Cinesample - CineBrass Core v1.6 (KONTAKT)

The library’s trombone ensemble features some star names: Alex Iles has played on hundreds of TV and movie soundtracks, while Bruce Fowler distinguished himself with recordings and live appearances with Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart (who memorably credited him as playing ‘air bass’). Along with tuba players Doug Tornquist and Jim Self (who also plays cimbasso), these players are first-choice soloists for most film scores recorded in Los Angeles.

Media composers in Los Angeles and London share the same problem: although their respective cities harbour some of the best orchestral players on the planet, shrinking budgets for TV music increasingly preclude the use of live players. As Mike Barry of LA-based sample company Cinesamples put it, “How is a composer scoring a cable TV 100-minute feature possibly to deliver the John Powell-esque score required by the producer for $6000 without samples? [British film composer John Powell has written numerous movie soundtracks, including the entire Bourne trilogy] It’s just impossible these days — evidence being the small amount of completely live television scores.”

When it came to creating a high-end orchestral brass sample library to add to their catalogue of cinema-oriented titles, Cinesamples faced another dilemma: how to utilise the superior musicianship residing in LA without betraying the session players, some of whom, understandably, feel that samples pose a direct threat to their livelihood. Rather than conduct a covert ‘dark date’ in a shady studio, which could lead to trouble for the participants if word got out, the company approached the American Federation Of Musicians and negotiated a special sampling agreement. It took months to thrash out a deal whereby musicians, copyists and stage hands were supplied by the union with strict rules governing rates, overtime and even catering. Significantly, the agreement (which Cinesamples claim is the first of its kind) also entitles the players, copyists and engineers to a percentage of sales revenue.

When Trumpets Attack
CineBrass offers a choice of monophonic and polyphonic real interval legato. With the latter you can play legato harmony lines and chords in real time!

Although I’m sure the Cinesamples guys are not warlike people, their trumpet ensemble is ideal for issuing a cinematic call to arms — whether you need a rousing fanfare, machine-gun staccatissimos or heavy-artillery marcatos, the trumpet section rise up and deliver the goods with military precision and commitment. The muted trumpets found in the Pro version have a nice menacing edge, and their loud dynamics are exceedingly bright and cutting. Bearing out mixing engineer Dennis Sands’ comment that “the room responds tremendously well to brass”, the trumpets sound bright, full, fat and commanding, with a grandiose sweep that should satisfy the most megalomaniac film director.

Panoramic Horns
The CineBrass mixer provides volume controls for Close, Room and Surround mic positions, a full mix of the three mikings, a reverb stem (consisting of actual Bricasti reverb samples) and a simple, global, three-way EQ section. Green lights above each channel indicate the active mic positions.

I was impressed by the warm, luxuriant tone of the six horns’ quiet sustains, and loved the way they open out into a glorious, full-throated roar when you push up the wheel. The staccato and marcato deliveries sound equally plush and retain a fat tone at all dynamic levels. Another big plus is this section’s excellent legatos. Some makers curtail the ranges of their legato instruments, but CineBrass’ horns span over four octaves, sailing unwaveringly up into the high trumpet register. With their wide, pp-fff dynamic range and creamy transitions, these are some of the most playable and convincing legatos I’ve heard. I also enjoyed the horn rips. Rather than terminating in a short, staccato note, they sustain their final high pitch, thus making the articulation satisfyingly climactic. If you’re a fan of the style (as I am), you’ll also enjoy the set in the Pro library, which are ballsier and more aggressive. Ripping stuff!

Bones & Low Brass

Make no bones about it, CineBrass’ core library’s trombone ensemble matches its trumpets and horns for sound quality, dynamism and playability. Due to a MIDI routing accident (a common occurrence in my music room), I stumbled upon a cool new sound combination: bass synth doubled by muted trombones, a truly sinister timbre — now I just need a film-score gig to use it in. If you seek more expression in your trombone parts, the solo instrument in the Pro library has a great legato patch and (like the solo trumpet) plays its quiet notes with a tasteful, subdued vibrato. The only thing missing is the pitch slides at which this instrument excels. Let’s hope Cinesamples get round to including them at some point, because although arguably not an essential component of orchestral performance, they always put a smile on your reviewer’s face.

Full Brass Ensemble: Effects & Chords
Apart from the horn and trumpet section rips, effects in the core library are confined to a beautifully-played set of sustained, staccato and short-crescendo trumpet cluster chords. Nothing too revolutionary there, but in the Pro library the effects have been greatly expanded. Prior to recording, Cinesamples enlisted TV composer and violinist Michael Levine to make suggestions on the content of the new effects section. Levine (who conducted the players on the day) also canvassed fellow composers for ideas they’d like to see included.

System Requirements & Installation
As mentioned earlier, CineBrass and CineBrass Pro require the full purchased version of Kontakt 4 and up, which works stand-alone and as a plug-in on Mac and PC. Your version of Kontakt 4 must be updated to 4.2.3 or higher, and the update is free for registered K4 owners.

Cinesamples’ minimum system requirements are (PC) Windows XP (SP2, 32-bit) or Vista/Windows 7 (32-/64-bit), Pentium 4 2.4GHz, Intel Core Duo 2GHz or AMD Athlon 64 CPU; and (Mac) OS 10.5 or higher and Intel Core Duo 2GHz CPU. You’ll need at least 2GB of RAM, but for orchestral and film work, more would be preferable!

When you purchase either library online you’ll receive a confirmation email containing your licence code and links to a set of compressed RAR files. After downloading, you should use a program such as WinZip (Windows) or RarMachine (Mac) to extract the data. Cinesamples caution against using Stuffit for this purpose (personally, I would hesitate to use a product with a name like that for any purpose whatsoever). You only need to extract the first RAR file (entitled ‘Part 1’), and the remaining parts will automatically follow; any attempt to manually extract the other files will cause unnecessary folder duplication.

The final step of preparing these libraries for use is to activate them at Native Instrument’s Service Centre using the supplied licence code, after which you can add the library to Kontakt’s database. In my experience, both the activation and ‘add’ processes occasionally fail to work on the first attempt: in the case of the latter, you may have to remove the library inside Kontakt and then re-add it.

A tip for users: I found that many CineBrass and CineBrass Pro patches initially took quite a while to load. However, as is often the case with Kontakt libraries, re-saving all the patches without changing their names reduced loading times dramatically.

Cinesample - CineBrass Core v1.6 (KONTAKT)

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