Dirk Campbell’s Origins – Review

By • November 13, 2007

True to its name, Origins is a sample CD in GigaStudio and EXS24 format featuring samples of instruments from early antiquity (the bone flute being one of the oldest) up through brass used by the Roman Legions (the cornu). For those curious, my interview with Mr. Campbell found that all of the instruments were recorded and edited on the Mac using Apple Logic.

The collection is broadly organized by:

• winds
• stringed
• vocals
• percussion
• pads & drones
• sound effects

To make things easy, I’ve created a spread sheet showing each sampled instrument within the group.

The Professional Orchestration™/Film Music Weekly Mostly Video Archeological Instrumentation Manual for Origins

One of the problems I ran into with this review was really knowing how to explain what you really get and the production potential inherent within Origins. If I’m handed an orchestral library, I have enough background and experience to evaluate just how strong the library is or isn’t. Speaking with authority on the balaban or ingoma is a little different. For the record, the ingoma is a percussion instrument, not the latest menu add at Taco Bell.

This is an amazingly strong, highly usable sample collection, that frankly, every media composer should have because it allows you to go in lots of different creative directions.

But as a writer, my struggle with Origins is that it really needs more information to explain what’s in this collection along with how each these sounds should be performed, first, in an “authentic” manner, and from there, as creative points of departure.

In short, Cecil Forsyth, where are you?

I came to this conclusion after playing through a number of the sounds and wondering how each should really be played. Otherwise for recording purposes, it’s just another keyboardist playing an “instrument” like the keyboardist rather than sounding like an actual musician. And believe me, that’s easy to do with this collection.

So as I writer I wanted to know how you played these instruments. I started my search by Googling several instruments which ultimately led me to YouTube and some amazing videos that give you a pretty decent idea on how the sample should be played, how it should sound, and the number of different musical styles it can work in. One thing to remember is that many of these instruments are multi-cultural so they’ll work within a number of different styles.

As you go through the videos, one thing you’ll discover quickly is that to create an authentic sound from the keyboard, some instruments will need multiple tracks. Anyone playing an electronic wind or valve instrument will find a wonderful set of colors at their disposal.

WINDS
Aulos
Link

Balaban
Link

Double Pipe
Link

Duduk
Link

Fujara
Link

Kaval
Link 1
Link 2

Ney
Link 1
Link 2

Pibgorn
Link

Sorna
Link
Suling
Link

Dungchen
Link

Coach horn
Link 1
Link 2

Tibetan Longhorn
Link

STRINGED INSTRUMENTS
Kantele
Link 1
Link 2

plucking or strumming unstopped strings

Between 5 and 15 strings up to 38

Kora
Link 1
Link 2

Laouto
Link

Mouth Bow (Buffy St. Marie video demonstration)
Link

Nyatiti
Link

Oud
Link 1
Link 2

Rabab
Link 1
Link 2

Santoor
Link

Siter
Link

PERCUSSION
Singing Bowl
Link 1
Link 2

Ceng Ceng
Link 1
Link 2

Tongue Drum
Link

Persian daf
Link 1
Link 2
Link 3

Ingoma
Link

OVERALL COMMENTS
I installed this set inside Logic’s EXS24. The sounds are recorded dry so it’s easy to get them to blend in with other libraries. The better the reverb, the better results. I compared two different reverbs within Logic, Platinum verb and Space Designer. I felt that the depth of each instrument was better addressed with Space Designer, e.g., any convolution reverb.

One difficulty I had was with the manual itself and I’m surprised that ILIO Entertainments missed some of these points in the editing. Through using Vienna libraries, I’m used to the first two letters telling me which instrumental group the sample is assigned to. All the samples start with OR. Small point, but I had to make myself remember that OR stood for Origins. KS, instead of keyswitch, means keyboard split. So every time I see KS, I keep reaching to the end of the keyboard thinking that as I tap C1 or C#1, I’m getting a different sound. Not so. Again, these are small points, but when you’re trying to work through and discover how many gems you have in Origins, it’s an unnecessary distraction that eats time.

Instruments are not mapped in their actual range, but rather, in most cases across the keyboard. Here Dirk’s manual comes in quite handy. Dirk also defines that middle C is C3 and all the ranges in the manual follow that convention. Very handy.

The manual does contain some rather important information as to where the natural pitches are mapped on the keyboard, along with beautiful color instruments and pertinent info about each instrument. My only complaint is that there isn’t more more info.

Pricing
The list price is $349. Unfortunately, these libraries are short discounted so don’t look for more than 5% or 10% off. I also compared price/content to EastWest’s RA. There’s some duplication of content, but not too much.

CONCLUSION
Overall, I think this is a must add to your list. Because we’re in such a global community, it’s not about getting Origins so you can do ethnic. You get Origins because of the number of different compositional and stylistic directions it can take you in and that’s worth the price of admission.

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