Bluffing The String Section

Lets face it my instrument of choice is the guitar.

I know what it does, I know how to make it do what I want.

Bass – well I think like a bassist when I play.

Drums – apart from my aversion to cymbals I’ve got to grips with programming those.


Well I’ve bluffed them before now. And I think got away with it.


But I want to know them better.

But it’s not like drums, bass or piano/keyboards.

I’ve known and played with people who play those instruments.

I’ve watched, listened and noted.

The good and the bad.

Strings, are a little more complicated.

Cello, Viola and violins – we’ve all heard them.

I grew up with music involving heavy use of strings yet I still know nothing.

This article is hopefully going to follow my attempts at getting to grips with them.


So ok, in the past I’ve used software based strings.

Synful, Garritan and Edirol’s orchestral VST’s

All perfectly workable but all expensive and processor hungry.

The expense is justified, I believe.

The work that goes into these packages is unbeleivable.

They sound great but  it comes at a cost.


The route I’ve taken is this,

Two Emu ESI32’s fully loaded with 32mb each.

I know, 32mb’s not a lot.


Combined with the Proteus Orchestral synth I have, I reckon that I can bluff it.

Because it’s the articulation you need.

Marcato: a bowing technique for playing a stringed instrument. Using the bow, one begins each note with a new attack, rather than slurring, which is a continuous motion of the bow from one note to the next. Marcato is similar to staccato, with each note played in a disconnected fashion, but is different because each note is played for its entire duration.

Legato: legato often refers to notes played with a full bow, that are played with minimal silence between notes. This may be achieved through controlled wrist movements of the bowing hand, often masked or enhanced with vibrato.

Pizzicato: Violinists and violists hold the instrument in the “banjo position” (resting horizontally on the lap), and pluck the strings with the thumb of the right hand. This technique is rarely used, and usually only in movements which are pizzicato throughout.

Spiccato: a bowing technique for stringed instruments in which the bow bounces lightly upon the string. The bow is held a short distance above the string and allowed to bounce, resulting in a series of short, distinct notes.

Staccato: Notes played abruptly and short.  Notes are separated in a detached and distinctly separate manner, with silence making up the latter part of the time allocated to each note.


Useful Articles:

Sample The Orchestra @ Sound On Sound

Orchestral Manouvres @ Sound On Sound

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