The amazing creative commons licensed (free!) Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra (SSO) by Mattias Westlund, has inspired many of us into MIDI orchestration. Even for independent developers such as ourselves, SSO serves as someting that we can compare our own samples with. In our quest to make the process of looping samples less painful we have therefore used SSO as a testbed for further refining our tools while also gaining more experience.
And thus, we hereby, humbly present the (happy) side effects of our signal experiments. Downloads here:
- Musical Artifacts: https://musical-artifacts.com/artifacts/456
- Mirror 1 (Google)
- Mirror 2 (Zoho)
- More mirrors soon
Clips demonstrating sustained playing can be heard on SoundCloud as a single long track or on Freesound as separate notes or chords.
Only sustaining instruments are looped and included. Get the original SSO for the rest (e.g. keys, percussion & staccatos), in case you have not yet done so. SSO’s string sections are also already looped, so they are also not included. The folder hierarchy has been arranged in such a way that these looped samples and SFZ scripts can be merged with SSO (see instructions below).
*An update to the grand piano (no loops :-)) can be found on our free instruments page.
The instruments included here are the following:
- Solo Violin
- Solo Cello
- 3 Trumpets
- 4 Horns
- 3 Trombones
- Solo Tuba
- Solo Trumpet
- Solo Horn
- Solo Tenor Trombone
- Solo Bass Trombone
- 3 Flutes
- 3 Clarinets
- 3 Oboes
- 3 Bassoons
- Solo Piccolo
- Solo Flute
- Solo Alto Flute
- Solo Clarinet
- Solo Bass Clarinet
- Solo Oboe
- Solo Cor Anglais (English Horn)
- Solo Bassoon
- Solo Contrabasson
Bonus SFZ scripts
In addition to the minimally modifed looped SFZ scripts, (*_looped.sfz files), additional SFZ script variations are also available.
- Key switched articulations (original SSO samples must be present) (*_KS.sfz). The key switches are loosely based on the Virtual Playing Orchestra scheme, (another great free orchestal library).
- Modulated/modified versions (*_mod.sfz). To make the sustained notes sound more natural, they are made to gradually decay over a typical duration. A moderate amplitude LFO is also added. These can be modified to your liking.
- The chromatically sampled choirs are also offered with our signature velcoity-mapped-borrowed-chromatic-neighbors (*_vel.sfz).
Merging with SSO 1.0
Assuming that you haven’t modified the original SSO sample library’s folder structure, the sfz files and the “Samples-looped” folder can just be dropped in the “Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra” folder. If all things are in their default place, these procedures should go smoothly. Please perform necessary backups, otherwise.
The additional key switched scripts also require that the samples from SSO 1.0 are in their default locations. In case you modified your copy of SSO, you should also modify the new scripts accordingly.
Of course, these samples are freely shared in the same spirit as SSO and can be freely used to create music. Credit goes to Mattias Westlund and others who have provided the samples that make up SSO. If anyone wishes to modify and/or redistribute these looped samples, note that the Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra is released under the Creative Common Sampling+ 1.0 License. Creative commons has already retired this license and no longer recommends it. But we will stick to it for this SSO “patch” to avoid confusions or incompatibilities when treating these new looped samples in the same way as the original SSO. In short, this looped sample collection is also released under the CC Sampling+ 1.0 license.
Atribution Suggestions: For modifications/conversions and also re-distributions, a minimal suggestion is to mention that these samples have been looped by Signal Experiments and were based on the work of Mattias Westlund. If possible, linking back to sig-ex.com is highly appreciated and helpful to us. Of course, while you’re at it, link back to mattiaswestlund.net as well :-).
More SSO: Specific Sample Origins (text based from the SSO 1.0 readme)
As a byproduct of SSO, these looped samples are also consequently created from the following free/CC-licensed/public domain instrument samples: The University of Iowa MIS, MSLP, Philharmonia samples, OLPC project, The Complete K2000, ldk1609 violin, Eddie’s English Horn and a variety of classic soundfonts by Campbell Barton, Nando Florestan and Ethan Winer. Some very old soundfonts with unknown authors or licensing terms might have also been used. But as these files have been modified by different people and included in countless GM banks and other soundfont compilations over the last decade(s), it can be assumed that they are to be considered public domain or at least free to use for sampling projects.
As always, happy music making!
/*** Optional content for the curious ones ***/
- Loops and key switches require a more compliant SFZ player (e.g. Plogue Sforzando).
- Original audio data (release tails) after the looped segments are cropped out.
- In some samples, looping becomes noticeable when they are played individually for sustained periods. This becomes less obvious in most realistic musical contexts.
- Some samples have timbre/pitch/loudness that relatively vary more over time. Hence, periodic timbre or loudness changes may be noticed as these looped segments repeat. Attempts to make these less distracting were done but the end results may not be as good as the others.
- Some samples that have noise in between (e.g. solo cello) have been treated as shorter samples to avoid the noise.
- In other cases, less distracting noise ended up being included in the samples after unsuccessful attempts to exclude them.
- Unlike SSO’s already-looped string sections, these samples are looped by specifying loop points in the SFZ script. Be careful not to modify the loop points’ text in case you decide to modify the SFZ scripts.
- To have a quick way of distinguishing between the original SSO, aka SSO 1.0 or just SSO, we propose the abbreviation ,”SSO SE“, where it can help to quickly convey that these looped samples have been included. “SE” might mean any (or none) of the following; “special edition”, “second edition”, “Sweden” or “Signal Experiments” }:-).
But SSO has already been succeeded by other free orchestral samples?
And that’s great! However:
- SSO is relatively small, requiring less work. It has also been available much earlier, thus getting a head start. The SFZ scripts in SSO are also more straightforward, making modifications easier.
- The more recent offerings might still be improved by their respective developers. But hopefully, our looping process would also have equally improved by the time these libraries become “stable” and if looping is still needed.
How about an SF2 version?
Even though SF2 is a bit more complex to create, we are, in fact, also genuinely eager to have an SF2 edition. This would allow us to play longer notes in the beloved MuseScore notation software as well as other awesome programs that happen to handle the older SF2 format better than SFZ. We will work on it (sounds familiar…). But seeing the more experienced SF2 developers out there, including especially those who have already converted SSO 1.0, we acknowledge that someone can do a better and faster SF2 job than us. Hence, we are congratulating in advance anyone who can beat us in the “looped SSO SF2 race”. (And even if it’s not so much of a prize, we can at least promise a link in this humble website. Just let us know. 🙂 ).