Orchestral Tools


Technical inventions has to start somewhere. We´re proud to present you a few insights into our sampling labs and ideas to get an impression of whats coming in future. Orchestral Tools is well known for its innovations like the Runs Builder, the Playable Glissandi or the Adaptive Legato Concept.
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December, 8th, 2013 written by Hendrik Schwarzer

Playable Glissandi

when Stan Berzon (the guy who develops the OT Kontakt scripts since the release of The Orchestral Grands) came into my studio to present his new idea of how we can make violin glissandi playable in a very convincing way, I was fascinated but also critical whether or not this innovation would actually work in reality.

The idea is simple. When we announced here on the Tech Blog that we are trying to make orchestral SFX more playable he was convinced we could build a test patch for our upcoming major library "Berlin Strings".

"It will be the core feature of the Playable Glissandi to be able to control the start, the ending and the tempo of glissandi with the keyboard - without having to adjust numerous settings or parameters. The playability is comparable to the Playable Runs patches. This means each note is playable by itself individually. The script for the instrument will determine the way in which the glissandi are executed based on the playing style."
Stan Berzon

To bring this crazy idea to reality, we recorded a bunch of different glissandi styles and lengths during the recording sessions for Berlin Strings.

More info and a demonstration will follow soon in a new Chapter of the Berlin Strings video series.

November 26th, 2013 written by Hendrik Schwarzer

Conceptualizing Berlin Strings

October 31st, 2013 written by Peter Ullrich

Con Sordino Simulation

Con sordino

With mute

Mit Dämpfer

"Con sordino" it Italian for "with [a] mute".
Historically, the violin mute was first described by Marin Mersenne in 1636. The first time a mute was used in a written score was in 1681 in a piece by Jean-Baptiste Lully.

At present time, we are working on solutions to simulate the con sordino sound for strings. To offer recorded sordino for a whole sample library for all articulations would essentially double the amount of samples. Even triple or quadruple the size might be the result if one were to include multiple types of mutes. To be able to provide our customers with the greatest possible amount of flexibility, we are researching ways to implement sordino articulations by means of Kontakt´s internal FX. As per our aim for as much realism as possible, we decided to analyze a number of mutes made from various materials with respect to their influence on their sound of the instruments.
Mutes are made from an assortment of materials: wood, foam, glass, metal, plastic ...
Through their weight and the physical properties of their materials, they enhance the mass of the bridge and influence its vibration characteristics - thereby influencing the bridge as a transport media that transmits the vibration of the strings onto the resonating body.
Every bridge has a natural frequency, at which it will vibrate after an initial external stimulus, as well as a resonance frequency which results in a larger amplitude upon stimulus compared to other frequencies.
When the mass of the bridge is enhanced by means of attaching a mute, both the natural frequency as well as the resonance frequency will shift. The response characteristics of the instrument will change dramatically with increasing mass of the mute.

The change in frequency response while using different mutes can be readily observed with any analyzer plugin:

Violin without a mute
-> see graphic 1

Plastic mute
-> see graphic 2

Metal mute
-> see graphic 3

The bridge can be treated as an undamped spring system, so its resonance frequency F0 can be calculated as:
f0 feder kopie3

Doubling the mass or gauge of a frequency response system causes the damping factor to rise by 6dB.
Because the mute only influences the bridge, but not the strings or the body of the instrument, by means of the mass and material of the specific mute, we are able to calculate the colouring of the sound as well as the to-be-expected shifts in signal level. Frequency analyses, analysing con sordino sound sources (recorded with the same players in the same room), as well as pure mathematics have already enabled us to make astonishing progress on our way to a con sordino simulation based on physical and mathematical measurements and calculations as well as on our ear.

It is our vision to create a con sordino simulation that, thanks to intelligent software-based signal processing, will contain three distinct systems of mutes, while practically not adding any additional sample overhead.

Peter Ullrich
Degreed Audio Engineer
working as a freelancer for Orchestral Tools

August 27th, 2013 written by Hendrik Schwarzer

Cluster Builder

Currently we are working on an upcoming orchestral FX library.
Before starting the actual recording we set ourselves several goals, one of them being to keep this library as flexible and controllable as possible.
One of our results was the Cluster Builder concept.
The idea is to record four or more divided sections or single instruments. Four different Trombones e.g. Each instrument has its own articulations, sonic character, etc just like in a real Trombone section.
With the cluster builder you are able to play all four Trombones as one ensemble instrument with the added capability of being able to choose individual articulations for each single instrument.
Trombones 1 and 3 can play an ordinary sustaining note whilst Trombones 2 and 4 can play flutter tongue. It is also possible to set a maximum pitch alteration for every instrument. Trombone 1 e.g. could play up to four quarter tones higher; Trombone 2 could rise its pitch by up to two quarter tones;
Trombone 3 holds its current pitch and Trombone 4 plays up to three quarter tones lower. All based on your very own settings.
But that's not all: Keep down the modwheel or any other CC you choose and you will hear all Trombones playing exactly the same note, like an ensemble. Increasing the modhweel or CC value makes every single trombone gradually alter its pitch right to the maximum pitch alteration (your custom cluster). If you dial back the modhweel or CC, the notes will transform back to an unison note.

The next step in our script development now is to build in a real divisi functionality. That means if you play a chord, every single Trombone will get its own starting note.

We are planning to include this script and a few others with the first product of our upcoming Orchestral FX Collection series.

Stay tuned!

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July 1st, 2013 written by Hendrik Schwarzer

Making Orchestral SFX playable

Here at Orchestral Tools, we are actually developing new concepts to make orchestral effects (including atonal stuff) more controllable. All of us sometimes need to use effects and end up in using fixed, pre-recorded samples. Some of them fit better, some worse into our compositions. Right now our ideas go into a very similar direction like the one we had with OSR some time ago when planning our approach to runs. Specially designed scripting concepts and a clever approach to recording should surely help us in reaching this target.

We will keep you in the loop about our developments!

July 1st, 2013 written by Hendrik Schwarzer

Samplicity Tech Cooperation

Samplicity has been known for several years for their high professional impulse responses (IRs), made from famous and exclusive hardware units (T600, Bricasti M7 e.g.). Founded by Peter Emanuel Roos, Samplicity today builds on a broad experience in doing very involved and clever IR editing processes.

Ever since we started recording our samples at Teldex, we also were interested in doing IRs from this very same room to make specific patches more flexible. Our idea is to explore how samples already recorded in the same hall can profit from these IRs. We see several areas of application here, especially in patches where sometimes the natural reverb of the samples seems to disappear. This is a typical issue for wet samples with their "baked in" natural reverb. With Peter from Samplicity we found the perfect partner for creating these IRs. The final goal of our cooperation is a commercial Samplicity release where the whole Teldex stage with all the orchestral seating positions will be available with a very high degree of quality and flexibility for everyone. We at OrchestralTools will use parts of this huge IR library directly inside specific Kontakt patches to make them more flexible. Our goal here is to make samples with huge acoustics more flexible. Stay tuned!

Find more about Peter Emanuel Roos and his company on samplicity.com