Although some clients who require string parts arranging for their tracks just give the string arranger ‘free rein’ to compose the parts in their own way and send the file over for approval or amendments, there are many people who already have some idea of how they’d like the strings to sound and have started to put together some strings for their track using Logic or other software. When this happens, I am usually sent the finished track with some ‘guide strings’ in and asked to notate these ready for studio recording (a relatively simple job), or to make them sound more natural by adding some movement or spacing the chords to allow the strings to sound fuller and more rich. When synth strings have been played in on a keyboard, it’s always a challenge to give them the characteristic feel of a real string orchestra because fingers going down on a keyboard cannot move in the same way as fingers naturally move up and down a stringed instrument. There are also clients who simply send the basic chord progression that they’d like and ask me to create something more elaborate with the strings, rather like producing an elegant frame for a painting – simply embellishing the existing ideas with the finishing touches. An example of this could be a track where the strings have all been programmed in the mid range on sampled synths and listening to the balance of the track overall, the range of the strings could be expanded. Extending the range can give the whole track a feeling of a ‘lift’ and lend it a sense of climax that it couldn’t have achieved with synthesised strings in the middle register. It’s also a matter of taking into account where the range of existing instruments and vocal lines are, then putting the strings in the ‘gaps’, weaving harmonies around what is already there.
Tags: getting the most out of live strings, notating from a midi, notating string parts, Orchestrating for strings, programming synth strings, string arranger, String orchestra, transcribing synth strings to real instruments