The perfect strings sound ...not quite there but progressing

mojamusic

Active Member
Why are all of the demos for every string library PERFECT and convincing until I purchase them?:shocked: I have spend thousands of dollars buying (and that won't change) only to find that... there's still something missing. But what it it? more ambience? recorded? better legato transition? less ambience? more articulations? better out of the box playability? less CPU draw? Ugh. I went back to hear Beat Kaufman and Guy Bacos performing some incredible demos with years old sounds and they sound FANTASTIC. What am I doing wrong? I'm not anywhere near as talented as the two gentleman I mentioned or countless others but I can play what I hear in my head. What do I need to buy in order for my music to sound "right" to me?

The sound I'm after is a mix of a few styles but at the core a chamber orchestra (with jazz reeds and brass), soul, Jazz, classical... You know, the good stuff!

I took some time today to actually write something and try to express it with the tools I have. I have plenty.

I used LASS, CSSS VSL Solo and Embertone Solo Strings and layered them to make a chamber orchestra. This is what I came up with.


I realize that's it's not the tools, it's my patience. I spend hours and hours on forums, youtube and websites, waiting for technology to help me make better sounding music, but not allowing myself to write. I think I have the right tools but the wrong focus and diligence to work.

I appreciate these forums and the reviews, as they motivate me to want better, but it's on me to do better. I have to commit to writing more and using the tools I have to complete a personal project that is long over due.

Rant complete.:faint:
 

AlexanderSchiborr

Senior Member
Why are all of the demos for every string library PERFECT and convincing until I purchase them?:shocked: I have spend thousands of dollars buying (and that won't change) only to find that... there's still something missing. But what it it? more ambience? recorded? better legato transition? less ambience? more articulations? better out of the box playability? less CPU draw? Ugh. I went back to hear Beat Kaufman and Guy Bacos performing some incredible demos with years old sounds and they sound FANTASTIC. What am I doing wrong? I'm not anywhere near as talented as the two gentleman I mentioned or countless others but I can play what I hear in my head. What do I need to buy in order for my music to sound "right" to me?

The sound I'm after is a mix of a few styles but at the core a chamber orchestra (with jazz reeds and brass), soul, Jazz, classical... You know, the good stuff!

I took some time today to actually write something and try to express it with the tools I have. I have plenty.

I used LASS, CSSS VSL Solo and Embertone Solo Strings and layered them to make a chamber orchestra. This is what I came up with.


I realize that's it's not the tools, it's my patience. I spend hours and hours on forums, youtube and websites, waiting for technology to help me make better sounding music, but not allowing myself to write. I think I have the right tools but the wrong focus and diligence to work.

I appreciate these forums and the reviews, as they motivate me to want better, but it's on me to do better. I have to commit to writing more and using the tools I have to complete a personal project that is long over due.

Rant complete.:faint:
Because you simply lack of fundamentals, man.

a). you don´t ride the modwheel much or nothing
b). you connect too many notes
c). you don´t phrase your strings in a way to mimic a live performance
d). No use of different articulations.
e). that awkward fake sounding overly busy vibrato..is because of what? Layering? It sounds rubbish.. don´t do that shit..

just from my observes: you lack in so many points that there is wonder that your lines sound stiff, amateurish and no shame at all..man writing convincing strings with sample is HARD. My tip: Try first to listen to pieces written for strings and learn what makes a performance "Lively". That takes of course time and it is not done just in a few days. Try then to replicate certain passages of those live things to get a feeling how you have to translate that to samples. Repeat that with similiar or other pieces and practise that a lot. You will get over time a better feeling how you have to perform or programm sampled strings, to use what articulations for what kind of melodic phrase etc. in order to let your sampled strings sound more like a performance done by players and not just a midi playback mockup.
 

Saxer

Senior Member
One more thing:
Work with live musicians. Play with them. Write for them. Listen to their performance and comments. Be one of them. Everything comes from there. Samples are the imitation. You can't imitate if you don't know the real thing.
 

DerGeist

Active Member
I kind of like it. There is a wonky horn in there. I think the mod wheel is important like was mentioned before. Also, I find it useful to make certain that repeated sections are slightly different (human) in playing and in modulation. Resisting the urge to cut and past and playing each repeat or tweaking them slightly goes a long way.

Its a personal taste thing but I find repetition really hard to get away with in instrumental compositions (unless you are Philip Glass). I really notice repetition in instrumental pieces and the repeated sections really need to be strong to get away with it (that may just be me). In vocal music it never seems to bother me.
 

SyMTiK

Christopher B.
As one of my favorite professors always says - learn the concept, not the construct.

Learn the concept of writing for strings. Learn the concept of how MIDI works. Think about how a real string orchestra sounds, understand how MIDI works and the controls you have available to recreate the sound of a real player. At the end of the day its about the sound, not so much how you got there.

Listen to real performances and critically listen not just to how the parts are written, but also to how those players perform those parts.

Now try and think about the controls you have with your libraries, and how to create something expressive and convincing.

