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Topic: Question regarding Westgate's French Horn Collection

  1. #1

    Question regarding Westgate's French Horn Collection

    Dear Group,

    I'm itching to get a new sound library, and found myself snooping around the Westgate site. Cool stuff! I was looking over the articulation list for the French Horn collection...


    ...and three questions come to mind:

    1) For current Westgate advocates/users, what are your general thoughts on this collection? Strong/weak points? Do you feel that the collection is complete, or do you find yourself supplementing other Horn sounds with it?

    2) How do the legato arrticulations work within Gigastudio/Kontakt. Is it built into the sound, or is there some time of performance tool to run alongside the sampler? That would definitely be a deal-breaker for me.

    3) Are there any articulations WITH vibrato? I notice that "Sustains_NV" (non-vibrato) and "Legato_NV" are listed, but nothing mentions a "V".

  2. #2

    Re: Question regarding Westgate's French Horn Collection

    I just got this collection recently, but I am by no means an expert, or the final word on it.

    I am using it with Kontakt 2 and Cakewalk Sonar 6. I use the various articulations just like any other Kontakt instrument. The samples are huge. There is no one instrument that has all the articulations in it that you can change with key switching. The instruments vary in size (and memory required to load) so you can save memory by loading only what you need. For example, there are two big legato instruments that come with a lot of dynamic layers, but there are quite a few legato instruments with just one layer (mp, mf, f, etc.) so you can load just what you need.

    Regarding the legato, if I play my keyboard the way I would normally play a legato on the piano without using the sustain pedal -- i.e. striking the second note before releasing my fnger from the first note -- it sounds like the legato on a wind instrument. But the exact nature of the sound depends on the intervals involved, how you play it, the velocity, and a lot of other stuff (which I am afraid is a little beyond my ability to describe.) Let's just say that it's not completely automatic, but it is managable. Sometimes it's more convincing than others -- especially if it is a track that I am recording fresh, rather than just changing the instrument for one that I all ready recorded. I found that working with Westgate's approach to legato was not nearly as challenging as trying to get a legato out of GPO or JABB instruments.

    Westgate uses cc 1 to control the attack and keyswitches to contol other things (such as triggering the release sample, or switching between rips that go up or down). Individual articulations may use neither, one or both methods.

    I am a lot happier with the French Horn library than I am with the Westgate clarinet library. I find that more often, with the French Horn, the default setting is what I am after (or something very close to it.) But if you want to do something like rip into a legato passage and end it with a sustained diminuendo, you have to use 3 articulations and each one is treated as a separate instrument in Kontakt and records on a seprate track in Sonar. (First instrument: FH rip up, second: FH legato, third: FH dim for the last note.)

    Personally, I wish it were more automatic -- that I could just play and all this stuff would be done in the background -- that it would use only one instrument space and one track. And, if not, I would have rather they used controllers for everything rather than controllers + key switches. It makes it easier to edit in Sonar's midi event viewer.

    But, the strength of this library is in the quality of the samples. I have quite a few other full orchestra libraries, each of which has one or more French Horn instruments and, to me, they just don't sound like French Horns. It got to the point where I just stopped using them (I tried substituting tubas and euphoniums, flugel horns, trombones with various mutes -- all of which sounded more like French Horns than the French Horns did.) The Westgate library was the only one where the French Horn articulations were really recognizable as French Horns. You can get that soft, amorphous pad sound if you want it, or that overblown blaring thing that French Horns can do, and rips and rapid repetitions that I couldn't do any other way. And I like the marcato a lot more than I thought I would.

    They have muted and hand stopped articulations, too. When I've heard French Horns played live, the players can make them indistinguishable. But, in the Westgate library, the muted versions struck me as gentler and more usable (especially when played softly) for the stuff I am doing and can nicely alternate with an obe, or play a muted sustain under a flute or clarinet trill nicer than a muted trumpet or trombone (it just seems to blend a little better).

    So, the bottom line: Westgate Horns required a bit more work than I would have liked to get the exact sounds that I want -- but it's not too bad. Not as much work as their clarinets. (And their clarinets aren't as much work as many of the other libraries I own.) But the big point in their favor is the quality of the sounds that it has made available to me. It changed how I score for brass and mixed wind ensembles (for the better) and there are too few libraries that I can honestly say that about. (BTW - if you don't need the FH sections, you can get the solo, solo mute, and solo hand stopped in a download from Big Fish Audio and save some money.)

  3. #3

    Re: Question regarding Westgate's French Horn Collection

    I really appreciate the thorough answer! only one additional question- are any VIBRATO of the instruments with VIBRATO??


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Chandler, Arizona

    Re: Question regarding Westgate's French Horn Collection

    I only have the download for the solo Westgate french horn. I use this mixed with the WIVI french horns. They make a really powerful french horn section.


  5. #5

    Re: Question regarding Westgate's French Horn Collection

    There are no vibrato instruments in the Westgate French Horn library. I don't know if it is even possible to play a real French Horn with vibrato. (Perhaps a real French Horn player could respond and let us know.)

    However, the Westgate library does have a number of articulations, which they call "fast repetitions". Some of them are very fast (16th notes or whatever, triplets, too.) So you might be able to get something close to the effect you are after -- and that could feasibly be played on a real French Horn.

    (If you don't care about whether your composition can be played live, there are lots of VST and DX plug-ins that allow you to alter the sound in various ways. It shouldn't be too hard to simulate a vibrato. You can do a lot in Kontakt itself.)

    I think, at this point, you might do better to direct your questions to Westgate.

  6. #6

    Re: Question regarding Westgate's French Horn Collection

    yes you can play the Fr. Hrn vibrato. There are 5 major techniques used.


  7. #7

    Re: Question regarding Westgate's French Horn Collection

    Though I can't comment on Westgate's creation, as a Trumpet player and sometimes-hornist, I can tell you that, at least in the US, 99.5% of the time vibrato will not be used. It used to be fairly common, in the 1930's and earlier, but it gradually became unpopular, due in no small part to leading orchestras like Boston, Philidelphia, and most especially, the Chicago Symphony, who established a new kind of brass sound. Rather than the warble of all the brass using vibrato, they began to exhibit more of a solid (for lack of a better word) "brick" of brass sound, and using vibrato would have destabilized that precise tuning. Since they were the leading orchestras, everyone else adopted that style. (it's not really that simple, but that's the gist of it.) That's not to say that vibrato isn't used in French horn any more, in fact, in France, Russia, and several eastern-european countries, it's still commonly used for solo horns, with the same kind of diginity and grace that you can get from solo trumpet with vibrato; it's a light sound, very subtle, but it adds a bit of emotion to the sound that might not otherwise be there.
    As far as sampled horn vibrato, I know of only one for sure, and that's the solo horn from the Miroslav Orchestra.
    Hope that helps a little.

  8. #8

    Re: Question regarding Westgate's French Horn Collection

    Quote Originally Posted by Viper50BMG View Post
    Though I can't comment on Westgate's creation, as a Trumpet player and sometimes-hornist, I can tell you that, at least in the US, 99.5% of the time vibrato will not be used.
    Yes! Thank you for the insight. I really wasn't aware of that info.


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