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Advice on recording strings, brass and woodwind, greatly needed for a beginner!
This is my first post at Sound On Sound so apologies in advance if I am repeating anything that may have already been answered before!
I am currently working on a track of which I have sketched in Logic. It's pretty big and consists of every instrument in the string section as well as woodwind and brass. I have never done anything like this before so really trying to find my feet in terms of how to record and what works the best.
I opted to hire live musicians to play the parts, as nothing quite beats a live musician and it is important to me to bring as much authenticity as possible! but of course, I am trying to do this on a budget! Luckily I know someone who plays in a brass and woodwind orchestra so I am getting those players at a nice rate.
I have arranged string players and at an extremely reasonable price but the problem is, is that I will only have one gentleman playing all of the violin and the viola parts, and another on the cello (I decided to use midi for double bass to save a little bit of money)
He says the best thing to do is to record together (so him doing as much of the violin as he can with the cellist), but obviously we only have the option to do that for a little bit and the rest will have to be done as singles anyway. So the issue is the layering, and it possibly sounding unrealistic..
The violinist said he will do 6 layers for the 1st violin, another 6 for the 2nd, 5 for the violas and then the cellist will do 4 or 5, which sounds lovely! My worry is that layering this to create the effect of a big string section, might not work the way I envision it to. Aside from this, I don't have the 'ideal' recording space, again if we're talking about ideals I would have loved to just get a 25 piece string section and record somewhere more acoustically appropriate. What I will be working with is a medium sized room, with a dead-ish sound. He suggested if we will be doing the violin and the cello together, to put a screen up in between to avoid 'bleeding'. Maybe this is because of the room itself?
I have been trying to seek advice from some other people in the know, and a lot of people seem to think that I should continue to do what I am doing with the live strings and then if needs be mix it with some midi, to create more space.
I really just wanted some opinions from people that have maybe done this before, best recording techniques and how much I can get away with in terms of the size and ambience of the room I described. I'm spending quite a bit of money and would hate for it to sound a bit naff afterwards!
It's probably worth mentioning there will be vocals on this also, so although I still want the strings to be as convincing as possible, the vocals will be at the forefront. The only midi options I will have are Logic or Miroslav Philharmonik and I'll be recording at a fully equipped studio, but with someone who has not recording instruments such as these before, although he is an excellent engineer.
Many thanks for reading!
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Also ask the players if they can use different instruments for each layer (ie alternate between 2 or 3 instruments) so the intonation/tone etc is slightly different - mic as you would a string section (even put out all the chairs!) and move the players around for each take.
Basically anything you can do to give the illusion of more players will help - change bows too, ask them to play in different 'styles' etc...
avoid EQ and compression and mix everything 'flat' then treat the strings as a complete sub mix...
If the space is small then you going to need to add a convincing 'big' reverb after the event...
For the time it's going to take it make be better to hire 4 players and layer up less - you'll get a much better result IMHO
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I'm not sure about this advice. He's saying you should record violin and cello together, but also that you should separate them to avoid bleed. In that case what's the point of recording them together? Isn't the idea of that to get a blended sound, which will be defeated if you try to screen them off from each other and record using separate mics?
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Don't obsess on seperation. Obsess on getting it right!
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