Following on from the extremely popular Animato and Spiritoso titles, this week saw the release of the latest collection from sample pioneers Zero-G to form a trilogy of titles dedicated to introducing more realism to sampled instruments.
Luminoso: Live Violin Phrases is a 15GB collection of thousands of live recorded 6-bar looped phrases performed by two world-class violinists from the Liverpool Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. We caught up with the library’s producer Dan Graham and invited him to write a guest post about why he created the library and how he did it. Over to Dan…
Hello there I’m Dan Graham, the producer of Luminoso: Live Violin Phrases.
This library is part of a series of four libraries that introduce more realism to sampled instruments. Part 1 was the 2010 release Animato: String & Flute FX, Part 2 was last year’s Spiritoso Live Cellos, and next will be live flutes and piccolos. I started this because I record a lot of live strings but also do a lot of projects with only sampled strings, and so I’m well aware of the big difference in sound, even if you use the best sample libraries. I came to realise that at least some of the great live sound could be captured with samples, especially when it comes to simple repeated rhythms and patterns.
I don’t have any interest in those libraries that have wonderful ‘licks’ and melodies that sound great but you can only use once. Luminoso is more like a tool, a set of patterns that sound more real than triggered samples can ever do, but are simple and anonymous enough to blend in with anything, and controllable enough (in the dynamics, scales, tempo, mic positions etc.) to fit in with whatever you want them to do.
So, it’s a kind of musical glue you might say, the same way that acoustic guitars, hihats or shakers will pull a production together without standing out. These samples sit in the background but add a kind of magic to the sound, the same magic you get when you have real players chugging away instead of triggered samples, especially if you ride the mod wheel a lot to make the dynamics change with the natural crescendos and accents of the music.
I knew I needed something like this so did it for myself and have already used it on my current projects, but it’s nice to do it as a product to sell, partly because it’s nice to share something useful with fellow composers, and partly because doing it as a commercial product forced me to do it really well instead something that just about does the job but with rough edges and a crap GUI.
I did this with two of my regular violinists (Kate and Martin Richardson, players with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra), with them playing from a giant wad of scored repeating patterns. Sorry about that Kate and Martin. To ease my guilt, I like to think that these world-class players have a perverse OCD that makes them actually enjoy repeating things over and over until they’re perfect. Let’s hope so. Anyway they played flawlessly and the product sounds great just because they play things so well.
Creating the finished thing was real teamwork. I came up with the idea based on what I would like, but then hired the services of a great audio editor Alex Davis who chopped it all up and made sure it was all regularised, named, categorised and ready to go. Then the incredible scripter Adam Hanley performed magical tricks (I have no idea how to script!) that put all this together, with scripts that do amazing things like layering different bars together in different stereo positions to create the sound of a full string section, with controls over mic positions, stereo spread of the players, scale types and all the other helpful options. Finally amazing graphic artist Sam Hayles made the GUI look lovely. Sam has been doing all my design for 3 years – 12 album sleeves and tons of other things. He’s a real design genius.
So then, it’s done, it’s ready! I’m very happy with the way it sounds and works and will continue to use it wherever I don’t have live strings. I hope you find it as useful as I do!