Film, TV and game composers reveal their preferred percussion virtual instruments

Film, TV and game composers reveal their preferred percussion virtual instruments

Following our previous blog post about the favourite string libraries and virtual instruments of composers such as Dru Masters, Jason Graves, Ty Unwin and others, we also spoke to them about the percussion software that they rate most highly and rely on for their TV, film and video game projects. Here’s what they had to say…

Jason Graves – an American television, film, and video game music composer. His works include the musical scores for Dead SpaceAlpha ProtocolTomb RaiderThe Order: 1886Until DawnEvolve and Far Cry Primal.

“For a long time I was still using the original Project SAM orchestral percussion. And it can easily hold its own, sound-wise, against the competition today. But the need for more round robin, additional mic choices, etc. has pushed me firmly into modern times. Spitfire, once again, is my first call percussion library – everything I need (and then some) with plenty of mics, mallet choices and round robin to make even the pickiest classical percussionist (that would be me) happy.”

Dru Masters – a British composer, best known for composing television music. He has composed scores for recent BBC dramas Silk and Capital and tracks for the British version of The Apprentice among others. Recently he’s scored several feature films including The Library Suicides & Our Loved Boy.   

“Spitfire Percussion.  I have a kit set up in my room, so a lot of the big toms, military snares and cymbal rolls are played live, but the timps, bass drum and things like the celeste are from this library. I also love the VSL vibes, marimba and glockenspiel and have countless libraries for Spectrasonics Stylus, which is probably on everything I’ve ever done.”

Ty Unwin – Music composer known for his work on TV series’ such as Vikings, A History of Ancient Britain and a very synth-heavy contemporary score for a BBC series about the story of 1066. Ty is currently working with Midge Ure (from Ultravox) on a new and exciting top secret project that will be released next year.

“There are SOOO many great percussion libraries out there… from my point of view it’s just trying to avoid the ones that are great, but now overused.

There are some old favourites that I use again and again like the Project Sam True Strike Series and Evolution World percussion. Both old libraries but still as usable and current now as they were when they were introduced. Especially the depth of sampling in  World Percussion which is just round-robin heaven, and like most of the great libraries incredibly versatile with multiple mic choices.

Talking of mic techniques, the variation in my two current favourite libraries that microphone choice gives you is incredible. This may come across as a Spitfire Audio love in but their Hans Zimmer Percussion Libraries (especially 1 & 3) are incredible…. they don’t have the most amount of articulation variations in the world but the deep sampling and just the overall SOUND.. means that they end up on just about everything I do…

As do the new(er) kids on the block…. Master Sessions Ensembles… all of them (although my favourite is the Wood library)…. incredibly playable… instant gratification and just a GREAT sound… plenty of low oomph that can get your sub rattling!! Unlike the Spitfire libraries that are all about getting as natural sound as possible, the MS Ensembles are as much about morphing the various drums into unspeakable distorted mayhem and they sound amazing. Great libraries.

Finally, an honorary mention must go to Soundiron’s Apocalypse percussion. Why? Simply because although it isn’t the deepest sampled, or doesn’t have as much variation as some… it spreads its sounds across the full keyboard, one drum, sound or articulation per note… JUST like the good old days of hardware samplers/synths…. which means that getting a great rhythm using multiple drum ensembles is incredibly easy and amazingly quick… A bit of a lost library that is great for instant hugeness!!”

Miguel D’Oliveira – Award-winning composer Miguel d’Oliveira is self-taught and with a passion for playing and collecting every musical instrument known to man. He has scored for big live ensembles and studio-based electronic productions as well as for high profile TV shows such as First Dates and Grand Designs. Miguel says…

“I love Spitfire percussion. Incredibly detailed and super easy to use. 
I still use True Strike II  – particularly for their world percussion and Miscellaneous bag of less common sounds.

For even more esoteric sounds I tend to browse Era II Medieval Legends (E Tarilonte) and Cuba, West Africa, etc… (from NI)

And finally, for Kick, snares and hats I use my own collection pinched from various sample packs.”

Pendle Poucher – Pendle has written, produced and performed soundtracks for every major UK TV station and has worked for 10 years as sound designer and composer for award-winning theatre company DreamThinkSpeak devising amongst others a 32 channel soundtrack for their radical reworking of Hamlet “The Rest is Silence” in 2012. He’s also the founder of SoundDust, producing strange and beautiful instruments for Kontakt, Maschine and more.

“Various Reaktor ensembles – particularly S Layer for making new sounds.

Jamstix for quickly making ‘proper’ drum tracks usually spitting midi to Drum Drops libraries in Kontakt.

My own Modular Chaos Engines for quick and mad rhythm experiments.

Nainita Desai – With a career that spans over twenty years, Nainita has written the scores to hundreds of award-winning films, TV documentaries and dramas. Most recent projects include the BBC’s Mumbai High and B is for Book documentaries and just last month Nainita, with her writing partner Malcolm Laws, won Best Feature Film Score at the 2016 Music+Sound Awards for The Confessions of Thomas Quick.

“I’ve been writing a lot of world influenced music for various BBC anthropological documentaries and I love Vir2 World Impact. The great organisation of sounds using timbre, region and type of drum is so useful when you’re looking for the right tone in a hurry or not sure what you want but need to hone in very quickly on the ’type’ of sound you are after.

I have also found a niche library ‘Organic Transition’ by Loops de la Creme to be incredibly useful. Being able to quickly control the dynamics using modulation wheel, the shape of a percussive sound to picture is so convincing and easy to evoke. You can literally play the transitions in real time almost as well as the real thing!”