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  • Crowd-sourcing Synchron Strings Techniques

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    Do any other users have any interest in setting up some sort of forum thread, blog, email list, or otherwise that sources various techniques for capturing realistic performances of popular classical works reimagined by the Synchron library?

    I've been watching old Karajan and Bernstein rehearsals, paying close attention to their notes to the string sections.. there liberal use of the word "legato," shaping accents, changing character, etc.

    To my ear, much of the shaping of string parts has to do with a clear compositional vision, as well as clear vision from the conductor.

    To my knowledge, no such sourcing exists, and I would be happy to help organize.

    I discovered VSL because I booked my first film job two years ago with zero experience.  While troubling-shooting a newbie problem, I unwittingly stumbled upon this sewer known as the "VI-control forum" where people endlessly debate and name call, which I hope I never have to revisit again. 😛  VSL has a very scientific and disciplined approach to sampling/creating tools for composers and this "crowd source" I think should be governed by a similar philosophy: solutions for musical ideas rooted in patch choices, CC automation, library blending, et al.

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    A post from user "Suon" about fast runs, scales, rips, etc. serves as my inspiration for the above post:


    @suon said:

    ddunn - thanks!

    I received some offline questions about how I approach doing fast string runs and rips.  I thought it would be nice to share on the forum directly.

    Some examples of runs I've made with this approach, most of these using the VSL Special Editions:

    So here's my thought process - it starts by considering the psychology a performer playing a fast run. The notes will be faster than a performer can track rhythmically, so they will be estimating how fast to play the notes to start and end at the right times - I call them "anchor notes".  If the run is long enough, there will also be some anchor notes in the middle of the run too, usually on a beat.  A performer just estimates the speed of notes between these anchors - specifically I think performers will usually play those between notes slightly faster than necessary, until they're about to arrive at the next anchor note. This gives them room for error to make sure they will can arrive to the next anchor note correctly.  Then, the one or two notes before an anchor will be slightly longer to compensate for going slightly faster on previous notes, and finally the next anchor note lands closer to the desired beat - maybe not entirely accurately, but close enough. The anchor also might get held just slightly longer, or slightly accented, or both, before continuing to the next string of fast notes.

    Example - same youtube video I linked earlier in this thread, at 0:26, the A-major scale is two octaves.  I put one octave roughly per beat, and used the A note every octave as the "anchor notes".  If you listen carefully, you'll notice a slight lingering just around completing the first octave of the run, right in the middle.  It also has an accent - though I think I may have overdone that accent a little =)

    For what it's worth, this is what I think I've observed about myself when playing string runs, and I've also seen similar results in piano pieces, when I've recorded myself playing the keyboard.

    OK so, putting this analysis to use, here is what my process usually looks like to fine tune a strings run:

    1. identify what the anchor notes would be, place those coarsely where I want when recording/entering the MIDI
    2. tweak the in-between MIDI note positions, lengths, overlaps, and velocity CC, to reflect all these principles mentioned above.
    3. Layering instruments or microphone positions can also help, because it gives you the opportunity to shift MIDI note positions differently for each instrument, which is a much more natural blur effect than just overlapping MIDI notes.
    4. experiment with different articulations and velocities on the anchor notes, and pick an articulation that captures the style I want.  Especially the beginning and end notes - staccato, fortepiano, sfz, marcato - all have slightly different types of attack which can greatly change the character of a run.  The attack can usually be further sculpted by fast velocity xfades, too.
    5. experiment with blurring the run, between *and including* anchor notes.  I usually try to make the beginning of the run slightly less blurry than later into the run.

    Finally, for very dedicated, obsessed MIDI tweakers, it also helps to think about three different legato transition types on string instruments:  (a) performer only needs to move a finger, (b) performer needs to shift the position of their hand along the fingerboard, and (c) player needs to move their bow to a different string.  When a performer only needs to change fingers, they can be fast and less blurry.  When a performer needs to shift their hand, they can have a slower but more messy transition.  When a performer needs to move their bow to a different string, the transition may not be as messy, but can still be slower and inaccurate in timing.  I usually don't go this far, but actually with Synchron Strings I found it useful to think about, in order to decide when to use fast legato versus slurred/fast portamento legato.

    Hope at least one person finds this useful.  I enjoyed the challenge of trying to put this in words, anyway. Cheers!

