OT: String Quartet VST

Middle C is usually C4 not C1 (in fact this is the first time I have ever seen it called C1). So add 3 to the octave numbers.

FWIW the standard (88 key) piano range is A0 to C8.

Yeah, first time I’ve ever seen it called C1 too. I used to have a Yamaha 61 key keyboard that called it C3 in the manual. That’s the only time I’ve seen it called anything other than C4. I can’t remember if that’s because they counted the low end differently, or counted A to A, or what, but calling it C1 was definitely new to me.

Sorry for the confusion, I was thinking about this system:


So there the highest note of violin in CSSS would be d’’’’ and cello a{@flat@}’’


I really don’t want a fourth option for a full orchestra when I already have VSL SE, NotePerformer and BBC Core. I have to say, though, that if the CSS woodwind turn out to be really outstanding and I get and am happy with the programmability of the solo strings in Dorico, I wouldn’t rule it out. So far I have first preferences by all three as they have completely different strengths and weaknesses.

Middle C in Helmholtz notation is usually written c’ (with a lower case letter) not C1 (with an upper case letter and a digit).

The standard notation is now https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_pitch_notation which has C4 for middle C, but some MIDI manufacturers use C3 and a few use C5.

BTW in case anyone is interested, Spitfire did respond with the range of the Solo Strings library:

Violin: G2 - C#6
Viola: C2 - F#5
Cello: C1 - A#4
Bass: C0 - F#2

I guess in this email they were using the middle C = C3 convention? Anyway, I’m still checking out other libraries and Black Friday sales, but I did end up getting a couple of the VSL SYNCHRON-ized bundles while they were on sale (sale ended yesterday) that have solo strings so I’m not quite in as much of a need anymore. The fact that they had a free trial and already have Dorico expression maps made it easy to dive in. Here’s the VSL link to the Dorico videos and Playback Templates if anyone is interested:

If they don’t know the lowest note of each instrument, something must be totally broken. (Even if they implemented scordatura, which few libraries do, there is no way you can tune down an octave.) So they must be using middle C = C3.

I have many of the solo strings mentioned in this thread and others (Spitfire solo, SF Sacconi, Chris Hein solo, NI quartet, SWAM, XSamples contemporary etc etc). In the end I keep coming back to VSL (Xsamples and Chris Hein next best), especially the VSL Synchron-ized Solo Strings. Huge articulation set, great consistency across the instruments, dry, great player w/time stretching etc. This comparison is useful, if not comprehensive:


As someone already mentioned, buy vouchers first and it’s effectively 25% off.

Thanks! That is really helpful! I decided to give that first Adagio a shot with the VSL Synchron-ized SE using their Dorico expression maps. This is straight out of Dorico:

Obviously some of those other versions are better, but this is probably realistic enough for me to use for mockups to send to the composer anyway. Attached is an XML in case anyone else wants to try to compare their setup to the others linked to in that comparison.
Werner String Q.zip (7.36 KB)

Here is the same thing with the CSSS and CSS:


I had to add a lot of dynamics to the file, as you can see from the screenshot… I think the VSL Solo strings sound really good from richhickey’s list!

This is really great, thanks! I was wondering if these more sophisticated mockups used notation elements or were edited in MIDI. I’m gonna propose a feature request to allow these notational elements to be more easily hidden.

Has anyone used London Symphonic Strings by Aria? Just had an email from them…

[just read email and see there are no solo players]

Has anyone made a quartet from the solo players in EW Composer Cloud?

As mentioned on a different thread, I’ve now acquired the CSS solo strings on the Black Friday sale. Once I started to get the hang of the CSS way of doing things, I have to say I’m pretty impressed. The initial question is about how to set the dynamic controllers in Dorico. One would expect CC! as VelXF to be primary but because of the use of both CC1 and velocity for other functions, I’ve found that some articulations (using the CC58 method) don’t switch correctly this way. Everything seems to work fine using CC11 as a base with drawing in CC1 modifications to give more dynamic range and expressivity. This way I haven’t found any significant issues. If you use the medium instead of fast velocity, then there can be a slight time lag, noticeable at times when a slow legato line plays against fast rhythmical passages for instance. As sakasuri has said, the note offset can be activated to compensate and we get might scripting to automate in time. If you drag things out even further by using the Advanced Legato slow velocity, then this behaviour is more easily noticeable and I’m not sure it’s worth it in most cases.

Odd things like trills are no problem in practice as you simply play the two notes as required and hide the upper one (by making it transparent) in the score. You must put entries for both half and whole note trills in the EM.

