers as possible between these two similar chords".
So let's say you hold C3 E3 and G3 do you want it to just map those to the string closest to the current hand position? I'm going to have 6 keys designated as string keys so you can pluck each string individually as well, I think this is essential for performing things like alternating bass.
 

Sarah Mancuso

Esselfortium
So let's say you hold C3 E3 and G3 do you want it to just map those to the string closest to the current hand position? I'm going to have 6 keys designated as string keys so you can pluck each string individually as well, I think this is essential for performing things like alternating bass.
That sounds good, yes!
 
OP
d.healey

d.healey

Senior Member
Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
To me, Strummed Acoustic 2 works great. In its most basic form you simply select different strumming patterns (which you can edit), play any chord you want, with the modwheel you choose how up the fret you want to play and with the pitchbend you can emphasize some strumms.

I considered having an in-built strumming sequencer but I think I'd rather do that directly in my DAW if possible. That was I can change VSTs without losing my patterns.

Your idea of strumming with the left hand is cool. It would take practicing, and in general libraries who requires its own playing technique are niche by design (nothing wrong with that). I cannot think of a simpler solution, the challenge seems huge.

Well it's not my idea, Orange Tree Samples got there years ago and other companies have used it too. Although I was thinking of using the right hand for strumming and accessing indvidual strings, like with a real guitar. And playing the chords with the left hand like a pianist usually would (and a guitarist).

I do not like the idea of one chord per key and using keyswitches to control the chord voicing. Keyswitches are a distraction from musicality, and we all like to play proper chords so we can experiment.
Yeah I find too many keyswitches can get in the way when performing live, although I like them in a sequencer.
 
OP
d.healey

d.healey

Senior Member
Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
I had another idea I'm going to test. What about if you pick the chord with your left hand by a single key and choose the variation by a key combo in the right hand.

For example you press D with the left hand to strum a D major and then if you want to play D minor you just press F in the right hand. If you want a 7th you press C with the right hand, etc.
 

drumman

Active Member
I agree that some libraries sound too perfect. I'm not suggesting "sloppy" strumming, of course, but round robins would help, like some slight variation on repeated notes (velocity or a nuanced timbre difference) -- just enough to sound slightly different from strum to strum on the same chord. Where this doesn't happen, it's quickly evident on exposed tracks that the same sample is repeating.

Also, there was a library some years ago (can't remember what it was) that had sampled strums, but in between strums you could get the sound of the quick open strum that occurs when changing chords as the guitarist's fingers lifted off the fretboard, usually on fast strums. I'm not a guitarist, so I hope you know what I mean. That quick sound of the open strings (EADGBE) that are hit briefly at times in between chord changes. It added an incredible realism to the strums (not to be overdone, of course).
 

mcovarrubiasi

New Member
Also, there was a library some years ago (can't remember what it was) that had sampled strums, but in between strums you could get the sound of the quick open strum that occurs when changing chords as the guitarist's fingers lifted off the fretboard, usually on fast strums. I'm not a guitarist, so I hope you know what I mean. That quick sound of the open strings (EADGBE) that are hit briefly at times in between chord changes. It added an incredible realism to the strums (not to be overdone, of course).

Strummed Acoustic 2 does that.
 

Polkasound

Senior Member
My favorite strumming engine, by far, is MusicLab's for several reasons:

1. Play any chord on the keyboard, and the software interprets and plays the proper voicing.
2. It can also interpret the position on the neck depending on where you are playing on the keyboard.
3. Playing a chord starts a down strum, and then you can use key switches to continue strumming up/down.

Since a strumming engine creates strums from single note samples, there usually isn't much variation in the strumming sound. This results in somewhat sterile, too-perfect-sounding tracks. I don't know how round robins could be implemented with a strumming engine, but anything that can humanize a strummed performance (misfrets, string slides, random missed strings, etc) will be welcome.

Also, I would love the ability to use a continuous controller to favor targeting either the lower or higher strings on the fly.
 
OP
d.healey

d.healey

Senior Member
Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
My favorite strumming engine, by far, is MusicLab's for several reasons:

1. Play any chord on the keyboard, and the software interprets and plays the proper voicing.
2. It can also interpret the position on the neck depending on where you are playing on the keyboard.
3. Playing a chord starts a down strum, and then you can use key switches to continue strumming up/down.

Since a strumming engine creates strums from single note samples, there usually isn't much variation in the strumming sound. This results in somewhat sterile, too-perfect-sounding tracks. I don't know how round robins could be implemented with a strumming engine, but anything that can humanize a strummed performance (misfrets, string slides, random missed strings, etc) will be welcome.

Also, I would love the ability to use a continuous controller to favor targeting either the lower or higher strings on the fly.
Interesting that it plays the down strum on the initial press. Is there a delay? Since a human doesn't press all keys at the same time I assume it has some kind of delay to give you time to press all the keys you want for a particular note.
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
Answering the original question, I've simply randomized chords to create a very convincing strum sound.

But guitar voicings are another matter. That would require me to use my brain, and it doesn't like being used - although Logic will display tablature, so if I wanted to I could just use that to figure out the best voicings.

(I do play a miniscule amount of guitar, but not enough to know what notes I'm playing without stopping to think.)
 

robgb

I was young once
Interesting that it plays the down strum on the initial press. Is there a delay? Since a human doesn't press all keys at the same time I assume it has some kind of delay to give you time to press all the keys you want for a particular note.
If you need a beta tester, let me know. I've used a bunch of different guitar libraries and I've played guitar for over fifty years...
 

angeruroth

Meeb Avemcrit
Not sure this will be of help, but it is my the way I'm going to do it with my own guitar project (still recording, so I haven't tested the idea yet):
1. Something on screen like a sequencer to choose up/down + inversion, maybe 12 slots max.
2. The user presses 1 to 6 keys.
3. The engine finds the best match and applies the inversion.
4. The engine plays the chord and moves to the next sequencer slot (unless pedal is down).
5. When a key is released or pressed, go to step 3.
The engine must wait a few ms at steps 2 and 5 to avoid throwing N different chords when the user want's to play just one (caused by the lag between keys/fingers).
 
OP
d.healey

d.healey

Senior Member
Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
If you need a beta tester, let me know. I've used a bunch of different guitar libraries and I've played guitar for over fifty years...
Excellent, I'll keep that in mind. Do you have a preferred strumming system used by guitar plugins?
 

Polkasound

Senior Member
Interesting that it plays the down strum on the initial press.

Yes, and this is exactly what makes it so intuitive to a keyboard player, because there's nothing more frustrating than dropping your right hand down onto the keyboard to play a chord and hearing nothing.


Is there a delay? Since a human doesn't press all keys at the same time I assume it has some kind of delay to give you time to press all the keys you want for a particular note.

Yes, but it's not discernible enough to stand out from other similar libraries. Playing live, the delay isn't a hindrance at all, but for a tight recorded performance, in your DAW you will want to slide your notes (or the whole track) just a little early to compensate for the chord processing time, which is not uncommon for other strummed VIs.
 
OP
d.healey

d.healey

Senior Member
Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #17
Yes, and this is exactly what makes it so intuitive to a keyboard player, because there's nothing more frustrating than dropping your right hand down onto the keyboard to play a chord and hearing nothing.

Yes, but it's not discernible enough to stand out from other similar libraries. Playing live, the delay isn't a hindrance at all, but for a tight recorded performance, in your DAW you will want to slide your notes (or the whole track) just a little early to compensate for the chord processing time, which is not uncommon for other strummed VIs.
Does it allow you to start with an upstroke if you want to?
 
Top Bottom