2. August 2021

Too Romantic – Orchestration Breakdown

In this video Peter is playing two distinct orchestrations that have their voicings built right within the Divisimate preset. The way he uses the transposer scale lock here is quite interesting, which is why we’re going to break down these presets a bit, all the while you can just dissect them yourself. You can download both presets here and try them out yourself:

Essentially there are two orchestrations and voicings here: a closed voicing that is both the first and last orchestration we hear, using Strings and Woodwinds, and a more open voicing made up of stacked fourths that is played only by the strings and makes up the longer middle part of the performance.

Both presets make heavy use of the transposer scale lock feature to create and play voicings with just a single note on the keyboard and shift them around diatonically in key.

All throughout the piece there is a pizzicato double bass in the low keyboard range that is played to complement the upper chords. These two orchestrations are a good opportunity to examine how you can create different voicings with different harmonic characters using the transposer scale lock – so let’s get into it.

Preset 1 - Quartal Harmony and the String Ensemble

Let’s start out with the preset that involces less instruments: Too Romantic 01, which is used in

In the Low range we have only the Double Bass again and in the voices only one voice active, which is routed to the rest of the strings. Violins 1, Violins 2, Violas and Cellos all get that same voice to work with, and then the chord is created through different transpositions of that voice in each part.

The 1st Violins are always playing the “original” melody note that is actually played on the keyboard, while the 2nd Violins are transposed down by 3 scale degrees, the Violas down by 6 and the Cellos down by 9. So we have a top line that is played in the 1st Violins and chord notes that are always “hanging” below that top line.

There are always three scale degrees between each voice of the chord – so there is always either a perfect, augmented or diminished fourth between each part depending on the scale position. In the end, we’re just stacking fourths on top of each other and making them adhere to the scale. This creates a nicely fresh and less frequently used sound – and it takes a lot of practice to play it fluently at once. With the transposer scale lock you can take a shortcut to experiment with this kind of voicing under your melody.  The piece is set in Db Major, so the resulting voicings for the respective top notes within the scale are like this:

But in the video Peter is not playing top notes that are exclusively from that scale, and this is where it gets interesting:

With the transposer scale lock if you are playing notes outside of the selected scale and you don’t have the “Follow Low” function enabled, the transposer will look for the nearest scale note above the currently playing note, derive its scale-locked transposition from that, and then just transpose back down the number of steps it took to get there.

That’s a bit convoluted to explain but when you play, it results in one simple thing: When you alternate between a scale note and the “out-of-scale” note a half step below, you’ll hear the same voicing shifted by a half step. This introduces an interesting color as your melody leaves the set scale and gets back.

Go ahead and experiment a bit with the provided preset and see what happens when you leave the scale.

Preset 2 - Mechanical Voicings in Winds & Strings

Now let’s look at the second voicing. This one involces more instruments, as some woodwinds are included as well as the strings. The same essential technique is used as in the first preset, except that this time it’s the Melody Range that is routed to Woodwinds and upper strings. There’s no big reason for that except for slight differences in legato-playability. Using a single voice will result in a new note only playing when you release the first note, while the Melody Range does not have this kind of limited polyphony and allows more flexible legato overlaps.

Once more there is only a top line being played and the voicing below that top line is created by different transpositions with the scale lock enabled. This time the voicing also includes some octave transpositions, but at the core there are still just four different notes.

The transpositions on the individual instruments are as follows:


Instruments Transpositions
Piccolo Flute, Harp, 1st Violins 0 (Original Pitch)
Flute 1, 2nd Violins -2 scale degrees (down a third)
Oboe -3 scale degrees (down a fourth)
Flute 2, Violas -5 scale degrees (down a sixth)
Clarinet -7 (down an octave)
Cellos -12 (down a sixth AND an octave)

This results in a pretty closely voiced chord on top, with a lower line in the cellos. As the top line moves, this full close voicing is shifting around and following every move of the melody exactly. The melody goes up, all the other parts go up as well, melody goes down, everyone moves downward. Melody and chords below the melody are linked together tightly, which is why some people call this mechanical voicing.

Here’s the resulting voicing from the transposer along the Db major scale:

Once more, playing notes outside of the scale will give you interesting additional colors that still always makes up the voicing built through the transposition, only chromatically shifted away from the scale.


So these are the two presets used in this video – you’ll find that both presets also contain trigger plugins for the strings, which is a tweak quite specific to Peter’s template. He is using the Trigger plugin to switch between articulations for the strings (Pizzicato, Performance Legato, Tremolo, Col Legno etc.), so the Trigger is sending UACC messages on CC32 to make sure that the strings are playing arco, and not pizzicato.

To learn about the way the string sound is built, check out our Strings Template Breakdown.

Stay up to date

Don’t miss any news! Allow us to let you know what we are up to.

By signing up to our newsletter you accept our privacy policy. You’ll have the option to opt-out of the newsletter at any time. We won’t share your data with third parties and won’t send you spam emails.