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  • Elgar Enigma Theme & 1st Variation with VSL SE, SE+ & App. Strings

     Hi All,

    Thought I'd share another mock-up with everyone as I continue my quest to improve my sampled orchestra chops.  As usual any comments or constructive criticism is certainly welcome however, this time I have a few questions I'd like to ask if you feel like responding to them. 

    1) Do you think the layer of the solo strings in the beginning is too much or too subtle?

    2) Do you think I need more gentle releases on the strings?  I've used a small amount of varying increased release length with the strings.

    3) Enough reverb?

    4) Woodwind balance ok?

    Anyway, thanks for listening and I hope you enjoy


  • Brian This is a very nice mock up of Elgar's music. I'm answering for the soul purpose of maybe learning something back from you in return. My first impression was that at the beginning. Right at the 3rd. Bar and at the 8th. bar also, yes you should use more tail on the strings cut off point. More gentle releases.( or just add reverb maybe ). And only at those bars. the rest of the piece is almost or exactly as real players. Woodwinds sounds very refreshing coming in and taking over the subject. Although in those certain spots of string tails, you can let it completely fall in the pocket. Meaning, give it even more tempo patience. Hold it back just a bit in those cut off spots. We're talking in minute extreme finesse here. Its almost not even noticeable. Great piece ! And Great Work also. Very nice to talk with you. Now may I ask you if you scored this piece or played it. I see you're on Logic 7. My Logic pro 7 is the only one that works in regards to stem adjustment for notation. I use Logic pro 8 for playing only. Because they're not bothering to fix the bug. And How long did this piece take you to complete ? And Can you comment on using VI for scoring with notation only. I've been out of the loop, very busy and I'm going to take advantage of your Expertise. Thanks. ... Best regards

  •  Hi!

    Thanks for the advice!  I'll take a look at those spots.  To answer your questions, I played (out of time) this piece into Finale then imported into Logic as midi as I have a Finale template and a Logic template that match up exactly.  In Finale my VSL Matrices and Patches (keyswitch and CC1 data) are saved as text expressions and stored in the human playback settings.  This way I can do a lot of ground work in getting the right patches in place while looking at the notation.  Then when I work in Logic its primarily getting the cresc. and dim. in place, tempo, finessing releases & attacks, making a few adjustments as needed to my patch choices (in case upon hearing it I feel its not the right choice after all), and a few adjustments to the individual notes.  Finale humanizes some of its midi output, and then in Logic I also run its humanizing plugin to dislodge anything left that lines up exactly across the score.  I know that probably wasn't the answer you were looking for because I don't use Logic notation at all.  As for time I spent about an hour getting it into finale, about 30 minutes selecting the patches, and about 3 hours finessing in Logic.

    Thanks again for the advice,


  • I think this is sounding very nice!



  •  Thanks Jay!

    I'm working on it a little more, will repost when I'm done.


  • Hi All,

    I've worked out some of the rough edges, here's another go at the Elgar:

    Thanks for listneing, Brian

  • Stunning ! ..... I've listened to it repeatedly. Woke up again to listen to it today. This is a mastery of both the Composition. By Sir Elgar, and the production. Its even more effective than real players recording by Stereo michrophones. Thats why Elgar is printed on British Money. Thanks for bringing it to life and sharing Brian. I'm a fan of yours.

  • Lovely.  Lots of attention to the shaping of phrases which I appreciate.

    Keep 'em coming.



  • I agree with those comments about the music - excellent!   I feel it needs to "exist" within more reverb, or a richer ambience. It sounds too dry to me, though I often overuse reverb.  Very fine job on the music.

  • Hi All,

    Thanks for the comments!  I apologize for being so alouf the past few days, but I finally got my power back after dealing with the aftermath of hurricane Ike.  Anyway, I think I'm starting to get a handle on how to work with my VSL and of course this in large part due to the informative people here on the forum.  I really do appreciate all the help and how this community allows me to bounce my work off of you guys to get better because of it.  However, every time I reach a new plateau with my VSL I discover some unknown new height that I have yet to work toward.  It seems like it'll never end, but it's exciting at the same time!  At some point I'd like to post my Logic template with all the settings, so I can get you guys to take a look at that as well.  Ahh, one day when I have the time...

    Thanks again, Brian

  •  I have to say that I only got around to listening to this today and that I *thouroughly* enjoyed it. I kind of agree with william over the reverb issue, but like william I've been accused of overusing reverb.

    Whatever one's preferences, nobody can say that it's not beautiful in terms of programming and mixing. First class job, my friend.



    (not a drunk)

  • Brian,

    Which strings are you using? Are there any App strings in there? I'm asking mostly about the violins.


  • Hi Rob and William,

     Now that you both have mentioned the reverb issue...I listened to my mix and freaked out about the reverb! [:P] I sense what you both are talking about, but feel that mainly the strings might need more reverb, but I'm hesitant to add more to the winds.  Perhaps I don't need to do much with the actual reverb, but just need to move the strings a little deeper into the room. I'll post another version of this soon taking both your comments into consideration.

    Hi Mahon,

    Yes, I am using the App. Strings, with a little bit of solo strings layered in as well.


  • Hi All....but specifically to William and Rob, guys were right, it needed more reverb.  So on the strings I pushed them slightly further into the room by reducing each string instrument's output to the dry bus by 1 dB. I then added 2% reverb time to my Altiverb instances.  This change may seem minuscule in writing, but I notice a difference in the sound without adding any mushiness.  Let me know what you think, maybe I need even a little more?


  • Sounds significantly better to me!


  • Thanks Mahlon!

  • Brian, this is really impressive, and more importantly...moving.  Even when I am really impressed by a midi mockup, I usually am still pretty far from really being moved by the phrasing and nuances.  You really got that side of things happening in this rendering of the Elgar.  Hats off to you!

    I notice that you are using the VSL, Altiver, WAves S1 three pronged attack that I belive is Jay Bacal's arsenal as well.  Have you found the S1 to be a critical piece to getting the placement and spread to be believable?

    Much respect, 


  • Hi Omid,

    Yes, I have found the S1 Stereo Imager really useful. I bought it before VSL released VE, but I like it better than the VE stereo panning because it has more options and is automated, which is quite handy.

    Thanks for the nice comments.

    Cheers, Brian

  • PaulP Paul moved this topic from Orchestration & Composition on