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General:  Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string post...


10-Feb-02 (llewxamcire)
10-Feb-02 (synthesite)
10-Feb-02 (llewxamcire)
10-Feb-02 (llewxamcire)
10-Feb-02 (synthesite)
10-Feb-02 (Mark Pulver)
10-Feb-02 (iguana)
10-Feb-02 (Mark Pulver)
11-Feb-02 (Mark Pulver)
11-Feb-02 (Mark Pulver)
11-Feb-02 (Mark Pulver)
11-Feb-02 (aeon)
11-Feb-02 (llewxamcire)
11-Feb-02 (fac)
12-Feb-02 (synthesite)
12-Feb-02 (Peake)
13-Feb-02 (Mark Pulver)
14-Feb-02 (llewxamcire)
14-Feb-02 (Mark Pulver)
14-Feb-02 (Spectralab)
14-Feb-02 (Mark Pulver)
14-Feb-02 (Spectralab)
15-Feb-02 (Spectralab)
15-Feb-02 (Spectralab)
15-Feb-02 (FIZMO100)
15-Feb-02 (Spectralab)
15-Feb-02 (Spectralab)
17-Feb-02 (FIZMO100)
17-Feb-02 (Spectralab)
19-Feb-02 (FIZMO100)


Original Message
llewxamcire.... Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string post... (10-Feb-02  06:09PM )

- didn't want to invade supersayin's post with all my silly questions. wow that's quite the dissertation Mark. i don't know what it means really but i think i'll try to figure it out. very interesting. seriously. the volume pedal is a nice idea. so what exactly does poly-aftertouch do? i think i understand aftertouch but poly-aftertouch? thanks. if you want to give away some more secrets i'm interested.

llewxamcire

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synthesite.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string p (10-Feb-02  08:57PM )

- Some Ensoniq instruments had polyphonic aftertouch. Most synths have monophonic aftertouch. If you think about it, that should be all info you need. "Per key" aftertouch rather than "Per keyboard" so to speak.

synthesite

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llewxamcire.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string post... (10-Feb-02  10:26PM )

- got it thanks, synthsite. seems like that would be pretty useful.

llewxamcire

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llewxamcire.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string post... (10-Feb-02  10:27PM )

- oops, i mean: got it thanks synthesite. seems like that would be pretty useful.

llewxamcire

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synthesite.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string p (10-Feb-02  11:01PM )

- For me it's not. I hardly use aftertouch at all, but i'm not a particularly skilled player so maybe I should stay quiet... :)

synthesite

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Mark Pulver.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string post... (10-Feb-02  11:23PM )

- {oh geez... :)}

Okay, just to keep out of supersayin's way (good idea llewxamcire!) this is what I had said over there (slighty edited):


There are a number of things that you can do to get "that string sound", but pulling them off will require a synth that has certain functions and facilities.

  • Use 3 oscillators, two ramps spaced an octave apart as you might expect, but then add a third running a hollow square pitched a 7th (try a 3rd as well) down from the root, and mixed in just enough that you can feel it change the characteristics of the timbre.

  • Invert the keyboard tracking to the filter, and run it about 40-50% of the range. You want it inverted 'cause if you think about it, a bowed instrument will generate more harmonics as you go lower in pitch.

  • If you part of the sound that you'll looking for is The Big Wide Swirl, then the best thing that I can suggest is to pick up a MAM RS-3 resonator. Use it in the effects send of your mixer, don't run your synth direct through it, and watch the return levels. A lot of how that box works is about messing with the signal phase, if you mix it too hot, the bottom end will drop out of your sound.

  • As you play a line, THINK strings. Think about the expression of the aritist as they would play the line that you are. A viable string sound is a lot about the expression that you put into it. USE A VOLUME PEDAL! :)

  • Along the lines of the above, dial-in a bit of attack time to slow things down, but not too much. Just enough to help the feeling come out.

