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Interview with Peo Drangert - Producer of Gabi Masso String Ensemble Sessions
Written by PowerFX - © 2008, PowerFX. Reprinted with Permission.
The PowerFX Interview with Sound Propulsion owner Peo Drangert - Producer of Gabi Masso Oriental String Ensemble Sessions

Who's behind Sound Propulsion?
I started Sound Propulsion in 1997, after many years as a professional musician and recording engineer. Through the years I've done all types of recording both live and in the studio. These days, my primary focus is on media and radio production, voice over, sample libraries and sound effects. I also record and produce music for the Sound Propulsion label and for independent artists.

How did you happen to find Gabi Masso String Ensemble?
Gabi had been looking for help recording his latest project and his former music teacher recommended Sound Propulsion to him. He contacted me and things moved forward from there.

Who is Gabi Masso?
Gabi Masso is a musician who was born in Syria but has lived in Sweden his whole life. He grew up with both Eastern and Western musical influences which gave him a broad musical palette. He studied music composition and arranging in Stockholm and has released a couple of albums of his own material. He composed the music played in the Gabi Masso Oriental String Ensemble Sessions.

What about the ensemble?
The ensemble consists of 11 violins, 3 violas and a cello all played by top session musicians that live and work in Istanbul. In Turkey, there are different string ensembles that play with big artists. The 3 most famous ensembles are Senyaylar, Kempa and Gundem. Gabi was able to pick and choose from these three in order to get exactly the right combination for his production. Gabi found them through his friend Ahmet Tekbilek who is also a musician, and has very good contacts in the music scene in Istanbul.

Where was the recording made?
In Istanbul at a studio called "ÖREM" which is one of the best in Turkey. They have lots of experience recording traditional strings and maintain a high recording standard. Gabi thought that recording in Istanbul was a good idea both because of the calibre of the musicians and because of the city's historical role as a link between the East and the West. This gives the musicians there the opportunity to gather inspiration from both sources and develop in a way that is stylistically unique.

So when did you decide to release the material as a sample library?
Well, there was so much great material recorded at the session that there was more than enough for Gabi's album. It was during that time that I realized that much of the string material would be brilliant as multisamples & loops. Since Gabi owned all the material outright there was no problem with licensing or copyright issues.

I had recently finished our previous sample library Scandinavian Roots Vol. 1 and had also produced similar material for Propellerheads Software in the past. So I was pretty familiar with the process of creating this type of product and knew what formats would work best to meet the needs of the majority of professional and semi-professional users.

Next, we organized all the material from the string session into different categories based on style, tempo and feeling. From there we chose what today is released as the Gabi Masso Oriental String Ensemble Sessions Downloadable Sample CD at PowerFX.

How would you describe the material?
It's got a very distinct Middle Eastern/Arabic/Turkish flavor but still maintains some western character in the sense that it's a bit more modern than traditional. So the phrases and riffs work both tonally and contextually with both spheres of influence. This makes it accessible to a wide range of users. When I first heard the material I got a flood of images and ideas of how I could use it in different ways. I think it would work well in lots of modern music productions. Particularly in World music and related cross-over genres, but also in the Eastern-flavored Hip-Hop and R&B that has become so popular over the past couple of years. I am also quite confident that it would very easily find a home in a relevant film score or documentary.

What are the characteristics that make a Middle Eastern string ensemble special (such as rhythms, voiceings, intervals, instrumentation)?
The sound of the Gabi Masso Oriental String Ensemble Sessions differs enormously from ordinary western string arrangements due to the legato playing style, the quartertones and the rhythmic playing styles. You will find oriental scales combined with western-style scales. The rhythms are more western-style; 4/4 and 6/8.

While Gabi was in the studio recording the string ensemble he played house music loops in the background as well as famous eastern rhythms like "Saidy", "Baladi" and "Wehda" as guide tracks. As I mentioned before, the ensemble consists of: 1 cello, 3 violas and 11 violins, then they doubled them (overdubbed) for a fatter sound. Style-wise the ‘Gabi Masso Oriental String Ensemble Sessions’ arrangements are not only influenced by Turkish traditional style but also by Greek, Arabic and Persian traditional strings as well.

How did you edit the individual sections and what software did you use?
We used Apple Logic, ACID and WaveLab for the editing. The files/loops are edits from the real composed music session arrangements. We have split them into different lengths (bars) so that users can freely rearrange the phrases to fit into their music productions.

As a musician and producer yourself, what do you think about the product?
I feel that Gabi Masso Oriental String Ensemble Sessions is very inspiring material and the recordings are useful, authentic and of top quality. Plus you've got both short riffs and runs, as well as long phrases, melodies and movements which can be edited to suit your needs and it is all completely royalty-free. You can get a lot of "mileage" out of these collections. I encourage anyone who's interested to listen to the demos and hear what I mean for themselves. I'll put it like this: if I didn't make it myself I'd buy it without hesitation. What more can I say?

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