I do super realistic sampled string arrangements for pop, rock, indie, americana, metal, edm, etcetera. If you're on a budget or time crunch but need realistic strings for your song, hire me!
- I'm Carsten Altena. a Dutch string arranger.
- I know how to idiomatically write for strings.
- I use the best VSTis (VSL, Cinematic Studio, Spitfire, 8dio, Embertone).
- I program slight "errors" in timing and intonation to make it sound super realistic.
- Since 2009 I've worked for successful artists in pop, rock, indie, metal, americana, EDM
So if you need affordable realistic string arrangements, send me a message, and please include a deadline, your track and if possible a link to a reference track you like the sound and style of.
Before SoundBetter I've worked with succesful Dutch artists such as Miss Montreal, Anneke van Giersbergen (with the Edison Award winning Lorrainville project), Paceshifters, Nina June and more. And thanks to SoundBetter, now also international clients!
With my various string libraries I can do anything from solo to ensemble, bone dry to drenched in halls. More importantly, I know how to write for strings for many genres. For an average price of $300 you'll get a finished product, no need for expensive recording sessions. Feel free to layer/replace parts by hiring great live players on SoundBetter! Deliverables: 24 bit stems for violins 1 & 2, violas, cellos and basses, and mic positions (close, decca, outriggers) so your mixing engineer has many options. I can provide midi/MusicXML for musical notation if needed.
Send me a note through the contact button above.
11 Reviews - 2 Repeat ClientsEndorse One Man Orchestra
Another amazing string arrangement by Carsten. Always a pleasure to work with him and the quality of his work always blows me away.
His string arrangements always help bring my songs to life.
Carsten did a great job on the strings for my song. He took direction well and was a great communicator. The results were fantastic and went above and beyond my expectations. Highly recommended!
Oh god...SoundBetter just crashed...when I just finish writing this...
Anyway, Carsten is just an awesome guy to work with, the result comes out to be very good! Just choose him, you will not be disappointed!
Carsten exceeded my expectations on this song. He took it to another level. this was the third time i worked with Carsten and not the last. Really can't recommend him enough. There is a reason why I have worked with him time and time again.
Another incredible string arrangement by Carsten. His work always brings a whole new dimension to my music and his arrangements are always so well written and really help build the intensity of the song when it needs it. Always a pleasure to work with him and look forward to collaborating on more music again in future
Extremely talented and a really nice guy. This was the second time I needed his help. Like last time, he immediately understood what the song needed and came up with his ideas. Really fast and efficient. Great sound. Have just ordered a third job with him for a new song. He is definitely my go to guy when it comes to string and orchestra arrangements.
The arrangement One wrote for my song was perfect and the process was seamless with excellent communication. After a consultation in which we exchanged ideas and references, One recorded a "demo" of the arrangement which didn't need any revision due to his clear and precise communication during consultation. I have used several arrangers in the past and highly recommend One. I hope to work with him again soon.
Working with Carsten is a dream! He's an excellent musician! The whole process was really smooth and Carsten did not only understand what I was after but also put his own vision to the song. The end result is magic. Can't wait to work with him again on my next song.
Pleasure working with Carsten. Cool guy and nice ideas.
Carsten was amazing right from the start! Very helpful, friendly and professional and the end result was exactly what I wanted. I will no doubt be using him again and can't recommend him highly enough.