  • There is NOTHING like a keyboard that generates poly-aftertouch to hit THE string sound. If your controller doesn't then see if you can pick up a used Ensoniq EPS - they run pretty cheap and outside of getting a poly-aftertouch controller, you get a neat sampler as well. :) (poly-AT controllers are "rare" in the general sense. Yamaha and Ensoniq hold the patents on the two viable methods that have been found thus far, and the licensing is pricey)

The biggest thing... LISTEN and work on really synthesizing the sound that you're looking for.


I'll babble more in a separate message.

Mark Pulver

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iguana.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string post... (10-Feb-02  11:25PM )

- polyphonic aftertouch

From 1986 Ensoniq EPS product info sheet: "The Ensoniq Poly-Key (polyphonic aftertouch) pressure sensitive weighted -action keyboard lets each individual key respond to how hard you strike it and how hard you hold it down. So you can make a single note in a Chord play louder, brighter, with more vibrato or any of a dozen other effects." Most players like the "feel" of my EPS keyboard, though some complain about a bit of a clicking sound. Me,I'm hooked on the poly aftertouch. EPS has been my main controller for years.

iguana

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Mark Pulver.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string post... (10-Feb-02  11:58PM )

- synthesite answered the poly-aftertouch question, but to babble some more.

If you're not an instrument player, (i.e., you do your work within a sequencer or other app) then it'll be hard to get the expressiveness you need to really pull-off a string sound.

It's "easy" to get a base sound going with a couple of sawtooths and a 12db filter, but what you end up with is much along the lines of sampling a middle C on a piano and then trying to play it at varying velocity levels. The tonal character of the piano changes dramatically with how hard you hit the key. To _synthesize_ that is an art form...

Now, a bowed string isn't as difficult to hit the timbre, but it is as difficult to control that timbre for more than a couple of octaves. This is where things like a bit of filter envelope will help, but moreso it can become all about aftertouch. By using it well, and using it poly, you can have pretty much all the control that you need over a string timbre.

Other tricks? :) Don't forget about filter resonance! Again, listen to a bowed instrument, especially something lower in pitch like a cello. As the bow comes across the strings, and depending on where the player is bowing, the resonance of the instrument will be highlighted more (or less). Having control over this in a synth can be a great help. Since you probably have aftertouch pointed to filter cutoff, then this would be a good thing to use a control pedal for.

Look for other forms of expression input devices as well. A breath controller can be handy as heck here, and possibly something like a infrared device like a . If you're playing with two hands, then you don't have one to use with the Spacebeam, and you have one foot on that volume pedal, so that means that you might want to set it up such that you can slide your head in and out of it's path.

Seriously... It works. :)


{gotta split this into two messages}

Mark Pulver

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Mark Pulver.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string post... (11-Feb-02  12:00AM )

- {whoops}! lemme fix that first!

>>>>

(test)

Mark Pulver

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Mark Pulver.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string post... (11-Feb-02  12:01AM )

- {crap - sorry guys!}

test

Mark Pulver

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Mark Pulver.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string post... (11-Feb-02  12:03AM )

- {this was the second part of my babble}


Look for other forms of expression input devices as well. A breath controller can be handy as heck here, and possibly something like a infrared device like a Frostwave Spacebeam. If you're playing with two hands, then you don't have one to use with the Spacebeam, and you have one foot on that volume pedal, so that means that you might want to set it up such that you can slide your head in and out of it's path.

Seriously... It works. :)


Another thing to look at is to just look around at your gear pile. Don't stop at just looking at once synth to use for That String Sound. By assigning multiple machines to the same MIDI channel, or by setting up logical groups in your sequencer (Cubase, Logic, Vision and others can do this) then you can get multiple machines to sound notes at the same time.

This can be INCREDIBLY powerful... The best string sound I ever got was when I ganged up a Voyetra 8, an Xpander and an Ensoniq SQR. Each piece had a different role, and the mix level was key to making it "work". The SQR was setup with a patch such that it only provided the attack of the note. Nice and bright, but mushy. It start to die out in about 200ms, and was totally gone within 1500ms.

The Xpander was all about taking care of the mid-highs - the resonance tracking. It wasn't there much in the mix, but dropping it out would really leave a hole. The Voyetra 8 was the key to the body, drive and width of the sound. That's the magic behind the V8.

