Cubase VST Tips & Tricks


How to make your string parts sound better

Making realistic string parts with MIDI has always been a bit tricky, however, there are two things you can do to make your strings sound more natural and convincing.

Overlapping Notes

Once you have your string part, regardless if it is playing chords or a solo line, you can use your pencil to click on the ends of notes and draw them out longer to overlap past the beginning of the next note. This emulates more what real string players do with their bows when they play. This way there is no gap between the previous note and the next note making a smoother transition between notes similar to how a bow works on a string. This overlapping also makes your parts sound more natural because if you have a group of string players playing at the same time, they don't all really play exactly at the same time·which is part of the human element that you can re-create with MIDI notes. For chords, you could select multiple notes, then use the pencil to lengthen them past the beginning of the next group of notes. It is a good idea to set your quantize value to 32nd notes so that you don't go too, too far into the next group of notes. Another way to do this all at once, instead of clicking on each note or each group of notes, is to use the "lengths" parameter in the part inspector to make all your notes 125% longer. You could also use the logical editor to do this as well.

Thicker String Sections

A simple trick to make your strings sound thicker and more like a full string section is to copy a group of notes and transpose them up one octave. You can do this a second time to have a thick 3 octave section which is great, however, the higher notes may seem too loud or sound a bit harsh. To make it sound smoother, click on the higher notes and bring the velocities down a bit. I usually put them somewhere between 50 and 80 which makes it sound nice, smooth and thick at the same time. Making string parts sound more realistic really isn't that hard to do if you use these two tips. Your strings can also sound better thanks to the new VST instrument "Halion String Edition" check out for more info.


About the writer:

Costa Kotselas worked for Steinberg for many years as a product specialist and content producer for Costa has also been working as a consultant to some of the world's top film composers and is now offering intensive weekend "learn cubase" seminars.

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