Looking for a orchestral instrument by instrument articulation reference to set up a basic template

x-dfo

Active Member
I was wondering if there's a book or guide that describes what instruments and articulations are the most common for orchestral composition (general use), so that I can create a basic template to branch off of in my DAW.

I am currently in the process of teaching myself and have literally zero orchestral composition experience, I did play violin for about 7 years so I understand most of the terminology (legato, slur, pizz etc).

Just for point of reference, I jumped into the Eastwest cloud since it was the cheapest way to dig into this with quality samples.
 

shawnsingh

Senior Member
If you're starting with Hollywood Orchestra, I definitely see why you're asking this =)

It sounds like you're looking for orchestration books. Usually the format of those kinds of books is to choose a good variety of common orchestral instruments, and for each instrument, describe (1) playing range and score transposition, (2) the various playing styles (perhaps this can be called articulations) and timbres they can achieve, (3) what's easy and what's hard for the instrument, and (4) common tropes and suggestions for how to use the instrument.

Rimsky Korsakov's Principles of Orchestration and Forsyth's Orchestration are two popular books for that topic.

However I don't think that would help you as much creating a basic template. My suggestion for creating a template would be to setup a "temporary tracks" area of your project, and initially load instruments there. As you get more familiar, you can gradually move things to more of a "stable template area". And nothing is preventing you from going back to adjust your template as you continue, so just dive in and you'll get clarity about how you want your template to work just by working with the libraries.

As For EWQL Hollywood Orchestra -
It's a great choice, in my opinion =). It might feel daunting at first, but please don't feel discouraged, after you get familiar with it, it's actually not so bad at all! It just takes some effort reading the manual a few times and setting aside several days where you spend a lot of time just going through all the different articulations and hearing them for yourself to understand them.

There are directories for "starting points" in those libraries, that may be a good place to look first.

The hollywood libraries to provide separate articulations per patch, and those articulations have great breadth. But in my personal opinion, the real power of the Hollywood Orchestra libraries is their "performance combo patches" that are actually VERY useful when you get more comfortable with them - these performance combo patches layer lots of articulations in a playable, performable way. The sound of layering like that generally does not have any problems, because of the studio-dry EWQL sound (I have Gold version), and especially has very few problems if you add your own reverb on top, too. These combo patches are a great balance between super fast workflow and ability to get realistic and nuanced performance results. Eventually you'll find the ones that are useful for your playing style and composition style, and you may even gradually become able to "perform" with those patches and get 90% of the performance you wanted in a few realtime takes! Most of these combo patches take the form of (a) layering an accent or marcato controlled by MIDI note velocity, layered on top of (b) a sustain or legato that provides (c) crossfading vibrato and (d) crossfading dynamics controlled by MIDI CCs. So with just note velocity and two MIDI CC's (i.e. fits with two hands playing a midi keyboard controller or with a breath controller) you get very versatile performance characteristics in one patch.

For example, with the violins 1: Shorts MOD Speed, Spiccato, Sus Accent, Sus Marcato, Legato Marcato, and Slur Runs, this gets you 90% of the note attack, playing style, and vibrato nuances that you would want! Similar setups for other instruments (except they don't all have good runs patches like the violins)

Hope this helps!!
 
OP
X

x-dfo

Active Member
If you're starting with Hollywood Orchestra, I definitely see why you're asking this =)

It sounds like you're looking for orchestration books. Usually the format of those kinds of books is to choose a good variety of common orchestral instruments, and for each instrument, describe (1) playing range and score transposition, (2) the various playing styles (perhaps this can be called articulations) and timbres they can achieve, (3) what's easy and what's hard for the instrument, and (4) common tropes and suggestions for how to use the instrument.

Rimsky Korsakov's Principles of Orchestration and Forsyth's Orchestration are two popular books for that topic.

However I don't think that would help you as much creating a basic template. My suggestion for creating a template would be to setup a "temporary tracks" area of your project, and initially load instruments there. As you get more familiar, you can gradually move things to more of a "stable template area". And nothing is preventing you from going back to adjust your template as you continue, so just dive in and you'll get clarity about how you want your template to work just by working with the libraries.

As For EWQL Hollywood Orchestra -
It's a great choice, in my opinion =). It might feel daunting at first, but please don't feel discouraged, after you get familiar with it, it's actually not so bad at all! It just takes some effort reading the manual a few times and setting aside several days where you spend a lot of time just going through all the different articulations and hearing them for yourself to understand them.

There are directories for "starting points" in those libraries, that may be a good place to look first.

The hollywood libraries to provide separate articulations per patch, and those articulations have great breadth. But in my personal opinion, the real power of the Hollywood Orchestra libraries is their "performance combo patches" that are actually VERY useful when you get more comfortable with them - these performance combo patches layer lots of articulations in a playable, performable way. The sound of layering like that generally does not have any problems, because of the studio-dry EWQL sound (I have Gold version), and especially has very few problems if you add your own reverb on top, too. These combo patches are a great balance between super fast workflow and ability to get realistic and nuanced performance results. Eventually you'll find the ones that are useful for your playing style and composition style, and you may even gradually become able to "perform" with those patches and get 90% of the performance you wanted in a few realtime takes! Most of these combo patches take the form of (a) layering an accent or marcato controlled by MIDI note velocity, layered on top of (b) a sustain or legato that provides (c) crossfading vibrato and (d) crossfading dynamics controlled by MIDI CCs. So with just note velocity and two MIDI CC's (i.e. fits with two hands playing a midi keyboard controller or with a breath controller) you get very versatile performance characteristics in one patch.

For example, with the violins 1: Shorts MOD Speed, Spiccato, Sus Accent, Sus Marcato, Legato Marcato, and Slur Runs, this gets you 90% of the note attack, playing style, and vibrato nuances that you would want! Similar setups for other instruments (except they don't all have good runs patches like the violins)

Hope this helps!!
Hey, thanks so much for the kind and helpful words. I've basically been slugging it out and experimenting as you suggested. You're right about the sound and versatility - it's much greater than I expected after reading a ton of meh about EWQL libraries. It's been a lot of fun!