Last Updated on September 20, 2017 by Andrew Culture
Symphonic Strings Evolutions promises ‘blockbuster-sounding’ string arrangements.
Virtual instrument virtuosos Spitfire Audio have announced ‘Spitfire Symphonic Strings Evolutions’. This package builds on the foundation established by the popular Spitfire Evo Grid system. Spitfire Symphonic Strings Evolutions uses samples recorded during sessions at London’s Air Studios.
The recording sessions featured no fewer than sixty string players, hand-picked from London’s greatest orchestras, with orchestration duties performed by composer Ben Foskett. Everything was recorded in the same way as they would be during a major scoring session. Including the use of the very best ribbon mics and Neve ‘AIR Montserrat’ preamps. Everything was channeled through a huge Neve 88R console and recorded at 96khz onto 2-inch tape. Spitfire claim the obsessive detail relating to the recording process gives Spitfire Symphonic Strings Evolutions a rich, beautiful and tense symphonic power.
The sixty string players involved in the sessions in the Lyndhurst Hall at Air Studios included:
- 16 1st violins
- 14 2nd violins
- 12 violas
- 10 cellos
- 8 basses
Symphonic Strings Evolutions – what is it?
When Spitfire released Evo Grid they introduced a new concept in working with string arrangements. The process involved a collection of very long notes that have the ability to change and mutate, over time, across the entire range of a keyboard. Spitfire call these evolutions ‘Evos’. With the introduction of the Evos concept everyone from experienced musicians to those getting to those making their first steps into the world of making music were able to easily create interesting-sounding string arrangements.
Symphonic Strings Evolutions is to some extent a development based on the Evo concept. String parts are able to change according to note length, creating ‘randomness’ in what the user creates.
Although this sounds complex Spitfire have developed a grid system to visualise the creative process. Across the top of the grid there 48 Evos. On the left hand side of the grid is the keyboard range.
The functionality of the Evo grid is inspired by the game-changing EMS VCS 3 synthesiser. Originally released in 1969 the EMS VCS 3 attempted to change the way synths were patched by using a matrix-based patchboard, rather than using the ‘telephone exchange’ style patch cabling used by the majority of modular systems.
In order to assign an Evo to a note range users simply put a virtual peg in the relevant hole. This process goes some way to backing up Spitfire’s claim that Symphonic Strings Evolutions is a simple way for film score composers to create music that can sit alongside scenes without dominating the dialogue or ‘look and feel’ of a scene. Spitfire’s Audio Director, Paul Thomson, who is himself a score composer elaborates,
“The idea behind this was that quite often you need to create music which has a feeling of evolution — a feeling of movement and excitement, shimmer, and all of that kind of stuff, but the director doesn’t want you to do anything. They say, ‘We want music that doesn’t really do anything, but want it to evolve — want it to feel like there is a growing tension or some pressure or something.’ So these evolutions have been orchestrated by Ben Foskett. Each of them have an individual concept, and then they’re recorded over the entire keyboard in groups — Cells — with a 60-piece string orchestra in the hall at AIR Lyndhurst — beautiful, massive, lush sound. You get a really interesting texture developing, so these do sound quite different from our other Evo Grid products, which are smaller string sections, so sound a bit more gritty and in your face. This is a more widescreen and a kind of lush sound, but yet you still have those really interesting textures that develop when you have a group of players who are all following the instructions, but all timing things slightly differently.”
Paul Thomson stars in a video recently published by Spitfire Audio that walks us through the concept in some more detail.
Symphonic Strings Evolutions is priced at £269.00 GBP (inc. VAT)/$299.00 USD/€309.00 EUR (inc. VAT).