Music by Scott Martin

SM Blog

Synful Strings

Recently I had tracked some keyboards using a Nord string patch with some modifications. The results were cool, but not entirely what I wanted to hear.

So I went looking for a virtual string section.  There are a number of those out there (Philharmonik, East West, Motu Symphonic Instrument …) which use samples and articulations.  I found something a bit different in Synful Orchestra. It’s a synth that uses a proprietary method called Reconstructive Phrase Modeling to deliver orchestral sounds. Sounds interesting.

They’ve got a 15-day demo version, so I was able to download it to try it out. The installation appeared to fail, though, so I didn’t think I’d get a chance to check it out. Oh well, whatcha gonna do, right?

When I tried to fire up Pro Tools it wouldn’t start because it seemed to think the Ilok authorization software was missing.  I’m guessing (based on the failed installation message) that Synful overwrote my Ilok authorization software with an older version. Fortunately I was able to get PT running again when l I reinstalled the current authorization software.

I didn’t think Synful would be available after the failed install, but there it was in my Instrument list. I fired it up and had a look around.

It’s got a simple interface and I was able to get up and running without looking at any documentation. It looks like there are many levels of expressiveness to dig into with this instrument, from the number of players to their position in the virtual space, and the listening position as well. I imagine that you could craft a pretty amazing orchestra with this thing.

I only needed a few violins and cellos to add some slightly more realistic texture and arrangement that I could layer over  the string pad that I had already done. I set up a couple instrument tracks, each with an instance of Synful, and recorded them using my CME X-Key controller. I applied the mod button on the X-Key to the vibrato parameter so I could have a little more expression in the performance. The results were pretty cool.

I did wind up cleaning up some of the mod button automation data – it’s a sensitive little button and easy to go full-throttle with it if you’re not careful. Overall, though, I got what I needed.

I’m going to play around with Synful for the remainder of my demo to learn a little more about what it can do. I don’t need strings very often, but if I find myself in a position where I do, this might be a good option.