Although we’re often hired to write string arrangements or create string parts, also we’re booked by clients who already have their music scored and just want to hire some professional session musicians.
Of course, one of the first considerations is how much this is going to cost – and we always stress that the more prepared and organised a studio is, the quicker we can get in and get the work done. Arriving at a studio and finding that the microphones are already set up, the engineer is ready to record and simple things like chairs are in place can all mean that we can simply sit down and record straight away – saving the client time. Time is money and we often arrive early just to make sure everything is set up so that the time we charge for is actually spent playing. From the initial enquiry, if a score (and if possible mp3) can be given to the musicians beforehand, it’s possible to give an accurate estimate of how much time the recording should take, and also to spend a few minutes looking at the score to spot any potential tricky areas that might take more time.
Sometimes – in particular when other instruments are going to be recorded at the same time – it’s hard to estimate how long a recording might take. As we charge a set amount of time per musician for the first two hours (with a reduced hourly rate thereafter), it can be much more economical to get strings added to several tracks on one day. It’s always good to leave the day open – ended without any pressing evening engagements so that if the recording session does over-run it’s all fine.
Once in the studio, one of the session musicians will usually keep popping into the booth just to hear back what’s just been recorded and check for any tiny imperfections – things that a string player would pick up on – just in case the producer and engineer may not have heard it – it’s far better to quickly fix any small adjustments in tuning, tone or phrasing at the earliest stage possible, before any post production work has been done.
With developed ears for recording work and experience of how to get the best string tone in front of a microphone, the best session string players are able to adjust the tone quality of their instruments to fit in with the ‘feel’ of each individual track.