At the request of Denis Chang I have put together my list of sampled instruments to consider if you want to add certain instruments to your project in lieu of having a real player(s).
All of the libraries I suggest will be from "my" Gypsy Jazz perspective (not like I have an option).
There are many forums on the web which specialize in using libraries for pop, symphonic, games, ads and scoring based applications and more.
Be aware i have not tried every library but I have used more than most and have beta tested and demo’d for many of the major developers. I make my living with them. I may have missed something along the way so if you believe I have please ring in, i might learn something too. Also be aware some of these libraries are power hungry so make sure you can run them before you buy. The sample market seems to have blown up over the last 10 yrs so there is always something new on the market and keeping track can become a full time occupation. A good source for natural sounding (not exclusively) sample libraries is…
I’m a moderator there since it’s inception and it’s a pretty kewl forum. Composers egos are as large as anyone else’s but in general most people are friendly and helpful.
So without further ado…
Accordion-This one is pretty simple-ILya Efimov’s. I have a lot of sampled accordions and this one seems to be the best. The accordion player in our band whose first instrument is accordion and who has played for Michael Jackson, Kenny Loggins, David Lee Roth, Larry Carlton, etc claims this is the only usable sampled accordion. i’ll defer to him on this.
1. Art Vista Backbeat Bass-It has real personality. Hans Adamson, the owner of the company is OCD and releases a seemingly simple library every 3 yrs as he tweaks and tweaks (most companies would have spent about 3-4 months on an AC Bass). It shows in his handful of instruments. He gets sound and personality…for GJ this is my hands down winner, as an acoustic bass for other styles it wins some and loses some to Trilian
2. Trilian-Spectrasonics-As an overall bass module it’s the first thing i reach for because of it’s versatility (not just AC bass). For GJ I have tried using it a number of times and it always feels sampled.
3. Be aware most Sequencer programs and companies like Native Instruments come out with AC basses, they are usable to get ideas down. Occasionally they may sit well in a mix.
Two choices and they are not great.
1. Sample Modeling clarinet…It does some pretty cool things but ultimately sounds sampled when doing certain phrases.
2. Broadway Big Band has a neat clarinet but it does not have a complete amount of articulations leaving it lacking. You also have to buy the rest of the Big Band library, not an inexpensive choice.
You can google them but it seems they have dropped their dedicated web site.
This is the deepest subject…and the choices are mind blowing and overwhelming, especially to someone just getting into this. It’s very simple to buy a great library and still make the wrong choice for Gypsy Jazz. You need to know what you are looking for as an end result or you might end up with a library which sounds great for the next blockbuster trailer, but that may make your gypsy guitar sound inconsequential once the mix is up, or maybe you want to elevate your gypsy guitar into the world of full blown orchestral scoring and you chose a chamber library…make sure you know where you want to head before spending money on strings and possible computer upgrades to handle them, a mistake can be costly.
Solo strings…quite simple, buy solo strings as a scratch pad, every library has left me wanting a real player. That said Chris Hein has a new solo violin with more gypsy articulations than any other I have seen. You could piece together some believable lines with it because of it’s detail. i’m not in love with the room he recorded it in and certainly if you buy it remove the convolution reverb that comes with it (a simple on/off button).
First Chairs and chamber ensembles.
Yup, almost every major developer has very small ensembles, first chairs, usually 1st and 2nd violins, a viola and a cello (all recorded separate) or a bit larger ensembles consisting of around 3-6 first violins 3-5 2nd violins 3 vas and 2 Vc’s or some other close configuration. For doing traditional GJ these are where you want to be unless you are scoring a large sounding game, movie, ad, tv show etc.
You can always double parts with first chairs so even with just 4 strings a 3 part chord could have the equivalent of 12 players and a chamber ensemble considerably more. if i’m writing old style my tendency is to go for the first chairs, but again sometimes I want the power of more violins and i’ll use a chamber patch just on the melody to bring it out. Each circumstance is a bit different so be aware there are no hard fast rules here, your tune may dictate how thick you want your strings. One thing which is great about having first chairs is you can hear the personality of the strings as the vibrato is clear and present, not melded into the section..this adds that personality.
Two developers just recently finalized their first chairs…Spitfire Audio and Orchestral Tools (my demo was done with Orchestral Tools). Few developers will have a GJ song to check out, you probably know why…:).
I did this one for Orchestral tools however
should be releasing specific info in the next few days
Spitfire has a bunch of solo string and chamber libraries, some recorded in a large room…their new one is listed here and could be useful.
Cinesamples is releasing a solo strings library shorty, it initially sounds great but it may be more focused on scoring than the others. I like the Orchestral Tools room, Teldex Studios in Berlin as the library is recorded in a medium (not large room). Cinesamples tends to record at Sony in LA which is a large room but they may not have used it for their solo strings, again details will be available shortly.
the following 2 libraries have been very popular over the years and might be worth a look.
LASS…recorded on a small soundstage it comes with small sections that can be combined to make larger sections and also comes with first chairs!
but…the sound can be a bit strident. i have used these well over the years on pop productions but they are starting to feel old compared to the newer libraries that have upped the ante expression wise and sonically.
VSL…The grandaddy of all the modern orchestral libraries to incorporate simulated legato. Brilliant programmers and the deepest libraries available. Very dry room, some like and some don’t…i personally like a little more natural room sound in my strings. If one one chooses to go the VSL route for GJ I suggest the chamber and soloists and avoid the larger ones, even for epic scoring.
Larger ensembles…choices are too many…I just say research demos and get on the forums, this is a inexhaustible topic that goes on forever and it’s always growing.
Hope this is helpful.