This weekend, we were asked to record the strings on two songs for a talented singer songwriter who is producing her own album of melodic ballads. As over the previous two weeks I had been arranging the strings on both tracks in collaboration with the artist, I was really looking forward to recording them and hearing how they would sound on live strings. Although the Sibelius software that I use for arranging can give me a pretty good idea of how the parts will sound, it can’t really add any of the feeling and sensitivity that we do when we’re playing on acoustic instruments.
The string arranging had been done to a brief and a couple of Sibelius versions had gone back and forward via email until our client was happy. One of the tracks required intricate writing with a view to having an 8 piece string ensemble (like a string quartet but thickened to two players per part). The other song already had synthesised strings in the mid range which needed to be replaced with the real thing and expanded to really open the song out. In this second song, it was important for the string parts to really enhance the track without getting in the way of the melody or other instrumentation, so as I was writing for a 48 piece string orchestra, the arranging had to have a very light touch with the ability to have richness and power where necessary.
We started the recording session at 4pm and didn’t finish until after midnight! Although the session had taken longer than anticipated, the results sounded stunning and we’re very much looking forward to hearing the final mix.