When you are raised on a diet of John Williams and John Barry it is inevitable that a day will come when a little voice inside your head will guide you towards that familiar large instrumental ensemble sound. Replicating it on a shoestring budget can be tricky though.
After finalizing the score for a project we are working on, we decided together with film composer Thanos Papadellis to record parts of the score with live instruments. Working with samples can be effective but live instruments performed by skilled players may provide an emotional sound texture that is very difficult to achieve otherwise.
Our first recording session was a string trio which we recorded several times performing different parts of the score and octaves. The idea is that we will successfully overdub them into a larger string ensemble during mix. At the time of writing this, mix is not finished yet but the unmixed playback i heard during the session was promising enough to make us smile.
Two things we noticed during the recording:
- The string trio sounded lovely but the sound of 5 (or even 4) violins would sound even lovelier. We have the studio space available but we didn't have two extra violin fiddlers as excellent as the ones we were lucky to have that day. Not yet anyway.
- Surprisingly, although we got great sound from aggressive parts of the score we had a hard time getting the same for parts that asked dreamlike/soft attack and release times. We think that is due to the number of violins and microphone placement. It is something we will have to approach in a different way for future recordings.
I am glad we were able to do this 'test' recording. It is always paying off to try things before committing to a certain approach. I think that the experience we gained will help us do things better in future recordings for our upcoming film projects. The quest for that old Hollywood sound will keep on!
Here is a small sample from the music. This is not final mix.