Garritan Orchestral Strings GiGA
GiGA | 5.07 GB
Gary Garritan took violin lessons as a child and later studied the harp as a teenager, providing the inspiration for creating GigaHarp, a sample library that helped put GigaSampler on the map in 1998. However, returning to his first instrument, Gary decided that none of the existing string libraries were good enough and resolved to create his own. The resulting achievement is an 8GB library on 16 CDs (or 2 DVDs) devoted to reproducing the performance nuances of orchestra-sized string ensembles — a vast and ground-breaking piece of work.
The recording sessions took place over a two-week period at New York's Lincoln Centre using a hand-picked team of string players with priceless instruments, including a couple of Stradivaris — the Rolls Royce of the stringed instrument world. The 47 musicians were divided into 22 violins (also split into 12 first and 10 second), 10 violas, eight cellos, and seven double basses, and were recorded using B&K, Neumann, and Crown microphones into an Apogee A/D converter at 88.2kHz/24-bit.
The manual supplied with GOS is practically a work of art on its own, supplied in a ringbound folder containing the discs and an extensive, well-written, and beautifully printed guide to navigating and using the library. It also provides great insight into the creation of the library with commendable openness and honesty. As an added touch, the front page of the manual is custom printed with the name of the Maestro (the ego-indulgent title attached to GOS users) who purchased the library.
The library itself is divided into three categories: 'Long Bows', 'Short Bows' and 'Additional Techniques'. As you would expect, the violins have the most variations (including up- and down-bow versions of the 'short bow' techniques, détaché, portato, marcato, martelé, sautillé, spiccato, and staccato), but the other sections aren't far behind. In fact, though there are no chords, melodic phrases, grace notes, or runs, the number of styles still far exceeds any other string library on the market.
Although the ability to stream large samples from disk is the most publicised GigaSampler/Studio feature, the developers have implemented some comprehensive modulation possibilities that GOS makes full use of. The velocity switching patches (VEL) work as expected, with some of the pizzicato patches offering a fantastic sounding Bartok 'snap' pizzicato when played really hard. However, to create realism in other areas such as dynamics (EXP), and vibrato (VIB), GOS employs GigaStudio's ability to crossfade samples with the modulation wheel. With an EXP patch loaded, moving the modulation wheel crossfades between the different dynamic layers, allowing you to create more realistic crescendos and diminuendos, instead of simply making a single sample play back louder or softer. With a VIB patch, the same trick is used to crossfade between non-vibrato and vibrato samples. And, if this wasn't enough, additional X-FADE patches allow you to crossfade between other articulation combinations; for example, crossfading between loose and tight pizzicato is really cool.
However, one of the best articulation tricks can be found in the ALT détaché patches, where samples automatically alternate between up and down bow strokes as you play them. This is achieved with MaestroTools, a utility that sits between the notes played on the keyboard and the GigaStudio patch. (ALT 88 patches are also included, where the up and down-bow samples are mapped to different areas of the keyboard.) MaestroTools is also capable of a second trick when used with the special legato (LEG) patches where, to create realistic smooth legato lines, you can use the sustain pedal to trigger 'masking' samples that subtly bridge the gap between the end of one note, and the slow attack on the next. Whether the results of all this articulation magic are convincing depends on the context of the music, and the care taken in programming, but it's possible to create some amazingly convincing textures you'd never believe were produced with a sampled string orchestra. There are other controls for altering 'warmth', attack, and the length of short bowed notes.
An additional set of 'Full Strings Lite' patches are invaluable for composers, offering combined violins, violas, cellos, and basses, seamlessly mapped according to instrument range over six octaves. These are the only samples in the library that provide looped versions of the sustains, in addition to offering a choice of vibrato and mute sustains, marcato, spiccato, pizzicato, tremolo, and tone and semitone trills, instantly selectable at the push of a key via the Giga format's Key Switch (KS) facility.