Virtual Playing Orchestra: “It covers all the needs” – vitalker
This is a full, free orchestral instrument sound library featuring section and solo instruments for woodwinds, brass, strings and percussion. Click the links below to learn more, to download the library and to hear a few compositions using the free sounds that are available.
Download Virtual Playing Orchestra 3.1.1
* New Instruments Added (v3.1) *
– Alto Flute, Bass Clarinet, Contrabassoon, Bass Trombone, Celesta
* Minor sfz script bug fixes (V3.1.1) *
Virtual Playing Orchestra now consists of 2 parts: wave files and scripts. These two things work together. The scripts configure the use of the wave files. You need to download the “Wave Files” plus at least one of the “Standard Orchestra” sfz scripts or the “Performance Orchestra” sfz scripts (depending on how you want to control the sounds) then unzip each zip file in the same place and in the same way as you did with the wave files, or wherever your DAW (digital audio workstation) can find the files you unzip. Either way, all .zip files need to be unzipped in the same place and in the same way.
IF YOU ARE ASKED IF YOU WANT TO OVERWRITE EXISTING FILES, SAY YES.
DOWNLOAD WAVE FILES
PLUS ONE OR BOTH ORCHESTRAS
What Is Virtual Playing Orchestra?
Virtual Playing Orchestra is a free orchestra sample library, in sfz format, that attempts to emulate multiple articulations of the solo and section instruments from a full orchestra using the best free samples from Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra, No Budget Orchestra, VSCO2 Community Edition, University of Iowa, Philharmonia Orchestra and extra free samples from Mattias Westlund, author of Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra.
The plan was to start with Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra, add new samples from Mattias Westlund and samples from newly available sources that have recently become available to create what I would like to see from a Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra 2.0.
I’ve listened to every single sample that made it’s way into this library, and have done my best to replace any noisy samples, ensure each sample plays in tune, each note peaks at about the same volume and is panned in the center of the stereo field. I’m hoping this scrutiny will result in me being able to provide the best, most complete, free orchestral sample library.
Hear Virtual Playing Orchestra Perform
Better Days (by Hennessey, Battersby) *piano, drum set not included
Cat Eyes (by Lopez, Battersby) *piano not included
When I Get Over You (by Klassen, Battersby) *piano not included
More music from me, blog posts on my home page …
Mod wheel doesn’t work? DAW support? How to use? Licensing? Cross Faded Brass? See the Frequently Asked Questions page:
To install updates, just unzip the files in the same place and in the same way as your previous version, to upgrade to a new release. When asked if you want to overwrite or replace files, say yes. It is what you need to do to install a new version.
- ALL sustain samples are looped. Use this power responsibly! These samples were not looped to create musicians with infinite lung capacity but instead were created because many of the samples were too short.
- Section and solo instruments
- Sustain, normal, staccato, accented articulations for all strings, brass, woodwinds
- Pizzicato for all strings
- Tremolo for all strings sections (plus tremolo for solo violin)
- Articulations can be loaded individually or as part of a key switch patch (in the standard orchestra)
- Articulations are selected based on how you play a note (in the performance orchestra)
- Round robin for staccato strings to simulate up and down strokes of the bow
- 2 velocity layers for trumpets, french horns, trombones
- A light randomization of pitch and volume when repeating notes, like real players
- All samples have been checked (and corrected if necessary) for tuning, panning issues
- All samples volumes have been equalized so max volume is approximately the same value
- All instruments are set to only play within their proper note range
- All instruments (in the standard orchestra) include a general purpose articulation called “Normal-mod-wheel”. This is effectively a sustain patch with a fast attack, but the mod wheel reduces the rate of the attack, for the times when you don’t want the slower crescendo of the sustain patch, but you still want a sustained note.
- General purpose patch for full string section (violins, violas, cello, bass in a single patch)
- General purpose patch for full brass section (trumpet, french horn, trombone, tuba a single patch)
- General purpose patch for full woodwinds section (piccolo flute, flute, oboe, clarinet, english horn, bassoon)
- REVERB! – These instruments are from multiple sources. To make them sound like they belong in the same room, and to make them sound more like real orchestral instruments, REVERB IS ESSENTIAL.
- An sfz player. You load .sfz files (these control how the sound samples are to be used) into an sfz player (listed below), in order to play the chosen instrument.
- Suspension of disbelief. With free orchestra samples, there are limitations. I tried to do the best, with the best samples that were available to me.
Supported Sfz Players
This library is known to work with the following .sfz players. It may work with others, but I don’t know. If I’m told it works with others, I’ll list them here.
* with LinuxSampler, in keyswitch patches, default selection of a sound (typically “sustain”) doesn’t work. A keyswitch key must be pressed before any sound will play.
