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  • Dimension Strings for larger sections

    I apologize if this has already been discussed, but so far I couldn't find it, so here goes: I am very interested in Dimension Strings. Would it be possible (and practical) to create larger sections (e.g. 2x8 violins), for example by using the transposition trick? Has this been tried? I wouldn't directly think of it as an attempt to replace something like Appassionata or LASS, but having BOTH, all the flexibility of DS AND some more violins would certainly be appealing. Also, do DS users generally use it for both, 1st and 2nd violins or just an 8-violin ensemble? Again, please pardon my ignorance. - I'm quite new to all this. Thanks, Jens --

  • Hello Jensos.

    Here is my take on your question.

    I would first say that in order to make a bigger sound, using more violins is not always the best option.  When you go from 3 to 8 then to 16 violins playing the same phrase, what happens is that you progressively lose the focus and the precision of the articulation.  There comes a point when you have soup.  You could be better served using a reasonable amount of instruments and putting them into a larger space with more "wet", again stopping at the moment you get chaos.

    That being said, with 8 violins (I think this is more than enough) playing the same phrase like this : 4 with legato patch (and some velocity crossfade and expression controllers), one with pfp patch, one with harmonic patch and two with decrease patch, you get fantastic DYNAMICS, which is exactly the opposite as when you have 16 of them playing the same thing.

    Also, the overall arrangement and orchestration can, by subtly using contrasts, achieve impressive results.  A good trick to make one passage sound really loud is to have a quiet passage right before.  This is much more efficient than putting all faders in the red zone (as our ears and our brain constantly adapt theirselves to the ambiant).

    Of course, you could program 24 1st violins and by simply varying their place, humanize and filter settings obtain a very nice yummy potage.  But please, don't forget that any potage tastes only as good as its perfect temperature, the table it is served on, the curtains on the wall, the candles on the table, the style of the server serving it, and the cosy person you have in front of you when eating it.  I mean : don't forget to learn to write beautiful music.  No overproduction will beat that (at least, not for long).

    Hope this helps.


  • Hi Stephane, thank you very much for your reply! This is really helpful. The main reason why I am specifically interested in Dimension Strings in the first place is that I am currently doing an online orchestration class that deals with string writing at a fairly high level of detail. So far, using my relatively dated (and non-VSL) string libraries, I haven't been able to achieve the effects that one would hope to get when paying special attention to details such as articulations and fingerings. Therefore I am really leaning towards purchasing Dimension Strings and am currently trying to find out which of my needs it can fill. Again, thank you very much for your help! Jens --

  • I think in your very position, Dimension strings is the best way to go.  You can try out and decide what works best, from solo violin to 8 members section.  If you get MIR alltogether, you have something that is quite new in the business : a convincing mean to make true orchestration decisions, as what you get is so very close to the real thing.

    Interesting, those online classes.



  • I was thinking the same before I purchased the DS, but I actually didn't need to transpose yet. There are 3 different legatos, the trill legato, and 3 different portamentos, plus all different string possibilities and open positions. You can combine a lot of stuff! Sure, some of the sul G, sul D, etc. patches probably share samples but if you plan wisely, you can get a lot from DS. I recently did a project with only DS for violins and cellos, although I also have the SE orchestral and solo strings. 

    I use both 1st and 2nd violins. One can play with the numbers for sure, but for now I did 16 1st violins and 14 2nd violins, and it sounded quite good. I had a different track for each "desk" in my DAW and humanized things differently. I was thinking the same, that it would be better if they recorded at least something like 12 violins but there are so many different articulations that the combinations are really fruitful. Check out the manual. 

    By the way, celli are already 6 so they are quite enough by themselves I think. I did add 2 more to have more variety though. 

    In general, I really like this library. But I should probably give a disclaimer that I really enjoy all kinds of divisi writing and I do it more often then not. I you want to have a lot of tutti 1st and 2nd violins in the very low or very high registers, it might be very difficult to achieve that. 

  • The transposition of all 8 players to create a second group works perfectly, and enlarges the sound.  You can hear it in the Vertigo demo I did.  I have also done several other pieces more recently, not posted here, and it is very useful and works just like transposing the other ensembles or solo instruments. 

    One thing to keep in mind is to apply completely different randomize settings to each player within the 8 player sections.  This helps a lot in creating a more complex sound that is almost uncanny in realism.    Also, since the individual players "interact' with each other, I have tried to keep them in groups of two 8 player sections, so that it preserves that tonal interaction which is a basic part of the Dimension recording technique.

  • Thank you very much for your comments, everybody. I will get Dimension Strings, as I am confident that it is a good investment, especially when focusing on (learning) string writing. I'm glad VSL took it upon themselves to create a library with such attention to detail. Stephane, I can honestly say that an online orchestration class - when offered by a legit company - is a great thing for those who haven't had the opportunity to get training in the traditional sense. I don't think I could do the same kind of learning using just books. All the best, Jens --