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The Doghouse NYC

The Vienna Symphonic Library, or VSL Orchestral Tools in use at the Doghouse NYC

May 12, 2005 | Review

Reinventing Orchestral Writing
with the Vienna Symphonic Library

Creating orchestral scores using samplers has always boiled down to one basic concept. A composer must balance the integrity of his or her work with the limits of synthetic sounds. This is nothing new. For centuries, composers have written with specific artists and orchestras in mind. Until recently, instead of writing for an individual or a particular orchestra, we, as composers, were forced to write for the least offensive sounds in our orchestral libraries.

But with recent advances in the art of sampling, there have been big changes in the way composers work. Today's libraries, such as the Vienna Symphonic Library (or VSL), allow us to be more creative, expressive, and authentic than ever before. Whereby at one time we had only a few decent instruments from which to choose, now we have thousands; each classified to the smallest gradation and shade. But with this change, the ante is also upped. Using these new tools to this new and higher standard requires unprecedented skill and attention.

The VSL has become an indispensable tool. It has allowed the studio to explore huge orchestral textures and new combinations of sounds and instruments without the need to hire an orchestra. It is, in our opinion, one of the most groundbreaking products to become available for composers and producers alike since the advent of MIDI.

In the provided examples, we have used the Vienna Symphonic Library (VSL) extensively to create lush orchestral textures. Nearly every melody has been pieced together using a plethora of articulations. Staccato and legato passages fit together achieving seamless performances capturing the many shadings of each instrument.


To the right are four examples of how we have used the VSL in our work here at The Doghouse NYC.

The first example, 20th Century Kid, is a piece that accompanies a "custom character" for Humongous Entertainment's Backyard Baseball. It was intended to be reminiscent of Stravinsky's Firebird. Notice the swirling and chaotic strings as well as the legato bassoon passage which make use of the VSL's excellent legato tool.

Vicious Captain and Ambush are both parts of a dramatic sequence taking place on a pirate ship (think Pirates of the Caribbean meets Batman). Note the intensity of the French horn crescendo, the flute arpeggios at the end of the song and, in Vicious Capitan, the repeating military-like strings at :50 seconds. All of these make use of VSL toolsets. In many cases the melodies you hear are comprised of multiple variations of the same instrument, in order to achieve a natural and expressive sound.

In the last example, Space Camp Fly-By, also from Backyard Baseball, a spaceship is approaching a planet as its sun peeks over its horizon. It is a direct reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey. In this instance, the intense dynamics were achieved by virtue of the sheer number of crescendi available in our palate. The rumble of the spaceships engine was created using a recording of ocean surf: everything above 100Hz drastically filtered.

With massive orchestral libraries, nearly every nuance and articulation in the orchestral lexicon has been captured and stands ready to be employed in our new compositions. Never has the need been greater for the composer to have an in-depth knowledge of their tools. But there have also never been such possibilities. The Vienna Symphonic Library is the most impressive orchestral library to date. Understanding how to write for it requires a great deal of time and study, but the results are undeniably worth the effort.

For more information on the Vienna Symphonic Library, please visit their website at or at, their distributor.


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