where ever

as always, comments welcome, cheers



well that doesn’t sound like crap to me mate…sounds like the boomtown rats…who were a pretty successful band, so if your starting point is sounding like a successful band, the only way is up innit !!, Kevin

Great song. Enjoyed listening to it !!

I enjoyed this one too. Good solo!

thanks for listrening guys,

kevin, its bizzare to me that you compare me to the boomtown rats but strangly not surprising :slight_smile:

ive had people before compare me to david bowie and bob dylan, boomtown rats i supose is comparable to these guys, they are all of course huge and not bad comparisons to be made but i just cant see it myself. as i always say though different people hear different things from the same sounds.

when i mentioned about it sounding like crap that was more of a compliment to your mixes, ive heard some through my krk’s, some through netbook speakers and earbuds plugged into the net book and as expected they all sounded different but consistant, they sounded as good as you’d expect from the speakers in use, mine on the other hand can sound pretty awful on some systems, strange you can spend hundreds on monitors but its cheap ass speakers that show up your mistakes. ah well, glad you liked it though

megacon and early thanks for taking the time to listen, also glad you liked it, by the way early this is one of my favorite solos :wink:

Hi, interestingly ( or not ) early 21 has just pointed out to me that I need to listen on other speakers and having started to read up about it a bit more it is the crap speakers than can identify mix problems quite a lot…love this forum, without it I’d be a bigger idiot than I am now.
regarding the Boomtown Rats…it’s probably your singing style that makes me think of the comparison, it is similar to his lordships innit…best to you mate, Kevin

hey, this track shows great style, especially the vocal work, and ya I love a good guitar lead that works with the song, it came in and left with a perfect fit. that string add was a cool touch, too, gave it an anthem slant to it.

your too kind bluebob, thank you, Kevin

thank you kevin for replying in my absence :laughing: :laughing:

im glad you saw what i was trying to do, i had this idea in my head of a big orchestra but felt like i failed to achieve that, i actually ment to ask when i first posted if any one new how an orchestra is generally constructed, i used the halion sonic se but only used a string ensemble, i’d like to add in more layers with different instruments but time aint somthing i have alot of and thats what i need to experiment, so if anyone can tell me what other halion instruments would work with this i’d much appreciate it, i also have the ik multimedia philharmonik, need to install that again though,

cheers for listening


Dunno what happened there…Sorry :blush:

i could hazard a guess as ive almost done it myself, just noticed before i pulled the trigger :slight_smile:

anyway, you like to play around with synths n stuff, any insight about orchestral arrangement

Will be some reading, but well, you asked :smiley:

The first thing to know about writing for strings is how they are placed in a live recording, whether small or large they will always be panned approximately in the same places and unless it’s a solo violin,viola or cello it’s best to have 4 of the 5 string sub sections that make up the string section; 1st violins, 2nd violins, viola, cello.

As you have it, it’s just one violin line and it’s panned too far left to even be the 1st violins. You can try anything you can think of as far as note choice, intervals, harmony and the note duration are concerned, but it’ll always sound best to have all 4 sub sections in a song like yours present, just for balancing left and right more than anything, but for harmony they can add a lot and it’s because of missing the other 3 sections that you said the end wasn’t as big as you wanted. For a unified sound in regards to panning you need all 4, even if they only play 2 different notes it’s what gives it that unified sound in the stereo field from left to right. You’ll also never get them positioned using speakers as you will with a quality pair of headphones, if you are using speakers that is.

You have bass guitar so the cello can typically play in unison with the bass guitar or play a higher line in unison with the violas if the 1st and 2nd violins play in unison or to create a close harmony, but make sure the cello notes aren’t low enough that they are less than a 5th above the bass line. Low harmony always sounds muddy and bad ;p

The panning for 2nd violins is just off center to the left, not very much though, violas are the same slightly to the right and it’s pretty common for those 2 sections to play the same notes in unison for a central sound or in close harmony, but of course they don’t always need to play like that.

If you listen to; http://soundcloud.com/jonathan-priest/promise with headphones and try to pick out the 1st violin, 2nd violin, viola, cello lines you should hear roughly where the sections are panned. Slightly further left and right can give a bit more of an intimate close mic sound. There are probably a lot of great songs with well arranged strings, but when I was studying the orchestration of pop songs I looked at ‘A Thousand Miles’ by Vanessa Carlton and ‘Bad Day’ by Daniel Powter a lot. But listening to film music will help you a lot with string arranging too!

It begins with the 2nd violins playing a high sustained tremolo note. The 1st violins then come in to the left. To the right the cellos play the answer to the 1st violins phrase down low. The violas come in at 0:20 and play a descending line which is above the cello line and played in unison with the 2nd violins to create a more central sound while the cellos and 1st violins play notes to the further right and left.

