Saw this on my facebook feed today. East West, the company who I believe make the best sounding virtual instruments in the business, have released a hard drive containing seven of their top libraries for a fraction of their original cost.
I started with the original East West Composer’s Collection a good few years ago now - I couldn’t believe the realistic sounds, they were so much better than general MIDI! They, of course, sound pretty terrible compared to what East West are producing now. And sampled sounds, from many different companies, are getting better and better. Whilst they can’t of course ever replace real live musicians, they’re not far off. The introduction of ‘legato’ instruments, higher quality recordings, and the rapid development of computer processing means that realistic sounds are available to pretty much everyone. I can’t always tell the difference between sampled and real, and I’m not entirely sure I always believe those who can spot a sampled instrument ‘a mile off’.
But is this a good thing? Working musicians are getting worried. Bedroom composers are getting excited. Much like the recording industry, there are now hundreds and thousands of composers who can create good-sounding music without leaving their house. Some programs even do all the rhythms and melodies for you… (I’m looking at you, Action Strings).
Film soundtrack music by live orchestras is also so heavily processed in the studio that they begin to sound like these libraries - I’m certain Hans Zimmer used at least 80 horns on the Inception soundtrack. The over-prduced sound seems so popular at the moment. Personally, I’d hate to see purely fake orchestras used in Hollywood soundtracks. It wouldn’t feel right.
Technology is advancing so quickly these days, it can’t be long until we get a ‘Complete Composer’s Collection 3’. These libraries are so close to the real thing, but I guess they’ll always lack that human quality, whether it be slight timing issues, intonation or split notes.
As a composer, these advances excite me. I’ll never get the opportunity to record with a world class orchestra, but at least I can PRETEND I did.