On Sunday the 6th December, we were booked as a string quartet comprising two violins, a viola and cello to record at the ‘Engine Room’ (part of the group of Miloko Studios in London). We were required to record string parts for seven tracks for an independent band – as these weren’t string arrangements that we had been asked to write, we simply had to turn up and play the music given to us on the day. The bands style favoured irregular time signatures which kept us on our toes with large sections being done in a single take to capture a live feeling of spontaneity. The end product certainly enhanced the sound with the tracks gaining richness and depth as a result of including live strings. In a couple of tracks, the producer discussed the possibility of using the tracks laid down by the four session musicians to add a top layer to existing sampled strings – this technique is becoming increasingly popular where there are many different sounds in the mix and can certainly help the strings to sound more convincing than only using samples.
Posts Tagged ‘string accompaniment’
Adding a mute to a stringed instrument has a very different effect from muting a brass instrument. Although by definition, a mute does take off a little of the volume, rather than just making the violin quieter, it can make the sound more mellow and add a subdued quality. Adding a mute is an excellent tool where the harmonies are complex and slow moving – or where the arranger would like a wash of strings to add a special ambiance.
A mute is a small piece of either plastic or wood which sits between the strings and the tailpiece of the instrument – it can be slid up on top of the bridge to restrict the vibration – thus creating a less piercing sound. The Italian musical term for adding a mute is ‘Con Sordino’ and the instruction ‘Senza Sordino’ means to take the mute off again.
When arranging for strings and using mutes, it’s important to allow a few seconds either side of adding or removing one so that the player has a chance to move the mute on or off.
Although it’s possible to just mute some of the instruments in the section, the effect is more striking if all the strings are muted simultaneously – this can really add interest, variety and a whole different sound to the strings.