Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting/Do mainstream composers use VST packages?


Dear Sir,

May I ask this question? I always thought that VST (virtual instrument) packages, including the sample libraries, are meant for hobbyists and independent composers/songwriters who may not have a big budget.

However, I happened to read about a sound library which features an image of James Horner (Titanic). He said he did use that library.

It makes me wonder in which cases a leading, wealthy composer like Mr. Horner needs to use a sample library. If he writes for a Hollywood movie, surely he will need a real orchestra?

Thank you for your kind explanation.

Hi David:

the availability of electronic samples of a very high level is the upside of DAW production in the new century. VST is one of the original packages that re offered and most professional composers have many and varying sets of samples limited only by the amount of money you are able to invest in keeping up with the composer in the next shop.  It's not unusual for a composer to have over $100K in his project studio ( or whatever the equivalent would be across the pond.

Having said that, it's still quite common for higher budget productions to expect a live orchestra being employed ( sylistic considerations aside ) Since much of my pretirement work was done between the 1970s up thru the end of the century , I was usually hired for what I could do with mainly live musicians .( although, I used eletronics often for creating the necessary "polariods" of the finished score as well as the inclusion in many cases several stems of electronic material along with the live orchestra. )

such employment of sampling libraries in a DAW is still a common production step -and  many jower budget fillms are score totally ( or with only minimal live participation ) in this manner.

Hope this answers your query ..

Phil Kelly

Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting

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Phil Kelly


I`m a semi-retired professional music arranger with over thirty five years in all phases of the commercial music production business. I can try to answer questions regarding music arranging, theory, orchestration , and/or composition for most acoustic ensembles .( jazz band or orchestral ) I can try to offer suggestions about studio music recording procedures and some basic MIDI applications , too. In the course of my career I`ve worked with such artists as Doc Severinsen and the old Tonight Show Band, Bill Watrous, Buddy Greco, John Gary, Mel Torme, Julius LaRosa, as well as the Pop programs of the Fort Worth, Dallas, North Carolina, and Houston Symphonies, as well as library music material for ABC, ESPN, and NFL Films.

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