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Spitfire Solo Strings.. help?

jbuhler

Senior Member
This is going to be a helpful thread for me, thanks all.

I seem to have a messed up GUI in K5 standalone when pressing the Spitfire Spanner. Anyone know what this is about?



(Lovely sounding strings in that song, Still Life.)
Try reloading the patch. That usually solves the problem. I’ve had this (and similar issues) intermittently with SF libraries, not just the Solo Strings. I can’t reliably reproduce it though so I haven’t reported it.
 

ism

Senior Member
Don't know whether this is the best thread to post this, but here's my first take on SSoS, in a 'pop/singer-songwriter'-context. All right out of the box, mostly the progressive vib articulations, some spiccato and staccato and some harmonics in the intro; only riding the modwheel while playing, no editing afterwards. Some fx on the vocals and a bit of mastering via EZmix.
It is part of a song I'm working on. Very much work in progress. Bear in mind that each part is recorded in one or two takes, and not quantized. Also: I used a non-typical 'DAW': NI's Maschine. Also: I have very little experience with writing for strings, and with playing strings on the keyboard. I tend to just do what I think sounds nice.
I still wanted to post this, to let you hear what this lib can do right out of the box, when you just want to make music. I am very happy with it!
Piano is also a Wishlist buy: the Felt from OA Toolkit. Between the piano and my voices: just SSoS.

[AUDIOPLUS=https://vi-control.net/community/attachments/our-man-other-men-v1-mp3.17522/][/AUDIOPLUS]
Thanks for sharing that. Really interesting new perspective for me on the how these sounds work in a new context.
 

ism

Senior Member
Since folks seem interested in the capabilities of this library...

I did a short sketch to try out some of the elements of the virtuosic violin shortly after the Total Performance patch was released and I revisited it earlier tonight to add some more demonstration elements (a few quick runs, lyrical playing in another register). This is basically the exposition of a short concerto movement, and it is accompanied with the ensemble patch from SCS and a woodwind patch from Masse. No reverb or any other processing. All three mics on the violin (as pictured).

View attachment 17524

The dynamics and vibrato could use a little more attention to attenuate a bit more the whiny quality in some of the half step legatos and maybe a little EQ. But I think those ricochets sound pretty good.

[AUDIOPLUS=https://vi-control.net/community/attachments/totalperformancetest-mp3.17525/][/AUDIOPLUS]

Edited to add: And here is the violin alone.

[AUDIOPLUS=https://vi-control.net/community/attachments/totalperformancetestviolinalone-mp3.17526/][/AUDIOPLUS]

That’s brilliant. And it really hits that sweet spot of ‘somewhere between Joshua Bell and Arvo part’ that I’m been trying to get my head around. Pushing perhaps even farther into the ‘Joshua Bell’ part of the universe of all possible violin phrasing than I had realized it could go. But there’s also a nuance to the arcs that your using to great effect also that you just wouldn't be able to do with the actual Embertone JB.

Of course you wouldn’t have to worry about that ‘whiny quality’ in the Embertone instrument as it’s optimized for ‘all sweetness, all the time’. Whereas here you need to carve the sweetness out in the arcs with Spitfire, which yields a very different quality of sweetness. Maybe - and i’m just think out loud here - an entirely different paradigm of sweetness? Perhaps in part stemming from how it arises not just from the samples themsleves, but in a kind of counterpoint with the harshness the instrument is also capable of? But at times - even in the my silly cello noodle above - there’s something about these moments of ‘sweetness’ that that I just feel as... well as whatever that transcendent quality of solo strings is ... place that the all-sweetness-all-the-time approach of JB and CSSS (though I love these approaches also) just can’t take you to. Probably not the kind of sweetness you want when your’re scoring a Steven Spielberg film about dinosaurs. But a sweetness all the same.

On a more technical note, I wonder if the ‘whiney’ quality your talking about here might be related, somehow, to tuning or intonation or some variant thereof? Is that a plausible theory? if so, might it be addressed with tiny amounts of pitch shifting?

A very helpful example - thanks!
 
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styledelk

Member
Dusting off SSS from Black Friday, this probably sits a lot more in the "whiny" category that @ism is talking about.
This started off as trying to play in BDT, then HZS, then "hey, let's try out that violin."
I haven't gotten too far into the other SSS instruments yet, since I really just wanted the violin. But soon.

Warning: this isn't crafted at all. Noodling. I need a good general purpose reverb for mixing these together.

Impressions: the violin has fantastic playability, but takes considerable practice (as it should) to get the modwheel and note hits just right.

