The way that players play

Discussion in 'Composition, Orchestration & Technique' started by erica-grace, May 19, 2019.

  1. erica-grace

    erica-grace Senior Member

    Sep 7, 2015

    Below are two exs from Spitfire's Strings. This question doesn't pertain only to low strings - it could be anything. I just chose basses and celli playing unison octaves for this exercise.

    Forget about the "well, it's samples and it will never sound real" argument for a moment, as this isn't about real players vs. sample libraries. It's about how players play, using a library to illustrate my question.

    In the first example, there is no modwheel movement. There is in the second, and that sounds better to me. The question is, do players play like that naturally - ie, is there a natural cresc and decresc that happens at bow and note changes? If I were to want the real low strings played by musicians to sound something along the lines of ex#2, do I need to put hairpins? And if I don't put any hairpins, will the end result be closer to ex#1?



    Attached Files:

    • sf1.mp3
      File size:
      892.2 KB
    • sf2.mp3
      File size:
      892.2 KB
  2. JohnG

    JohnG Senior Member

    Nov 13, 2007
    If you want hairpins, you should put them in. Players shape a note in any number of ways without direction -- when they start and slow vibrato, a little bit of how they attack the note (depending on the dynamics). They will not add in a crescendo / decrescendo without being told.

    Some scores I've seen mark the attack with a dynamic such as pp and then put in hairpins without being specific as to how much louder they want the peak dynamic to be. I have had mixed responses to that, but have certainly seen it including in scores with John Williams, who's pretty good about knowing what players expect / want.

    I usually specify the dynamic I want at the peak or simply write "poco" (meaning, of course, "little") in between the hairpins, and they seem ok with either approach.

    [edit: you might get what you want if you write some direction, like "molto espressivo" or "play with rubato and maximum expressiveness," or something similar. But I don't take any chances.]
  3. muk

    muk Senior Member

    Jan 21, 2009
    Real players wouldn't play it either way. It is impossible to always play at exactly the same dynamic, so example 1 is not going to happen with real players. Moving the modwheel is the right idea. However, until specifically instructed to do so real players would not play as in example 2 either. The musical phrase dictates where players will play a crescendo or decrescendo. Without any further context, example 2 would be seen as a four-bars phrase and played as such. Not with a decrescendo at every note change, but one at the end of the phrase. Depending on what is going on in the other instruments they would probably also play a slight crescendo towards the third note, and a decrescendo from there.

    To answer your questions directly:

    1) no, there are no cresc and decresc at bow and note changes per se. They can happen there, but they don't have to. Subtle crescendi and decrescendi (the ones that aren't marked in scores) are dictated by the musical phrase, not the note or bow changes.

    2) If you want real string players to play like in example 2, yes you should put hairpins.

    3) No, the result if you don't put hairpins won't be as in example 1, but as I described above (i. e. the four notes will most probably seen as one musical phrase and played thus).

    I hope that helps.
  4. brenneisen

    brenneisen Active Member

    Feb 23, 2017
  5. OP

    erica-grace Senior Member

    Sep 7, 2015
    Thank you all very much!
    muk and JohnG like this.

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