As I had been researching information for my previous blogpost about bedroom orchestrators, I couldn’t avoid watching videos from Christian Henson. He is an award-winning film composer and one of the founders of Spitfire Audio – the company behind one of the most popular orchestral libraries Albion One. The other founder is Paul Thomson.
On their respective YouTube channels both had been hinting that something big had been in the making, that would potentially change how their industry and the market was working. As we have found out later, this was not an exaggeration.
A few weeks back, at the beginning of May, Spitfire Audio released their highly acclaimed BBC Symphony Orchestra library to musical masses. And that for unbelievably low price, or even for free!
Let’s have a look what this all is about.
This is the brief information from the company’s website:
In partnership with BBC Studios and the world-famous BBC Symphony Orchestra, Spitfire Audio has finally been able to capture what no other sample library has before: the musical synergy of a family of astoundingly accomplished players with a 90-year heritage of performances and recordings, deep sampled at London’s famous Maida Vale Studios — home of the BBCSO, and host to The Beatles, Hendrix and Bowie. This landmark library is the stuff of composing dreams: strings, brass, woodwind and percussion, all housed inside our award-winning plugin.
Including three editions interchangeable through our groundbreaking mode-switching technology, BBCSO Professional is our definitive orchestral library, offering everything you need to produce world-class orchestral scores.
Here you may ask ‘What is so special about this? There are other great orchestras sample libraries one can get!’
The answer is in the second paragraph of the product description above – in particular the words three editions interchangeable.
The truth is, that sample libraries of comparable quality and size are being sold for a thousand dollars or more. That is also the case here as the BBCSO Professional Edition is priced at $999. That is an all encompassing library with 56 instruments, 435 techniques (different ways to play the same note on an instrument), over 1 million samples (1,005,296 to be exact) packed together into almost 600 GB file. These are all the parts a music composer needs, to assemble on a computer an orchestral sound and a composition almost undistinguishable from the ‘real thing’.
The attractiveness for the most of potential users of this virtual instrument is in the other two editions. Yes, they are smaller – but they are way more affordable. And they still bring the same high quality sound. Also they are much less demanding on the computer hardware.
On top of all of this, they are interchangeable. That means that you can start with the lightest free edition. Once your music appetite gets bigger (and your budget as well …), you can simply upgrade to a higher edition and all your previous work will seamlessly work there. Then your approach can be more nuanced with more instruments (42 instead of 33) and more articulations (305 instead of 47).
The middle edition is called Core and it is much smaller package of just 23 GB, priced at $449. These are essential sounds still usable for a professional work.
The universal starting point for the majority of interested musicians will definitely be the $49 Discover edition. The size of this audio plugin is only 200MB, so any modern computer with a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation – like the Garage Band, Logic Pro, or Cubase) can handle it with ‘no sweat’. And if this price is still too high, interested composers can complete a questionnaire and after waiting additional 14 days they can get the library for free! Yes, everyone, who wants can get it.
This is a rather unprecedented decision the company Spitfire Audio has made. Although most of their competitors offer some libraries for free, usually they are old and/or very specific sounds, that cannot be universally used. BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover edition is aimed at starting orchestral composers as well as at educators and schools, to broaden their students’ musical horizons.
This is also the point especially relevant to Musicably. Our goal is to inspire those who don’t believe they are able to play/sing/make music and to help them in doing so. Our approach is to promote the simplest instruments and the fastest way to get you into the realm of active music making.
Though that doesn’t mean that you have to stay there – in the ‘one voice’ world – for ever. With broadening your music horizons and gaining courage to express yourself musically, you may find, deep inside you, an interest to discover other styles and genres of music. Maybe even in the colourful sound palette of the orchestral music. So in the case you crave to become a bedroom orchestrator, Spitfire Audio has for you a tool to start with – the BBC Symphony Orchestra virtual sample library. There is no better place to start at. You can listen to demo compositions here, or let the founder Paul Thomson give you an overview of this musical virtual instrument.