Unzip the downloaded files somewhere that your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) can find them, then load whichever instrument .sfz file you want into your sfz player (like Sforzando) within your DAW.
You must unzip both the zip file for the .sfz scripts and the zip file for the .wav files to the same destination and in the same way. If you are asked to overwrite files, say yes. This library requires both downloads (one of the .sfz script downloads and the .wav download) to function.
If you have installed and unzipped the files correctly, you should have a sub directory called “Virtual-Playing-Orchestra3” containing folders like this:
*** The “libs” directory must be present as shown in the picture above ***
The “libs” directory contains all the .wav sample files (the actual sounds of each instrument). The other directories contain the various scripts (which use the .wav files) for each orchestra section.
How to use
To use the instruments in this orchestral sample library, it’s necessary to have an sfz player. This is a plugin for your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) that can read the .sfz files, load the .wav samples and play back a sound when a key is pressed on your MIDI controller. You will have to explore the .sfz player to understand how to load the .sfz files but one way, at least with the free Sforzando sfz player, is to simply drag and drop a .sfz file into Sforzando.
I’ve provided a few different .sfz variations for each instrument. There are SOLO files, where it’s the sound of a single player, there are SEC files for the sound of multiple players playing in unison. There are a few articulations (methods of playing) such as:
- sustain – long held notes that start slowly
- staccato – short choppy notes
- normal MOD wheel – long held note that start quickly but the MOD wheel can adjust how quickly the note starts
- accent – an initial quick sound followed by a slightly delayed sustain
- tremolo – for the strings only, this is similar to the sustain but the player shakes the bow back and forth while playing the note
- pizzicato – for strings only, the player plucks the string
- DXF – only available for trumpet, french horn and trombone in the standard orchestra, these patches use the mod wheel to control the dynamic cross fade between quiet and loud samples for a given note as the volume increases with the movement of the mod wheel.
- KS – these are keyswitched patches. Rather than needing to load each of the above into a separate instance of a .sfz player, load a KS patch instead and use a special MIDI note to change which articulation will be used. Keyswitched .sfz file names are in the form KS-XX. The XX indicates where on a MIDI keyboard the keyswitches start. KS-C2 for example, indicates that pressing C2 will cause the sustain articulation to be used. See the documentation for the Standard or Performance libraries (links in the download area) to learn which keys select which articulation for each instrument
Special thanks to those who listened to the pre-releases and offered feedback: Mattias Westlund (from Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra), Otto Halmén (see his Youtube channel), Sam Gossner (from Versilian Studios) Michael Willis (responsible for debugging for LinuxSampler), bigcat1969, Robin, and I also want to thank those who help spread the word and recommend Virtual Playing Orchestra to people looking for a free orchestra sample library.
If you like this free orchestral sample library and you compose something with it, feel free to leave a comment down below with a link to your composition for others to hear.
If you're using this free orchestral sample library to make music, then licensing is easy. You can do whatever you want with the music you make, even sell it commercially.
If you want to modify, repackage or redistribute the library, licensing is a little complicated since different licenses apply to different parts of the library (see the source sfz files and see below) but generally, you can safely copy, redistribute, modify whatever you want provided appropriate credit is given to creators of the content used or at the very least, link back to my site which gives credit to the creators of the various content of this sample library and that any derived samples or library is kept for personal use only or is given away for free.
I do not feel it is right to repackage and sell this library in part or in whole for profit. This library is free. The source material is free. Let's keep it that way.
For more complete licensing information see the Creative Commons licenses that apply to this library and the sources used to create this library. If there is any conflict between the license as found on the web site and what is included as part of the distribution files, the license on the Virtual Playing web site should be considered the most recent.
Here are the licenses for the individual libraries that were used as source material
Mattias Westlund additional samples http://mattiaswestlund.net/samples/
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license
VSCO 2 Community Edition http://vis.versilstudios.net/vsco-2.html
CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication License
University of Iowa Electronic Music http://theremin.music.uiowa.edu/
Philharmonia Orchestra http://www.philharmonia.co.uk/explore/make_music
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
* Special Note: for anyone concerned about licensing of Philharmonia Orchestra samples, note the following clause in the Creative Commons License:
"No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits."
Which means this statement from the Philharmonia web site:
"The only restriction is they must not be sold or made available 'as is' (i.e. as samples or as a sampler instrument)."
... is nullified by their use of the Creative Commons License, although I'd argue that I'm not giving away any Philharmonia Orchestra content as samples nor as a sampler instrument. I'm giving them away as part of an orchestral sample library and I've processed all the samples anyway so they're not being given away "as is".