The "big thing" at the moment in samples seems to be the divisi strings in the above-mentioned sample libraries.

I don't know about you, but from my score reading the actual use of divisi strings in a real orchestral setting isn't all that exciting - I mean a few passages in the average movement of a symphony - normally at the main cadences to fill out the harmony in the strings.

So why all the excitement about divisi strings in sample libraries ?

Are these budding composers intent on giving divisi passages a musical renaissance or is there something else I'm missing ?


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  • Thanks, that was a very useful link.

    I do wonder, though, the number of folk who buy these sample libraries who have the technical knowledge of when divisi should be used instead of full sections.

    The Mussorgsky/ Ravel piece was a useful example - can anybody offer more examples of prolonged use of divisi strings in orchestral music so I can really get on top of this subject ?
  • Thanks

    I thought there was a production-based reason as well for all this, but I could never really put my finger on it.

    Ray Kemp said:
    Adrian, the main reason people want divisi strings in sample libraries is to stop the doubling effect. a chord of any sort in EW Gold strings will multiply the size of the section. Funnily enough the HSO has divisi.
  • i think there is another important reason... using divisi samples makes non-divisi parts sound better. in LASS for example, you have 3 divisi tracks plus one first chair track for each string section. You can vary the timing, velocity etc... in each track to get very realistic attacks. you can also vary the tuning slightly. you can make some of the tracks play legato while giving others a slight portamento. Also having a first chair track that blends perfectly with the rest of the section is very helpful.
  • So does all of that variety within a non-divisi section make for a more realistic sound ?

    Does the string section not given this treatment sound too homogenous and "thick" in comparison ?
  • i think it does make for a more realistic sound. Orchestral libraries generally have "perfect" attacks for each note. this is necessary for obvious reasons, but it makes for unrealistically perfect and yes, too homogeneous a sound. a real orchestra, no matter how good they are, are not going to all attack every note in perfect unison. Having divisi samples allows you to have a string section with a bit more character and warmth.
  • That answers my question

    I did suspect that the need for people to write and record scores with a liberal sprinkling of divisi....

    would play second fiddle to the improved production offered by these samples.
  • oh, absolutely. Obviously, actual divisi is extremely important, and has been lacking from most libraries for too long.
  • I never thought anything of the sort. But I did suspect that most users of these products were not looking at using divisi in a strict score-based approach.

    After all I would say that most users of these products are not score-based, even though most do read music - the actual recording not the score for most is the end product (as witnessed here and at VI Control)

    "It would be erroneous to think that divisi is not a standard technique in string orchestration."
  • You are right, of course.

    I suppose I was slightly paranoid about my own limitations over when and when not to use divisi in an orchestral setting.

    That's next on my list of what to learn !
  • Keep in mind also that samples have very little place for concert music excepting a way to demo your writing in preparation for a concert. Samples are only really useful for finished product for media music. But as for use of divisi, I would say that in either case, it is up to your ear and taste to use it when you feel you want to hear it. All the rules you learn in school are only to show you a path where you respect the past and do not reinvent the wheel. Afterwards its up to you to break the rules tastefully ;-)

    Adrian Allan said:
    You are right, of course.

    I suppose I was slightly paranoid about my own limitations over when and when not to use divisi in an orchestral setting.

    That's next on my list of what to learn !
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