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advice for gliding string

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Joined: 24 Jan 2011
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 3:48 pm    Post subject: advice for gliding string Reply with quote

so I have to learn Etta James' "At Last" for a fill-in gig. I'm really only playing the string parts. I'm trying to get as close as I can to the main melody you here in the beginning. The problem is there is a bit of glide/portamento in the main voice I can't seem to get right. I've been working with the Legato Stereo Strings preset so far, because it seems to capture the overall feel of the piece the closest. I even tried messing with doing a mono version of the patch with some portamento at various levels and it ends up just sounding like a synthesizer. I can play the notes, sure, but it doesn't really capture the "feel" of the original tune.

Any advice?

this is the song:
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Joined: 15 May 2002
Posts: 6946
Location: Discovery Bay (San Francisco Bay Area)

PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

great song. I do covers, some old classics. This might be a tough one in that you can't get a precise glide using the Joystick , for example. That glide is a distinctive sound for this song.

I prefer authenticity on parts but this might call for the WAV file solution.

If it would a few hours to dope out some programming, I would likely hire an expert to do it.

Will be interesting to read if anyone has figured out a workaround for a string sound like this.
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Last edited by GregC on Sat Aug 05, 2017 8:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Location: Orlando, Florida USA

PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sure there are more qualified players here, but this is my humble advice:

On the main string melody part, the very high frequency content of the bows rubbing the strings is pretty present -- this is also key to realism, imo. You may want to even layer 2 or 3 lo-fi solo, mono, violins, instead of using pre-made orchestral, stereo, polished string sections. If you do layer, use different multisamples as well as different release rates, to add realism. If you listen carefully, you can still even hear the body of the instruments on these old school recordings... the collective resonances of just a few violin bodies, versus the space of a produced, balanced hall reverbed string section.

1) definitely use a pedal to swell the volume in and out of the main melody
2) make the sound more lo-fi as possible:
-- I'm thinking Mellotron strings for the left hand lower 2 harmony parts, with aftertouch for independent control of volume and vibrato rate/amount
-- maybe something not so polished as Stereo Legato Strings for main
-- for example, try changing out the multisample in the GM Violin, use ROM Mono 0232 Cello and Violin Ensemble, which has that present, bowed sound
-- EQ out the low mids and lower
-- bump the mid highs and highs on the main, make it a bit shrill even
3) also link vibrato rate to pedal, so it's not static
-- constant fluctuations, like static LFO vibratos, give away the synthetic side
-- several differing rates of fluctuation/modulation, all subtle, lend more to realism
4) maybe also link brightness to pedal, so that pedal swells bring strings closer (bright, loud, more vibrato) and further (dulled, quieter, more space)
5) perhaps a slight center left to center right pan of the layered main part
-- pan linked to pedal can help bring the part "alive"
6) maybe use an FX insert like old record scratches

On glides: I experimented and found that using Poly Legato set to 1 voice I can get a *slightly* more natural effect than Mono Legato, maybe due to type of retriggering. Again, phrasing is key, so you'll want to alternate attack style, not just use full-on legato. For example, the Etta string melody is in the key of F (whole thing tuned down a quarter tone or -25 cents). The main riff has a slur line across it all, but you don't want to play totally legato if you're using the poly legato setting and portamento at 50, fingered, constant rate.

Alternately, if you choose not to use portamento, or footswitch it on/off appropriately, there's a bend that might be best simulated by making the joystick bend up +3 and down -1. Like the G#-A-C bend in the phrase F Eb C Bb G#-A-C. You'll have to land on the A to super quickly bend down to attack G#, bend up to A, hold, then bend the A up to a C.

In fact, the more I learn and practice the part, I'm getting more "natural" expressivenes by bending up a half-step to accent notes as needed in the phrasing. There's a lot of that "blues" note bending happening in the strings.

A very dynamic delivery is key, I believe. Small and medium bumps in pedal volume, like the accented phrase a :09, then the bigger swell up to :11, then the slight pull back at :16, then the final pull back at :19. Notice the background "mellotron" parts also have a separate volume curve happening, which can probably be mimicked with aftertouch on the left hand easily enough; also notice the mellotron part swells in volume separately from the main string melody, and kind of stays relatively louder at the end of the phrase despite the main melody coming back down.

Anyway, here I go again with novels. Sorry. HTH
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