Setting Up Your Template With Patches From Folder 1

Hollywood Strings Gold doesn’t just give you control, it gives you over control in the bowing choices you can make to produce your music. Some of the choices are very subtle but worth looking at from an orchestration perspective. In this review, I’ve looked at all the bowings in Folder 1 and their sizes. At the end I give you starting ideas for setting up a template. If you agree, or disagree, let’s hear about it so others can learn from you.

Volume
There are two broad ways to really control volume: the mod wheel and CC11 (Expression).

The first three programs in Folder 1: Long allow you to “ride” the Mod Wheel as you’re used to doing with other libraries in Kontakt. These are small programs averaging 34MB and they load literally within a few seconds.

All of the remaining programs in the folder use the Mod Wheel (CC1) to control the the vibrato. Volume, either with CC7 (volume) or CC 11 (expression) are controlled by using either an external controller (like the Korg NANOKontrol) or by drawing it in. In Logic 9.1.4, for example, you can create a separate CC11 fader in the Environment, draw in the volume change, or spend the sixty bucks and get the Korg NANOKontrol.

I personally think the Korg NANOKontrol is a better choice.

Production Consideration – Besides playing in string lines as authentically as possible, the composer must now consider both volume and vibrato.

You’ll have to determine whether you’ll just set a basic level of vibrato and then focus editing time on volume so the line breathes, or, make a decision to be as authentic as possible by practicing adding vibrato with the mod wheel.

Another option is that CC11 could be assigned to a separate foot controller, which means potentially trying to authentically perform the line, adjudicating the vibrato, and controlling volume all at once.

Language of The Bow
We’re going through Folder 1 from the perspective of looking at each of the bowings. There’s a definite pattern, and once you understand it, you’ll better understand how to make the right orchestration decision for selecting your bowing.

Detache
The fourth bowing in the list has an interesting name: Detache RR KSFP. Detache is a back and forth push/pull bow motion where each stroke is either slightly separated or performed in a legato manner for fast lines (like the opening to Jupiter from The Planets) or portions of Copland’s Billy the Kid. You can have both types of bowings with this patch. For the shorter stroke, use as is.

For the legato version, Go to the Player side of Hollywood Strings Gold and select Legato.

If your score calls for both kinds of detache, I suggest you setup two separate tracks since the size is only 29MB.

RR stands for Round Robin which alternates samples for you to avoid a machine gun sound, which for a detache bowing is needed.

KSFP indicates that this is one of the programs that has the four finger positions. We’ll look at KSFP in more detail in a later review, but for now, after going through all the finger positions, my sense was to select it simply as a rich sounding violin sound and select the 4th string (D# in the Keyswitch).

Repeated Notes in The Melody
One of the most difficult things to manage is when you have a repeated note in the melody, or when writing spread harmony, a repeated note in the lower strings. Hollywood Strings solved this problem with a group of patches that have RR

These programs are: Marc Sus 9 RR 4th Pos Ni, Sus 6 RR 4th Pos Ni, Sus 6 RR KSFP Ni and Sus 9 RR KSFP Ni.

One comment about the Sus labeling. The Sus patches are very “liquid” as they are for playing flowing lines. You can also go to the Player side and try out adding the Legato button. I did. It works well, but depending on the line, I was happier with it off.

Marc Sus RR has an attack followed by a sustain. The attack feels like a sforzando to me.

I don’t want to make any comments about patches labeled 4th Pos until I get a few more questions answered, so for now, think of these as richer sounding patches.

Same with Sus RR KSFP patches, no comments about KSFP until I get a few more questions answered that I didn’t find in the manual. You should try the different finger positions, but again, I liked the 4th as an overall string sound.

Just keep in mind the production principle behind these patches: repeated notes in the melody. The quickest way to test this is to work out the pitches for, don’t laugh, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star which has repeated notes throughout. Try each bowing at various tempos until you find the top tempo for execution.

Upbow/Downbow
A patch labeled downbow means that the first pitch you play is a downbow, and from there alternates. 

A patch labeled upbow means that the first pitch you play is an upbow, and from there alternates.

Here’s the rule taught string players so you know which to choose and when.

When the melody starts on the beat, use downbow. When the melody starts off the beat, start with the upbow.

Second Violins, Violas and Cellos
Second Violins, Violas, and Cellos follow a pattern similar to Violins 1.

Building Your Template
First you have to look at your melody and inner harmonies. If you have repeated pitches, then add a SUS RR 4th Pos (65MB).

Otherwise, my starting top two programs for Violins 1, Violins 2, Violas, and Cellos (which are also less memory intensive) are:

  • Detache RR KFSP (29MB Violins 1)
  • Sus 6 DB 4th Pos Ni (45MB Violins 1)

The Basses – For Basses, I’d start with Detache RR Ni for certain. Then depending on the part you’re writing, I’d look at Sus 8 DB Ni and Sus 8 RR Ni.

That’s it for now.

If you have comments and insights on choices you’ve made, share so everyone can learn from you.