Tag Archives: realstrings

Emerging Manchester

Coming soon! Emerging Manchester. The string arrangements are done, the scores are prepped, the players are booked, the session is on Friday 26th February at The Wood Rooms, 6 songs by unsigned Manchester artists are getting the full Realstrings treatment. More info at www.realstrings.wordpress.com/emergingmanchester

Free stuff

Over the years, I’ve made some string files available for free or in exchange for a donation to charity.  Here’s the full list.

These are all copyright free, do anything you like with them.

  • 8 bar phrases.  There are a few files in this zip, recorded back in 2000 at the legendary Cutting Rooms in Manchester.
  • Zadok Just for fun, we recorded the opening section of Handel’s Zadok The Priest. Help yourself to the stems.
  • Mad rise It slides up, in a mad kind of stringy way.
  • Disco pull-downs. Or falls, whatever you want to call them.
  • Held notes string notes, that are held for a few seconds.
  • Lifeshare loops buy these from Loopmasters, with all proceeds going to homeless charity Lifeshare.


The return of Disco Strings

It’s taken me a few years, but finally, a 2nd instalment of Disco Strings, a loops pack of cheeky disco lines, is up on Loopmasters.


The first pack featured on hits by Skrillex and Bakermat and many other productions, I’m sure this 2nd pack is even more useful.

The pack includes 60 phrases, with full mixes and individual stems, plus the usual midi and scores.  And now, you can have a Kontakt version as well.

Here’s a demo track featuring some of the loops.

Merry Christmas 2015

It’s coming up to the end of 2015 and a time to reflect on the year past for each of us personally and in the world order. If you catch one of those reviews of the year on the news channels it will mostly be grim reminders of quite unfathomable atrocities, disasters and sorrow.

Yet we still, somehow, find optimism for the year ahead. I’m thankful that hope is the last of our emotions to die, and that resilience seems to be an auto-response.

I am, undoubtedly, a bumbling optimist, because if I look beyond the bloody nasty things that go on, the hate that seems to rule so many lives, I can find plenty to cheer me.  People striving to do good things, to help others, to make beauty and enjoy it.

I wish for you peace, love and happiness.

The Lifeshare Loops from Realstrings: Hip-Hop and RnB

The Lifeshare Loops from Realstrings: Hip-Hop and RnB

This is a loops pack with a difference.  You get 28, 4-bar, real strings phrases, minor  and modal keys, recorded at 90 bpm, written to work with urban, RnB and hip-hop styles, performed with all the guts and emotion of real strings.

And your money goes to the homeless charity Lifeshare.

All proceeds from the sale of this pack go to Lifeshare.

Homelessness is a devastaing social problem and it’s up to us to respond.  Buy this pack to get the raw emotion of real strings in your music and help to alleviate the hardship of homelessness as well.

With thanks to the string players (Sarah Brandwood-Spencer, Paulette Bayley, Alex Stemp, Simon Turner and Nick Trygstad), my colleague Julian Cole who has developed a Kontakt version, George Atkins at 80 Hertz studio and the guys at Loopmasters.

Zadok: the chords

Chord progressions fascinate me.  They communicate so much without ever being a melody.  For an arranger, the chord progession of a song is a good place to start to look for counter melodies.

Zadok The Priest by Handel, written in the 18th century has one of the best intros in music. There is no theme as such, yet the chord progression and the pulsing/rolling string arrangement is instantly recognisable.

We recorded the strings for this 22 bar introduction and I’ve tried to get my head round the chord progression in this short video.

Help yourself to the strings recording (6 separate stems).  These audio files are copyright free.

Broken Chords

Broken ChordsString instruments can do all sorts of quirky things, like rolling broken chords. I’ve turned this technique into a loops pack.

These are 3 and 4 notes chords bowed across the strings, up and down, creating a distinctive rolling texture.  There are 94 chord patterns, recorded across 4 bars, at 100 and 120 bpm.  The loops cover major, minor and open 5th chords, and unusual patterns like augmented, diminished and sus chords.


The pack also includes sustained notes with rising and falling dynamics and a Kontakt instrument.

Here’s a look inside.

And a demo featuring the loops.


Anatomy of a library track

I’m no prolific composer but I have dabbled with library music when I can exploit my string specialism.  The track that has gained the most syncs for me (by a long way) is Vorsprung, part of an EMI album called Intimate Strings, featuring 10 of my compositions and 10 by Julian Cole.

What is it that makes it sync gold (compared to the rest of my efforts)?  This is the 60” version.

Simplicity.  1 chord per 2 bars, 1 melody, 1 counter melody, accompaniment of staccato 4s, nothing fancy.  This makes it accessible and instantly communicates an unmistakable character.  It’s also sequential, so we can more or less predict what’s coming next, especially in the melody.

Baroque-ish harmony.  Michael Nyman was the first to discover this.  Or maybe it was JS Bach.  Solid, traditional chord changes still make us feel good, preferably with a slight contemporary twist. This piece is:

Am – Bm7,11 – Em/G – F – Dm6 – Am/C – Bbmaj7 – E+ – E

Momentum.  The staccato 4s in the accompaniment give it a basic bounce and drive – forward motion.  These becomes 8s towards the end of the full version, for an extra push.

Bold statements.  The mainly melody is made up of 5-note, 16s cells, at the start of each chord change.

Space.  When the melody kicks in, there are huge spaces between each statement.

Contrasts.  Nothing clever, but contrasting elements; the 16s melody, the staccato 4s accompaniment, the sustained counter melody.

Loop and Layer.  The chord sequence is 16 bars.  For the full version of the track this repeats 5 times, no deviation from the chord pattern, no B sections.  Each repeat of the chord sequence introduces a new element.

1 – staccato chords
2 – add 16s melody
3 – add sustained counter melody
4 – add doubled-up 16s
5 – add staccato 8s for the accompaniment and a high counter melody.
The end

Build up.  Because each section loops and introduces 1 new element, the track has a continual sense of build.

Instrumentation.  The common or garden combo; nice, classical, classy, emotional instruments – piano and strings

Real musicians.  Samples sound so great, they just feel so crap.  Keep it real.  Though the piano on this one is samples.

Snip snip.  With it’s simple format, repetition, staccato chords and space, it’s an easy one to chop up for the sound editor.

Will I be using this as a template for more library tracks?  You bet.  The score for the full version is here. > Vorsprung