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Spitfire Solo Strings: How I learned to stop worrying and love vibrato

OP
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ism

Senior Member
Is the script only for this library, or can it be applied to other libraries as well?
The actual script is quite specific to this lib, in that it hardcodes the cc boundaries between dynamic layers and that sort of thing.

It's possible that that the basic algorithm might be adapted in other contexts, but there are a number of factors that would another library would have to meet.
 

MatFluor

Senior Member
@ism I would be very interested in the script as well - are you planning a public release or is it more a "ask and you shall receive" basis?
 

The Darris

Senior Member
Concerning Spitfire's vibrato features in their libraries:

It's important to note that their vibrato "fader" doesn't really dial in vibrato the way you would for something like dynamics. It's basically an on/off switch with a quick fade between the non vib and vib samples near the 50% point of the fader. I've demonstrated this every time I've reviewed a Spitfire library. Vibrato crossfading is difficult and requires a very meticulous approach to recording those types of samples needing that functionality. Spitfire tried to make a vibrato dial in their original Solo Strings but it didn't work well. So, they took the path of least resistance by making their vibrato controls simply an on or off feature while making it appear to be a blending/gradually applied feature via a fader.

I will give it to them though, the transition from the non vib to vib samples is quick and seamless so you don't get any wonky phasing. You just simply don't get a subtle vib sound to extreme vib like you'd expect when using a fader.

Embertone's vibrato script in their solo string libraries is my favorite in terms of artificial vibrato. It is very expressive and realistic if you know how to use vibrato correctly. However, using scripts like that on extremely ambient samples like those recorded at Air can be problematic. The last thing you'd want is to put vibrato on the natural reverb of Air. Haha, or do you?
 

constaneum

Senior Member
I think Spitfire released an update with the total performance patch. the vibrato seems controllable, not about the matter of ON/OFF.
 

jbuhler

Senior Member
I think Spitfire released an update with the total performance patch. the vibrato seems controllable, not about the matter of ON/OFF.
The total performance patch uses the progressive vibrato long and time machine so vibrato works completely different on that patch. The vibrato is not fully controllable but it’s got more control than the on/off of the other legato patches.
 
OP
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ism

Senior Member
Is the vibrato a deal breaker on this library? I was thinking of picking it up on their sale
So to answer this ... here's another noodle on the cello, designed to better demonstrate some of the range of nuance the vibrato is capable:



Its just a noodle, controlled only with the mod wheel (and this script that infers vibrato from the path of the mod wheel).


A few points:


1. If you give it a listen or two and you'll hear that there quite a lot of variation in how the vibrato is used. And unlike some of my previous noodle, here I'm starting to get a sense that sometimes less is more, and holding back on the vibrato can give you more subtly, and more variation in the context of the overall arc. When you want the really wide, powerful vibrato, its there. Which is good for moments of particular intensity, or when you really need it to cut through a busy orchestral mix. But early criticism of the vibrato aside, it's entirely possible to hold back and get much more subtle effects.

2. On nearly every note the vibrato switches at least twice, often more. This is quite different from most of the demos where the vibrato is shaped manually with cc21, and these to be used to shape passages, more often rather than individual notes. (I have a whole rant on how much I hate cc21, but that's another story). So while someone sufficiently skilled (ie not me) could craft these kinds of phrasings using multiple fingers on cc1 and cc21, bloody hell that sounds like hard work.

Needless to say, if you plonked this is without attending to the vibrato at all, it would sound really terrible. But again, this poor plonkability is also what gives you such great performability.


3. Vibrato is intimately connected with the idiomatic crafting of the dynamics.

So this:

It's important to note that their vibrato "fader" doesn't really dial in vibrato the way you would for something like dynamics. It's basically an on/off switch
...is absolute true. But I'll add an important nuance in that you have three dynamic layers which, depending on the instrument, have different qualities in their vibrato as well as they timbre. So if you're in a crescendo, and you shift from non-vib to vib on the softest layer, and them proceed to higher layers, you can also craft your progressive legato more that the on/off implementation suggests. Again, if you listen carefully enough to the above, you might be able discern how I'm using the dynamics to get different vibrato effects.

And a further nuance - the softest layer of this library is so quiet by default that I feel you loose much of the benefit of both the beautiful timbres of the softest layers and the softer vibrato on these layers. So the script perform a 'midi compression', bringing up the volume of the lowest layer, and down the upper two. This makes it easier to craft your arcs across all three layers, and consequently it gives you get a more nuance in crafting your vibrato phrasings.


