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Posts Tagged ‘Recording strings’

David Roberts – St Clears Album

Monday, April 6th, 2015

It’s always a pleasure to receive in the post a little package and realise it’s an album you’ve been part of. It’s even nicer when you genuinely enjoy the music contained on it and this happened the other day when a copy of the album ‘St Clears’ dropped through my letterbox. It’s a really lovely collection of songs by an up and coming singer, songwriter and guitarist called David Roberts. String Section supplied the session strings for the tracks ‘So Long’, ‘Indian Blues’, ‘The Glowing’ (where cellist Julia Graham contributes a beautiful cello solo) and ‘Changelings’. Producer Adam Huyton and mixer Andy Seward have done a fine job in creating warmth and clarity in the sound. It compliments David’s songs perfectly as they have a gentle, elegiac and wistful quality which is genuinely affecting. You can read an extensive review of the album here:

Listening back to the finished product brought back some happy memories of the day we spent recording the strings. The studio was located in rural Herefordshire and whilst Julia recorded her cellos solos in ‘The Glowing’ I went for a nice walk across the river and enjoyed some lovely views. Julia did likewise when I recorded a couple of tracks without her – I seem to remember her returning with a couple of punnets of strawberries!

I’d like to wish David well with promoting the album and hope that it receives the attention it deserves.


Recording Strings at Orpheus Studio in Shoreditch

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

A couple of Mondays ago, we recorded string parts for a client who had composed a 9 minute long piece of music scored for vocals, brass, percussion, strings and woodwind. All in all, 6 first violins, 6 second violins, 5 violas and 5 cellos were recorded, transforming the track with an orchestral depth and richness of sound. The client also asked Tony (cellist) to tune his cello down a couple of tones and record some notes which would normally be below the register of the cello which would usually be between the note C (2 octaves below middle C) and potentially an A string reaching up as high as a D (over an octave above middle C).

The decision was made to stagger this recording session, so the cello parts were recorded in the first two hours, whereas the viola and violin parts took in the region of five hours. The reason we did it this way was to avoid the ‘spill’ that often occurs between microphones when instruments are recorded together with separation, but are intended to be mixed separately. Recording one section after another enabled the engineer (Richard Campbell, who owns the studio and is the in-house engineer and producer) to have full control over every single stem. He was therefore able to process all the various layers individually to create a completely authentic sound as if a whole string orchestra were seated in a much larger studio.

 Working with Richard at Orpheus Studios was especially easy as he reads music fluently and had a good understanding of orchestral instruments, meaning that he was able to refer to our notation (and specific bars) when indicating which point we were to come in on a particular take. Richard was so efficient at editing that he was ready to start recording the next take almost immediately.

 When we all finished at around 7pm, the composer and engineer were delighted with the end results. Much work is still to be done on the track, but we look forward to hearing the end result.

Session for Philip G. W. Henderson

Friday, November 16th, 2012

On Sunday 28th October we once again recorded music by the composer Philip Henderson. The music was a suite of movements entitled ‘Sea Voices’ and scored for a string section of 5 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos and a double bass. The recording venue was in Milton Keynes and the sound engineer had rigged the entire recording space with duvets in order to deaden any ambience created by the room.

We started recording just after 10am, with Ben the double bassist located in a separate room with a talkback link and synchronised click track. As the musicians were all excellent sight readers, the session proceeded smoothly and the entire recording was finished by 6pm, with a very happy composer. He had driven down from Leeds earlier in the day so was fatigued by the end but also uplifted by the results!

Recording strings in Milton Keynes

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Yesterday, we were booked to record some string parts for music producer Manon Dave who travelled up to a studio in Milton Keynes to attend the recording session. It’s often helpful when the producer is present, particularly in terms of getting exactly the right sound he or she has in mind for a particular track. In this recording, Manon wanted a very gutsy, bold cello sound as the strings were to be so central to the track and the cello had been written to replace the bass.

We chose the studio in Milton Keynes as some of us had recorded the Little Star Lullabies album there earlier in the year and were delighted with the sound achieved by Neill, the engineer.

Overall there were 8 different string parts (5 for the violins, 1 for the violas and 2 for the cellos). Some were chordal whilst others contained more rapid passages of semi-quavers so the overall effect was full and thick in sonority. The faster passages required especially close attention to tuning, particularly as they were in octaves with a lower string part. One risk with playing in octaves is that even tiny inaccuracies in tuning can be more noticeable than with other intervals, so this all had to be closely listened to in order to make sure that our tuning was as perfect as possible.

Recording strings at Voltaire Road Studios (Clapham)

Monday, July 16th, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, I was hired to record some live strings on 5 tracks by a band from Louisiana who are having their album recorded and produced here in the UK. The files for the string arrangements were all sent to me in advance so that they could be checked and any adjustments made before the recording date itself – this is always a good idea as it can save a considerable amount of studio time on the day.

The string parts (for violins and violas) had been written to add impact to the tracks so a powerful and committed sound was required. As such, the particular violin that I chose to use on the day is one with a really strong, focused sound. This is something worth considering, as stringed instruments can vary so much from one another. For example, one of my other violins which I regularly use to record with has a mellower, warmer sound with possibly more tonal variety, but for this particular job didn’t seem appropriate – I would be more likely to use that one for music which required a slightly gentler, more lilting feel.  Interestingly, both of these two violins are made by the same luthier – Martin McClean of Northern Ireland, both are fantastic instruments, yet each has its own distinct personality.