At January´s NAMM show, Garritan and Make Music announced the imminent release of Personal Orchestra 5. Now available to buy, we thought it would be a great chance to catch up with the man himself - Gary Garritan!
We spoke to Gary about the new version of Personal Orchestra, how it´s different from its predecessor, and his own involvement in product´s creation.
Hi Gary, congratulations on the release of Personal Orchestra 5! Before we delve into the new additions of this version, could you give us a little background to the Personal Orchestra story from its original version 1 release?
The original Personal Orchestra began as a dream to make a software orchestra for every musician. As a recording artist in the 1990s I used real orchestras to enhance my music. Orchestras could cost over $10,000 per hour. In the early 2000´s, sampled orchestras were just starting but the costs were very high - thousands of dollars for a library. The quality was not that great due to technological constraints at the time.
The options for musicians were few - either pay many thousands of dollars for a real orchestra or pay thousands of dollars for a sample library. Why couldn´t an orchestral sample library be within reach of every musician? The technology was advancing rapidly and a new kind of orchestral library was needed.
Somebody had to do it and so we did.
With the release of previous title, Personal Orchestra 4, you replaced the Kontakt engine with the ARIA player, what were your reasons for that and what are the advantages for the user?
Native Instruments had a very good sampler, but there were customizations and special abilities that we wanted that were not possible. So we developed our own sampler with Plogue. The work that Plogue was doing with their new sample engine was amazing.
The advantages to the user are many. A few advantages are: the highest quality playback engine, easy installation, a friendly authentication system, a very simple and attractive user interface, excellent resource management and footprint, as well as many others. We had purchased the Gigasampler technology too and were able to incorporate some of those technologies into ARIA.
So, we hear version 5 is the biggest update yet for Personal Orchestra with 70% more instrument patches then GPO 4 - why did you feel the update needed to be so much bigger?
We listened to our users and gave them what they wanted. It had been six years since GPO was updated and we compiled a list of all instruments and features that users wanted.
In the past we wanted Personal Orchestra as light as possible, for resource management. But with today´s power and bandwidth, resource conservation is not a main consideration. We can now offer more and still maintain an economical footprint.
What involvement did you have personally in the making of GPO 5?
As Director of Garritan Products for MakeMusic, I was personally involved with planning, directing, and overseeing the project for MakeMusic. The MakeMusic team wanted to make this project happen and lent their resources and expertise.
The original development team and original beta testers played a major part in GPO 5. Jeff Hurchalla and myself were part of the original team. Tom Hopkins from the original team also consulted on the project. And Chad Beckwith and Robert Davis (who worked on previous versions) also lent their genius to the project. Notation integration was also done by MakeMusic who has been integrating GPO with Finale notation software since 2004 (thanks Fred Flowerday at MakeMusic). Time + Space has also been a partner with us for over 12 years ago since the original version.
GPO5 still has the Garritan touch as much as ever.
The orchestral strings are one of the biggest new additions to the library - why did you choose to expand these so much and what do they include?
Many users wanted more strings, so we gave them many more strings. Strings are the backbone of the orchestra and so important in orchestral music.
GPO 5 has an abundant collection of stringed instrument patches including 94 section string patches, 33 small sections, and 28 solo strings in a wide range of bow strokes and techniques.
The more strings the better!
What other new instrument additions are there in version 5?
We have several new concert grand pianos including the legendary Steinway Model D and a Steinway Model B. These pianos alone, I believe, are worth the price of admission.
There are additional choir groups including boys and children’s choirs as well as sopranos, altos, tenors and basses. GPO 5 also has updated brass instruments from the renowned ProjectSAMs ´Orchestral Brass Classic´. There are more than 16 new impulse response presets, a completely new harp instrument with harp pedaling emulation, a new custom organ console for expanded pipe organ control, and a lot more.
Sonic Morphing is advertised as a new feature of version 5 - can you tell us more about that and the benefits it brings to the user?
Sonic Morphing gives the user a much greater dynamic range and much smoother transitions. With sustaining solo instruments the transitions between layers can sound pixilated and one can often hear step transitioning or doubling between layers. Sonic Morphing aligns the sounds so it is smooth and continuous - from the softest pianissimo to the brashest fortissimo - with no noticeable transitions. It also allows for a much wider dynamic range.
In simple terms - it´s magic!
Who will find GPO 5 most useful and for what kinds of projects?
Really any musician that needs the sounds of any or all orchestral instruments. Whether it’s a glorious choir, a concert grand piano, a gliss of a harp, one of many string ensemble combinations, a concert pipe organ, a piccolo, bassoon, brass section, contra-tuba, or a massive 80 piece orchestra,
GPO 5 can be used to provide backing orchestrations for live performances or recording projects. Thousands of users have used previous versions of Personal Orchestra to score movies and interactive games, to make music for websites and YouTube videos, to help teach or learn orchestration, to sketch symphonic ideas, and to use in conjunction with other libraries as part of their sound palette. GPO 5 provides so many more option and the sky´s the limit as to what you can use it for.
There are many orchestral libraries on the market today, probably more so than there has ever been - what do you feel makes GPO 5 stand out from the crowd?
The original mission of Personal Orchestra was to make virtual orchestration better, affordable, and accessible. That mission remains the same.
GPO 5 stands out from the crowd because it has the highest quality sampled instruments (Stradivaris, Guarneris, Steinways, etc.) We also have exclusive Sonic Morphing technology which no other complete orchestral library has. And, in addition, we have an updated ARIA Player which is outstanding. The library is easy to use and does not get in the way of making music.
And finally, what would you say to those users who currently own GPO 4 who are currently undecided about upgrading?
GPO 5 is more than just a major upgrade, it is almost a new product altogether. However, it includes all the previous sounds of GPO 4 so previous projects can still sound the same. The upgrade price is worth the price of just one piano alone. GPO 5 has so much more than previous versions. I’m really excited to make such a remarkable orchestra available to so many musicians around the world.