Spitfire Audio introduces a folk instrument library with literally bells and whistles
Starting recorded life in Scotland’s Castlesound Studios outside of Edinburgh, ALBION SOLSTICE brings modern, folk, and heritage instruments to the composers' computers. Based in un-noted traditions that passed down the generations, Spitfire Audio captured a wide range of instruments, sounds and textures in this new 73GB KONTAKT library.
Masterminded by Spitfire Audio co-founder and composer Christian Henson, the library was created over a two year period. You can imagine the sounds fitting into both traditional and modern film, TV and game scores. Suffice to say that in true Spitfire Audio tradition, this is not a library that looks to faithfully recreate ancient instruments. The Spitfire Audio team have captured performances from players proficient with folk instruments, and treated the raw sounds captured into a range of modern KONTAKT instruments.
Instruments recorded for the library include Celtic band instruments, strings, brass, choir, percussion, played by specialised players from a cross-section of classic, folk, Celtic, Gallic, and other traditions. Not stopping to include old instruments, Christian Henson and his team also added modern instrumentation such as analogue synthesisers, Eurorack modular, electric guitar textures, tuned percussion, and audio processing.
Instruments are grouped into three sections
The Solstice Orchestra: 10 ensembles and a soloist, 235 articulations, 78 of which are found in the two string sections, including legatos. Instruments include electric and acoustic guitars, a choir, bells & whistles (yes indeed !), traditional and classic strings, brass, winds and percussion.
The Cassette Orchestra: Over 700 tape-warped, effected sounds, that the user can manipulate using a dedicated interface called eDNA, also used in other Spitfire Audio libraries. Instruments used in this section include the Korg MS-20, Moog Prodigy, Roland Juno-6, Roland Jupiter-4 and Jupiter-6. The synths were further textured using tape machines and effects such as Roland RE-301 Chorus Echo, OTO Machines BAM, Strymon NightSky.
The Drone Grid: Drones offering textural evolutions over a long time, using Spitfire Audio's EVO Grid interface which promises to make the creation of evolving long notes easier.
ALBION SOLSTICE runs in Native Instruments’ free KONTAKT PLAYER application, and will therefore work in Logic Pro, Ableton Live, Steinberg Cubase, and other DAWs.
I have to say upfront that I own several Spitfire Audio libraries, including ALBION ONE, which was my first orchestral sample library. However I have noticed an explosion in Spitfire Audio libraries in recent years, so any new sample library will need to bring something special to a saturated sample library market for media composers.
Spitfire Audio ALBION SOLSTICE has the potential to achieve that. Whilst there are niche libraries of exotic instruments in KONTAKT format aplenty, I am not aware of such an extensive library based on folk instruments. With an endless search for new sound scapes for film, games and media, bringing ancient instruments with authentic performances to the masses is a worthwhile endeavour. Mixing both traditional techniques and compositions with more modern playing styles, sampling and recording techniques only widens the sound palette that composers will have at their disposal.
Whilst ALBION SOLSTICE is not cheap by any means, I can just imagine that we will soon be hearing its sounds in historic factual programmes, dramas or games set in unusual worlds, let alone offering plenty of inspiration for less obvious genres.
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Trained in classical and jazz piano, Christof has over 30 years of experience in songwriting and music production. In 2021, he founded musicmanta and is now its Editor-in-Chief. Christof has worked in marketing for 25 years in Unilever and Kimberly-Clark. He is now the Head of Performance Marketing UK for Andrex, Kleenex, and Huggies, leading a team of 10 to create award-winning marketing campaigns, writing effective content, reaching millions of people.
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