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Posted on Wed, Jun 19 2019 21:03
by Seventh Sam
Joined on Sat, Dec 29 2018, Posts 159

Hey all!  

PREFACE: I'm certain a lot of users on this board are fully aware of what I'm about to post already.  Even so, I thought it worth sharing for those who may not be.

ANOTHER PREFACE: You need VI Pro and a library that has dynamics patches (standard or full library) for the following to be applicable.

Cross-fading between velocity layers as well as filter manipulation can simulate the natural increase/decrease in timbral intensity of instruments (esp. brass), but there are often phasing issues inherent in these techniques that can be hit or miss.  A better solution to creating realistic, straightforward crescendos, diminuendos and swells is one that the majority of VSL libraries provide: actual recordings!  No phasing or jumps in velocity - just real instrumentation.

However, these dynamics patches are offered in increments of seconds as opposed to musical length values which can make it intimidating/difficult to match them to the tempo of your piece of music.  But don't give up on these wonderful patches just yet!  The following information is meant to make them simple to use:

To quickly match a dynamics patch to a desired musical length:

1. Determine how long the crescendo/decrescendo/swell is supposed to last.  For example, let's say you want a trombone ensemble crescendo to last approx. a dotted half note in 4/4 time at 80 bpm. 

2.  Go to this handy website.  Type in the BPM of your music and hit enter.  The site will translate the absolute time value of a beat, two beats, three beats etc. for that BPM.

3. Find the number of beats that corresponds to what you want.  For our example, we want 3 beats since a dotted half note is 3 beats in 4/4 time.  That means we need the crescendo to last 2.25 seconds, according to the website.

4. Find the dynamics patch that is the closest in time value to your desired time.  If it's an exact match, great!  If not, you'll need to do some time stretching in VI Pro.  You want to find the patch that's the closest in time value because the less time stretching you do, the less artificial the sound will be.  In our example, the closest patch available for the trombone ensemble is 2 seconds long.

5. Now, some quick match.  Take your target time (in this case, 2.25 seconds) and divide it by the patch time.  In our example, this gives us 1.125

6. Enable the stretch feature in VI pro and set the entire envelope to 112% (113% if you're rounding up).  This is effectively lengthening the patch to 2.25 seconds.  (Tip: use algorithm 1 for strings, 2 for brass, 3 for woodwinds).

7. Voila!  You now have a crescendo/decrescendo that fits a dotted half note at 80 bpm in 4/4 time.  


  • Figure out how many beats you want the dynamic to last
  • Use this website (or something similar) to find out how long those beats are in seconds
  • Find the patch that is closest to that time
  • Divide your target time by the patch time
  • Set the stretch function to the percentage you get.  Done!
  • For further nuance, use the Expression fader in conjunction with the patch.

Note that the stretch function can only stretch 50% either way (so you can't make a 6s dynamic 12s long, for example).  This is for the best, since the more time stretching you introduce the more artificial it sounds.

If you don't want to do all that math:

Understandable.  Here's something that might help:

Dynamics by BPM Matrix

This picture shows a matrix I created using the method outlined above.  The X Axis represents the number of beats (each column adds a beat) while the Y Axis represents the BPM of the music (also indicated in the cell names).  EXAMPLE: the cell highlighted in the picture above is a crescendo/decrescendo patch that lasts for 5 beats at 60 BPM.  

This matrix is not meant to be used live (although it certainly could if you wanted to).  Rather, it is available is a quick resource.  Simply copy and past the cell(s) you want from this matrix into whatever set-up you have and you have already time-stretched dynamics ready to go!

I only did this for the dyn_me patch for the Trombone ensemble library as a test.  I've provided this matrix as a .vimatrix file for you to use.  Simply copy and paste it into wherever your matrix files are stored (On my computer it's C:\Users\Public\Public Documents\VSL Custom Data\).  If you have the Trombone Ensemble library, you'll be able to give it a spin.


I hope all that helps you folks get the most out of your samples!  The matrix took a bit of time to make, but if enough people are interested and would make good use of it, I'd be happy to configure more to work with other libraries (essentially saving you the busywork of time-stretching). 

Please let me know if this is something you'd be interested in and if there are any changes you would like made!


- Sam

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