With almost 20 years of study and 10 years working professionally, I've learned to not just play the song, but to serve the song and bring out it's best qualities. I've also learned how to take my recordings and replicate them live through tasteful use of effects and looping, so you can have "that sound" on tour as well as in the studio.
Whether you have an idea in your head, string mockups you want double, or strings built from the ground up, I can send you quality strings wherever you are.
Recording/Engineering (Raw files w/ quick Comping)
Solo/Duo Violin $150/song
String Quartet $250/song
16 voice Orchestra $400/song
Recording + Comping/Tuning + Mixing (Can send separate wet/dry tracks)
Solo/Duo Violin $250/song
String Quartet $400/song
16-Voice Orchestra $800/song
I'll create an arrangement for you and send you a score with individual parts for your players to work with.
Strings Solo $250/song
String Quartet $400/song
String Orchestra $800/song
I can also produce synth layers (bass/lead/pads/arps), keys (piano/rhodes), and percussion loops for your songs. Keys/Synths/Percussion Loops $400/song
I'd be happy to perform live, whether you have string parts or not. I've also been a Music Director for over 5 years using Ableton/Multi-Tracks.
Violin/One-Man Orchestra $400/day
Music Director/Multi-Track Engineer $800/day
Send me a note through the contact button above.
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Interview with David Gerald Sutton
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I'm usually either recording strings, performing/touring live, or creating synth programming/multi-tracks for them.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I listen to the song two/three times over; First time to just hear it, second time to analyze it's direction/emotion, and a third time to listen to the harmonic structure and see how I can fit into it. I then start arranging, whether by sitting down and writing out parts, or recording scratch takes. Then, I'll spend a couple hours perfecting the strings in recording. Lastly, I'll clean everything up, do any minor tuning needed, and place my fx bus on and adjust as needed. If the song is delicate and frail, I'll adjust to having dry-er, more prominent strings. If the song is powerful and full, then I'll find the right reverb lengths, and fold them into the mix.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I feel like I bring an understanding of strings on a level beyond what most expect. I not only have the ability and credentials to back it up, but I understand the theory behind the music, and when to implement tasteful harmonic extensions or counterpoint. I understand how and when to play in pop songs, even to the point of adapting my five string violin to sound like a cello, a guitar, a synth, or even a drum machine to find the best way to serve a song. I understand how to record strings well, hear the nuances of a take, and piece it together correctly using modern editing and mixing. From the beginning to the end of my work, I feel confident in my ability to see all the ins and outs, from the big picture down to the tiniest detail.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: My ability to learn and adapt, whether over a decent amount of time, or on-the-fly. If something needs to be worked on or improved, or if a skill needs to be provided that isn't available in the group, I'll do my absolute best to help and figure it out as fast as possible, with as much knowledge as possible. If I don't know the answer, I know I will be able to find it.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I'm usually working with singer/songwriters and pop musicians, although I do the occasional commercial/film scoring work as well.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: How you place the strings is very important in the mix, and while the traditional left to right, high to low strings has been a staple in orchestral work for at least 100 years, it's better to experiment and do what fits in the stereo field better these days. For example, cello usually fits down the middle with the bass and viola to the right. Sometimes, I'll even put the first violin and second violin on opposite sides versus next to each other to help balance the frequency spectrum if it feels too heavy to one side. Experiment with strings placement!
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I would love to work with Kimbra someday. She's a powerhouse vocalist and producer, and her musical journey has effected me greatly in my own journey. I also would love to work with Nils Frahm, as his production sense and musical performances have so much power and emotion, that even being instrumental music doesn't stop people from listening to his work over and over again. I hope to achieve that in my own instrumental work someday.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I've been playing music for almost 20 years now. I started classically at the age of 10, taking private lessons and school orchestra. Then, in high school, I played in everything I possibly could: Youth Symphony orchestras at community colleges, wedding quartets, pit orchestras, and even jazz bands. I moved to Minneapolis to study with Randy Sabien, an amazing strings teacher who started the Berklee strings program. We worked on country, swing, jazz, hip-hop, and pop music. After that, I worked in the worship realm for awhile, music directing for churches, and building up my playability for live. Finally, I started touring with bands in 2014, not only learning how to play violin in pop bands, but how to stay relevant and serve the song, even if I don't sound like a violin anymore. I have now been playing professionally for 10 years.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: My five-string acoustic-electric violin, my Macbook Pro, an Apollo Twin, my Telefunken M60 Microphone, and my Pigtronix Infinity Looper.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: It's not just about a person's skill at their instrument when it comes to strings (violin, viola, or cello). It's about whether or not that person has the ear to understand how to best serve the song and the artist who wrote it. A flashy arpeggiated line means nothing if it takes away from the vocal, or if the voice leading isn't reflective of the keys and synths already present. Understanding music theory, arranging, and the emotional space are major factors in whether the strings make or break a song and it's immersion. I promise I bring that understanding to the table in every project I work on.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What is the song about? What story are you trying to tell through the music/lyrics? How do you want the strings to serve the song? Do you want them to compliment the mood that is being set by the instrumentation/lyrics, or do you want them to create a different atmosphere? Do you want more orchestral, pad-type sounds, or more articulate, fast paced lines?
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I love being able to put my heart and soul into my work, deliver it to my clients, and have them say "that's exactly what I was picturing in my mind!" or "these strings helped lift the song to a place I wasn't expecting". There's nothing better to me than knowing that what I contributed was exactly what they were looking for, even if we've never worked together before and the client may not know what they want from the strings.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: I've worked with Michael Shynes a lot this past year, and highly recommend him for his work, both as a songwriter and a vocalist.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm working on a new solo record of mine, based around my looping and instrumental songwriting.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I was especially proud of working with Stacy King (formerly of Eisley) and her husband, Darren King (formerly of Mutemath) on their project, Sucre. I did a lot of touring with them in 2018, and recorded strings on a few of their songs they are putting out this year. Eisley and Mutemath were bands I grew up with and always dreamed about playing with someday, and to work with some of my favorite people from those projects was an absolute dream come true. We played the Ryman Auditorium, did a month-long tour of the East Coast and Midwest, and made some amazing memories together. I'll never forget that experience.