We live in a small world. Every day is worth recording. The present is almost history. Everything that we believe to be good is worth the effort. – David Fanshawe
I have to confess: I had never heard of David Fanshawe before. David was a British composer, recordist, and ethnomusicologist, and his best-known composition is the choral work African Sanctus. His ambition to record indigenous music began in 1966 with his first journey to the Middle East, but since then, David has travelled across the globe and recorded a vast amount of world music. Selections of David’s recordings are now available to composers in David Fanshawe: Earth Encounters 1, a relatively new Kontakt library that is part of SpitfireAudio‘s SIGNATURE Musical Trailblazers Range.
- Recordings from China, Egypt, Indonesia, Kenya, Senegal, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tibet, Uganda, Zaire, Zanzibar
- 14 Atmospheres, Loops, Single Hits, Edna
- 76,797 seconds / 1,280 minutes / 21.3 hours
- 27.39 GB/11,491 samples (uncompressed 32-bit wav)
- Price Tag: £199 (plus VAT for EU customers)
After purchasing David Fanshawe Earth Encounters 1, you need to install the Spitfire Audio Library Manager (available for both PC and Mac) if you haven’t already done so. The Library Manager takes care of the whole download and installation process.
There are four types of instruments: Atmospheres, Loops, Single Hits, and Edna. I’m not sure whether the recordings were heavily edited by SpitfireAudio, or whether the magic is inherent to the sounds themselves, but I could browse sounds for hours and hours. Listening to the country atmospheres, war dances, wedding songs, percussive loops, and all these different recordings in the library is very … soothing.
The Loops and Single Hits are categorized into Ensemble, Melodic, Percussive Instruments, and Vocals, and each section is further divided by country of origin. It’s clearly categorized, in case you want to use sounds just from a specific part of the world.
Atmospheres, Loops, and Single Hits use same interface, which is well structured, easy to use, and up to the usual Spitfire Audio standard. There are many controls and filters ready for you to affect the sounds to your needs. Here is a list of the controls on the GUI:
- Envelope controls
Lo & Hi Pass Filters Adjust the graph on the LPF to chop off the top end, HPF to chop off the bottom. So if you want to reduce your fizzing synth sound to a muted sub tone, drag the LPF graph from right to left. A.D.S.R. – Standard controls for changing Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release parameters of the envelope. Portamento Settings – You can make the sound monophonic, activate the portamento glide function, and set Portamento Glide Amount/
- Wobbles controls
Three LFOs—conveniently labelled “Wobbles” for the dubstep novice—are directly applied to Volume, Pitch, and Filters respectively; in each case, the only LFO shape available is a sine wave, with rate cleverly adjusted by clicking and dragging within the corresponding LFO wave shape display. The LFO rates can only be adjusted in hertz—they can’t be synchronized to the host tempo.
Two parameters selected from your active effects (see below) can be adjusted or automated via the somewhat clumsy Yoke control area: a graphical XY parameter pad that doesn’t allow for control of both parameters simultaneously, or by intuitively clicking and dragging within the square Yoke area. Instead, each parameter is adjusted independently via a slider along its axis.
- Filters – EQ, Lo-Fi, an additional Low Pass filter, Chorus, Reverb, Delay, Distortion, and Phaser. You can switch each filter on/off.
There is a lot of potential for even more interesting sounds from the Dave Fanshawe recordings. The Edna section features 6 different instruments that use Spitfire’s eDNA engine – a far more advanced Kontakt editor. There are lots of possibilities to create results that do not sound like recordings from distant countries. You can tweak 2 soundsources and each of their numerous parameters and filters. An in-depth exploration of the eDNA engine can be found in the great eDNA01: Earth review written by our own Walid Feghali.
One could say that the David Fanshawe Earth Encounters 1 library consists mainly of useful recordings from different corners of the Earth, featuring many loop based instruments. There are hours and hours of delicate sounds, atmospheres, war dances, and wedding songs, as well as many different ethnic instruments, all of which can spice your music. However, all I can say is that this library has soul, and I sure hope there will be more libraries available in the SIGNATURE musical trailblazers range from SpitfireAudio.