Individual Movement

Create Individual Movement

This is where you really start giving life to your strings. To create a sense of 5 individual sections playing, it's nice to create some subtle individual movements between them. This doesn't have to be too advanced. If your violins are moving 2 steps (C-E for example) between two chords, make them go stepwise up instead of jumping. Experiment with creating these small and subtle movements in each of the sections.

The key here, however, is not to have too much going on, or it's going to sound very messy (especially for beginners with little counterpoint knowledge). However, you can try to keep one element moving slightly while the others are resting, and change the movements around between the sections. This can emulate the sound of individually moving instrument groups like in a real ensemble, and not just a sustained patch played with one hand. Bear in mind that sometimes less is more, although I have created quite a bit of movement in this audio example to accentuate the effect of this technique.

Listen to the result:

Now we're really getting somewhere! It's starting to sound more like something a real string section would play rather than a MIDI sustain patch. Let's run through how it sounds with the melody.

You can see in the score above that the counter movement is moving when the melody is resting, just as we discussed in the counter melody chapter. This is because we want to keep the separation between the harmony and the melody layer, and we've now done this through both rhythm and range.

Adding some individual movement to your harmonies can be a really effective way of making your mockups sound more realistic. So now we've covered some basic harmony techniques. However, what about when you want larger chords, spanning across several octaves with multiple instrument families?

Let's have a look at that now!