And finally:

4. Impressionistically: noodling in these phrases this *feels* like a performance. Not like midi programming (which is part of why I hate cc21). And not like a virtual performer controlled by a midi keyboard. It takes a bit of practice, since its of course very easy to play something unidiomatic - and I would still welcome any and all critique from actual string players. But unlike my initial experiments in messing about with cc21 (or ignoring vibrato altogether), it's really become a joy to play.
 
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Fitz

Member
Just picked up the library. The vibrato is interesting, but it seems like with proper programming, you can really make it sound realistic. The mic positions sound great as well.

I seem to like the Violin more than the cello on first listen
 
OP
I

ism

Senior Member
Just picked up the library. The vibrato is interesting, but it seems like with proper programming, you can really make it sound realistic. The mic positions sound great as well.

I seem to like the Violin more than the cello on first listen
The cello is arguably the least plonkable. But it really repays a bit of effort in crafting the arcs, once you get a sense of the sweet spot of the kind of arcs it really excels at.
 

Land of Missing Parts

flibbertigibbet
I love the tone of these instruments, so it sounds great when you hold out a note.

But to my ear, the legatos or any other change in the longs sounds really weird and disjointed.
 
OP
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ism

Senior Member
I love the tone of these instruments, so it sounds great when you hold out a note.

But to my ear, the legatos or any other change in the longs sounds really weird and disjointed.
Do you mean specifically in the above cello example, or in general?
 
OP
I

ism

Senior Member
From the examples I've heard on VI Control generally. Feel free to point me toward something specific.
So I'd be interested in the extend to which you're feeling the same issues in the above noodle:


There's a number of things going on here in an attempt to work with the bumpiness you're talk about. (Both in some maths at work in the Logic script, but also in the way I've learned to craft the performance around the dynamics arcs and vibrato transitions.)

Compared especially to my early noodles (and many of the early demo on vi-c) I think this is really starting to show what kind of expressiveness the library is capable of.
 
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Land of Missing Parts

flibbertigibbet
So I'd be interested in the extend to which you're feeling the same issues in the above noodle:


There's a number of things going on here in an attempt to work with the bumpiness you're talk about. (Both in some maths at work in the Logic script, but also in the way I've learned to craft the performance around the dynamics arcs and vibrato transitions.)

Compared especially to my early noodles (and many of the early demo on vi-c) I think this is really starting to show the expressiveness the library is capable of.
I still hear the rockiness clearly in that example too. Sorry, don't mean to hate on your jam ism. :)

It's the library. I think it sounds like a series of exquisitely performed and recorded notes that don't really flow well from one to another.

I also think you rule for posting these examples, especially ones that are exposed like this, as it's a ton more helpful than written opinions and assertions, and I think that we all benefit from it. :emoji_sunglasses:
 
OP
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ism

Senior Member
I still hear the rockiness clearly in that example too. Sorry, don't mean to hate on your jam ism. :)

It's the library. I think it sounds like a series of exquisitely performed and recorded notes that don't really flow well from one to another.

I also think you rule for posting these examples, especially ones that are exposed like this, as it's a ton more helpful than written opinions and assertions, and I think that we all benefit from it. :emoji_sunglasses:
Thanks for the critique.

Further question - how does this bumpiness bother you? Now granted, if this was a cellist playing a baroque piece the bumpiness in this noodle would be all wrong and, in sample library parlance, would break the "acoustic 4th wall".

But for something that's more, say, Olafur Arnalds than Bach, where a certain roughness of nuance is intentionally and necessarily a part of the musicality of the line, would that make any different, not to you perception of existence of this bumpiness, but to whether it bothers you as a unwanted, 4th-wall-breaking "rockiness", vs an acceptable, perhaps even musical, roughness of nuance.

(Kind of an abstract question, but I find this all just endless fascinating).
 

Land of Missing Parts

flibbertigibbet
Further question - does this bumpiness bother you?
Mostly what's on my mind is that if I bought the library, I think I'd be frustrated trying to get it to do what I want, that's all.

On the other hand, this is music--there are no strict rules if the tune works, right? It's expressive and sounds good, and if it was situated in a mix I might not even notice.

Here's a video game tune that I adore, and that has some pretty atrocious sampled strings going on. It's all good.
 
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