It was a killer combination and was awesome to shake the walls with!


Anyway, that's some more babble.. Hope it helps!

Mark Pulver

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aeon.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string p (11-Feb-02  12:34AM )

- can I nominate this thread for having the highest signal-to-noise ratio of the last 3 months on TGS?

it motivated me to go program!

and yes, do layer...it is something I didn't do that often, then I tried it and mixed some DSP-based and sample-playback-based synths together, and ooh...the JD-990 + Access Virus can make for some *deadly* stringpads...

aeon

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llewxamcire.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string post... (11-Feb-02  01:03AM )

- thanks a bunch Mark. yes i agree with aeon, i copied this to a word file for future reference. and maybe i can put that ridiculous d-beam on my sp808 to good use eh? i'm excited about layering, i'm relatively limited synth-wise but that sounds like an adventure as well. by all means feel free to babble a bit more, i'm very much a newbie and this is great stuff.

llewxamcire

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fac.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string post... (11-Feb-02  10:56PM )

- Be careful when using lots of polyphonic aftertouch. It hogs the MIDI ports.

fac


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synthesite.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string p (12-Feb-02  09:33AM )

- Yeah, on an Atari it does! :)

synthesite

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Peake.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string post... (12-Feb-02  01:15PM )

- Great thread..

If you can, scale your envelope parameters to the keyboard so that lower notes ring longer and have longer attacks than the higher ones. A small amount of quick pitch modulation (again, time-scaled to the keyboard) helps: it should start a bit lower than the final pitch and sweep up to it quickly. If you can scale this with velocity, do so.

Peake

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Mark Pulver.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string p (13-Feb-02  02:21AM )

- Babble Babble!

Up there above I talked about the MAM RS-3... try not to substitute a typical chorus unit for this role. A chorus unit does it's job mostly from shifting small time delays. The delays will introduce phase mashing that you don't want in a string sound.

Think of an orchestra, or even a quartet - the sound from each instrument has its own path to your ear. There will be some crossover and interplay, but not like there will be in a synth with all signals coming down the same path at the same time. If you toss a chorus unit at the end of that, it'll kill the sound.

This is why the "ensemble" circuit of the Solina/Arp String Ensemble and the Freeman String Symphonizer is so prized.


It's great to hear that a couple of folks have been inspired to program. yay!

"Way Back When" that's what got me really going. Wind (_real_ wind, not just white noise through a filter), leaves crinkling, snow crunching, a semi-truck horn... The things that you can learn about sound, acoustics and your instrument is immense.

Mark Pulver

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llewxamcire.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string post... (14-Feb-02  12:02AM )

- i was just checking out the rs3. that does sound neat. i can see how using it in an aux send would be great. that panning effect is very nice as well. have you tried any other mam gear. looks like they've got some interesting stuff.

llewxamcire

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Mark Pulver.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string post... (14-Feb-02  02:15AM )

- Hi Eric;

Yeup, I have the VF-11 (vocoder) as well. It's a great sounding vocoder, all analog, all the time. :)

I have some more words online about the RS-3 if you're curious:

And! If you wander over to the ModeZero site, you'll a bunch of MP3's:

Have fun!

Mark Pulver

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Spectralab.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string post... (14-Feb-02  02:35AM )

- This Is a nice thread, I definitely appreciate some of the tips here... things that probably wouldn't have occured to me right off the bat... and I can vouch also for the wonder of the RS-3. personally, I've been too busy trying it with weirder sounds, but I'm definitely going to give some string patches a whirl next time I hit the studio...

Cheers everyone

Spectralab

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Mark Pulver.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string post... (14-Feb-02  02:50AM )

- Spectralab;

I've gotten some of my more "that makes me giddy" sounds out of the RS-3 by setting the filters (left to right) as High, Low, Mid and running in mode 3.

