Friday, October 19, 2007

Solo Cello Samples

I am writing a delicate Piano/Cello piece and am in the process of rendering it or "fleshing it out" in my studio. Ya know, I gotta say, the available solo cello samples out that are available are just not that good yet. (IMHO- please correct me with some that are!!) Although the cello part will be replaced by a real, live player with a bow in hand eventually, it has become a bit of an academic exercise to make this part sound as natural a possible. This composition is just for the sake of music and therefore I have no director/producer anxiously staring at the clock! So, I can take my time and play with it. A rarity indeed....

This particular cello from the EWQLSO library is pretty"barky" in the mids and upper mids and quite harsh. (1k, 3k, 5k-aprox)I have had some interesting results with cutting out some of the offending frequencies but as I A/B with a Yo Yo playing Bach: The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites (which rocks, BTW) It occurs to me that this sample just does not have enough "wood" to it in this range. But, it sounds really good in the lower register and the lower mids too. Hmm...I put my sound designer hat on and as if by magic a thought occurrs to place a mic inside my actual cello and play back the part into the cello then layer it with the existing part. Neat idea, but I need a teeny mic that will fit in the f holes, don't have one handy- not practical at the moment but I will try this at some point. (if you do before me, let me know the results) I suppose I could do the same and point a Uni *at* the f holes....might try that....

This is one of the ongoing struggles we all deal with as modern composers; I love the ability to do a mockup on the spot. I love technology. Matter of fact, many that have been in my studio have been known to call me a Technology Nut. But, for the moment, many of the samples that we all commonly use ultimately still drive me batty. They have gotten really good, most folks probably would not know the difference in a blind test when well mixed, but when you listen to them all the time and compare them to live players...well... give the sample making companies another 5-10 and by then they may be able to fool us even. BTW, you cats that spend way to much time in your studio (like me), if you start to get cocky about your renderings, go listen your local orchestra play live.
Heck, even if your not cocky, go see 'em play anyway. It will make what you do sound better.

So, what do you think? Got any great cello tips? How about a sampled instrument that frequently drives you nuts and what you have done to remedy it?

4 comments:

realstrings said...

Hi Jonathan - probably a bit late now, but if you are doing some 'work in progress' it's worth giving me a shout in case I have a cello player in and for the sake of 10 minutes at the end of the session we could do a mock up. And violin sessions are more common! Even viola, ....if absolutely necessary!

Jonathan said...

Hey realstrings,
Thanks for the info! Let me make sure I understand-By mockup are you saying a quick 1 take for the purposes of having a real cello player at a reduced cost?

Also, do you publish your regular rates online or is it a separate quote for each request/session?
Thanks,
J

realstrings said...

Yes - a quick take as a demo, no charge. It's easy to slot something like that on the end of a session and I've got stuff going on quite regularly.
I kind of quote per project if something turns into a job.

Jonathan said...

Wow. What a generous offer. If you would like, I will be sure to mention this to my composer friends as well. Perhaps I will take you up on the offer and then blog about it here.
Thanks,
J