Brass Library?

I have 2 main brass libraries, Sample Modeling Brass and EW Hollywood Brass Diamond. I think a lot of tweaking could be done, especially with the Sample Modeling Brass. Is there another library that would complement and reinforce these? I have heard good things about Berlin Brass and Spitfire Symphonic Brass but they aren’t cheap. €799 and $689.

Woodwind Library??

I am planning on buying a new woodwind library in the next month or so. I am looking at-

Berlin Woodwinds €460
Sample Modeling $556
8Dio $778
Spitfire Audio $434
Chris Hein $399

I currently have EWQL Hollywood Woodwinds, which are pretty good, but I would like something with a little more pizzazz. I like the Berlin Woodwinds. Does anyone use any of these or have other recommendations? Thanks for your time!


Soundbed Introduction

A music major at Bard College and the Minnesota Arts High School, Nathan Carlton (ASCAP) aka Soundbed, writes music for film and television, specializing in minimal tension and drone cues for drama and horror. As an accomplished deep house producer, DJ and dance music record label owner, Mr. Carlton regularly combines original electronic sounds with organic, acoustic instruments.

His music and sound design has been used in BBC Radio 1 broadcasts, played on European top ten radio and featured in award winning dance and theatrical productions.

Carlton has produced original electronic music since the late 1980’s. His first DAW was Opcode’s Studio Vision Pro and his first studios were stocked with staple instruments like the Korg M1R and Yamaha TX802. He worked for 8 years at what is now called MakeMusic, the company that makes music notation software Finale. Carlton primarily helped test the educational software product SmartMusic in that position.

He also worked 80 hours a week recording and editing voice over content for educational multimedia at Mike Olson’s professional recording studio Intuitive. He has written music for 3 musical theater pieces and participated as a Director in Nautilus Music and Wesley Balk’s Opera/Music Theater Institute. He provided sound design for “The Dying Gaul” as performed by Hidden Theater featuring Brian Baumgartner from “The Office” and experimental dance piece “trickpony” by Sally Rousse and many others from the thriving Minneapolis performing arts scene. He can sing and plays guitar, french horn, and piano.

Aaron Hart and Carlton co-created the digital label MEME (available on Traxsource and 400+ more outlets) and Aaron has gone on to launch vinyl label Minneapolis Exchange. Carlton produced and performed as a DJ five nights a week in the Minneapolis music underground house scene as Spur.


Embertone Solo Strings

Tonight I bought the Embertone Solo Strings package. $375 instead of $500 is a pretty good deal. I have been listening to their demos for a few months; whenever I hear them, I feel inspired. I have listened to demos of a few other brands, but they didn’t do it for me. If something really inspires you, it’s hard not to go for it!


Tips for string writing

As for my first blog post here, I decided to write down some tips that have helped me in writing for strings.

String section in an orchestra represents an enormous variety of different sounds and textures, which sometimes might be a bit overwhelming to composers starting to compose for strings. I admit I’ve struggled in string writing and still am, since as a piano player I have to think very differently, when I’m composing for  section. Thinking positively, strings sound pretty homogeneous, and blend within themselves, thus you don’t need to worry much about blending.


Don’t write to strings as you would to a piano. A four note chord you would write for a piano wouldn’t work for strings. Firstly, it wouldn’t be very interesting, and your players would get bored quickly, but secondly your strings would lack space.


Strings need space, which means you should separate low notes more and high strings can be closer.


Make your music breath: Strings need to have breaks. You should think of how a string player would play your music. I often imagine me as a string player sliding the bow on a string. It wouldn’t hurt to buy a cheap violin though.


Avoid block chords. Write interesting parts for Violins I, Violins II, Viola, Cello and Bass. Although cello is doubled with double bass many times, don’t take it as a rule. You should treat cello as a completely different instrument.


Even though there’s a temptation to fall in love to string section sound and write everything to them, they don’t need to play always and everything. E.g. when writing a theme for strings, you could write the harmony to woodwinds or brass


You don’t need to use all of the string section always. E.g. bass can be used for highlights.


Use the best register of instruments for a theme. Background instruments shouldn’t either be in their best register or they shouldn’t be in a register, which is hard to play softly. Avoid similar rhythm in theme and background.


Crescendos and decrescendos don’t always need to be done with whole section. One very efficient and interesting way of making a crescendo is bringing gradually more instruments, e.g. first Violins I, then Violins II, then Violas etc. When decrescendo comes, instruments stops to play gradually.

Notice that there are much more to string writing, it’s a never ending learning experience. I hope this helps a bit in getting the hang of string writing, and keep composing!