In the past we’ve featured lists of the best orchestral instruments for composing deep film music, but TV music can often require simpler and more upfront sounds and loops to underscore footage or voice-overs. We’ve compiled 6 of our favourite packs to turn to for writing TV cues and library music…
Best Jazz: Loopmasters Jazz Crates
Jazz lends itself well to TV music and underscores, as it has a tendency to gently meander, and the drums are often softly played so can comfortably sit in the background. This pack of classic hard bop samples with a modern, soul-jazz slant was performed by acclaimed band The Jazz Defenders, inspired by Blue Note Records and recorded using high-end vintage kit. Whether you chop out smaller loops or use more extended sections, the performances throughout are excellent.
We said: “You essentially have 6 tracks that have been chopped into a mix of sections and shorter loops, with live drums, upright piano, Fender Rhodes, tenor sax, horns and upright bass parts. As this is all taken from an authentic live performance, there’s mic bleed on many of the loops, but this actually helps add to the vibe, giving the audio a sampled-from-record sound.”
Best Chillout: ModeAudio Outlook
Although some TV cues will require complete authenticity, it can often be good to blend in some more modern sounding production elements to keep things sounding fresh and interesting. Outlook from ModeAudio is a pack that combines the delicacies of orchestral and acoustic instruments with the mesmerising power of analogue synths, and is packed with appealing riffs that could easily form the backbone of a cue.
We said: “There are 155 loops including twinkling synth arps, soulful Rhodes, exotic found sound percussion, shimmering live guitars and bass, and analogue drum machines, plus 55 tail samples that can be used to give a smooth decay to the loops, or to create new pitched instruments. If you opt for the Ableton version, you also get 10 projects with each kit laid out in the Session view. Although the drums are a little under produced, the rest of the pack is full of beautiful and inspiring, Bonobo-style loops.”
Best Drums: The Loop Loft Joey Waronker Drum Loops Vol. 1
Price £37 (Audio & MIDI)
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Having a broad collection of great-sounding, live drums at your finger tips is an absolute must for quickly building pro-sounding soundtracks. This pack from The Loop Loft sees drummer Joey Waronker (Beck, Atoms for Peace, R.E.M) team up with Grammy-winning engineer Darrell Thorp for an eclectic collection of live acoustic drum and percussion loops.
We said: “There are 8 folders in a wide range of styles from funk and afrobeat, to indie rock and dance, plus accompanying MIDI versions of each beat, and a bonus folder containing two kits of one-shot hits. Although the playing is a little on the loose side, and the styles vary quite a lot, this is a phenomenal collection of inspiring loops with an excellent drum sound. Those looking for extra flexibility can opt for REX versions, or the full 96kHz multitrack stems for an extra cost.”
Best Blues: Loopmasters Vibes Vol.5 Southern State Rhythm & Blues
When you need authenticity, but you have neither the time nor budget to record original riffs, then packs like the Vibes Series from Loopmasters can be a godsend. Volume 5 takes a journey through the American southern states and fuses elements of 50s rock, blues, soul, funk and more, providing an evocative starting point and over 3GB worth of audio.
We said: “The pack is divided into 14 construction kits of long phrases and variations, with chunky live drums, and expressive guitars, bass, horns and keys. Tempos range from a slow and thoughtful 60 bpm up to a foot-stomping 200bpm, and everything is well performed and beautifully mixed with a lively sound and a touch of reverb to help the parts gel. Overall it’s a superb collection of live riffs, with extended phrases that could be used to build authentic sounding arrangements.”
Best Funk/Soul: Freshtone The Lost Tapes Vol.2
The Lost Tapes is a funk and soul history trip back to late 60s and early 70s that was meticulously performed and recorded via a large collection of rare and vintage equipment. With 40 incredible sounding compositions, plus cutdown jams and individual loops, we’d even go so far to say this makes our list of the top 10 sample packs ever!
We said: “The individual loops act as a treasure trove of song starting riffs, and track thickening rhythms and grooves. Everything here has a crunchy vintage sound, from the saturated bass and compressed drums, to the spring reverb laden guitars, and deep and funky keys. New to volume 2 is the addition of a brass section with muted trumpets, lively ensembles, sax solos and more, which adds a nice new dimension to the sound. Clearly a labour of love, The Lost Tapes Vol2 is another immaculately produced collection of authentic vintage riffs that are packed with character and soul.”
Best Guitars: Big Fish Audio Acoustic Soundscapes
We should probably call this ‘Best Plucked Instruments” as Acoustic Soundscapes contains a broad range of atmospheric guitars, mandolins, banjos and more, based on the sounds of American folk music. Variations on each riff and 35 Kontakt instruments for the loops help make this a large and flexible resource.
We said: “You’ll find a large range of sounds, from earthy upright basses, and deep baritone guitars, to twanging banjos, and delicately fingerpicked 12-strings. There are also some excellent fiddle and string riffs, around 100 female vocal ad-libs, some percussive sounds where held chords are struck rhythmically, and various SFX including slides, scrapes, and hits. Acoustic Soundscapes is a superb pack, with unassuming, simple and highly usable riffs that could easily be dropped into an arrangement or composed around. It’s also an excellent resource for any media composers wanting to evoke feelings of middle America and the wild west.”