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

chlady

New Member
@ism, Hi ism I too would be interested in checking out this script if its available. I have this library and tried it a few times but hasn't been getting much use because of the vibrato issues so would like to pull it out again .
 
@ism, Hi ism I too would be interested in checking out this script if its available. I have this library and tried it a few times but hasn't been getting much use because of the vibrato issues so would like to pull it out again .
As would I, if you’re open to sharing!
 

jtnyc

Senior Member
Glad I came across this thread. I've been eyeing Solo Strings during the current wishlist sale. The shorts sound so nice in the walkthrough, especially the violins. The one thing that kept sticking out to me in a negative way was the vibrato. I just don't like the way it sounds, in the walkthrough at least. The performance patch is pretty impressive. Are there performance patches for viola and cello as well? The regular legatos didn't blow me away either. Am I wrong there. Are they good/great? At 40% off it seems like a great deal, but I'm still very hesitant.

Any additional thoughts/comments?

Thanks -
 
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jbuhler

Senior Member
Glad I came across this thread. I've been eyeing Solo Strings during the current wishlist sale. The shorts sound so nice in the walkthrough, especially the violins. The one thing that kept sticking out to me in a negative way was the vibrato. I just don't like the way it sounds, in the walkthrough at least. The performance patch is pretty impressive. Is there performance patches for viola and cello as well? The regular legatos didn't blow me away either. Am I wrong there. Are they good/great? At 40% off it seems like a great deal, but I'm still very hesitant.

Any additional thoughts/comments?

Thanks -
The total performance patch only exists for the virtuoso violin. The cello has the samples to make one as well, but it has not yet been released and there is no announcement of it. The viola does not have the samples to make a total performance patch like the one in the virtuoso violin, though they could make a legato that used time machine to control the vibrato.

As with all solo strings, the library is optimized to do certain things well. Generally, I find it credible on the kinds of spot lyrical solos you'd expect a solo string player to take up in a larger ensemble piece. And the legato is structured accordingly. The transitions between dynamic layers are often bumpy but each dynamic layer itself is quite lovely. In any event the legato sometimes doesn't work well—but usually when it doesn't work well that's because something else is also not working well. Basically, you've passed over to something that the library is not optimized to handle.

As you'd expect from the name, the virtuoso violin handles passage work adeptly. The virtuoso violin and first chair violin also sound nicely differentiated on lyrical passages so that gives you options.

The vibrato is the hardest thing about the library initially and it will likely at first be a turn off, but @ism's script helps for playing in real time, and I've found you can pass back and forth across the trigger point on the CC21 pretty freely and get the vibrato to behave reasonably with relatively simple programming. Indeed I think this programming works far better than it has any right to. Also in context the transition is usually suitably masked by the accompaniment that I rarely have to program CC21 with real care—just hit the approximate point vibrato would start to be noticed. In practice, I find vibrato only to be a small nuisance on these instruments.

These are really some of my favorite SF instruments, and I use them all the time. Of course, mileage may vary and all the usual caveats.
 

jtnyc

Senior Member
The total performance patch only exists for the virtuoso violin. The cello has the samples to make one as well, but it has not yet been released and there is no announcement of it. The viola does not have the samples to make a total performance patch like the one in the virtuoso violin, though they could make a legato that used time machine to control the vibrato.

As with all solo strings, the library is optimized to do certain things well. Generally, I find it credible on the kinds of spot lyrical solos you'd expect a solo string player to take up in a larger ensemble piece. And the legato is structured accordingly. The transitions between dynamic layers are often bumpy but each dynamic layer itself is quite lovely. In any event the legato sometimes doesn't work well—but usually when it doesn't work well that's because something else is also not working well. Basically, you've passed over to something that the library is not optimized to handle.

As you'd expect from the name, the virtuoso violin handles passage work adeptly. The virtuoso violin and first chair violin also sound nicely differentiated on lyrical passages so that gives you options.

The vibrato is the hardest thing about the library initially and it will likely at first be a turn off, but @ism's script helps for playing in real time, and I've found you can pass back and forth across the trigger point on the CC21 pretty freely and get the vibrato to behave reasonably with relatively simple programming. Indeed I think this programming works far better than it has any right to. Also in context the transition is usually suitably masked by the accompaniment that I rarely have to program CC21 with real care—just hit the approximate point vibrato would start to be noticed. In practice, I find vibrato only to be a small nuisance on these instruments.

These are really some of my favorite SF instruments, and I use them all the time. Of course, mileage may vary and all the usual caveats.
Thanks J
 

constaneum

Senior Member
Glad I came across this thread. I've been eyeing Solo Strings during the current wishlist sale. The shorts sound so nice in the walkthrough, especially the violins. The one thing that kept sticking out to me in a negative way was the vibrato. I just don't like the way it sounds, in the walkthrough at least. The performance patch is pretty impressive. Are there performance patches for viola and cello as well? The regular legatos didn't blow me away either. Am I wrong there. Are they good/great? At 40% off it seems like a great deal, but I'm still very hesitant.

