Trying to find a suitable string orchestra for backing tracks

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Dan M.
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Trying to find a suitable string orchestra for backing tracks

Post by Dan M. » Sun May 19, 2019 4:30 am

I'm searching for a way to add backing violins to songs I am playing on the flute, like my teacher did for me using his electronic keyboard (which has built-in sounds). I found a free solo violin (Nyala) and used the MIDI effect called chord to create Major and Minor chords, but my teacher said it sounded too rough, because a lead violinist usually plays with accents, not suitable for backing violins. Then I found Spitfire Labs strings plugin, also free, which plays about 3 to 7 violins when you press a key, and also has a setting to make the sound softer. Again I used the chord MIDI effect in order to obtain the chords, but I don't like how it sounds at all. I get about 35 violins when I do this. I also tried adding a second "Shift" in the MIDI effect, to get more violins playing one octave lower (24 semitones), to give it some depth. But I think it sounds wrong.

Any tips?

If it's allowed I can give you a link with the backing violins that sound right. I did a cover of Over the Misty Mountains Cold on Tin Whistle, with backing violins from the electronic keyboard.

Shift Gorden
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Re: Trying to find a suitable string orchestra for backing tracks

Post by Shift Gorden » Mon May 20, 2019 4:40 pm

Hey mate,

It is pretty tricky to get acoustic instruments to sound "just right" - so you're not alone! It sounds like you're trying to do 2 things:

1. Find a plugin that has good violin sounds
2. Get familiar with how real-life violinists play

Number 1 is this easiest - but does depend on budget. I think you did good finding a free solution from Spitfire. I'm not familiar with that one, but I do have Albion and Solo Violins from Spitfire and they sound glorious.

The second is, by far, the trickiest part since you have to learn how a bunch of violinists play. I think the MIDI effect is great for piano/synth type chords, but is pretty tough for violins. Since a violin can't play chords, it's up to a group to play them one note at a time. And then. the violinist often don't play the chords like a pianist - some violinists will hold several notes, while others alternate shorter notes to form different chords.

I'm not sure if this will help, but it might be easier to create 4 MIDI tracks, and on each have an instance of a violin plug-in - like having 4 violinists. Then experiment with some channels holding long notes, and others with shorter notes. E.g. if you went from C major to F major, the common notes of both chords is C. So you'd keep the same "violinists" playing the C note over a longer period of time, and then have one violinist move from E to F, and another from G to A.

I'm not sure if this makes sense?

Dan M.
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Re: Trying to find a suitable string orchestra for backing tracks

Post by Dan M. » Mon May 20, 2019 6:30 pm

Yes, that is exactly my problem. I have no idea how the backing violins work and how an orchestra would play them. The ones on my teacher's electronic keyboard sound good (there are several different styles or backing violins), but I can't see how they are constructed.

Btw, Spitfire's orchestral Strings play about 3-7 violins every time I press a key. So it would be like 3 violinists playing C, 6 violinists playing E, 7 violinists playing G, or something. I don't know exactly how it works. Also, if I want to add some low notes, and I add another "shift" for one octave lower, that would mean in reality it would be a cello, it would no longer be a violin. I would need a mix of violins, viola, cello, etc. I don't know if what I'm doing is right.

Are there any tutorials (payed or free) who teach this in detail? Or if I buy a quality orchestral pack, will it be configured so it always sounds good without me having to understand how it works?

Shift Gorden
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Re: Trying to find a suitable string orchestra for backing tracks

Post by Shift Gorden » Mon May 20, 2019 8:24 pm

I gotcha, mate.

Try taking a look at Spitfire's YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeofqKnnPcg - here's an intro to Albion One (which is their orchestral plugin).

Mad buddy is a violinist for the Fort Smith Symphony (among other things), and he thinks Albion One and Solo Violins sound great. I can arrange decent sounding strings with those plugins and I have Zero orchestral knowledge or experience!

Dan M.
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Re: Trying to find a suitable string orchestra for backing tracks

Post by Dan M. » Tue May 21, 2019 1:58 am

400+ dollars!? :) I see, so if I want good orchestral sound, I should forget about free libraries? The one I was talking about from Spitfire is part of the free plugins that they offer: https://www.spitfireaudio.com/labs/

Just to be clear - I don't expect something amazing in a free plugin, just that when I used it, it simply sounds wrong to me, like the chords aren't in harmony with the melody (even though they are the right chords). I thought maybe I'm doing something wrong.

yur2die4
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Re: Trying to find a suitable string orchestra for backing tracks

Post by yur2die4 » Tue May 21, 2019 4:11 am

Don’t use the Ableton Chord midi effect for this. If the vsts you have do chords, that might be okay.

