Vienna Symphonic Library Forum
Forum Statistics

181,616 users have contributed to 42,178 threads and 254,543 posts.

In the past 24 hours, we have 3 new thread(s), 11 new post(s) and 38 new user(s).

  • Mahler 5, Mvt. 4 "Adagietto" mockup using App. Strings I & SE Harp

    last edited
    last edited

    Hi All,

    Just wanted to share with you all my mockup of this movement. The point of doing this was to exercise my chops in handling string writing. Comments are certainly welcome, especially constructive criticism. I purposely picked this movement because the string writing is very slow and exposed. I also had a tough time trying to get a smooth legato in the slow tempo. My current solution for this is to X-fade Chamber Strings sustain patchs (with a gradual attack) in combination with my App. Strings legato patches although it still doesn't always sound right. This process also gave me the benefit of being able to X-fade back and forth between the two patches during long notes in order to get a more "alive" sound.

    Thanks, Brian

  •  Hi Brian,

    I am writing as a musician who has played this piece a few times in concert and as a VSL user who knows the fight against legato strings in a very slow tempo.

    As far as I understood you did some Attack automation, right?

    One thing that helped me a lot is increasing the release from time to time, this can help enormously.

    A mock up of this piece is a very hard challenge, I even thoght abot doing it myself some time ago, but then I decided to do my own thing though Richard Strauss is unreachable in his style.

    In my opinion your tempo is even too slow, there is no more pulse in it, but this is just a matter of taste.

    Maybe increase the tempo?

    I'm looking forward to hearing the further process!


  • This is one of the greatest pieces of music ever written in a lyric, espressivo string style, and so it is definitely a huge challenge.  I feel that doing simple, slow scoring  of just a few instruments is the single most difficult thing for MIDI realization.  It is far easier to do a big impressive Hollywood brass and percussion showpiece for huge orchestra than this kind of music.  Your performance is very good, but the violins and celli are far too stiff-sounding compared to a live group, which would be sliding all over and caressing these notes like lovers. 

    The first thing I would try is layering not chamber but solo strings on separate tracks that are not the same track copied, but instead are re-recorded for natural "humanized" mistiming. The solo violin for example layered very softly with the Appassionata violins is an extremely good sound.  The chamber strings are not necessarily the best thing for this, though I understand how they might seem to  be, as one can hear the individual tones more clearly. But somehow, they do not simply add espressivo but can change the texture into something else.  But the solo instruments - especially the violin and viola, perhaps even two each of them by using the "resources" single layer looped sustain instruments, can add a lot of texture without "taking over" the way the chambers do.

    The next thing is you must use the portamento AB switching in the Appassionata, or the sul in Orchestral for this music.  If you don't think the portamenti are quite right it doesn't matter - there HAS to be much more sliding between notes than the very disciplined standard legato - many of which are not sul by the way - of the regular legati.    

    Just some suggestions.  A very admirable thing to try out, and not something I would take lightly...

  •  Very true William,

    in addition to that I would especially use the portamenti between the half tone steps ,up and down,  for the bigger intervals I would use them very carefully and not too often, otherwise the realism gets lost.

    The thing with the portamento is a very delicate and sensitive topic:

    VSL brought this great feature, and now many people use it very often in a piece because this feature exists.

    It souns terrible if you hear a portamento between nearly each interval.

    If you handle it economically it gives your piece an incredible convincing level.


  •  Yes, I have also noticed some overuse of portamento simply "because it is there."  It can ruin a line if overused, but in the right place can be extremely expressive.  Not just convincing, but quite emotional.  I am working on a large orchestral piece with some intense string lines and the VSL strings are sounding incredibly good, better than the live performance of this piece that was done.    However, I am constantly being tempted to overuse portamento.  I try it at times, and it can be sickening like a rotten banana. The main thing to remember is that being a performance, each single portamento transition varies, based upon how difficult the leap is, and how the player performed.  So some of these sounds will fit perfectly and others will be bad.  Though overusing it is always bad... [+o(]

  • Christof,

        Thank you so much for the great advice! I can't believe I didn't think of using the release automation for this! Duh! (hitting myself on the head) :) Also I will try using more portatmenti on the smaller intervals and hopefully do a repost soon, though I am a little bit Mahlered out at the moment.  As for the tempo I see where you're coming from, but I like the slower tempo for now.  I think it also makes the string realization that much harder so that if I can get this piece nailed I'll feel like I really learned and accomplished something.


        Thank you too for your nice comments and advice on the portamenti.  I think you're absolutely right that the Vlns. & Celli are a little stiff.  I'm sure your advice on the portamenti will help!  I will definitely experiment with layering the solo strings as well.

    Thanks again! :)


  • Hi Brian,
    I adore this movement and have heard it quite a few times live with the Berlin philharmonic orchestra. There has to be more dynamics and expression in your mockup - it sounds a bit "dead" or stiff as somebody else said in his post. Mixing the VSL Solo strings into the big string sound is a very good suggestion - the Solo strings have so many varieties of vibrato and dynamics that they will make any arrangement come alive.
    Good luck - nice challenge!

  • Nice work! I took a close look at the sample content of the App. Strings, and if I'm not mistaken there isn't any "sustain without vibrato" patch as in the Orch Strings. Too bad, as cross fading between the 2 in the right places, one could get much more close to "real life" feel in the lines.......

  • PaulP Paul moved this topic from Orchestration & Composition on