grabby bow sound for violin/viola

OK, I don’t know how many of you might be interested in this, but I figure there’s no harm in posting it.

I’m working on some original songs. Laptop-based, electronic songs, with many orchestral parts, including violin, viola, cello, and string bass. Presonus Studio One has some very nice VST string instruments, and I have some really great ones for Kontakt. But they all are missing one thing, and I couldn’t find the (admittedly esoteric) sound that I’m looking for anywhere on the internet. Being a viola player myself, I recorded myself playing these very particular incidental sounds. Let me explain-

There’s this ‘grabby’ sound that a well-rosined bow makes just is it is first being drawn across the string. Listen carefully to any of the pros and you’ll hear it. In your laptop sequences, if used subtly, right at the point where the first note of a phrase is initiated, this sound can give the string part a marked sense of realism*. This, combined with vibrato, reverb and a nice warm/tube/tape saturation setting, nobody will be able to tell the difference between your VST and the real thing.

About the audio-

I tried to keep them as pitchless as possible, thus not limiting their utility. I recorded two sets of all four open strings (C, G, D, A), first close mic’ed, and once from a few feet away, in stereo.

Or to say it another way, the sounds are as follows-

1. open C close

2. open G close

3. open D close

4. open A close

5. open C far

6. open G far

7. open D far

8. open A far

It’s totally overkill for me to record all the different versions, but I suppose somebody out there might find one more appropriate than another for their purposes. They work pretty effortlessly for violin and viola, but you might have to pitch them down for cello and string bass.

I added no processing whatsoever, apart from normalizing each individual sound. Aiff, recorded at 44/16. Nady SCM-2090 stereo condenser mic, Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 interface, recorded in Logic. Not the quietest room, but these sounds will be so far down in the mix that it won’t matter. Free for all to download, no attribution necessary.

As an example, here’s the part I’m working on that motivated me to record these sounds, with the grabby sound in place. See if you can spot the three times I used it.

*pro tip- much the same way I’ll insert an inhale breath right before horn or oboe phrases.

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