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    @stephen limbaugh said:

    Do any other users have any interest in setting up some sort of forum thread, blog, email list, or otherwise that sources various techniques for capturing realistic performances of popular classical works reimagined by the Synchron library?

    Hi Stephen ( it seems as if you are not only kind of my namesake since like you) I do appreciate the ambition to use samplelibraries musically more ambitious and more serious than just for one or another Cue in one or another av-media-job.

    To "reimagined" classical works with samplelibraries is nearly exactly what makes me interested in highend Samplelibraries.  I hope I understood you right, that "croud-sourcing" should mean, that you are looking for kind of an interpretation-discussion of classical masterworks. However interesting postings like the one of suon is, I think it will be most convenient to discuss related to concrete projects.

    Being as it seems ( at least as far as I know) with over 3000 mp3's of my project already one of the (or perhaps even simply "the") most productive programmers of classical music with samplelibraries, be sure - as far my health and lifetime might allow me - you will get from my side enough concrete occasions to discuss details of musical realisations with samples in most ambitious classical repertoire. As I always wished it would be possible here.

    However currently I still hesitate using my first parts of the synchron series a bit, since without the synchron player and the legatos of 2.Vl, Va and Basses, this could currently only be something like a samplelibrarie-mélange project.

    Meanwhile my first experiences indicate that I do have enough reasons  to be happy to own also the previous VSL-Libraries since they provide even for Percussion or 1.Vl + Vc many details which are at least currently not covered by the available Synchon-patches. So therefor I would propose even if the Synchron-series might be complete once, not to limit your Interest on the Synchron-Series only but just on the music itself and how it would be realised best. So I am very curious to hear and discuss your first serious projects as well as I am curious to share my next and discuss here.your opinions about every detail which might be worth to think about.


    fahl5, can you please clarify which details you are interested to discuss?  I was not sure exactly which direction you were going - (Option 1) discuss different interpretations of classical works by using sample libraries to share different versions of the works, or (Option 2) talk about the technical details about how to use of sample libraries to get realistic performances (or least, to get a desired result)

    Actually I interpreted Stephen's post as Option 2, and that's also what I'm interested in.  It would be great to hear more people talk about techniques, tricks, strategies that people have developed to achieve a good performance using sample libraries. =)

  • I'll give an example...

    Looking at a passage in the celli like the opening of Strauss' Ein Heldenlaben.  The score has groupings of notes slurred, accents, etc., but if you watch a rehearsal you can see that often the string players might have their own bowings that don't directly coincide with what is written on the page.

    I imagine a person writing a short blog-style post explaining their articulation choices, amount of Slot X-fade, etc.

    To assist the study, one may find someone practicing the part on Youtube: 

    This post would be sent to other crowd sourcers who try to replicate using these suggestions, and if the result is generally satisfactory, it gets posted.

    The purpose:

    • -Share knowledge.
    • -Begin to develop a set of principles (Rimsky-Korsakov wrote Principles of Orchestration, this group would be "writing" Principles of VI-Orchestration hahaha).
    • -Develop our own skills as composers by diving into existing literature.
    • -Have a platform of professional/serious hobbyist user feedback to VSL developers.
    • -Cultivate community.


    In the beginning, I think one or two posts per month is plenty.

  • Hi suon,

    Ok I confess I am perhaps still under the strong impression of every good Pianoteacher I was lucky to study with. No one of them talked about any technical theory per se, but always in concrete context of a certain composition and its musical intentions. That why I would suggest, just to pile up details far from any concrete musical context and any concrete attempt. to realise them in the context of a certain composition with samplelibraries would imho scarcly be of any help, since afaik everyone needs technical Ideas only to shape a certain musical imagionation.

    I personally think it is not like playing scales or other fingerexercises to get fast fingers. So imho your Option 1 does always depend on any conrete example, so Option 1 without Option 2 would musically not make that much sense.

    For example I am not that much interested how any Celloplayer would pratice any scale, but if this should be a part of a Richard Strauss composition, I would like to hear someone of us realising the composition. Than there should be enough occasions. to discuss technical details (not only that certain scale, but also this scale if it sounds in any way interesting or worth to be talked about)

    So especially when you explicitly intends to think about interpretation of classical masterworks, you will always find many things to discuss either if it comes to aspects one might regard as improvable or details which seem to be so well done, that it might be interesting to know how they were done with the availbable samples but always as concrete as possible.