How do you get an instrument to sound a certain way?

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ironpony
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11 May 2020, 1:38 am

When it comes to composing music for short films and video projects, I sometimes will here a sound in a movie of an instrument but I often cannot get it to sound like how it did in the movie.  Even instruments sound different in different movies, and I wonder what is it that makes it sound different.  Is it the way it's recorded?  Is it the acoustics of the room?  For example, here is the snare drum from two different movies samples:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVZw-I1 ... e=youtu.be

What is it about the snare that sounds different in one sample compared to the other?  What are they doing to make it sound different?

Here is also a comparison between two Trumpets.  How do they make sound different than the other?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBWXTE1 ... e=youtu.be

Here is also a comparison.I can't tell if it's a cello or viola, but they both seem to be the same bowed string instrument, producing a similar octive, but still sounding different.  What is the difference?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nuA75a ... e=youtu.be  



auntblabby
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11 May 2020, 3:53 am

in all three examples i can hear either natural or artificial space around the instruments in question. the 1st example sounded to me like #1 was sans snares and recorded in a smaller space, the 2nd drum was a snare recorded more distantly in a larger space. the 2nd example sounded like trumpets [left ch.] and trombones [right ch.] recorded closer in smaller space, the latter example was a brass ensemble recorded more distantly in larger space. 3rd example was a string ensemble featuring cellos and violas, the first in stereo in a smaller space, the 2nd recorded in mono in a larger space. i'd have to know what your specific sonic goal was to say anything more. do tell?



ironpony
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11 May 2020, 4:01 am

Oh okay thanks. There is no sonic goal in mind specifically yet, I am just trying to figure out how one sounds different from another.

In the snare example, in the first sample, the snare has more bass to it. Is there some sort of bass drum being played with it at the same time, or does a sans snare have more bass naturally? However, I thought that the first snare sample, might be a synthesizer trying to mimic the sound of a snare and not a real snare, unlike the second, and maybe that was the difference. Unless I am wrong?



auntblabby
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11 May 2020, 4:12 am

seems each of the first of the pairs has a "dirtier" sound than the 2nd of each pair, which makes it harder to sonically analyze them. IOW it sounds like an analog snare drum but can't be 100% sure. but the first drum whatever it was, was louder [all frequencies louder 'cept the top octave], which is behind it sounding subjectively "bassier," due to the ear's relative insensitivity to bass at lower volumes. there was definitely NO bass drum there.



ironpony
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11 May 2020, 4:16 am

Oh okay, but analog, you mean a real physical drum, in this context? When you say 'dirtier', do you mean more electronic distortion is added?

Also in the 3rd example, with the cello and viola, could it that the instruments are an electric cello and electric viola, in the first example, and acoustic in the second one, which is a difference I am hearing, between the two?



auntblabby
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11 May 2020, 4:30 am

ironpony wrote:
Oh okay, but analog, you mean a real physical drum, in this context? When you say 'dirtier', do you mean more electronic distortion is added? Also in the 3rd example, with the cello and viola, could it that the instruments are an electric cello and electric viola, in the first example, and acoustic in the second one, which is a difference I am hearing, between the two?

"analog" is my clumsy way of saying a real life musical instrument of non-digital/electronic function. dirtier means more distortion. i heard crackle in there and a lot of odd-order harmonic distortion due to the sample being many generations removed from the master. i do this as an avocation, been doing it since the 80s, that is why i know a little about it. i could not tell if they were electric in the first example [i doubt it], but assuredly in the 2nd string example they were actual analog instruments. the big difference you're hearing is the second string sample was recorded in mono and was much older.



naturalplastic
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11 May 2020, 5:18 am

Semantic alert!

I am sure that Blabby is spot on on every point. But he should use some other term than "analog" for "real musical instruments as opposed instruments simulated on a synthesizer keyboard".

Just call them "real instruments", or "real acoustic instruments". That's "acoustic" as in "acoustic guitar" as opposed to an "electric guitar".

One of the many problems with using the word "analog" that way is that synthesizers can also be either analog or digital. Indeed for the first thirty some years that synths were mass produced for rock musicians (late Sixties to well into the Nineties)analog was the only kind of synths that existed. So a viola synthesized on a vintage Moog synthesizer from 1970 would still be "analog" even though it would still be a fake viola-just as fake as one synthesized digitally. :D



auntblabby
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11 May 2020, 5:25 am

naturalplastic wrote:
Semantic alert! I am sure that Blabby is spot on on every point. But he should use some other term than "analog" for "real musical instruments as opposed instruments simulated on a synthesizer keyboard". Just call them "real instruments", or "real acoustic instruments". That's "acoustic" as in "acoustic guitar" as opposed to an "electric guitar". One of the many problems with using the word "analog" that way is that synthesizers can also be either analog or digital. Indeed for the first thirty some years that synths were mass produced for rock musicians (late Sixties to well into the Nineties)analog was the only kind of synths that existed. So a viola synthesized on a vintage Moog synthesizer from 1970 would still be "analog" even though it would still be a fake viola-just as fake as one synthesized digitally. :D

i might be like somebody's great aunt who may have trouble recalling the exact names of certain things, most irritatingly. IOW i was having a senior moment. there are days when i will have to say, "that thing in the wall that spits out water!" rather than simply "spigot."



