I’m in a Berklee College of Music Orchestration for Film and TV program. Naturally, the program requires us to have notation software, a DAW, and one or more orchestral libraries. Since I came in as a songwriter, I was already familiar with Finale and Logic, but I needed to add an orchestral library.
However, once I started looking, I learned this: they’re really fucking expensive.
And it’s not just about affordability. Although money is always a consideration, it also sucks to have too much firepower at your fingertips when you are a beginner. It overwhelms you with choice. I needed to keep this decision simple to focus on what matters: making great music.
I talked to the professor and explained that I’m serious about my career as a composer, but I need a starting place.
Why EastWest ComposerCloud+?
The professor suggested EastWest’s ComposerCloud+ subscription. Both he and my more experienced fellow students agreed I should start as small as possible, building upon my studio as I go, and that ComposerCloud+ was perfect for me.
Instead of being a $500 upfront cost, ComposerCloud+ is $19.99 per month, with a 30-day free trial. For this price, I can “rent” the orchestral library. This is perfect to get you through a 3-month class. As you develop your skills, you will develop opinions on what other libraries you want to use. Once you know your own preferences and have a more professional skillset, making a professional investment will make more sense.
This is the easiest part. At SoundOnline‘s website, the checkout process is easy and fast. I followed the instructions I got on my receipt for installing the required software, and I was ready to go.
Picking A Download
ComposerCloud+ gives you access to everything EastWest has to offer. Again, don’t overwhelm yourself if you’re a beginner. The Hollywood Orchestra Opus Edition is the flagship product. I downloaded the EW Hollywood Orchestrator, chose a library path in my Mac’s documents folder, and then downloaded the Solo Violins Opus Edition downloads into that folder.
Why just the solo violin? These files are large – the full Opus Edition library is over 900 GB. Eventually, the rest of the library went into a 1 TB external SSD Hard Drive. Right now, we’re just getting up and running, so download a small library.
Getting Up And Running In Logic
After downloading the solo violin library, I read up on the manual on the website. The instructions for using Opus as a plugin in a DAW are on page 48, and conveniently, the example used is Logic.
Once you open a new project, you can load a Software Instrument track with Opus like this.
Double-clicking on Opus in the instrument slot will bring up the setup window.
A quick tip: I used Logic’s keyboard shortcuts to set CMD + OPT + I to make an “open instrument” shortcut. Since you’ll be largely working in this screen to select your orchestral samples, this can be a convenient way to toggle between sounds.
Upon the first launch, the Opus instrument will trigger a setup wizard. As the prompt suggests, I stuck to all default settings.
And that’s it! I now have a real, professional orchestral library set up in Logic for $0.
If this was helpful to you, let me know in the comments! I hope you have fun learning your new software instrument.