I’ve been very busy lately updating some of my old compositions. Now I’m proud to present my Ladyhawke rescore (which can be found as “Day of the Falcon” on streaming services) in new shape. I consider this as my most mature symphonic composition to date, my opus magnum if you will, and I’m extremely satisfied with how it holds up sound-wise.
For my fellow sample library nerds:
Woodwinds are from Cinematic Studio Woodwinds. My first version used the Infinite Woodwinds and though they are a blast to perform and also quite convincing in some parts, in general their timbre doesn’t complement well in orchestral context. So I ended up using CSW on pretty much all parts.
Brass is complicated. Also here I started out with Aaron Venture Infinite Brass, but it was rather a hassle to get horn ensembles with gravitas out of them and the trombones also lacked in serving as a fundament of sound. Infinite Brass is quite soloistic by design it seems and it’s also a lot of work programming each individual instrument. So I basically kept only a few horn and trumpet lines and went with VSL Synchron Brass instead which meanwhile became my workhorse. I also used Abbey Road One Foundation Brass instruments here and there when I wanted it to be thick and grounded. There’s nothing like Abbey Road One Horns soundwise!
Percussion is mainly Spitfire Percussion. The timpani, bass drum and cymbals are from Abbey Road One which are sensational sound-wise, but articulations are a catastrophe. There’s no mod-wheel controlled cymbal or Timpani roll, but apart from that, the sound is fantastic. Meanwhile I’ve managed to get my other libraries (in particular VSL Timpani) to sound almost as good, and with them offering some flexibility in articulations, I’m going to abandon Abbey Road One percussion sooner or later. There’s a lot of Plate Bells used btw, which are from VSL Synchron Percussion.
Strings. The main string library here is Cinematic Studio Strings, sometimes layered with Cinematic Studio Solo Strings. They are simply the best sounding and most consistent string libraries on the market. I’ve sneaked in Berlin symphonic strings (Basses and Celli) in some parts, because CSS Celli and Basses are a bit boomy and “dirty sounding”, but to be honest, I’m getting the best results expression-wise with CSS, which is why I still stick to it. Where I needed strings to be punchy, I layered in some staccatos from Abbey Road One which – again – sound sensational, but are rather lifeless when it comes to sustained articulations. I think I also used some Berlin series sul ponte tremolos which are not covered by CSS (unfortunately). Cello and violin solo parts I used CSSS for spiccato, but for legato I ended up using the Performance Samples freebies for cello and violin which didn’t need any programming, but could be played like an actual instrument, thus resulting in more natural phrases.
For special orchestral effects I used Sonokinetic Espressivo as in the original version (which was done using VSL Special Edition only). Choir is a mixture of Audio Imperia Chorus (which I just used because I bought it at the time) and Metropolis Ark choirs which are still the best sounding choirs out there in forte-fortissimo range, but not at piano-pianissimo, which is why I got me Chorus in the first place.
There is some extensive mixing going on with lots of plug-ins. I even booked a few hours with Joel Dollie going over the template and finding the best settings. A few key components I’d like to share with you here:
- I used Eventide SP2016 on instruments that needed to be put in the room. The SP2016 shoves them all back very nicely and smoothens unwanted transients significantly.
- Main Reverb is VSS3. Since all the instruments that I used come with good sounding mic signals, I just needed a bit of this on top. I’ve come to the conclusion that the VSS3 glues instruments together nicely for the typical orchestral symphonic sound. Other reverbs that I used like Seventh Heaven and Cinematic Room might sound flashier and brighter at times, but if it’s not the soloistic sound you’re after, I’d advocate for VSS3.
- I have an instance of Gullfoss on every section. It helps to even more flatten the sound in a way that prevents instruments from sticking out.
Well, that’s about it. I hope you find this helpful if you are also in the “trying to sound like an orchestra without having an orchestra” field like I am. Those of you who only wanted to check out my new music have probably quit reading by now. (If not, you’re a true fan!) – Thanks & Enjoy!