Any additional thoughts/comments?

Thanks -
I end up decided not to buy . Aha
 
OP
I

ism

Senior Member
Glad I came across this thread. I've been eyeing Solo Strings during the current wishlist sale. The shorts sound so nice in the walkthrough, especially the violins. The one thing that kept sticking out to me in a negative way was the vibrato. I just don't like the way it sounds, in the walkthrough at least. The performance patch is pretty impressive. Are there performance patches for viola and cello as well? The regular legatos didn't blow me away either. Am I wrong there. Are they good/great? At 40% off it seems like a great deal, but I'm still very hesitant.

Any additional thoughts/comments?

Thanks -
There's a series of sweet spots to this library that I would call "uncompromising sonority meets as much expressiveness as possible (without compromising the sonority)".

The above cello noodle is emblematic of this. Once you figure out how to craft the arcs (and wrangle the vibrato), there's a really lovely lyrical sweet spot - and one that absolutely hinges upon fine control over the dynamics layers and the vibrato.

For comparison, while the CSSS demos are beautiful in their own right (and reflect a sweet spot that that library was designed for) they fundamentally rely on baked in vibrato, and the dynamics are generally used at the phrase level, and not to craft arcs of individual notes in detail. So its worth contrasting the musicality of such phrases with the above noodle where the musicality is simply performed on different dimensions of dynamics and vibrato (and it's amazing to me that this can be done with only the mod wheel).

re-quoting for reference:



More impressionistically - when I play the cello with the close mics only, it almost feels like a different instrument, to the point that I feel I might compose different lines with only the close mic (+ an external reverb). There a "blooming" effect and a sense of presence or dimension ... or something, that you get from the tree, and I that I really feel when I'm playing on quite an emotional level when I'm trying to come up with a cello line. Probably this is heard most obviously in the little flourish-crescendos at the end of some notes. Partly this is the value of the multiple dynamic layers, a crunchiness that you need the close mic for, but there's also something about the sound - a kind of "blooming" I've heard it called - that you would never get without the tree mic, and that isn't simply a reverb tail. To emphasize this effect I've brought the tree down to ~40%, which gives you the blooming without the reverb tail becoming overwhelming, and instead added a lot of Valhalla cathedral reverb with the early reflections turned off (I might have use the ambient mic instead, but I don't really have the system resources).

My point here is that there's something amazing in the sound, that involves whatever it is that's going on with the mics, that plays directly into the expressiveness in the way it interacts with the ability to control the dynamic layers and vibrato in the overall crafting of phrases. I don't really understand all the technical dimensional of what's going on here, except that you have these sweet spots of unparalleled sound interacts with the expressiveness of the phrases.

Without a doubt, the expressive space is of SsS is much smaller that something like Chris Hein - which I would probably go for if I wanted to mock up, say, Mozart. CH is technically virtuosic in the way is uses techniques of phase alignment and such that deliver vast expressiveness, but which sometimes, necessarily, comes at great cost to the sound.


Another dimension is the range of textural sonorities, which I think constitute another sweet spot - so the harmonics, the harmonic terms, the flautandos and so on are all gorgeous.

This example is mostly of BDT, and I noodled in the solo strings before I had even begun to think about crafting the dynamics idiomatically, much less the vibrato, so good lord it sounds cringingly bad now, but I'll quote it again here to draw attention to specifically violin "whispers trems", which enter in the first phrase really fit seamlessly into the space of the other textural libraries like BDT, OACE etc.



The 1st chair Vl, especially on its lowest dynamic layer also fits into this space of really beautiful, textual work - which the original noodle that starts this thread hinges on. I'll quote it again here, partly because I've just realized that the OP still has my first attempt with has some terribly unidiomatic playing which I've since improved (but which could be improved more), and also to point out how well it plays with the textures of the Olafur Chamber evo.




There a roughness to the strings that make them more Olafur Arnalds than Bach. But also a textural delicacy, which is one of the things I love about the library across the board.


Then there's the depths of the virtuosic violin. One barely documented much less advertised hilight of which is the ricochet and arpeggio legatos. jbuhler has a better and more comprehensive example of them somewhere (can't seem to find it), but my quick attempt to mock up Part's Fratres, gives some sense of what's possible.


I'll add that I've been listening to Caroline Shaw's new record of string quartets "Orange" in the last couple of weeks. And she has these amazingly passages of fast arpeggios, which invariably makes me think about what all might be possible with the Virtuosic Vl.

There's also lots that the library can't do - probably not the best for strings quartets. Or for languorously smooth long args of the sort you get in Tina Guo or Bohemian cello. Or for anything overly baroque.


But its all about sweet spots. And this is far from an exhaustive list of its sweet spots.
 
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OP
I

ism

Senior Member
Off topic, and its never good for morale to compare any sample library too closely to a quartet of professional musicians, but the new record of Caroline Shaw quartets performed by the Attacca quartet is really quite brilliant:

https://carolineshaw.com

 
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