This will tie the High and Low bands to the same LFO, but on opposite sides of the swing. So, as the higer tuned band is swept down, the lower tuned band is sweeping up - when they cross, that's The Jarre Sound. :) This also puts the Middle tuned band on LFO 2 which is running a bit faster than LFO 1. If you set things up such that the Middle tuning is the cross over point of the other two, then...

It just makes me giddy. :)

Something else... To keep the LFO driven sound as smooth as possible make sure you turn the envelope follower down all the way. It seems that as you dial in any follower at all, then the feel of the LFO becomes a bit "steppy" as it fights the envelope. That can be a swell effect, but not what you want for those wide-sweeping deep-reaching gut-pulling strings. :)

Mark Pulver

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Spectralab.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string post... (14-Feb-02  12:24PM )

- Wheee, thanks Mark! I'll try that out... once again, I'm in the middle of my three-day work-week here and I don't usually spend a lot of time in my studio on these days, but I'm free tomorrow and I'm already jonesing... I'll let you know how it turns out ;)

Spectralab

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Spectralab.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string post... (15-Feb-02  04:16PM )

- OK, well, the RS-3 part was easy... and that tricks works wonders for a LOT of different types of sounds... some meaner/more growling style drones I've programmed on my MWXT sounded great through that setting, with filters 1 & 2 panned out and sweeping opposite each other... very nice effect! Adds a lot of motion, especially when mixed in at about 30% the strength of the original signal...

Thanks again Mark!

Now to implement all of these great string programming tips...

Spectralab

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Spectralab.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string post... (15-Feb-02  05:50PM )

- ... which is turning out to be tougher than it sounds... tried it with the Micro Q, incorporating a lot of those tips, and didn't get very pleasing results... maybe the Micro Q just isn't the right synth for it...

Mind you, I seem to have an affinity for JX-10/MKS-70-type stings... I found a "JX-10 Strings" preset on the MWXT, and when I ran it through the RS-3, it was just like having the real thing again!

Maybe I'll try a string patch on the Matrix 1000 next...

Spectralab

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FIZMO100.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string post... (15-Feb-02  06:30PM )

- Uuurggh, JX10! Can I ask a favour? No one mention that synth for a few weeks! I'm in the middle of selling on to a guy in Greece, and it's a pain in the arse. The sale process and the the synth actually! I don't have a PG800, so I'm pretty much stuck with sucky factory presets. I guess when I'm a millionare I'll get a JX10 again, and a PG800, and the manual, then I'll be ok lol.

As for string sounds, assign the mod wheel/stick/whatever to tremolo, and play the sound with one hand, and add the vibrato delicately, also try sliding notes with the pitch bend. Takes a bit of practice, but it can be very effective.

FIZMO100

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Spectralab.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string post... (15-Feb-02  07:53PM )

- Well, in all fairness, I owned the MKS-70, not the JX-10, so I'll talk about it all I want...

Well, I haven't had any luck with convincing strings (it's a lot harder than it sounds, or I'm a dumb-ass - probably the latter) on the Matrix 1000 either, but it's definitely led me to some other cool sounds in the process of trying!

Spectralab

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Spectralab.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string post... (15-Feb-02  07:54PM )

- by the way, my first comment in the last post should have been punctuated with a :), so please don't take offence :)

Spectralab

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FIZMO100.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string post... (17-Feb-02  05:54PM )

- No offence taken. What kind of anal nut do you think I am?!? OMG, I can't believe you have such a low opinion of me! I hate you! Everytime you post on TGS I'm gonna flame you until you cry!!!!

:::ooops::: lol.

Do you have a PG800 for your MKS-70?

FIZMO100

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Spectralab.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string post... (17-Feb-02  07:38PM )

- Jeez, talk about sensitive :)

I don't have the MKS-70 at all anymore, but yeah, I did have the PG-800 when I owned it.

Spectralab

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FIZMO100.... Re:Mark Pulver your reply to supersayin's string post... (19-Feb-02  09:23AM )

- Ah. Explains why you liked it! I just have the JX10 on its own! No manual, no PG800, no Carts. I'm selling it at present though, so I hope it works out!

FIZMO100

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