Theres a reason most pro libraries have so many different shorts, controllable legato speed, controllable vibrato intensity, etc.

I think its a common amateur mistake that “i dont sound good cause i dont have the right tools” but thats often not the case. Sure, you need a good library to start with to give you the necessary control, but most people dont “need” more. I have used Hollywood Strings for years and only recently picked up Spitfire Chambe Strings and Hans Zimmer Strings, but was out of wanting some different size and sounding ensembles rather than needing a “better” sound.

I used to HATE the sound of Hollywood Strings. I thought it sounded boxy and stale, and that it was a pain to get a good sound. But after reading the manual and spending the time to understand the different patches and controls and how to create a proper template, I realized it was simply a lack of understanding that led to my poor sound. After spending time to understand the controls, I found Hollywood Strings to be immensely powerful and capable of fantastically realistic performances.

My suggestion is to really spend the time to learn propet string writing, study the sound of real players, and read the manuals for your libraries. I assure you there are many controls in them you dont even know exist.

Best of luck!
 

averystemmler

Active Member
I used to HATE the sound of Hollywood Strings. I thought it sounded boxy and stale, and that it was a pain to get a good sound. But after reading the manual and spending the time to understand the different patches and controls and how to create a proper template, I realized it was simply a lack of understanding that led to my poor sound
I've had almost exactly the same experience. I've been using Hollywood strings/brass/woodwinds gold as the orchestral base of my template for... 5, maybe going on 6 years now? And I swear every time I load my template I discover something new. I could go for another 6 years without an upgrade if I had to.

I may pick up the spitfire orchestral collection if there's a decent sale, but I've definitely learned that it's a want, not a need. I could go the rest of my career with any of the competent libraries out there and still be making better and better music each time I open them.
 

DerGeist

Active Member
I had the same experience with HW strings but when I look back most of my favourite work I did with hw strings. I no longer have composer cloud so I don’t have it any more.
 

mikefrommontreal

Active Member
Yeah, it's the performance (i.e. the programming) as well your arrangement that might be lacking here, not the sounds. But honestly, I really like where your going with this piece.
 
OP
mojamusic

mojamusic

Active Member
It’s good to hear the feedback. That’s my point, I know that I haven’t mastered the craft: composition or programming midi, but I still search for new sounds, after only scratching the surface of the possibilities of what I already own.

I have plenty of ideas that need to be developed.

2019 resolution: discipline myself to make more music and to browse less social media.
 

Craig Sharmat

Moderator
Moderator
You don't need to buy anything, buying can be instant gratification and that is often the end of it. My gratification often stops once the download begins, i'm pretty jaded. First to identify your issue the question is where do you want to go besides get better. Identify and be specific in a goal and capture that goal before moving on to the next thing, don't get scattered (often by achieving a goal new insights magically occur). Do you need to learn theory to be able to expand your harmonic vocabulary (will you have the patience if you come to that realization). Do you know how to reharmonize or create alternate moving lines in the piece you did? These are all rhetorical questions but it might give you some direction....good luck!
 
Hey Moja,

Ignore the criticism. I really liked your piece, and could totally envision it being used in a Charlie Kaufman movie.

I would recommend that you check out Session Strings from Native Instruments, if you're after the sound you described. NI is having a black Friday sale soon, which is good timing.

Good luck!
 

MartinH.

Senior Member
2019 resolution: discipline myself to make more music and to browse less social media.
Try installing browser plugins like "Leechblock". They can limit your time on selected websites.

If you think you need a little motivational boost to go through with your goal, watch this video:

 

Andrew

Member
Ignore the criticism.
While I understand you're being friendly and complimentary I don't think we should be so afraid of criticism that we ignore all of it that comes our way. All the feedback here has been well given without being mean spirited and if there's one thing I've learnt as a composer is that being able to deal with feedback/criticism is crucial to success.

Just my 2c :)
 

Sears Poncho

Senior Member
Ignore the criticism.
It's not criticism, it's not even remotely close to criticism. It's highly experienced musicians helping someone with limited experience with strings.

As a symphony player, I can spot a good chart without even hearing it, because the arranger will have some concept of "bowings". Not up bow/down bow, but slurs that make sense and are possible, articulations (dots, dashes), etc. This can apply to vst mockups as well. One can try "air bow" with a little knowledge. When you go "up bow", that's like raising the mod wheel if it's set for dynamics. Down bow would be a note that fades (if that's what is desired) so the mod wheel would go down.

Youtube is your friend, lots of people playing strings, solo and groups. Watch how they use their bows, it will be very helpful.
 
OP
mojamusic

mojamusic

Active Member
I appreciate the feedback. Criticism is a necessary part of learning and growing. Too often the mirror that I look into reflects not what is true but rather what I imagine to be true, if not for honest criticism.

This is extremely helpful.

I reworked the strings utilizing more expression.


The libraries respond differently to cc and I haven't figured out the optimal approach, however the few moments I spent tweaking it did have some noticeable results. I'll keep working on it.
 
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