Arranging strings, pop song

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Re: Arranging strings, pop song

Post by The Elf »

Who knows? Try it for yourself and see.

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Re: Arranging strings, pop song

Post by RichardT »

In that Library, the dynamics control affects the intensity of the playing. Expression is simply a volume control.
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Re: Arranging strings, pop song

Post by Wurlitzer »

apaclin wrote:Thanks man! But let me be more specific on the point 2, of course it would be impossible to avoid common notes between the strings and the piano, but if I see a gap at the piano chord, I can consider to fill it with strings, rather than play the same notes that piano plays?

Still no. It doesn't really work like that. You won't hear a single balanced chord from bottom to top of which some notes are played by the strings and some by the piano. You'll hear a string chord with a particular balance, and a piano part with a particular balance, and an interaction between them (and between them and all the other parts).

Basically each timbre should sound balanced in itself. That's how classical composers and orchestrators do it in big orchestral tuttis. They write each section (strings, woodwind and brass) as if it were its own complete orchestra, and then put them together. This is even more so in your case because of the extreme timbral difference between strings and piano, which will separate them hugely in the ear of the listener.

If there's a gap in the piano chord that needs filling, then fill it in the piano!

What you do need to do with a big ensemble like that is be clear about the function of each part, and don't just shove parts on top of each other duplicating the same function. If your strings are playing block chords there's not much point having piano play them as well; you're better off having the piano arpeggiate through them or whatever. In one sense your inuition about making the parts compliment rather than duplicate each other is correct, but this should occur in terms of the kind of figuration they play, not in terms of which notes they sound.
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Re: Arranging strings, pop song

Post by Wurlitzer »

3. Would you double the bass guitar part with bass strings at some spots (for intensity) and carve the low end out of the strings, so that just the character would remain, but not the frequency conflict?

I agree with a PP that I'd be tempted not to use bass strings, or at least not use them much.

You need to have a clear idea what you mean by "strings". The 4/5 part outlay of the classical orchestra wasn't designed to go with a pop or rock band, it was designed to be the main backbone of the music that composers started with and then added things do. It performs this function very well because the stringed instruments are so homogenous (a cello sounds pretty much like a violin but lower, whereas a bassoon doesn't really sound like a flute).

"Strings" in rock and pop music are often not this. Often they're just violins (as in a lot of Motown arrangements, disco licks etc.) Sometimes violins violas and cellos but with the cellos basically playing melodically, reinforcing the violins at the lower octave. They're not performing a bass function at all.

Where you DO use a full section including cellos and double basses, you need to control what you do between them and the electric bass so the bass part is clear and not muddied up. This is easy enough to do in a fully written part. With moderate moving parts you can even just double them, and it's similar to what classical composers did with arco cellos and pizzicato double basses. The real difficulty comes when you want the electric bass to improvise or play with some stylistic freedom. There's not really any way to make the string basses not get in the way of that and you're better off just dropping them out.
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Re: Arranging strings, pop song

Post by Martin Walker »

Wow - what an incredibly informative reply Wurlitzer! :clap:

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Re: Arranging strings, pop song

Post by OneWorld »

Wurlitzer wrote:
3. Would you double the bass guitar part with bass strings at some spots (for intensity) and carve the low end out of the strings, so that just the character would remain, but not the frequency conflict?

I agree with a PP that I'd be tempted not to use bass strings, or at least not use them much.

You need to have a clear idea what you mean by "strings". The 4/5 part outlay of the classical orchestra wasn't designed to go with a pop or rock band, it was designed to be the main backbone of the music that composers started with and then added things do. It performs this function very well because the stringed instruments are so homogenous (a cello sounds pretty much like a violin but lower, whereas a bassoon doesn't really sound like a flute).

"Strings" in rock and pop music are often not this. Often they're just violins (as in a lot of Motown arrangements, disco licks etc.) Sometimes violins violas and cellos but with the cellos basically playing melodically, reinforcing the violins at the lower octave. They're not performing a bass function at all.

Where you DO use a full section including cellos and double basses, you need to control what you do between them and the electric bass so the bass part is clear and not muddied up. This is easy enough to do in a fully written part. With moderate moving parts you can even just double them, and it's similar to what classical composers did with arco cellos and pizzicato double basses. The real difficulty comes when you want the electric bass to improvise or play with some stylistic freedom. There's not really any way to make the string basses not get in the way of that and you're better off just dropping them out.

You make a good point there, well relating to the bass end of things, which would be the cellos, but in pop, not really needed, or if used then double the violin parts, but often left out. Although this isn't pop, but jazz, I think the strings fit i just right....

Fox Capture Plan - The Butterfly Effect.........

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cMhQ_teEoY

And on the subject of strings in pop, well what better example than this, Bohemian Rhapsody - Brooklyn Duo + Dover Quartet :-)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1nGx4DX83U
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Re: Arranging strings, pop song

Post by Martin Walker »

OneWorld wrote:And on the subject of strings in pop, well what better example than this, Bohemian Rhapsody - Brooklyn Duo + Dover Quartet :-)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1nGx4DX83U

What a wonderful video for studying how to voice a small string ensemble! :thumbup:

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Re: Arranging strings, pop song

Post by Forum Admin »

apaclin wrote:
wireman wrote:Have a look at this series for some ideas...

https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/arranging-strings-part-1

Thanks!

In case you are *not* viewing that article on desktop, you won't see the sidebar righthand links to the other three Parts in the 4-part series, so here's a link to the whole series:

https://www.soundonsound.com/series/arranging-strings

BTW, there are some great other articles on the Series landing page:

https://www.soundonsound.com/series
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Re: Arranging strings, pop song

Post by tea for two »

One thing I've found useful is to sway as Orchestral string players do.
The other thing is to imagine their bowing hand movements.

If the String part we are writing sitting down at a keyboard, makes us sway, then we are quite the way there.

If we can imagine the bowing hand movements, this helps us in how we write the String parts.

::::

In relation to what Wurli said.
Pop has steady bass. So our Strings shouldn't have bass that clashes with this bass.

Similarly we can see (hear) what frequencies the singer, the vocal harmonies, the instrumentations take up.
Then we can see (hear) what frequencies our String parts take up.
We can then either drop out frequencies from our String parts or drop out something from the Pop parts : when both parts are playing together.
This way they won't clash (as much). They will have space.
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Re: Arranging strings, pop song

Post by GilesAnt »

tea for two wrote: Fri Jul 30, 2021 8:21 am If we can imagine the bowing hand movements, this helps us in how we write the String parts.

For really effective string writing, in addition to all the useful stuff above about voicings etc, it is well worth getting to grips with the various bowing techniques that are available. There is a lot more to it than meets the eye, and it opens up some more possibilities for arranging techniques. For example 'col legno', 'spiccato', and plenty more.
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