Scenario 6

How to create a vibrant string sound.

The material

The following scenario illustrates possibilities for creating a vivid string orchestra sound. 

The first video shows the string score without any musical elaboration. The pure music text is rendered by the notation programme with the soundset that matches the sound plugin based on the default settings. 

 more ...

The term "vivid string sound" is used in music to describe a particularly detailed, expressive, and spacious sound that a string instrument or group of string instruments can produce. Professional instrumentalists are able to create a sound that is "almost tangible" to the listener through their playing technique and interpretation. 
It is important to note that the term "vivid string sound" is subjective and can be interpreted in different ways. It depends heavily on the individual perception of the listener and the specific musical context.

How is the example executed here?
Notation software: Sibelius Ultimate, Soundset: VE Strings 
SYNCHRON Strings Pro (by VSL)
Vienna MIR PRO 3D Mixing & Reverberation Software

The raw version:

The notation program and sounds react to the music text.

click  to enlarge.

At this point, the music sounds somewhat colourless. The individual voices for example lack fine gradations in dynamics and intensity; in addition the instruments are not sufficiently differentiated from one another. An instrumentalist would articulate with more nuance at one point or another. Even the ambient sound is still rather monotonous.

Musical elaboration 

The individual steps leading to the final sound result are now developed one by one:

  • Shape dynamics and articulation (staccato, tenuto, ...) according to taste.
  • Add technique and if necessary expression text according to taste.
  • Add slurs (legato: articulation/expression).
  • Draw automation curves for MIDI controllers (see scenario 5).
  • Tips for microphoning and ambient sound.

Dynamics and articulation

Ideas for the musical elaboration (without audio)

click  to enlarge.

The different volume proportions bring the music to life and create a sense of ambience. Their use depends on the desired musical expression and personal taste.

The Technique text in this example matches the sound library mentioned at the beginning and the soundset of the music notation programme. Here is a list of the articulations used in organised form:

Automation curves

As mentioned in scenario 5, keyswitches for articulations that are not available as Technique Text can be triggered in Sibelius via MIDI messages. The Graphical MIDI Tools (GMT) plugin from Notation Central solves this problem with so-called "phantom notes", i.e. keyswitches that are made invisible in the notation. 

The fine-tuning of a sound plugin's dynamics, expression, timbre and other MIDI controllers takes place when the automation curves are created. 
Notation programmes such as Dorico or Overture already have integrated MIDI editors. In Sibelius, this can be solved with the help of the Graphical MIDI Tools. Depending on your taste and musical expression, you can use the sonic refinements of the existing sound library as you would in a DAW.

click image to enlarge.


In the next overview, the musical parameters that have been added to the score to trigger the corresponding sound effects are colour-coded according to the categories Dynamics, Articulation, Technique Text and Legato Slurs. The automation curves for the MIDI controller 'Expression' are also displayed.

*The layout is not the main focus of the illustration


With a few musical interventions, the music sounds much more vivid than at the beginning. The time required is relatively short if you have experience with string instruments. 
The score still looks a bit messy in this state - if necessary, you can make the score clearer again by using hidden text.

next scenario is coming soon