THIS CHOIR IS DEEP
From Howard Shore’s “Lord of the Rings” to Jason Graves’ “The Order: 1886”, low male choirs are great at evoking fantastical and dark images. There’s just something in the sound that tells us “WATCH OUT! BAD GUY!” Maybe it’s a learned association–the more composers use low choirs for evil, the more people think of low choirs for evil–but whatever the case, Strezov Sampling’s new “WOTAN” library definitely sends chills down my spine.
What is Wotan? Well, as the intro hinted, it is a low male choir library for the full version of Kontakt. Recorded at the Sofia Session Studio with ten tenors and ten basses, this library is truly a wonder for those trying looking for that defined male choir sound. It’s my new go-to for anything just begging for that ominous sound that you can’t find anywhere else. It’s super inspiring to play with, and the fact that you can get a great sound right-out-of-the-box really helps, too!
VIDEO WALKTHROUGH OF WOTAN
Here’s a full walkthrough on Wotan:
-Male choir library featuring 10 tenors and 10 basses
-8 syllables with 3 dynamic layers
-3 mic positions plus custom convolution reverb
-Sustains, staccatos, whispers, shouts, and clusters
-Custom Syllabuilder engine allowing for total sample morphing
-$329 from Strezov Sampling
-Sounds great right out-of-the-box
-Separately recorded tenors and basses
-Lowest basses ever recorded
-Very unique product fulfilling a specific (and until now, not on the market!) niche
-Instantly gives you that LOTR sound
-“Only” 8 syllables
-No true legato
-$329 for a specific type of choir may be a bit expensive for some, but well worth it!
Wotan’s interface may look intimidating to some, but it’s actually quite easy to figure out. It helps that almost every knob, button, and slider has a piece of custom help text that appears when clicking. In the image above, you can see the line of help text after I clicked the eighth note as the rhythm.
Though you only have 8 syllables to choose from, the custom Syllabuilder engine allows you seamlessly morph between them. This allows you to create a wide variety of phrases and words. You can change between separate notes (empty circle), syllable changes per chord (filled-in circle), and syllables that crossfade from the start of the first syllable into the end of the next syllable (filled-in circle with x). So instead of just Buh Niya Tuhm Chak, you can get BuhNiya Tuhak. You can change the rhythm, start time, loudness, and more with the Syllable Controls on the right.
Changing between sustains, staccatos, and shouts are simple. To get a sustain, you load in the syllable. If you want a staccato, click the syllable you want and then the Staccato button. This will add a triangle over the syllable indicating that it’s staccato. If you want a shout, press the key with more velocity (alternatively, play it as normal and change the velocity to 127 in your DAW).
Going from the top, left-to-right, you can also assign each syllable to a keyswitch, clear the phrase, load a phrase, save a phrase, replace a syllable, remove a syllable, open the quick-word browser (handy little thing that Strezov did that gives us some pre-made phrases), and go into your settings.
In your settings, you have access to your three mic positions, reverb, velocity levels, polyphonic options, specific sample controls, and of course your About. I personally like all three positions on; together they have a super full sound. However, you can always get closer or farther away, depending on the sound you want.
Once again, Strezov Sampling has exceeded expectations with this impressive new library! Wotan is fantastic; working both by itself and in conjunction with other choir libraries. The sound quality, realism, controls, and ease-of-use have made it a permanent addition to my template. From epic to evil to haunting to solemn, it is sure to find a spot in your tracks as well.
Dark Rituals – A Demo
Besides Wotan, I used Spitfire Audio’s Loegria, Iceni, Uist, and HZ01; Orchestral Tools’ Berlin Strings and Metropolis Ark I; and Soundiron’s Symphonic Brass Ensemble for this cue.
Official Demos from Strezov Sampling
About the Author
Lawson Madlener is a multi-award winning composer and musician, as well as a music consultant, Editor at DesigningMusicNOW, and 2016 winner of the prestigious CINE Marvin Hamlisch Award. He is a multi-instrumentalist, and can play the violin, viola, ukulele, mandolin, guitar, and bass guitar. In addition, he specializes in a wide range of musical genres including classical, jazz, and bluegrass.
Lawson has been composing and performing for longer than he can remember. He entered and won his first composition competition at 9 years old, and has been playing and studying violin under Mari Haig since he was 3. As with his playing, he can compose in a wide varity of styles, but his favorite is orchestral and cinematic. After studying jazz composition and performance under the guidance of Joey Sellers, he’s recently been delving into the world of jazz, and had a piece premiered in April 2016 by the Saddleback College Big Band.
In his spare time, you can find Lawson researching sample libraries, updating his template, or grumbling about how he needs to buy more SSDs.