In short, the “heath risk” from CSS that their library is incompatible with notation software is nonsense. Creating an Expression Map is relatively easy as only one is required and it 's quite short. No doubt I’ll find a few issues when I get beyond my first test project and try to convert an existing quartet but I’m not expecting any show-stoppers (touch wood :smiley:)

I’ve attached my expression maps for CSS and CSSS, if you want to compare our results. I think I ended up using velocity controlled key-switches for triggering the articulations. CC58 was not working if multiple things had to be triggered at the same time. For dynamics, I didn’t use CC11 at all, since it’s just the volume and doesn’t affect the timbre of the library. There are playing techniques for tutti, div and solo, which trigger different combinations of CSS and CSSS. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the balancing of the map, but decided to wait for the next version of Dorico for hopefully better results.

But what other function was the CC1 used than dynamics?

And please don’t add this to the expression maps thread, I don’t think it’s yet complete enough for that…
Cinematic Studio Strings Expression Map.doricolib.zip (3.34 KB)

Thanks very much for the post and the helpful EM. CC1 is used for selection of the patch with the staccato and pizz groups. If I use velocity as the controller for these then it looks like CC1 can be used as primary elsewhere and CC11 can be used as secondary, following my most common practice in other libraries. But curiously I find I get a more natural legato with simply CC11 and am yet to find a point in using the secondary. CC1 is certainly to be used for expressiveness together with CC11 at any rate

Your version is more complex as you’ve written out various compound p.t’s combinations. I’m struggling to find a real use for most of them. Marcato is the odd one giving you the option of spicc overlay or not (I tend to prefer with so far) but more problematical is the legato option. I simply see no point in it and am having some difficulty so far finding a way to programme it with legato permanently off despite having a look to see what you did here. Incidentally your map has all kind of timing issues with my little test piece but I’m not unduly surprised as you said you’re using scripts and also various custom patches. By the way, is your CC64 referring to the pedal? The round robin feature in CSS doesn’t seem that sophisticated and on the occasions I’s use it, I’d probably simply mark a pedal in the score which does have an effect. But perhaps I’m underestimating it?

To reciprocate, here is a brief test project .mp3 containing all the articulations using the EM as I have it so far which I also attach. Obviously this is a work in progress which shows how I’m thinking and will be doubtless refined.

UPDATE I had forgotten that Kontakt defaults to C3 for middle C instead of C4 (thanks, Andy) and have managed to fix the remaining issues which to me required fixing for a basic setup. I’ve updated the EM and test .mp3 accordingly. I can see the point of marcato without overlay as a sort of detache patch so that’s now included.
CSS solo strings test.zip (1.5 MB)
CSS solo strings.zip (1.98 KB)

Yes, CC=64 is the pedal, I’m using it to make sure that the legato is working correctly. It also triggers the re-bow sample if there is a repeated note between slurs.

I tried also your EM, but for some reason I got almost no difference between pp and ff dynamics. It could be that it wasn’t working correctly on my machine.

I’m now trying to make a new version of my EM that would default to fast legato. One thing that I found hard is that marcato (no overlay) ff is much softer than spiccato ff.

Not a quartet (only cello), but Tina Guo acoustic cello (by Cinesamples) is now for sale (the original and the vol. 2 expansion, both at $49).

Very beautiful and expressive.

Dynamics are still an area where not everything seems entirely balanced between patches. Basically, I use velocity for the fast articulations where articulation choice is by CC1 and CC11 for the others with added manual CC1 automation lines for more contrast and expressivity. If you don’t add these then the results will be more samey. For the velocity patches, you may also need to make some adjustments as well as some others (for instance on VI Control) have complained that the library is generally rather lacking in dynamic contrast. More logical would be to use CC1 straight off instead of CC11 but I continue to find more unevenness this way than combining the two for reasons which are not yet clear. If your dynamic results are really barely differentiated with my map, even taking into account the above, then there may well be other factors at play in your setup.

Marcato without overlay is indeed much quieter than with which I’m sure is deliberate as it works more as a kind of general fastish detached patch without the stronger accents of the overlay. I see you have worked in Note Length conditions and it’s something I have done in other libraries, esp. with VSL where there are often enough patches for a full range of note lengths, but I’m not yet sure if it’s worth it here. The obvious would be to switch between marcato without overlay and sustain/legato but a quick attempt to do this didn’t work for some reason. The dividing point is anyway not entirely clear as legato can be reasonably fast and it’s perhaps just as easy to simply enter a (optionally hidden) detache p.t when it’s clear that this is what’s required.

Just a quick note to say that I purchased CSSS and am really pleased with it. It’s quite playable, and the legato is excellent. I am using it in a DAW, though, not in Dorico.

Glad to hear it. It seems to work fine in Dorico too if you do want to try that out at some point. I’ll probably have a more detailed view next week when I hope to convert an old Sibelius quartet to Dorico using this library and will see if there seem to be any obvious limitations or issues. It’s a fairly classical even-tempered piece so I shouldn’t be asking CSSS to do anything it can’t such as modern techniques.