 

jbuhler

Senior Member
Dusting off SSS from Black Friday, this probably sits a lot more in the "whiny" category that @ism is talking about.
This started off as trying to play in BDT, then HZS, then "hey, let's try out that violin."
I haven't gotten too far into the other SSS instruments yet, since I really just wanted the violin. But soon.

Warning: this isn't crafted at all. Noodling. I need a good general purpose reverb for mixing these together.

Impressions: the violin has fantastic playability, but takes considerable practice (as it should) to get the modwheel and note hits just right.
Very nice, and I love that high register on the Virtuoso Violin. Often it is worth trying out the First Chair legato patch as well for passages like that because they really are like different players and bring different inflections to lyrical playing. One thing I've noticed with the Virtuoso Violin is that it requires much less attention to the modwheel and CC21 than does the First Chair—and you can compose into the DAW much more easily with the Virtuoso Violin than the First Chair, which seems to produce much better results when I play as opposed to drawing the notes into the DAW—but often in passages where the violin is conceived as an ensemble soloist rather than as the star soloist, the First Chair works better.
 

styledelk

Member
Very nice, and I love that high register on the Virtuoso Violin. Often it is worth trying out the First Chair legato patch as well for passages like that because they really are like different players and bring different inflections to lyrical playing. One thing I've noticed with the Virtuoso Violin is that it requires much less attention to the modwheel and CC21 than does the First Chair—and you can compose into the DAW much more easily with the Virtuoso Violin than the First Chair, which seems to produce much better results when I play as opposed to drawing the notes into the DAW—but often in passages where the violin is conceived as an ensemble soloist rather than as the star soloist, the First Chair works better.
Excellent advice. :) I'm determined to try and do some actual written quartet work with this library soon so I can get off the drug of the total performance patch.
 

jbuhler

Senior Member
Excellent advice. :) I'm determined to try and do some actual written quartet work with this library soon so I can get off the drug of the total performance patch.
I find this whole library to be a drug, tbh. Just so much to work with, and I have found that I can get so much out of it, but unlike some libraries you do have to put a fair amount of effort in to start getting results. As @ism notes, the library also allows you to sound bad with it.

I haven't tried quartet writing with it. When I first got the library, I thought quartet writing was probably beyond it because in quartets the instruments are relentlessly exposed, but the more I've worked with it, the less I'm sure about that. @ism has done some fascinating work showing how the library allows you to mold arcs where the players seem to be listening and watching each other. I'm now curious to try it, and if not to mock up one of the quartets for the standard repertory, to write a piece written to the sweets spots of these instruments.
 

ism

Senior Member
Dusting off SSS from Black Friday, this probably sits a lot more in the "whiny" category that @ism is talking about.
This started off as trying to play in BDT, then HZS, then "hey, let's try out that violin."
I haven't gotten too far into the other SSS instruments yet, since I really just wanted the violin. But soon.

Warning: this isn't crafted at all. Noodling. I need a good general purpose reverb for mixing these together.

Impressions: the violin has fantastic playability, but takes considerable practice (as it should) to get the modwheel and note hits just right.


There's quite a lovely piece to be found in this.

Can I ask, what are you doing with cc21 in this?
 

styledelk

Member
There's quite a lovely piece to be found in this.

Can I ask, what are you doing with cc21 in this?
Thanks! Barely anything done with cc21. Intended to go back and make its own pass but plum forgot. It's sitting at about 53 throughout.
 

ism

Senior Member
As @ism notes, the library also allows you to sound bad with it.

The point being very much that this is a feature, not a bug. :)

And I think that while I originally meant this in a very broad sense - that you have to craft the arcs etc - I think that this is also true in microcosm of drawing out the specific gesture of 'sweetness', though I'm starting to believe the word is overloaded and we might benefit from a more precise notion of what precisely are the gestures that we'r describing as sweetness.

This dual is not "whininess" - I don't think the above is whiney. I think that the 'whiny quality' is quality something that arises in the context of certain phrasings, but I don't think it's an necessarily an intrinsic quality of the underlying samples.

Its like how a C can be consonant or dissonant depending on the context provided by the key of the phrase it appears it. One phrase's 'whiny quality' is another's 'lush intensity'


Specifically, I've found that - particularly with the first chair Vl - what is a harshness or 'whininess' in the no vib samples, sometimes resolves into a very lovely and sweet texturally when you shift to vibrato at just the right moment. And being able to chose the precise moment at which to shift from non-vib can really let you control the nature of the quality of the notes in the context of the phrases

Most unexpected (though perhaps obvious to a string player) in how this ability to craft the phrase impacts the counter point. For instance, when you playing a note that functions as a suspension in the context of the voice leading around it, resolving to vibrato sooner or latter can materially impact how the note functions as a suspension, softening or intensifying the functioning of the suspension.

