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Imagine, for a moment, that you're a top sound designer. Five years ago you recorded $10 million worth of the world's most coveted stringed instruments and created the first "super sample library," a $1,000 package released to industry acclaim. Then, with everyone expecting you to lead the way beyond the terabyte threshold with your next library, you experienced a major change of heart. Suddenly your original mission--to empower musicians through sampling technology--returned in a flash. So you lifted anchor and set sail for nobler seas.
That's what happened to Gary Garritan, "captain" of Garritan Libraries on Orcas Island, Washington. His conversations with financially strapped student composers and performers--who had never heard their music performed by a live orchestra or convincingly realized on their humble computers--led to his a-ha moment. The result? The Garritan Personal Orchestra (GPO), a software instrument that delivers Garritan's high-end sounds at a unheard-of low price. And musicians have responded. GPO has won more awards and critical acclaim than any other orchestral sample library.
"I decided to entirely rethink the way virtual music instruments are developed," says Garritan into one ear as I listen to a beautiful, strikingly realistic French horn quintet with the other. "The best use of sampling, the real reason sampling was invented, was to help make the musician a better musician. Our goal was to make digital orchestration affordable, accessible, and useful to every musician--an orchestra on every desktop."
Garritan's renewed journey started when he began asking questions of faculty, administrators, and students at the Berklee College of Music in Boston: How do students learn music and interact? What programs and textbooks do they use? How can sample libraries help them reach their musical goals? They replied in a single voice: "Can you make soundware affordable? Do we really need all these expensive gigabytes of sounds and a degree in database management just to hear our music?"
Garritan listened. GPO runs on midrange computers (2.0GHz Pentium 4 or Athlon, or 1.33GHz G4). And it requires less than 2GB of hard drive space, although at least 1GB of RAM is recommended. You'll also need a MIDI controller to trigger and shape the sounds. The GPO package includes a music notation program (Overture SE-4), sequencing software (Steinberg Cubase LE), and a customized version of the Native Instruments Kontakt sample player.
It costs $250.