To me, this is a great video from Pete Whitfield showing essential ways to create realistic string parts. It covers:
- Voicing of the chords – to help break away from the limits of initially performing a string part on a piano. You can only spread your fingers so far on the piano but a string section has no such restriction and can play chord voicings that you can’t play on a piano.
- Sustained notes – if one a note from one chord does not change when playing the next chord (for example, playing C E G, then C F A), make it one long note. A real player would sustain the note rather than playing it twice.
- Passing notes – instead of just playing one chord note and then playing the next chord note, add a note in between to lead one note to the next. For example, if you are playing a G, and the next note in your chord progression is a C above that G, perhaps add in a short B note just before the C.
- Scale fragments – going beyond passing notes, consider playing part of a scale to move from one note to the next.
These are just some of the paraphrased ideas presented in the video below. This video is about the string parts themselves. As a result it leaves out one more essential tip. To make your string library sound more realistic, when moving from one sustained note to the next, ensure the midi notes overlap a little. The first note should end a little late and the next note should start a little early. A real string player allows one note to flow into the next. There is no hard break between the notes so the midi notes need to overlap.