Gothic Instruments’ Dan Graham introduces DRONAR: Live Strings

DRONAR Live Strings Main pageThe third instalment of the highly acclaimed DRONAR series from Gothic Instruments has arrived! Live Strings is the biggest DRONAR to date featuring a huge range of string articulations performed by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra which, thanks to the easy-to-use DRONAR engine, spring to life to present hundreds of evolving, highly playable and expressive cinematic presets to add emotion and drama to your music.


From foreboding evolving atmospheres loaded with suspense and face-melting scrapes and screeches that will strike horror into your audience to soothing shimmering soundscapes, rich tranquil textures and good old traditional live string sounds – the powerful DRONAR engine means you only need to play a few notes to be immersed into a huge universe of sound.


Here’s Gothic Instruments’ Dan Graham to tell us more…


Dan GrahamHi Dan, Live Strings has proved to be the most intensive and time-consuming DRONAR Module to create so far, what are the reasons for that?


There’s a few reasons. Firstly there was just a lot more material, a lot more different recordings of different types on sound. Then, the live recorded audio was done in a studio and needed to be mixed – a hundred separate close microphone channels all being mixed together. Then, they were recorded over about 4 years, all before the final engine of DRONAR was finalised and that means they weren’t recorded exactly to fit the requirements of the engine – they had the wrong lengths or pitches or variety of dynamics and they all had to be worked on to conform – finding the most transparent way of pitch shifting for example. And unfortunately, this was to put every separate microphone channel through separate pitch shifting in Melodyne to avoid the artefacts that would have shown up if a complex multitrack mix was pitch shifted.


Then there were things like rhythms. DRONAR creates rhythms by re-arranging parts of loops recorded to a fixed template rhythm and accent pattern. Because the live strings weren’t recorded to that pattern I had to edit them so they did. Attempts to automate the process resulted in errors or artefacts so I had to just dig in and literally manually slice up and move around tens of thousands of notes.  And at the end it was too good! The timing was so good that the ensemble patterns sounded robotic and artificial so I had to then put in random timing delays to make it worse again until it sounded better.


I don’t expect sympathy but I just need to say that this work is a labour of love. Without an obsession to reach a fantastic endpoint I couldn’t have done it.


What types of sounds can be produced with DRONAR Live Strings?

It’s great at traditional live string sounds, but it really comes alive when using all the modulation options – gates, arpeggiators, effects to transform the sound into something new. The separate layers, and the large number of weird string effects we recorded (scrapes, swirls, swims, screeches, rises, falls, groans etc.) means you can have fantastic cinematic atmospheres with whatever emotion you want – magical, glorious, mysterious, dark, horrific, and then have it as true to life or as morphed by modulators as you like.


But if you want a simple answer – it does pads and atmospheres. Just amazing ones that you have total control over.

The most obvious application for these sounds is cinematic soundtracks/productions, but what other types of genres or projects would they work well with?

Everyone needs amazing strings and pads! So pop, rock, hip-hop, ambient, you name it. Not sure about banjo jazz, but you could try!

Can you tell us more about the raw sounds – what instruments were used?

Live cellos, violas and violins played by members of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.


Which elements/features of the software are you most excited about and why?

The incredible sound, the simplicity of control, the amount of expressive control you have without much complication, the way you can get a complete ever-changing sound field with one preset.  Then, the amazing depth of the raw sounds and the endless ways you can combine sounds and settings to produce ever-new ideas.

How does Live Strings compliment the other DRONAR titles?

Strings are the bedrock of Western music, highly emotional and ever-present in most genres, so this is the big boss, the one DRONAR to rule them all. None of the other DRONAR modules try to do amazing strings so this is in a class of its own.


This is my finest achievement as a developer, a gift to the world that will keep on giving, and when I say all this, it’s an understatement.




Posted by Melanie Doidge

Having worked in marketing for over fifteen years with experience in various industries, Time+Space and the world of music production continues to be the most exciting of them all. With our brands consistently pushing the boundaries of technology with their products, the terrific DJs, Composers and Producers using them and the feedback from magazines and our customers, there's always plenty to tell the world about. Musical experience? I reached Grade 6 in piano back in my school days and am currently in the throes of trying to resurrect my abilities!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.