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Orchestration and mockup of Ravel String Quartet

Nite Sun

Member
This is something I've been chipping away at for a while and I wanted to share it with this amazing community that has taught me so much!

The main excuse for doing this was to do a full test drive / stress test of a new orchestral template, but instead of doing a mockup of an existing orchestral piece I thought it would be fun to hone my orchestration chops at the same time. Also what a great piece!

Would be very grateful for any feedback about the orchestration or mockup.

Main Libraries used:

Cinematic Studio Strings
Cinematic Studio Solo Strings
Cinestrings Solo
Berlin Woodwinds
Berlin Brass
Metropolis 1 & 2 Choirs


 
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fiestared

Vintage -but- not obsolete
This is something I've been chipping away at for a while and I wanted to share it with this amazing community that has taught me so much!

The main excuse for doing this was to do a full test drive / stress test of a new orchestral template, but instead of doing a mockup of an existing orchestral piece I thought it would be fun to hone my orchestration chops at the same time.

Would be very grateful for any feedback about the orchestration or mockup.

Main Libraries used:

Cinematic Studio Strings
Cinematic Studio Solo Strings
Cinestrings Solo
Berlin Woodwinds
Berlin Brass
Metropolis 1 & 2 Choirs

Très belle version !
 
OP
Nite Sun

Nite Sun

Member
One thing I'm wondering is whether i've gone a bit overboard with EQing. Made some quite drastic tone shaping moves for the strings in particular, but my listening environment isn't great so not confident that it works. Would be interested to hear what EQ moves you guys make when mixing CSS
 

Land of Missing Parts

flibbertigibbet
One thing I'm wondering is whether i've gone a bit overboard with EQing. Made some quite drastic tone shaping moves for the strings in particular, but my listening environment isn't great so not confident that it works. Would be interested to hear what EQ moves you guys make when mixing CSS
This is superb. I like my strings a tad darker, but that's just me. And I love everything everything I hear of the winds and brass.

Could you share a bit about your process of orchestrating? Like, did you figure out your instrument choices on paper/notation, or did you do it more in the mockup stage?

Also, since I noticed you used both Cinestrings Solo and Cinematic Studio Solo Strings, I'd be interested to know how you treat them and when you reach for one versus the other.
 
OP
Nite Sun

Nite Sun

Member
In terms of the orchestration process I spent quite a bit of time just imagining the sound of the orchestra while listening through different recordings and annotating the original quartet score with possible ideas for instrumentation. After that I did all of the orchestrating in Sibelius, before moving into Cubase for the mockup. I did end up changing quite a few things orchestration-wise during the mockup process, stuff like adding double basses an octave lower in places to add more gravity and improving a lot of the choir writing.

For the strings I layered both CSS with both Cinestrings Solo and CSSS pretty much for the entire movement. I got that idea from a post on here about the virtues of layering CSS with CSSS, but thought it'd be cool to add a library from a different developer as well to add even more individual personality to the string sound. I did have to quite drastically EQ and spatialise the solo strings to make then blend with CSS. It is quite labor intensive layering in solo strings like this, but I think it's worth it.
 

Land of Missing Parts

flibbertigibbet
It is quite labor intensive layering in solo strings like this, but I think it's worth it.
There's some exquisite detail in the strings around 2:52 that I think could only be accomplished the way you did it. Or at least I wouldn't be able to get CSS alone to do that.

Another thing that jumps out to me, that I'm not used to hearing in sample mockups is figures like this, which are all over the second half of the piece:
Screen Shot 2019-06-02 at 2.41.21 PM.png

And those sound perfectly realistic to my ear! Any tips on how to get those?
 
OP
Nite Sun

Nite Sun

Member
The passage around 2:52 is a combo of Berlin Strings Staccato Blurred, CSS Staccatissimo, CSS Staccato.

Those arpeggio gestures are orchestrated as Vln 1, Cello and Bass Cl. For the strings it's Berlin Strings Staccatos layered with Spitfire Chamber Strings fast legato (not runs). For shorts and portatos I quite often mix and match libraries, but for the legato strings I keep things consistent (except runs for which I really love Spitfire Chamber strings, and I always layer with a soft staccato patch for definition)
 

miket

Senior Member
Man, this is unbelievable. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that it's one of the most satisfying uses of virtual instruments I've ever heard.

The orchestration itself is excellent and uncompromising, which is obviously a big part of why it all works so well. I know a lot of people are of the opinion that you can't always apply principles of orchestration that work in the real world to VI's, but I think that's nonsense. "Writing to the samples" usually just makes boring music (I am adept at boring music)....
 
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bryla

Senior Member
Very Ravel-ish orchestration! The only thing that sticks out is the way you used the choir. But great midi performance!
 
OP
Nite Sun

Nite Sun

Member
Thanks! Had to get the choir in there in homage to daphnis et chloe, but you're right it's not entirely idiomatic. Would be interested to hear more about what you mean in terms of choral writing
 

bryla

Senior Member
Yeah I also heard it of the D&C setting – which is very much like that – but I didn't find it fitting for this piece.
 

hdsmile

Member
Great orchestration Nite Sun!
could you say a few words about how you used the reverb, did you use the internal lib-reverb or third party reverb, or you used them together?
 
OP
Nite Sun

Nite Sun

Member
Thanks! I used three depths of reverb (close, mid, far) with different pre-delays and also separated ER and LR for each so that I could send different levels of signal to these components depending on the dryness of the library. I think I also used brighter verbs for the strings and darker for the brass. In several cases I also used room simulation plugins as an insert for solo instruments that needed drastic placement on the soundstage.
 
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