With today’s expansive scoring libraries, you can put the full power of tens, or even hundreds, of the worlds finest classical musicians to work on your next track – all from the comfort of your DAW. And while the expense is minimal compared to hiring a physical orchestra, the cost of entry can still feel a little steep. Don’t worry though: If you’re not quite ready to invest in a hard-drive worth of cinematic sounds, there are plenty of low-cost – or even free – options to get you started (not to mention the symphonic sounds and exotic-sounding instruments that come packaged with KONTAKT 6).
Below, we’ve rounded up five unique libraries for cinematic scoring – from organic-sounding orchestral instruments to creative sounds for risers and atmospheres. And so long as you own the full version of KONTAKT, you can start scoring with each of these for free.
Palette Primary Colors
Red Room Audio has created a set of staple scoring tools that’s well-suited to beginners, but also offers an interesting flavor for more experienced composers. Built from a generous 1.3 GB of string, woodwind, and brass samples, Palette Primary Colors boasts three dynamic layers per articulation, round-robin playback, and more. It’s free to download, but we recommend you either make a small donation to the developer or consider upgrading to the full Palette library if you find this cut-down version useful.
Dreamt up by FluffyAudio, this nightmarish library is anything but. Aurorror, built from the company’s premium Aurora instrument, makes it easy to create horror-movie soundscapes and add dark undertones to any composition. With layering of up to five different sounds, Aurorror produces results that are as complex as they are creepy.
Boutique sample house Sonixinema’s Medicine Man is a multisampled tongue drum recorded by psytrance producer Saša Dukić. It comes with over 500 MB of samples, features a dedicated ‘atmospheres layer’ for adding ambience, and – most importantly – it sounds fantastic.
Supreme Samples’ Djemko drum ensemble is an epic-sounding library based on one simple technique. Its creator pitched down a djembe and, realising it now sounded like a taiko drum, set to work deep-sampling the instrument and layering it to create this thunderous library. Don’t miss the handy ‘More Drums’ feature, which does exactly what you think it does.
Orchestral Rise Builder
This one-trick-pony from Hidden Path Audio also does exactly what you’d expect – and it does it very well. Whether you need an orchestral riser to build suspense at a crucial moment in your score, or just for a unique transition in your next track, make sure to give this one a try.