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Sonivox Orchestral Companion - Woodwinds review by Sound on Sound

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Here’s a suggestion for all the TV composers out there: rather than reaching for pizzicato strings every time something quizzical, droll or staggeringly inconsequential happens on screen, why not try staccato woodwinds instead? Depending on your note choices, Orchestral Companion Woodwinds’ staccatissimo ensemble patch can sound funny, dramatic or both at the same time; it also lends itself well to rhythmic writing and has a fabulous, real-life hall ambience which will make the director think you spent a fortune hiring an orchestra and an expensive concert venue (thereby enabling you to increase your fee). When a more serious mood is required, you can keyswitch to the ensemble’s vibrato sustains and play some lyrical woodwind chords, a lovely sonority little heard in TV music world.

OCW’s programmed woodwind ensemble spans over seven octaves from the contrabassoon’s fruity, buzzy low register to the practically supersonic top notes of the piccolo, with a nice blend of bassoons, oboes, clarinets and flutes playing in their respective ranges somewhere in between. The ensemble’s articulation menu is limited to long and short notes, so for more detailed and solo work you’ll want to dial up some of the performance options in the individual instrument folders, which include colourful flute glissandi and a comedic clarinet flutter tongue style.

All instruments and ensembles play both vibrato and no-vibrato long notes. In the case of the reeds, the understated nature of their vibrato makes the difference rather subtle, but the solo flute’s beautifully lyrical vibrato sustains are of a different order and stand out as one of the collection’s highlights. As with the strings, these woodwinds sound comfortable playing melody lines, with no clunky note attacks disturbing the flow.

Back in 2006, the company’s Complete Symphonic Collection was one of the first libraries to break convention and present woodwind ensembles as duos rather than trios, the theory being that when you need the effect of three unison players you can layer a solo instrument over the duo. As well as offering greater flexibility, this avoids the arguably over-dense build-up of sound caused by having three players on each note of a chord. Accordingly, the piccolo, flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon ensembles each feature a pair of players, making a somewhat more transparent and focused sound than the woodwind trios of old.

Orchestral Companion Woodwinds replicates the former symphonic collection’s instrumentation with the exception of alto flute, bass clarinet, small clarinet in Eb and a second oboe, none of which is essential for basic orchestral arrangement.

Read the full review for the Sonivox Film Score Companion at Sound on

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