You could arrange the intro nicely for the 4 string sub sections too and I bet it’d sound great with the piano. The more you pay for a library the better it’ll sound in an acoustic recording like your song. But buying the best library isn’t all you need to do. You’d also need to learn and read up on how string players perform certain phrases and passages with the different techniques in order to select the correct patch and get a more realistic sound. But that just takes some time of reading and Youtube tutorials and it’s something you’d probably enjoy when the result would be being able to have great sounding strings in your songs. Some people are under the delusion that these sample libraries can be used by simply dragging and dropping parts, do not listen to their advice as this is not how the library functions.

Like anything, it’s all practice though and you can only improve :smiley: An important thing is to let instruments breathe in regards to the composition and the parts each instrument plays. Sometimes having the strings section playing all together doing the same thing sounds great, other times you’ll want to switch between violins playing a phrase then a cello doing an answer phrase, or imitation for example.

The song is good and I can definitely hear it sounding even better with properly arranged strings using a top library.

really apreciate you taking the time to explain things, I have a lot of probs scoring strings and a few big ballad type songs on the back burner because I can’t do it…yet !!

Oh it’s np, can’t expect to receive anything back from a community if you don’t give anything, right ;D

I mean, there’s a lot more to it than above, but everything can be learned with practice. I didn’t have the internet when I first started composing music so it took me years of just practising writing the score (I had no idea DAW’s or sample libraries existed) to get to a decent standard with my compositions, so my production skills were far behind and I’ve been focusing on that a lot the last couple of years.

I think you can learn to write strings well equally as well just by playing in the notes via a midi keyboard and reading up on tips such as the above. Depending on whether you’re expecting live performers to perform the music or whether you’re using a high quality realistic sample library depends whether you really need to go into more detail with it. The more you understand about exactly how the instrument is performed by someone the better you can write the parts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmiiA0DcQkY I sat through and watched all of his videos, skipping a few where I already knew the same knowledge from playing guitar. Selecting the appropriate patch/technique for certain passages or even specific notes in a phrase can make a big difference in the strings (or any instrument) sound realistic when it’s a sample library being used. You can also select whether you want the strokes to be up bow or down bow, but it automatically plays these in round robin alternating so you only need to reset round robin with a midi note at certain points in phrases. The ‘machine gun’ sound you usually get from string libraries playing staccato is because it has no up/down bowing, just the same generic sound every time so it sounds unnatural. As for actually writing the notes though, it’s just practice and a lot of my knowledge on orchestration comes from just listening to film music and figuring out what is playing which parts and when and trying to hear when techniques like portamento are used for certain transitions etc etc.

To show what I mean I’ve saved and uploaded a small part of one of the pieces I am writing atm with all other instruments removed, one with correct technique and one with incorrect technique. (Be aware that a lot of libraries don’t have so much flexibility so you can only work with what you have.) The 4 main short note techniques in this library are; Staccatissimo, Staccato, Staccato-on-the-Bow and Marcato short. Staccatissimo being the shortest note possible and stopping.

http://soundcloud.com/jonathan-priest/1st-violins-with-correct/s-3Au47 Uses Staccatissimo for the first note of every bar, Staccato-on-the-Bow for the 2nd note of every bar and regular staccato for the other notes so it flows just how I heard the phrase being played in my head (although I came up with the phrase using a pure staccatissimo patch like in the example below.)

http://soundcloud.com/jonathan-priest/1st-violins-with-incorrect/s-zQd9M This is with every note being played staccatissimo, so already you can hear just how much difference knowing how to use the correct techniques the performers would use to breathe life into a phrase/passage makes. My music took a big step up when I invested the time into learning this stuff, but without a sample library with the flexibility it’s just not possible.

Additionally it’s quantized atm, so it won’t sound quite as realistic as the final piece but I do the imperfections as the last thing after the notes and expression have been done.

I quite enjoyed this one too! A song full of ‘character’ I reckon. :slight_smile:

I get and agree with what Jonathan is saying about the strings but I don’t think for this type of pop/rock production you need to necessarily adhere to strict orchestral rules, though regardless I do like to hear my cellos on the right! I also don’t think a top orchestral library is really necessarily when the strings are mostly set in the background, and are really there just to add atmosphere and vibe. If they were more exposed and more of a feature in the track…then maybe. As it happens I use Garritan for pop/rock stuff and was quite surprised to learn that U2 also use the Garritan library on their live shows. (http://www.garritan.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=133:u2&catid=51). It certainly wouldn’t be the best choice for the sort of work Jonathan does of course but I certainly find the very affordable Garritan Library (and Halion Strings) plenty good enough for these type of productions. :sunglasses:

It’s of course entirely down to opinion, and you can get good results from both a live recorded string section, a realistic synth library and a not so realistic synth library. It all depends what kind of song it is in my opinion. But my personal opinion for a song like this where it has a live sound is to compliment it with either live recorded strings or as realistic as possible.

