Disco strings question

Discussion in 'Genre Specific Production' started by safran5020, Jul 19, 2017.

  1. safran5020

    safran5020 Platinum Record

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    Recently, I have discovered a web radio station that broadcast only disco music from the 70’s and early 80’s.
    Wow, it sure brought back memories. Even for the non-fervent amateurs, this era is part of the musical landscape of the 70’s and 80’s.

    Looking back, I noticed some common points regarding specifically the strings used in almost all productions of this era. The particular sound and playing style of those strings are intimately link to disco music. Besides the big bands like Salsoul Orchestra and Barry Whites, among others, had “real” strings and brass sections but what about all the other small bands, what was the strings made with ? Melotron? Synths? I can't imagine they all recorded with real strings section !

    I am curious to know exactly what the musicians used at that time to reproduce this specific string ensemble sound. They “ALL” had that same specific sound in there tunes. I would like to be able to reproduce that exact same sound.

    So for you guys that are in that same age group as I, Do you have any idea what those strings were played with?

    Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2017
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  3. jayxflash

    jayxflash Guest

    Every time someone asks advice on how to recreate old genres, my advice is the following:

    1. before searching the instrument, create a melody line (or chord, or bass, depending what you are searching) of an existing song - to have the vibe of that era you need to write in the style of that era; otherwise, if you just surf the presets playing regular chords or a random melody, you may skip the sound even if you find it because it will not sound the same.

    2. for your specific case, they used either live players either vintage synths (in terms of price, it was more or less the same money at that time, most likely human players were slightly cheaper though): if you have Arturia suite, dig in the presets.
     
  4. muaB

    muaB Producer

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    dude. those were real Violins - a little string section. You will most likely not be able to recreate it like this.
    thats why you hear those famous samples all around.
    Sampling. But you can use some libraries for that but they lack a) the tone b) the playing dynamics c) the effects
     
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  5. Lambchop

    Lambchop Banned

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    *Mellotrons :guru:
    ..
     
  6. Moogerfooger

    Moogerfooger Platinum Record

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    VSL Chamber strings work great. Dry, tight and plenty of articulations for those fast portamento falls. I disagree w the above post. I was able to do several Jamiroqui songs live with the VSL Horizon Chamber strings.
     
  7. mozee

    mozee Audiosexual

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    Real players were indeed cheaper than a synthesizer at that time.

    Look for patches tagged with "string falls" | "disco strings." Lots of Roland and Korg keyboards have patches that get you close. SW samplers - no clue, the only one that had a good string fall that I can recall was an early version of Reason in NN-XT.
     
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  8. nastybobby

    nastybobby Kapellmeister

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    I've been a big Chic/Nile Rodgers fan for a long time.

    I've attempted to get that string sound, got quite close but never as good as what I heard on record. One thing I can say is the intervals between what's being played is important, if you use multiple patches/sounds/samples but mess around with them being a third, fifth, seventh up or down from the original note then it sounds closer. Like a lot of very distinctive sounds, what's being played and how they're playing it is half the battle I think.

    I've never managed to hit on the perfect collection of string samples and sounds/notes/riffs to get it sounding absolutely authentic though. It's always been more of an approximation. But I'm not the greatest of keyboard player, you may very well get far closer to the sound you're after than I could.


    From memory I think I used a Native Instruments library that mentioned Motown Strings in it, which sounded perfect, and some of the short stabs, falls and sweeps were very useful. I think a better player/programmer/arranger could have done more with it than I could.

    Please keep us informed about how you're getting along with it and good luck!
     
  9. Danko

    Danko Noisemaker

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    Native Instruments Session Strings
     
  10. Midge F

    Midge F Kapellmeister

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    Sister Sledge, a guilty pleasure. Songs, musicianship, production.

    There's a disco strings library for Kontakt I can't remember the name of that might be worth a whirl.
     
