Modern Orchestration Masterclasses / Viola: acoustic articulations and how to reproduce them with music software

Membership plan: Going Deeper | Topics: Music Production

Course overview

£15 off SWAM Viola 3 for people who purchase this workshop! 

Aimed at electronic musicians wanting to begin working with orchestral instruments and musicians, this workshop will begin a tour of the standard orchestral instruments by teaching the standard articulations for the viola, along with some of the best practices for writing for this instrument, and how to programme viola VSTs for realism. We'll be demonstrating playing styles with a professional viola player before moving to working with VSTS, and will be using Spitfire's industry standard sample library, BBCSO (both the free version and Professional), as well as SWAM's incredible modelled instrument, Viola 3.

Viola player: 
Charlie Stock is a London-based freelance viola player. Adept at multiple styles from classical to pop, she has performed and recorded with artists such as FKA Twigs, Lana Del Rey, Jarvis Cocker, Rihanna, Bat for Lashes, Giorgio Moroder, The Irrepressibles, The Clientele, Dana Gavanski, Graffiti Classics Comedy String Quartet, Swindle, Kojey Radical, Theo Adams company, St Pauls Sinfonia, The Heritage Orchestra and The London Symphonic Rock Orchestra.

She is also a member of experimental post-punk trio Bas Jan and currently touring with their new album ‘Baby u Know’.

What you'll learn

  • Understand the range and standard articulations for the viola
  • Begin to write playable and idiomatic music for the viola, whether for an IRL musician or a VST
  • Create realistic viola lines, for solo and section, using VSTS (including Spitfire's BBCSO and SWAM's Viola 3) with an understanding of range, articulations, dynamics, expression and modulation
  • Communicate as a composer with a viola player (by understanding what can reasonably be asked of the instrument and what experimental techniques might be possible)

Who is this course for?

  • Musicians who want to begin work with orchestral instruments

Course content

  • The Viola - Modern Orchestration Masterclass - Helen Noir
  • 1. Anatomy of the Viola
  • 2. Range of the Viola
  • 3. Legato
  • 4. Vibrato
  • 5. Staccato (tenuto_spiccato)
  • 6. Marcato_accent
  • 7. Pizzicato (regular and Bartok_snap)
  • 8. Tremolos_Trills
  • 9. Col Legno
  • 10. Double Stops (and triple_quadruple)
  • 11. Harmonics
  • 12. Glissando_Portamento
  • 13. Sul Pont, Sul Tasto, Flautando
  • 14. Mutes
  • 15. Extended Techniques
  • 16. Qualities of Different Strings
  • 1. Using Reverb
  • 2. Mixing
  • 3. Volume dynamic balancing
  • 4. VCAs
  • 5. EQ & Distortion tips
  • 6. Working with Sample libraries
  • 7. Spitfire BBSCO Discover Legato
  • 8. CC Controllers
  • 9. Solo Viola Samples
  • 10. Staccatos and 'shorts'
  • 11. Glissando portamento
  • 12. SWAM Instruments
  • 13. Size of instrument CP
  • 14. Walkthrough programming controllers (cc)
  • 15. Expression
  • 16. Velocity
  • 17. Avoiding high expression values
  • 18. Bow position bow pressure
  • 19. Flautando
  • 20. Double stops
  • 21. Open strings finger positions
  • 22. Bow on bow off
  • 23. Drawing automation
  • 24. Play modes timbre pitch advanced menus
  • 25. Vibrato Rate
  • 26. Up bow down bow
  • 27. Sordino mute
  • 28. String resonance and open strings
  • 29. Pizzicato col legno cont.
  • 30. Making ensembles groups of SWAM violas
  • 31. Pitch
  • 32. Reverb
  • 33. Menus expressivity
  • 34. Tremolo
  • 35. String resonance open strings
  • 36. Pizzicato col legno
  • 37. Making groups ensembles of SWAM violas
  • 38. Pitch ensembles


  • A computer and internet connection

Course schedule

Meet your instructor

Helen Noir (she/her) is a London-based soprano, composer, orchestrator & producer. She writes soundtracks for film, fashion and theatre, most recently for Joseph Wilson's Isn't it a Beautiful World, which premiered at BFI London Film Festival in October 2021. She works specifically with directors and designers to take music from initial composition through recording, orchestration, production and mixing. She also performs regularly with cult performance art group Theo Adams Company, and is an operatic session vocalist.

Useful links

SWAM Viola - SWAM Viola | Audio Modeling     Spitfire Audio — BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover (Free)     Spitfire Audio — BBC Symphony Orchestra Professional  

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