The Solina String Ensemble (aka ARP String Ensemble), is a fully polyphonic multi-orchestral synthesizer with a 49-key keyboard, produced by Eminent BV (known for their Solina brand). It was distributed in the United States by ARP Instruments from 1974 to 1981. The sounds it incorporates are violin, viola, trumpet, horn, cello, and contrabass. The keyboard uses 'organ style' divide-down technology to make it polyphonic. The built-in chorus effect gives the instrument its distinctive sound.
The Solina String Ensemble is often thought of as the String Machine of the late 1970's disco era. It's a multi-orchestral machine with Violin, Viola, Trumpet, Horn, Cello and Contra-Bass sounds. These sounds can be engaged via individual on/off switches, allowing for a variety of ensemble configurations. The Cello and Contra-Bass sounds are monophonic and available only on the lower 20 keys of the keyboard. The remaining four sounds are polyphonic and can be played across the entire length of the keyboard. On their own, the sounds are quite unrealistic and not particularly useable. But when combined as an ensemble, and especially with the Chorus effect engaged, the resulting string sound becomes especially lush and shimmery.
The String Ensemble has been used by Air, The Eagles, Elton John, Pink Floyd, The Cure, Joy Division, OMD, Josh Wink, STYX, Tangerine Dream, Keane, Japan, and New Order.
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