PhosphorusDecree
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11 May 2020, 6:25 am

Recording quality and the space the recording is made in aren't the only variables. There is a surprising degree of difference between individual instruments. I once heard a violin teacher friend "test-driving" four very expensive violins from a music shop. One had a very loud, warm and full-bodied tone, another was quiet, had a bit of a ironic bite to it, and was easier to get subtle differences in tone out of. The others were between the extremes. The first impressed me most, but she preferred the second one. Which is another thing- different players and orchestras have different tastes and abilities in tone production! I've seen classical music reviewers comment on the Boston Philharmonic's warm string tone, say or the Moscow Philharmonic's very bright brass. With physical intruments you kind of have to accept that some things are up to the performers.


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auntblabby
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11 May 2020, 6:33 am

i have a family friend who is a rather good violinist, played since she was small. she has a flashy green violin an australian friend gave her, this has a subjectively louder tone but the high strings aren't very clearly defined. she also has a regular but high quality violin that seems a bit quieter, mellower yet clearer in all strings but esp. the high strings, sweet and clear. i know which one i'd rather record.



Karamazov
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11 May 2020, 7:19 am

Yeah, materials, construction method and playing style can do a lot to affect the timbre of an instrument: with violin family the direction of the bow across the strings, where along the bow it’s touching the strings, position of the bow in relation to the bridge, tension to which the bow has been wound and amount of roisin applied before playing can all affect the timbre.
It’s called tone colouration.

Similar applies to my instrument (classical guitar): depending on where along the strings I pluck, and the angle I hold my hand at i can make it sound like pins dropping on an old metal wash-board all the way through to something a bit like an oboe. (Soft, mellow and breathy)
Then you have sound-board (top) material, form and framing method thereof: all of which will produce different inflections of timbre. Relative sizes of upper and lower bouts vary between manufacturers and can emphasise or suppress the overtone sequence (which is what timbre is in essence).
Even the exact shape and length of fingernails can have a big impact on timbre.
Strings too, I use extra-high tension Savarez strings with rectified trebles, I find that in all right hand positions they help to balance out the heavy bass presence my instrument has from large lower bouts combined with mahogany back & sides: allowing melody lines to sing sweeter and clearer when playing piano or pianissimo: other brands of strings I’ve tried just haven’t had that same warm clarity on my particular instrument.
(or the sheer raucous harshness when I pluck sul ponte & fortissimo. :twisted: )



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11 May 2020, 7:27 am

One snare drum has more snare than the other. (that's the metal wires that you can adjust under the drum which gives it a rattling sound)

The trumpets you mention sound like horns, the first one has some reverb.

The first string sounds digital, like a keyboard sample, the second sound as if it was recorded on analogue tape, the technology was different, it may have been recorded on a ribbon microphone and passed through an analogue valve, preamplifier.



auntblabby
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11 May 2020, 7:47 am

i think the OP was searching for relatively simple ways he could liven up or modify the sound of instruments in his collection when he records them.



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11 May 2020, 8:18 am

auntblabby wrote:
i think the OP was searching for relatively simple ways he could liven up or modify the sound of instruments in his collection when he records them.


Make your own sample collection from a variety of sources, download VST plugins that are modelled on vintage/retro kit, like Lexicon Reverb VST or a Spring Reverb plugin, Joemeekqualiser v5 plugin. Vintage strings VST. Kontakt virtual keyboard has endless soundbanks and instruments. The more fresh sounds that you equipe yourself before you begin to compose the better, it's never a waste of time.



ironpony
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11 May 2020, 12:34 pm

auntblabby wrote:
i think the OP was searching for relatively simple ways he could liven up or modify the sound of instruments in his collection when he records them.


Well I don't often record instruments because there are not a lot of musicians around that play the ones I want, but I when I buy instrument packages, that have recorded samples on them, they sometimes do not sound how I want them to sound and trying to figure out all those differences. I haven't bought many yet because I want to know a lot of the differences first to see what I am getting :).



ironpony
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11 May 2020, 12:36 pm

domineekee wrote:
One snare drum has more snare than the other. (that's the metal wires that you can adjust under the drum which gives it a rattling sound)

The trumpets you mention sound like horns, the first one has some reverb.

The first string sounds digital, like a keyboard sample, the second sound as if it was recorded on analogue tape, the technology was different, it may have been recorded on a ribbon microphone and passed through an analogue valve, preamplifier.


Oh okay thanks. When you say that the trumpets sound like horns, what do you mean by horns exactly? Aren't all trumpets a type of horn? Sorry I just do not know the terminology there.

When you say that the first string sounds like a keyboard sample, do you mean that it is a recording of actual strings, that the keyboard is playing back, or is the sound produced by synthesis?