Is there any very well-known piece of classical music, in which the first or second violins or violas play many of the sixteenth or thirty-second notes (or, perhaps, even sixty-fourth notes) interspersed with sixteenth or thirty-second rests in a fast tempo? I need a very famous piece because later I will need to find a MIDI file of that piece on the internet for downloading it and later looking into it.

The reason why I am asking this is because the other day I bought a piece of software that converts MIDI files to notes and notes to MIDI files. You can also create your own music with it by writing notes and then playing them back.

I wrote a very small piece, in which violins and violas play sixteen notes interspersed with sixteenth rests. Later I found out that there are two different modes for playing back the violins' and violas' parts in that software: either by choosing their respective names (that is, choosing "violin" for violins and "viola" for violas) or by simply choosing "string ensemble" for all of them.

If you choose the first mode, let's call it "individual mode", then they sound as if they were used for playing a solo part. And if you choose the "string ensemble" mode, then they will sound like the strings in a symphonic orchestra, that is, with a bit of echo and with the effect of multiplicity (as if there were many violins and many violas).

The problem is, when I play back my piece in "individual mode", the strings sound fine, but when I choose the "string ensemble" mode, they sound weird. I think it has to do with the fact that I have short notes (sixteenth notes) in my piece interspersed with sixteenth rests and that cannot be played back properly with the echo effect of the "string ensemble" mode.

I have downloaded a few MIDI files of some classical pieces and found that in all those files the "string ensemble" mode is used for violins and violas and they sound just perfect there. However, the tempo in those pieces is relatively moderate and there are no such cases, in which sixteen notes would be interspersed with sixteen rests. So the echo effect of the "string ensemble" mode doesn't spoil playing back those parts. But I would still like to take a look at how the MIDI files go about such pieces, in which the violins' and violas' parts are full of short notes and rests and are played in quite a fast tempo.

1 Answer 1


You're kind of approaching this from the wrong end.

You have a sample pack apparently made up of only three components; violin, viola & ensemble. Each has a single articulation meaning it can only play one 'style'.
What you're finding is that the ensemble was designed to play slow, flowing pieces, the individual instruments were designed to be able to cut over that. In sonic, 'synthesis' terms, the attack phase of the notes is different. The individuals have a faster attack than the ensemble.

In a real orchestra, if they were asked to play fast, short notes with rests in between, they would play staccato; fast attack, fast release. They would simply adapt their articulation to the requirements of the piece.

Your ensemble can't do that - or you haven't yet found out how to do it if it can. So, looking for a piece with this staccato repetition won't make your ensemble play it any better, because the 'players' can't adapt their style to suit it. You can sometimes trick a sample into behaving slightly better, by shifting the notes earlier & leaving them a little longer than written, but it won't replace being able to use the correct articulation.

More comprehensive sample sets come with a variety of articulations, which you can usually switch between by using controller data, or by playing one of several notes outside their playing range, which signals the sampler to switch to a different articulation for the following note[s].

As an example of one of the finer sampling companies, Spitfire. Check the audio demos from their Hans Zimmer collection - https://www.spitfireaudio.com/shop/a-z/hans-zimmer-strings/ They make many sets like this, each at rather a price;) Have a poke around their site to see what others they make, each is for a slightly different purpose & end result. BTW, none of the examples you will hear are done just by dotting notes into a sequencer. It takes a lot of skill to make a bunch of samples sound like the real thing, even if you are armed with one of the best sample sets.

  • WOW! Very enlightening and informative, and, in my case, very educating! I didn't know that there were different ways of getting different articulations for one and the same musical instrument. I thought that were already long-established unique and conventional methods of how to render this or that symphonic-orchestra instrument in any sample. Thank you!
    – brilliant
    Apr 17, 2022 at 13:39

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