Samuel Barber – Adagio for Strings

I played this track in synthesizers emulating a real orchestra, using the original music score for orchestra by Samuel Barber.

The most challenging aspect of this play was to keep all the musicality, emotion and expression contained in the original score while using very impersonal instruments – a synth attached to computer, a mouse and music software (digital audio workstation).

I listened to many impressive orchestra recordings of the track as inspiration, but decided to be truthful to the music score – which was the intention of Samuel Barber. The total time of my play is a little over 7 minutes (the music scores establishes 7-8 minutes of playing time, but many famous orchestras play it much slower, in about 10 minutes, which I consider not so accurate to the composer’s ideas).

Firstly, I had to choose synth orchestra instruments suitable for such a slow paced song. These instruments should not sound harsh nor too artificial and needed to deliver nice vibratos and timbres. It took me days to find them.

Of course, I could not play all instruments at once. So I played every part separately – violins, violas, violoncellos, and double-bass – and mixed them together. It is quite difficult to keep a right pace playing each part separately, even when mixing them in “real time”. In total, I played 10 parallel tracks, as I added some refinements, such as a solo violin which would sound like a spalla of the first violin set.

One of the very intense activities was to make the “waves” that typical orchestra instruments make. This was done in post production, by means of carefully changing the intensity of each instrument of set of instruments, as well as the tempo of the whole song.

At the final mixing/mastering phase, I used convolvers, compressors and equalization so as to produce the most real sonority possible, in such a way that the listener cannot tell if it was a real orchestra or a synthesized one.

Close your eyes and enjoy!