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  • Synchron Strings Challenge 1

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    VSL Community,

    I present the first "challenge" open to anyone who would like to participate:

    Beethoven Symphony No. 9, 4th movement. Bars 92 - 115 marked allegro assai.

    Goals of this excerpt:

    • Create convincing soft legato matricies for exposed melodic passages.
    • Work with bowing options, bow control, amount of vibrato, open strings, etc.

    I'm working with a little Kalmus pocket score. Here is the IMSLP link to get a copy if you don't already have one.,_Op.125_%28Beethoven,_Ludwig_van%29

    Here are a couple videos I found on Youtube on how a real bassist approaches this passage (apparently it is frequently asked on auditions), which I found helpful.

    (starts at 11m 48s)

    (starts at 2m 34s)

    A couple notable recordings of the piece in action...





    Close up on cello..


    Looking forward to everyone's responses. I'll post mine in a few days.

  • My submission (see attachment)

    What I did...


    • Played off the grid.  
    • Performed cello first, then played along with it in the basses.

    Rode these CCs:

    • Velocity Xfade.
    • Slot Xfade.
    • Expression.

    Increased these CCs (no automation):

    • Legato Blur
    • Release
    • Dynamic Range

    Odd things that seemed to help:

    • Removed Repetitions in A slot, kept them in B slot.
    • Humanize settings varied in different mic positions.
    • Lots of Roomtone
    • Added FX --> Ambient Noises from Dimension Strings


    • Leg-Soft-Vib <-->SlotX<--> Leg-Soft-noV
    • Lo-soft-Vib <-->SlotX<--> Lo-soft-noV
    • Leg-slur-LyV <-->SlotX<--> Leg-slur-noVxLyV
    • Leg-slur-Vib <-->SlotX<--> Leg-slur-noV
    • All in the Soft Matrix


    Main Performance Issues...

    The main problem to overcome seemed to be the A, E, and D repeated notes.  The transitions between those if the long patches (which are meant for repeated legato notes) seemed to harsh and couldn't be remedied with Attack automation.  The soft legato patch works kind of well, but again the attack of the note was too much.  

    My solution for this was to removed the repetition bubbles on the vibrato patch in the A slot, while leaving them in the no vibrato patch in the B slot.  This allowed me to soften the attack with the slot Xfade.

    The approach for me comports with the Youtube videos/recordings referenced in the initial post.  For the basses, the passage is played on the D string and each open D doesn't have vibrato (obviously).  And while it is marked with a single p in the score, most orchestras seem to play it softer, which means the lyrical vibrato patch doesn't work (except for the two crecendo in bars 103/111).

    A second issue is with the overall tone.  I started with the multi mic template, then brought back in some center mic in the cello.  I felt like compared to the Youtube examples, some low end needed to be boosted, so EQ and multiband comp was used.  Another thing that helped was Logic X's Match EQ.  I imported the Muti recording and ran it through on the mix bus, then matched it to my mockup.  Definitely help the "vibe."


    Final touches...

    I put in a lot of room tone because I have yet to find a recording where there isn't a lot of floor noise... plus, in the spirit of realism, musicians can have a hard time sitting still, even when recording or in a live setting ;)

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    Additional piictures...

  • Here is another attempt.  Most of the methods above are the same, though I incorporated the "Start Offset" features.  Maybe this is a little better?

  • Bumping this post in case others have time to contribute.

    I totally messed up, I was hoping to contribute my version by now, but all my music things are packed in a container somewhere being shipped across the U.S.  It will still be another month before I can get my music-computer back.

    Stephen, I very much liked the first one a LOT better.   On the second version, there's a slightly weird transition that feels the "same" on every note which feels unnatural.  Also the basses seem too dominant over the cellos in that second version.

    On the other hand, for the first version, the room noise added a lot of authenticity, and the tone matching technique I suspect made a big difference in the "clarity" - as far as the mix goes, this one is vastly better.  I didn't have a perfect listening setup, but I wonder if the room tone could have had a wider image, it may have matched the microphone mix better.

    About the legato itself - the first version's legato felt mostly acceptable, with the occasional feeling of noticing a similar attack on all notes, but not very noticeable in normal listening.  I wonder if the difference is only due to your changes with Start Offset, or if the multi-band compression also had some effect on the perception of the legato transitions as well.