I am often asked by composers that are just starting out about the software and virtual instruments I use, so I thought it would be a good idea to make a simple list and briefly discuss the basic elements that I use on regular basis.
Logic – The center of my studio is Logic and I do 95% of my work with it. Even though some people argue that recording sessions would be better off in Pro Tools, I am so fluid with Logic that it just makes sense to use the fastest tool available. I’ve been using Logic since around version 7, before that it was Digital Performer which is what they taught when I went to Berklee (and still do I think).
Sibelius – My favorite notation software is Sibelius by a mile. Like DP, I learned and used Finale at Berklee. But after trying out Sibelius a few years ago I never looked back. It is so much easier to use than Finale, it’s unbelievable. Everything just works the way it’s supposed to. I used to spend hours and ours with parts in Finale making sure things didn’t overlap. Sibelius has a simple rule – things can’t overlap! God that saves so much time!
Pro Tools – I have Pro Tools 9 available and ready just in case, because sometimes people I collaborate with prefer to use it. I rarely use it, although occasionally I create playback sessions for feature films with Pro Tools. Also, depending on the project, I will use Pro Tools as a video host.
Melodyne – Melodyne is a brilliant piece of software. It’s like autotune on steroids. Not only can you tune whatever you throw into it (yes, even multiple notes at once like a guitar chord), but you can rearrange the pitches as well to create entirely new melodies if you want. Sometimes I feed a loop or sampled solo into Melodyne and then customize it, changing the pitches around so I keep the inflection but create my own solo instead.
Zebra – One of my favorite third party synths, Zebra is just packed with fun electronic sounds.
Komplete – If you’re a film composer, Komplete is a no brainer. It has everything you could possibly need when starting out. I use some of the orchestral instruments that come with Kontakt, especially the harp and occasionally the brass and percussion.
LA Scoring Strings – My favorite string samples, I especially love the easy to use glissandos and slides which I way overuse!
Soundiron Emotional Piano – Formerly Tonehammer. I really like the soft timbre of this piano, for me it’s very cinematic. I tend to like duller and murkier sounds in general so maybe this is just particularly suited to my tastes.
Soundiron Requiem – My current go-to choir, I don’t use it a ton but it does a nice job.
Stormdrum – The cliche industry standard for big epic drums, but they work.
Wallander Instruments – These are what I’m currently using for woodwinds and brass, but to be honest I tend not to use those orchestral timbres very much. I think I’m still looking for a better collection, and would love to hear what other people like.