There's also perceptual dimension of how this can be used to aid the voice-leading in ensuring your different lines remain distinct perceptual stream. Or dually, you might take particular care to coordinate the arcs of different instrument as technique in 'anti-voice-leading' to encourage your counterpoint to 'annihilate' - that is, cohere into a single perceptual stream of seamless harmony instead of distinctly perceptible lines.

(Do string player already know all of this stuff, instinctively? Because I'm surely reinventing the wheel here, but I don't know of anywhere it's been written down).

Now that I think of it, I could as easily talk about "progressing to the vibrato" instead of "resolving to the vibrato". And this is my original point - that even whether this is a progression or resolution isn't about the underlying sample as thing-in-itself. But involves a contextual inflection of both how you craft the arc, and the surrounding context of the voice leading.

Also, not to harp on my script, but being able to control this 'resolve/progress-toward-vibrato' point with just the mod wheel really does make the instruments a lot more fun to play.

Not saying there haven't been lots of moments where it's made me want to slam my head in a door, but this is such a fun library.
 
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ism

Senior Member
Hey, you know this is a valuable and constructive discussion - can I suggest we take it to a new thread?

We’re kind of the tail end of what started as a rather technical and reactive thread, and there are very possibly people who might be more interested in getting stuck into a more constructing musical discussion.

Any objections?
 

jbuhler

Senior Member
Hey, you know this is a valuable and constructive discussion - can I suggest we take it to a new thread?

We’re kind of the tail end of what started as a rather technical and reactive thread, and there are very possibly people who might be more interested in getting stuck into a more constructing musical discussion.

Any objections?
Please do!
 

Guy Rowland

Senior Member

[SNIP]

What I will say, is that while you would never use this for a Mozart concerto or for something where smoothness of performance is essence of the musicality, for all that this bumpiness arises technically from 'unrealistic' flaws in the scripting, it never breaks frame. That is, it never breaks the illusion that - to my ear - I completely believe this is a cellist playing a cello, and with a great deal of passion and (at times) subtlety - even if they make a few minor technical mistakes in the bowing here and there. Minor technical mistakes on the part of the (imagined) cellist, my ear can forgive. Synthy-ness, and it just falls of a cliff never to return.
I'm still catching up on the details in this thread, and only had very limited time to play with it ('tis the season to be jolly and all). This comment above (if you click the quoted part to reveal) leapt out to me however in that I have to respectfully disagree. Even in the first few seconds I hear multiple breaking the aural fourth wall, and it does feel like some of my early fumblings. Not synthy, but it sounds very choppy almost like a mic cable is frayed. It would need a lot of TLC with the midi to get it smooth I think.

Really it was the virtuoso performance patch video that sold me on this library and the promise of something that just plays. First contact with reality therefore felt rather disappointing, although I do feel that with time, practice and some tweaks it will be suited to some parts better than anything I currently have. But for out of the box instant gratification, Bohemian Violin / Cello is a much kinder, smoother and sweeter experience. I far prefer their violin tone and it seems much easier to get genuinely musical-sounding results. But on the other hand it offers more control over minutiae than Bohemian and does feel like a step forward from their earlier solo library, with the vibrato switching in particular better than feared. Too early for me to have a proper handle on how it and I are going to get on, but near-certain it will not retire Bohemian.
 

jbuhler

Senior Member
I'm still catching up on the details in this thread, and only had very limited time to play with it ('tis the season to be jolly and all). This comment above (if you click the quoted part to reveal) leapt out to me however in that I have to respectfully disagree. Even in the first few seconds I hear multiple breaking the aural fourth wall, and it does feel like some of my early fumblings. Not synthy, but it sounds very choppy almost like a mic cable is frayed. It would need a lot of TLC with the midi to get it smooth I think.

Really it was the virtuoso performance patch video that sold me on this library and the promise of something that just plays. First contact with reality therefore felt rather disappointing, although I do feel that with time, practice and some tweaks it will be suited to some parts better than anything I currently have. But for out of the box instant gratification, Bohemian Violin / Cello is a much kinder, smoother and sweeter experience. I far prefer their violin tone and it seems much easier to get genuinely musical-sounding results. But on the other hand it offers more control over minutiae than Bohemian and does feel like a step forward from their earlier solo library, with the vibrato switching in particular better than feared. Too early for me to have a proper handle on how it and I are going to get on, but near-certain it will not retire Bohemian.
I find I often fight with the Bohemian instrument, though the original violin is still my violin noodle instrument of choice. But I have to compose to it in ways that are less the case with the Spitfire instruments where I have more ability to shape the performance. The SF instruments have terrible plonkability (@ism’s term); only the total performance violin is even reasonable for that. But I find they move quickly to, for lack of a better term, scripted playability, especially in context. And I usually have little trouble using these instruments as spot soloists in orchestral settings without too much fuss.
 

