Bring ‘virtual’ scores to life with MIDI Controllers
Echoing a real orchestra’s sense of phrase can transform the impact of virtual orchestral libraries
Take a simple quantised ensemble violin phrase made for Spitfire Audio’s Symphonic Strings library. A Performance Legato patch allows for portamento between notes, but the phrase is lifeless ‘as played’. In this library, velocity doesn’t control note volume.
We make each note legato, meaning that every note lasts until the next one starts (without overlap). We then slightly lengthen the notes to which we want to introduce portamento and then adjust the velocity of the notes we’re ‘swooping’ to. The lower the velocity, the longer the bend lasts.
We shorten the last note of the first phrase to introduce a rest. Then we create a MIDI controller line for ‘Modulation’ which selects quietly or loudly recorded sample groups. As a result, we can then cross-fade between the recorded samples, which creates a more musical result.
We set up MIDI controller #21, which controls vibrato in Spitfire Audio’s libraries. This sets the intensity of pitch ‘wobble’ which string players tend to add to create drama, romance or intensity. This is a more subtle effect but it adds plenty of drama here.
Lastly we add a performance line for MIDI Expression which controls MIDI volume. This is more convenient than riding the volume fader and allows us to set an overall volume line for this part. Now the phrase has a much more complete sense of phrase and sounds more natural as a result.
We apply the same controllers to the cello line which has been muted until now, using these parameters to control the counter-phrase to the violins. Compared to the ‘flat’ original part we played in, there’s a much greater sense of phrase and authenticity here now.