August 21, 2006

MIDI Violin, but not what you think...

by Chris Randall

When you first hear the words "MIDI violin," you think of a violin that transmits MIDI, right? This bad boy is the other way around. It receives MIDI. Now, this is a violin I would find useful. Product page is here. $17,500 and it's yours.



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Aug.21.2006 @ 11:16 AM
Yikes, for that price you could buy a violinist and keep them in a box in your garage.

Aug.21.2006 @ 11:17 AM
Chris Randall
I hadn't thought of that. Good point.



Aug.21.2006 @ 11:56 AM
Having an orchestra of these things would be pretty cool. Normally recording an orchestra for a movie (or video game - video games are using real orchestra scores nowadays) is expensive because of all the labor and the time to record.

But what if there was a company that had a room set up with the proper acoustics, already miked and ready to record? You upload your midi files, submit your song into a queue, and the robotic orchestra records your music and sends you the digital recording. Since it doesn't need to practice, or get people to come to the session, etc., it should be a lot cheaper.


Aug.21.2006 @ 11:57 AM
I just looked this up, I have a few friends who do this sort of thing but never asked their rates. So a bit of googling gave me this quote ...

"For string arranging, you can get paid between ?500 and ?1500 per track depending on how much work you have to do. I know quite a few arrangers and the going rate seems to be going down lately! If you?re the musical director on a session you will get some royalties as well through MCPS but the players just get the musicians union rates which is ?110 for a 3-hour recording session. If the track they play on is released as a single, they also get what?s called a buy-out fee of about ?500. But if you think, the record might sell 2 million copies and the players only got a hundred quid, it does seem a bit unfair!"

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So for a grand would get you an arrangement, a quartet and enough change to buy them all a drink.


Aug.21.2006 @ 1:00 PM
> So for a grand would get you an arrangement, a quartet and enough > change to buy them all a drink.

...and a far more nuanced and musical performance than what some MIDI'd up robot could achieve.


Aug.21.2006 @ 1:06 PM
Chris Randall
Those union rates are for British musicians. Speaking from experience, it is _much_ more expensive here in the States. (Which is why you see so many scores done by the LSO. It ain't because they're better. It's because they're cheaper.)

I used a mixed quartet (two violins, two cellos) on one track, and had to shell out almost seven grand. I'll grant that I didn't scrimp on the arranger, who was almost half of that, as I got Phillip Glass' arranger. But the union scale for the four players worked out to almost four grand for a couple hours. And that was ten years ago.



Aug.21.2006 @ 1:28 PM
Chris Randall
I suppose it's worth mentioning that in the long run, something like this would be cheaper than a union guy; however, IMO, it is just about the most soul-sapping performance you could expect. It literally sounds like a robot. I can get way better strings from a sampler, played on a keyboard.



Aug.21.2006 @ 7:01 PM
But Chris, that is the great thing about a midi string playing robot... Instead of using your midi controller and a sampler, use a midi controller and a string robot. The robot is simply a midi synthesizer! (although a mechanical one).

If the process is souless, blame it on midi - not the robot! There is nothing more souless about controlling a violin robot with midi than controlling an analog synth with midi.


Aug.21.2006 @ 8:25 PM
Uhhh, as a (former jazzhead) conservatory grad, and married to a classical musician, I'd have to completely agree with CR's last post. This "violin" is a bizarre throwback to a pre-industrial obsession with musical automata. If you want the characteristic stiffness of a bad midi performance, do it all in software. One can get more authentic results with the cheap Garritan library. This gimmick is a waste of wood, silicon and electricity...but - there's a place for it at Disney! I took my two-year-old to Tokyo Disneyland a few months back and had to sit through an atrocious skit involving robot bears pretending to play Appalachian folk music on banjos, fiddles, washtubs, etc. Of course all the music was canned. Now, if those bears were actually hooked-up to instruments such as this "violin," the experience would have (quite literally) resonated more significantly.

Aug.21.2006 @ 9:33 PM
It seems scary if it were connected to one of those midi file generators.Just think that and a Clearchannel exec getting hold of it!

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