Kony

Bad ape
Hi Guys
I tried the performance violin patch first and I really cant perform there much, I am not sure what I am doing wrong, but the patch triggers even at very low velocities a staccato overlay which is for me very difficult to perform. I tried certain legato phrases also with the cello which ended up in many many bumps, I couldnt even write a simple arpeggiating figure with it... Did you experience also problems with the playability and legato transitions? Am I doing something wrong here? Its actually that strange that I am using a long articulation patch to perform the lines which works better..I am not sure but this isn´t intended..so I assume I miss something here?
I have a similar problem with bumpy legato transitions in SCS.

SCS has been out for some time and is mentioned by many as the best SA strings library so I'm wondering why no updates have been released to fix this....
 

StillLife

Senior Member
Thanks for sharing that. Really interesting new perspective for me on the how these sounds work in a new context.
You're welcome! May I ask you, in your capacity as an expert on this stuff: does the string section seems realistic to you? Any advice?
 

ism

Senior Member
I'm still catching up on the details in this thread, and only had very limited time to play with it ('tis the season to be jolly and all). This comment above (if you click the quoted part to reveal) leapt out to me however in that I have to respectfully disagree. Even in the first few seconds I hear multiple breaking the aural fourth wall, and it does feel like some of my early fumblings. Not synthy, but it sounds very choppy almost like a mic cable is frayed. It would need a lot of TLC with the midi to get it smooth I think.

Really it was the virtuoso performance patch video that sold me on this library and the promise of something that just plays. First contact with reality therefore felt rather disappointing, although I do feel that with time, practice and some tweaks it will be suited to some parts better than anything I currently have. But for out of the box instant gratification, Bohemian Violin / Cello is a much kinder, smoother and sweeter experience. I far prefer their violin tone and it seems much easier to get genuinely musical-sounding results. But on the other hand it offers more control over minutiae than Bohemian and does feel like a step forward from their earlier solo library, with the vibrato switching in particular better than feared. Too early for me to have a proper handle on how it and I are going to get on, but near-certain it will not retire Bohemian.



Please don't retire your Bohemian! I have the Bohemian cello, and I really do love it also . But it's not just that they're good at different things, it's more like there in nothing that one can do well that the other can do even passably.

Because that languorous continuously evolving smoother-than-smooth style of arcs of the Bohemian - totally impossibly with Spitfire (at least until they integration the progressive vibrato samples into the cello).

But honestly, once the euphoria of the instant gratification of the Bohemian wore off it became a major source of angst for me. You can't craft the arcs, you can only select from a menu of 5 beautiful, languorous arcs and then when its done (as much as 13s later) then you get to choose another. It's feels like trying to play tennis in waist high mud. Sure it "just plays" but it doesn't generally doesn't play anything remotely related to the composition I'm working on ...

... which is not at all a criticism of the Bohemian, but rather that I bought it profoundly naive not so much of what the instrument was capable of, but of what writing for cello is all about in general, and without really understanding what kind of cello lines I actually wanted to write myself. Since buying the Spitfire strings, I've actually gone back to the Bohemian, and no longer needing to make it sound like the what the Spitfire cello can do, I'm really starting to love it again. I also picked up the Tina Guo on sale, even though I previous dismissed it a far too narrow in its expressive range. Because having the Bohemian and the Spitfire and the Balkus, I find that there are still times when what I really want is precisely that tiny little fragment of real estate in the universe of all possible cello lines that Guo covers, and covers wonderfully.


I like that phrase "fourth aural wall" - it's exactly the concept I was going for. But let me see if I can refine it a bit.

First, please remember that this above noodle was explicitly to demonstrate the limitations of the instrument, and there's no reverb and only a bit of tree on it precisely to prevent it soothing out the bumpiness for the purposed of the demo. And I resisted the urge to clean up the arcs, again precisely because the goal was to show the limitations more than the strengths. Sculpting the cc1 curve a little more, avoiding tempos beyond the scope of the existing legato and adding more reverb would all help.


But it's also very clear to me that different people perceive this kind of thing very, very differently. Far better musicians than myself swear by the SWAM instruments - which, while intellectually, I can admire the SWAM's ability to model the expressive dimensions of solo strings, I find extremely unpleasant to listen to. Emotional and Chris Hein, while much better - also suffer in this regard to my ear.

