At the edge of silence
Capturing a characteristically Scandinavian sound, we've sampled a 100-piece orchestra playing never-before-sampled techniques, at the very edge of silence. Alongside our huge range of orchestral content are bellows, percussion and a characterful warped synth section — everything you need to take it down a degree or two.
Järva County - C. Henson (0:00 / 3:00)
Winged Migration - A. Blaney (0:00 / 2:28)
Scenes From The Tundra - Borgarts&Kolinski (0:00 / 3:52)
Fratres - A. Part - arr C. Henson feat Kirsty Mangan (0:00 / 8:00)
Faint - Oliver Patrice Weder (0:00 / 3:07)
Curiosity's Consequence - Homay Schmitz (0:00 / 3:03)
We Could Have Been - Harnek Mudhar (0:00 / 3:57)
Crystals - Oliver Patrice Weder (0:00 / 3:23)
Winter's Vestige - Homay Schmitz (0:00 / 1:58)
Fratres - A Part - arr C Henson- NAKED (0:00 / 6:38)
Creating something extraordinary often involves taking a leap into the unknown. We knew we wanted the strings to have a 'frozen' sheen to them, and to achieve this we needed to scoop some of the lower mids out of the frequency map. To do this we made the bold decision to exclude violas from the orchestra, replacing them with rich celli and basses — 12 Celli and & 6 Basses sat in the middle of the room, with two massively enhanced violin sections of 20 and 18 players sat in antiphon (opposite sides of the room). We give you a huge selection of articulations ranging from classics such as our ever popular flautando, but with mutes added, and sections playing poly-divisi, so that even with a band of this size, every player can be heard. We also explored unorthodox approaches — from requesting that players attend the session with practise bows with no rosin on the hair for minimum traction, to bowing the strings with the back of the bow. Resident AIR Studios engineer Jake Jackson's real challenge, with the roof fully elevated so that the signal contains as much early reflection as possible, was trying to get the musicians louder than the ambient room tone. We recorded the strings in two sections, high and low, with matching articulations where possible. Highlights alongside these cascading longs articulations are flautando legatos, brushed shorts, and some extraordinary loose pizzicatos.
When it came to Woodwinds and Brass, we recorded four different bands (high winds, mid winds, mid brass, low brass), approaching the sampling process with a choral mode in mind. Our instructions to all bands were that we wanted it to sound raw, honest and non-Conservatoire, but with very specific textural approaches that liven the hall, to create a very natural, mossy texture.
The entire "Tundra" Orchestra played from quiet markings all the way down to silent oblivion, resulting in a deeply dynamic and timbral set of expressive instruments that quite happily act as a standalone orchestral toolkit, albeit with a unique quality.
In what is always a fascinating creative process, we set about accompanying the Tundra band with a selection of Harmoniums and Shruti Boxes (bellowed single-chord Indian drone makers). But it didn't quite match up to the "Tundra" magic, so it was abandoned. Well, everything save a throw away portion of the recordings where Christian had requested for the players to perform on the knife edge between the bellow hissing, and the reeds actually sounding. This produced an extraordinary selection of stuttering granular folk beds which we have slammed through processing and have warped into a very special Nordic style Evo Grid. With 32 evolutions spread over 12 regions, and the all important dice function to immediately randomise your preset into a near infinite number of possible outcomes.
Following on from our hugely successful warped orchestral content in Albions I and III, we decided to approach this set differently. Instead of using our 'in-the-box' pristine set of digital processing and mangling tools, we decided to go wholly out-of-the-box, employing whirring Roland Space Chorus Echoes with classic Eventides and Axe FX Pros into the mangle chain. The brief: imagine you had put together a studio made entirely from an abandoned 1960s American early warning system. Not only does this collection feature orchestral material, but also the aforementioned Harmoniums and Shruti boxes which offer up a particularly unique, Northern feel.
The end result of this component is as inspiring and earthy as the rest of the library, presented in our ever popular eDNA engine enabling you to instantly make these presets your own.
Never to shy away from epic, we also felt it would be important to create some brooding epic drum combos, designed for intermittent use, to mark time or punctuate.Think Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten by Arvo Pärt. Featuring unique combinations of very small drums played against massive Verdi bass drums and taikos, these drums speak of distant pagan rituals.
We invited renowned percussionist Paul Clarvis, leader of the London Olympics Opening Ceremony drum corps and London movie session favourite, back to Spitfire's dry stage with his infamous car full of 'percussion that doesn't sound like percussion' to record some intimate and honest rhythmic passages, to add frosty momentum to your scores — again presented on the eDNA platform for instant tweakability, but also with a series of spring-out-of-the-box presets designed by Spitfire's team of award winning composers and producers.
In what can only be described as a sonic odyssey, the Spitfire crew has travelled to Northern climes to research, discover and unearth the most naked, honest and glacial set of samples we have recorded to date. Returning back to London, we set about recording an enormous orchestra - but not in a style steeped in the choral tradition. We sought instead to create a sonic tapestry evoking Estonian forests, Scottish lochs, Norwegian fjords, and the sense of isolation when stood on the permafrost and tundra of Iceland.
For many years now, Spitfire Audio has been recording orchestras of all sizes, but a theme that has run throughout our last decade is how to unearth and discover more naked and honest performance styles. We also understand that where sampling is concerned, it's at the quietest of levels where the real magic happens. By taking this into account, studying the most popular recordings of Arvo Pärt, Sibelius and Gorecki, and by observing new emerging talent from Scandinavia and Iceland, we were inspired to create a whole new set of tools.
Partnering with long term collaborator, orchestrator and contemporary composer Ben Foskett, we set about recording a full dynamic set of samples where the top level was set at mp (mezzo piano, or medium quiet) right down to the quietest recordings we have ever dared record. Our chief engineer opened up the hall at Air Studios to maximise its amazing early reflections, and to liquify the fibrous and finely textured instructions we gave the 100 strong band of extraordinary London players, to create samples we believe hhave never been made before.