  11. playtime

    playtime Kapellmeister

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    When it comes to strings, I can clearly hear the difference between virtual instruments and the real thing. There's just so much more when you have it like this

     
  12. turbion

    turbion Noisemaker

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    I think allways was real player and a few players, but there was many strings ensamble synths that only made strings sound. I have an ARP OMNI 2 that makes that sound, and there was others from yamaha, etc
     
  13. sisyphus

    sisyphus Platinum Record

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    Actually a lot of it was "stringers" or string machines... check out sample libraries of the Crumars, the Solina's, some of the Roland Stringers, Elka's etc... great stuff. G-Forces VSM is fantastic for this, but there are other third party Kontakt libraries with this kinda thing... It was definitely part of the sound of that era.
     
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  14. Moogerfooger

    Moogerfooger Platinum Record

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    OMG I CANT STAND THAT BITCHES VOICE!!!!! This whole trend in women singing like that is making me ill!!!
     
  15. babycrate

    babycrate Newbie

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    Real strings on disco records of the 70s and 80s. Period. In order to get bigger sound with less players and smaller rooms/less gear, it was very common on these records (as well as soul records etc) to overdub.. Turning a 4, 6 or 8 piece chamber orchestra into the equivalent of 2-4x as many players, achieving that thick, rich sound.

    There are composer-players who sell the services via the net (soundbetter.com, for example) and you can get real, live string section on your song for surprisingly little money (still an investment of course, but if you want to have amazing sound, you must work hard for it.. this is how life works)
     
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  16. black bounty

    black bounty Producer

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    I think this was real strings sections.

    that plus the mics, and the analog mixboards.

    as previously mentioned in other posts, humans were cheaper at the time,
    and no way you can get this realistic sound with the synths of those days .

    there's a library called vintage strings, by bigfishaudio
    better would be the legato / performance patches from the symphonic series of spitfire audio (saying that you can play)
     
  17. Matt777

    Matt777 Platinum Record

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    Everything else is.. meh ;)
    ARP String Ensemble (Solina String Ensemble) was suposedly used, but atm don't recall any notable disco songs..
    No melo, if you hadn't means to produce.. or big guys /w cigars said no, you just went home (and not like a "bedroom producer"). Not every wannabe whatever was printing records back in those days like now, when everybody can upload all sort of shit everywhere. You have disco without strings of course or even a version w/o strings

    I would just like to add to the above, the importance of the arrangement. There were guys writing arrangements for the disco music only. It is not just about the sound, it is about what you do with it! (an example, not the best being a loopmasters commerc i think, but..)

     
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  18. Sylenth.Will.Fall

    Sylenth.Will.Fall Audiosexual

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    I believe lots of Chamber Strings were used, with very fast attack, small amounts of gate, but soaked in reverb!


    I've just found this for you. Might help!

     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2017
  19. safran5020

    safran5020 Platinum Record

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    Thank you all of you guys for being so kind to participate to this tread. I really appreciate ! :wink:

    Yeah, real strings is what I thought in the first place but I was also thinking that Melotron were more involved in those days for strings.
    I agree that the secret is in the arrangement and is also a combination of timber, style and effect.
    I come pretty close with NI Session Strings. It has great articulations and sounds very descent.

    I will explore all suggestions here particularly G-Force VSM which I have never really dig in. And probably with a mixture of different combination of elements I will get closer. I also think my playing skills can bring me there, but of course, it will never be like the real thing. A stringer is a stringer and a keyboardist will always stay a keyboardist. But with all the tools we have today, we can achieve cool things we wouldn't have thought of being possible a couple of decades ago.

    Thanks @Matt777 and @Sylenth.Will.Fall for sharing those very interesting videos.

    Have a great day y'all !
     
  20. Sylenth.Will.Fall

    Sylenth.Will.Fall Audiosexual

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    You're welcome and good luck.

    I thought I'd have a go at reconstructing a Sister Sledge backing track using those strings :- (I know I made the piano a bit too loud)

     
  21. realitybytez

    realitybytez Platinum Record

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    i was trying to start a private conversation with you but it seems that you have restricted that feature. any chance i can be added to your "approved" list?
     
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