Carsten is a very talented musician and I couldn’t be happier with how the string arrangement he produced for me turned out. He is a complete professional and it was a pleasure to work with him. I’m very glad that I stumbled across his profile on SoundBetter. If you need a string arrangement for a song, no matter what the genre may be I highly recommend contacting Carsten, you won’t be disappointed. A+++
Interview with One Man Orchestra
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Mostly string arrangements for pop and rock artist, sometimes "epic orchestral" stuff for metal bands who want a bad-ass intro for their album or live shows or "orchestral sweetening" on their tracks.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I love what George Martin did as a string arranger for The Beatles (just listen to Eleanor Rigby!). David Campbell is great too (check out Beck's Sea Change and Adele's 21). Dave Grusin (James Taylor's Caroline I See You) is great too. When it comes to "epic orchestral", I love John Williams (of course!), Jerry Goldsmith, a bit of Hans Zimmer (but I keep the ostinatos at a minimum...). Thomas Newman's subtle style is very inspiring as well. And of course the Two Steps From Hell guys. I also love what Gaute Storaas did for the metal band Dimmu Borgir, and the orchestrations in Fleshgod Apocalypse and Septic Flesh.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: Hardware: - An i7 Windows 10 system I've built myself, stuffed with RAM and SSD's for sample playback. - RME Babyface as audio interface - Presonus Eris E8 monitor speakers - A Doepfer LMK2+ 88 weighted keyboard controller - A Korg PadKontrol for drum programming - An iPad 1 running TouchOSC to control my orchestral libraries - An Akai LPD8 for extra knobs and pads - A 32 key Korg MicroKey for really fast synth action - A backup computer system (old PC and Mac). Software: - Cubase, Reaper and Notion for sequencing and scoring - Kontakt 5 running Spitfire Audio, Embertone, Impact Soundworks, Soundiron and lots more - Vienna Symphonic Library Chamber Strings, part of Orchestral strings, lots of separate instruments and SE. - No need for Vienna Ensemble on this system, everything runs smoothly on Vienna Instruments Pro! - DDMF eq's, compressors etcetera - Valhalla DSP reverbs - Many soft synths (mostly emulations of classics such as Juno 6, CS-80 and Oberheim OB-Xa) - Everything I record is automatically backed up in real time to a cloud service (sync.com). Other: - An acoustically treated room - A bunch of guitars (mostly Ibanez: RG and Jem). - A bunch of dynamic and condenser mics, I can borrow any brand from local recording studios. - A laughing buddha - A miniature Optimus Prime - A miniature buste of good ol' "Ludwig Van" - The obligatory Persian rug
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: - Clients contact me with a short briefing outlining the project goal. If possible, they email me an mp3, MusicXML or midi file of the track, and examples of other artists as inspiration. - We do a Skype/Hangout call or stick to e-mail, whichever the client prefers. We’ll define the scope and fixed price of the project. - After "go" I will start working as soon and send the first mockup(s), my client gives feedback, and we’ll iterate this process untill we’re both happy. When you’re happy, I’m happy; I’ll send you an invoice and of course high quality stems and other deliverables we’ve defined for the project.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Only what is necessary. Also, it's important to me to know what the lyrics are about, because string arrangements and orchestrations should enhance that essence of the song.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Making great, emotional strings and orchestra arrangements that fit the track and make them sound ultra realistic.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Pop, rock and metal.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: I see a lot of people buying the most expensive sample libraries only to make it sound like a cheap ROMpler synths. Having the libraries is of course half the battle. My advice to them is: study orchestration, do a string arrangement course, grasp how to idiomatically write for strings, brass, woodwinds, choir and percussion, and apply this knowledge while arranging, while using midi "tricks" like humanizing timing and intonation.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I'd say Devin Townsend. I love his energy, charisma and music. Devin's music is already epic but I'd love to know what happens if a real orchestra is added to his music.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Expressive, melodic, exactly what the music needs, epic.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Probably a mobile phone to call a rescue team, an acoustic guitar and my Kindle to pass the time.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What is the song about and what is your goal?
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Enhancing the meaning and impact of a song with my arrangements.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: String arrangements and orchestrations that move people.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: When I'm not arranging strings or orchestrating, I'm either busy with my band The Monolith Deathcult or composing tracks for my Audiojungle page (https://audiojungle.net/user/sonargymusic?ref=SonargyMusic)..
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: In the mid '90s I was "tracking" on Amiga computers. Even back then I was captivated by the idea that a computer could trick people into thinking they heard a performance on a real acoustic instrument. In the late 90's I started playing in rock and metal bands as a guitarist and keyboard player. When things got more serious for my bands Izegrim and The Monolith Deathcult I got more and more requests by bands, artists and producers to do keyboards, guitars and string arrangements and so I started my company One Man Orchestra about 10 years ago. Worked a lot for Dutch bands and producers and got most of my gigs through word of mouth. Someone turned my attention to SoundBetter and now I'm here! As for education: I am primarily self-taught, apart from a couple of years of organ lessons, a few months of jazz guitar lessons and couple of online courses such as the ones offered by Berklee and Alexander Publishing.