You’ll have to do the chords the old fashioned way. And play with the velocities of each note of the chord, chord spacing, and maybe inversions in mind. You won’t get stuff like that by just using the Chord device.

kitekrazy
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Re: Trying to find a suitable string orchestra for backing tracks

Post by kitekrazy » Tue May 21, 2019 4:18 am

What are you willing to spend?

Dan M.
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Re: Trying to find a suitable string orchestra for backing tracks

Post by Dan M. » Tue May 21, 2019 11:59 am

yur2die4 wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 4:11 am
Don’t use the Ableton Chord midi effect for this. If the vsts you have do chords, that might be okay.

You’ll have to do the chords the old fashioned way. And play with the velocities of each note of the chord, chord spacing, and maybe inversions in mind. You won’t get stuff like that by just using the Chord device.
I see. I suspected it was something like this. And are there any online courses which explain this in depth? Anyway, I now know I need to look for a VST that does chords by design. Thank you!

Dan M.
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Re: Trying to find a suitable string orchestra for backing tracks

Post by Dan M. » Tue May 21, 2019 12:03 pm

kitekrazy wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 4:18 am
What are you willing to spend?
Something around 50-100 dollars would be doable I think. Cause I will probably need to invest in a new computer as well, since mine is an i3 with only 4GB or RAM. I doubt it could handle a top-of-the-line library or plugin.

Dan M.
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Joined: Fri May 10, 2019 1:07 pm

Re: Trying to find a suitable string orchestra for backing tracks

Post by Dan M. » Tue May 21, 2019 12:03 pm

Dan M. wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 12:03 pm
kitekrazy wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 4:18 am
What are you willing to spend?
Something around 50-100 dollars just for the strings/orchestra, I could afford. More would be difficult cause I will probably need to invest in a new computer as well, since mine is an i3 with only 4GB or RAM. I doubt it could handle a top-of-the-line library or plugin.

kitekrazy
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Re: Trying to find a suitable string orchestra for backing tracks

Post by kitekrazy » Tue May 21, 2019 1:52 pm

Sonatina Free Orchesstra.

TLW
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Re: Trying to find a suitable string orchestra for backing tracks

Post by TLW » Tue May 21, 2019 4:27 pm

There are a lot of on-line musical theory courses ranging from OK to excellent and for a wide range of knowledge levels. A good course for someone who knows little (or nothing) about the theory of music, harmony etc. would be too basic to be useful to someone who already knows that stuff and wants to learn about e.g. advanced jazz chord substitutions, while an advanced course would probably not be the best option for a beginner.

Having said that, a good resource about the basics is the free Open University course “An introduction to music theory” - https://www.open.edu/openlearn/history- ... -section-0

(The Open University is a British fully-accredited degree awarding distance-learning based university that’s been going for about 50 years and which is academically respected).
Live 10.1 Suite, M4L, 2014/15 MacBook Pro 15.3” Retina i7, OS Mojave 10.14.5. RME UFX, assorted synths, guitars and stuff.

Dan M.
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Joined: Fri May 10, 2019 1:07 pm

Re: Trying to find a suitable string orchestra for backing tracks

Post by Dan M. » Tue May 21, 2019 5:34 pm

TLW wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 4:27 pm
There are a lot of on-line musical theory courses ranging from OK to excellent and for a wide range of knowledge levels. A good course for someone who knows little (or nothing) about the theory of music, harmony etc. would be too basic to be useful to someone who already knows that stuff and wants to learn about e.g. advanced jazz chord substitutions, while an advanced course would probably not be the best option for a beginner.

Having said that, a good resource about the basics is the free Open University course “An introduction to music theory” - https://www.open.edu/openlearn/history- ... -section-0

(The Open University is a British fully-accredited degree awarding distance-learning based university that’s been going for about 50 years and which is academically respected).
Thanks, maybe I'll pursue it someday just because I like to learn. However, I plan to make backing tracks together with a music teacher, so I don't need to know everything. But I need to know how to technically execute what needs to be done. Knowing about harmony in general doesn't mean you know how to play with Velocity in Ableton or things like that.

Dan M.
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Joined: Fri May 10, 2019 1:07 pm

Re: Trying to find a suitable string orchestra for backing tracks

Post by Dan M. » Tue May 21, 2019 5:34 pm

-duplicate post-
Last edited by Dan M. on Tue May 21, 2019 5:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Dan M.
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Joined: Fri May 10, 2019 1:07 pm

Re: Trying to find a suitable string orchestra for backing tracks

Post by Dan M. » Tue May 21, 2019 5:35 pm

I'm sorry for the double posts. I was just trying to edit my reply.

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