Gotta work with what you have though and I had to work with the less expensive libraries for a while. I agree with Sherz on that you can get good results with some of the less expensive software, but the strings will still sound better if they are written in a proper way. Being quieter and in the background definitely shouldn’t excuse the desire to arrange the strings and/or any other instruments the best you can.

The strings you have there atm don’t sound bad, but it’d be better if you maybe had the 2nd violins and violas both playing that same line, the 1st violins taking a higher line of notes, or sustaining long notes and the cellos either doubling the bass guitars line or playing above it but below the 2nd violins and violas, all being panned in the correct places for that “big” unified sound that you think it lacks, to quote what you said :stuck_out_tongue:

That’s how I’d first try to arrange the strings for your song, but again this is just my opinion and not a fact or neccessarily the best way.

I also agree with U2 using it for live performances at concert because they are a lot more user friendly in that situation, realism with libraries comes at a cost of having to spend a lot of time entering all the different data, but to add to a studio recording I still think with real instruments, if you can’t hire a string section the most realistic sample library available is the best option.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lyu1KKwC74 Really like this song and just remembered it after posting, you can also hear the different types of short notes at the start just like the SoundCloud examples above. With headphones on you can hear how the 1st violins are panned to the left and the violas doing the occasional ascending scale run to the right. Can’t pick out the cello or 2nd violins very well, but I imagine they are just sustaining the chord notes pretty softly.


this is a huge effort by you and it is very much appreciated indeed, i’ve read through what you wrote and i’d be lying if i said ive taken it all in but its something i will keep coming back to, and little by little it will begin to sink in, i have decided to not buy a new sample library, it doesn’t make sense for me considering how much i would actually use it.

i think even simply getting the correct instruments and panning could be the single biggest difference i could make, and as you say there is no excuse for not doing that properly (well not knowing that was a good excuse i suppose :slight_smile: )

i listened to your example with the headphones, a couple of times in fact, when i first listened i forgot what i was listening for, i just listened, you are very good at what you do, i managed to listen once each of your good and bad technique samples and while i noticed a difference right away when i went to listen again to try and pin point the differences i couldn’t get them to play, i think soundcloud was doing maintenance .

i get what your saying though about having the ability within your vst to add the kind of techniques a real player would use but as sherz pointed out i dont need the fine detail that you need, it would certainly add to the performance, but thats just it, first i’d need to learn about the software, then to use it effectively i’d need to learn to use a midi keyboard to a much higher standard than i can do now, i’m lucky if i get a full 24 hrs a month to do what i do as it is so id prefer to keep things simple,

your input here has been great and i genuinely feel like i could go and improve things so for that i thank you very much


cant belive u2 are using garritan, its all that giving to the poor, its left bono skint :slight_smile:

i did look at the garritan software but ended up getting the ik multimedia philharmonic which i removed from my pc as i thought it was the cause for some system probs i was having, i remember the youtube vids and stuff about philharmonic and it sounded awsome, i could never get it to sound that good though, time to re-install it as it wasn’t my problem.
not to sound like an advert but i have real faith in ik, i think their amplitube software sounds fantastic, a friend of mine uses it and i think its only just beaten by peaveys revalver while the t racks 3 also work well for me, as does the ampeg svx i just think they give you alot for your money,

now i just need to go and make some music with it - EASY :confused:

Hehe, you’re welcome. Some things I say do just work better, but others are just my personal creative opinion on what sounds good. I happened to have the project file open at the time so it wasn’t much trouble at all to solo those two tracks and upload. SoundCloud was dodgy for me too last night, kept saying “Yikes, we couldn’t load the page.”

It’s all practice and a gradual learning process no matter what kind of theory or knowledge you have, using each program in the computer is a skillset of it’s own :smiley: I’m currently trying to get some decent sounds out of Padshop and I have no clue what the stuff in the program does at all.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vp0dBNecYrA&feature=related I want sounds similar to the 11:30 sounds, and then the bass sounds to play around with, but none of the Padshop demos have any sounds like those so I don’t think it’ll happen unless I can buy Omnisphere. That’s my own personal goal anyway, to learn how to use electronic stuff and I feel pretty lost with it atm!

You can just layer in the notes with a midi keyboard for one part at a time, my piano skills are very low and I can’t play anything at all complex.

As long as you’re happy with the sounds and creations and have fun that’s the main thing :wink: I like the sound you’re developing anyway.

ok so,

i think i have improved the orchestra sound towards the end of this song,

first i swapped the halion sonic se for miroslav philharmonic from ik multimedia which i think sounds better

i have two different variations, one which involves flutes and one which involves chimes, ideally i would like to have both of them playing but they tend to clash, i have my own thoughts on the two and like them both for different reasons but before i share these thoughts (i dont want to get you looking for specifics and alter your first impressions) i would appreciate some feedback




if you have enough time on your hands the original is still in place for comparisons