There's also the effect of the Bohemian's phrasing, which even in some of the demos really struggles to integrate coherency with the surrounding context. It really took me a while to learn what was bothering me so much. But it's when the phrasing is somehow off, even before I had enough understanding of string phrasing to even recognize consciously what the problem was, its like there's an uncanniness that leaves me sometimes leaves me simply not wanting to listen to it as music (the litmus test of vis isn't whether we can 'fool' people consciously, but whether they want to listen to the results as music). At least with the 'synth-ness' effect I recognize this uncanniness. Phrasing issues are more subtle, but somehow more pernicious in their de-musicifying effects. (Or anti-musicality effects?)


And what I was saying above is absolutely not that I can't intellectually identify a 'lack of realism' - they choppiness is clearly there. But again, to my ear, the phrasing is more or less right. There's a passion in the performance, the performance is beautiful, it's a style that - again not something you use to score a film and 12 year olds being chased by dinosaurs, but that I happen to really like also (in addition to that more prevalent dinosaur-appropriate style).

So its like there's an intellectual 'four aural wall', and an emotional 'fourth aural wall'. And it's the 'emotional realism' of the latter that I ultimately care about.


In any event, ostensibly to help get my head around the instrument a bit more (but also to block out ambient noise in the cafe where I was working), I put that above noodle on repeat for about an hour this morning, and - the terribleness of the actual composition aside - I didn't find that it fatigued my ear at all. In fact I just really love the sonority of even this otherwise pretty terrible noodle. I just don't know if there's many of the Bohemian demos I could say the same for.

So I think the perceptive dimensions here are very interesting. So when you say:

"Even in the first few seconds I hear multiple breaking the aural fourth wall, and it does feel like some of my early fumbling. Not synthy, but it sounds very choppy almost like a mic cable is frayed. "

I'm absolutely not saying your wrong (about your own perception, obviously), but I'm curious how literally you mean that? Because while I hear bumpiness sure, I just don't hear anything this extreme at all.

And if it isn't hyperbole, I'm curious if your think perception might be textured by one or more of :

a) being a cello player and just knowing extremely intimately how a cello is supposed to sound?

b) being an extremely classically trained cellist from a school in which smoothness of performance is a non-negotiable sin quo non inherent the musicality of the cello?

c) coming to the instrument having been deeply immersed in the smoother-than-smooth musicality of the Bohemian instruments.

d) Just really liking that immensely smooth style of playing.

... or any number of other things, because it would obviously be absurd to suggest that I could even have much what shapes your perceptions.


I'm not a cellist, so I'm certain not saying my own perceptions are anything anyone else should be concerned with. Maybe I have the benefit of ignorance.

But - just thinking out loud here - when I think of the style of cello music that I really like to listen to, there's often a bit of ... choppiness would be too strong a word, but a kind of roughness or physical intensity, though not bombast to it ... it's not the silky smooth Mozart concerto, or even Yo Yo Ma. And it's an entire expressive dimension that just doesn't exist within the scope of the Bohemian cello. You can't even play it this style badly, it just doesn't exist within the universe of the Bohemian Cello.

So it would be ridiculous to suggest that the Spitfire cello is anywhere near as good as, say, Caroline Dale really tearing into an exquisitely beautiful (though not necessarily pristinely smooth) cello line. But at the same time, maybe my ability to integration the choppiness without breaking the fourth wall is somehow textured but just wanting to get out of the expressing straight jacket of the Bohemian's 5 beautiful, langorous arcs?


Just a thought.


In any event the Spitfire instrument do not "just play" - unless you count sounding like a dead cat playing. Which is what happens if you just plonk in notes like you can get away with (at first) on a Bohemian instrument.


But with a bit practice, and an understanding of how to craft the arcs, they do let you play they instruments, and draw performances out of them. And its not all that hard once you get the hang of it.


Just to be clear - I've been using the Bohemian as bit of a foil here, but I really do love it. And I've been going back to it lately with what I've learn about crafting arcs from the Spitfire instruments. And while I'm less convinced that ever but this whole "virtual perform" concept, I am really finding that theres amazing things to be done with it that you just couldn't do with anything else - though its still all about the arcs. The conceit that it "just plays" strikes me as a seductive promise of instant gratification, but one that obscures the actual depths of the instrument.
 
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IdealSequenceG

Who seeks ultimate sequencing of VI
It is sad that the recording legato samples are limited to FF legato samples. Other than that, it has a very good tone and seems to be quite useful as the First Chair.

 
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