I don’t know what the business industry gurus have to say about the fate of online shopping, but it does seem as if you can buy just about anything online these days. Among the plethora of products available to hungry-for-more consumers are huge varieties of sample libraries for use in electronic music projects; for mixing, remixing, and creating tracks for commercial use. And since there seems to be a fairly large market for such libraries, it is not too surprising to see the specialists kick in with bigger, better and special products. In the market for sound sample libraries are several specialists who deliver what could be called speciality sounds. For example, www.indiaplays4u.com boasts of hugely popular sample packs such as the Bhangra Elements, which brings to you loops, intros and endings and what have you played on a variety of instruments such as the dhol, dholak, tumbi and tabla. Another site at which samples are available is www.producerloops.com, which currently promotes the Classic Bollywood sample pack. If you have the know-how to use samples to programme a track, sample packs such as those mentioned above can be quite a convenience and a saving, as they do away with the need to book studios and musicians. You just need to be ready and willing to accept templates that are customizable to an extent, but are not earth-shatteringly different from other tracks in the past, present or the near future.
Gaurav Dayal’s www.indiaplays4u.com offers the user the opportunity to now “get real Indian musicians to play for your next hit!”. All you need to do is upload a track in a specified format, select the instruments you would like dubbed on your track, select the price per instrument and style, pay for the same, wait for an email receipt and within the next 48 hours you receive an MP3 file of your track with the dubbing done and completed even as you stayed home and watered the plants. If you are happy with the MP3 file sent to you, you receive a Mixdown in no time, or else you send in your suggestions and comments for further modification until you are completely satisfied. In a nutshell, the site is saving you the bother of booking a studio, hiring a programmer and/or arranger, or musicians to dub on your track. Sounds like a great idea if you are not looking for anything overly original, or want to create a demo.
Look further and there is the beta version of www.earthmoments.com that comes from the Chennai-based label EarthSync. Even as you admire the stunning website design and interface, you hear samples of the sitar, veena and konnakol, all brilliantly recorded and played. Here, the samples are organized in “bundles” rather than “packs”, and the three bundles currently offered on the site are:
• The Distant Rhythms bundle priced at $19.95 (around Rs935), essentially a percussion package
• The Indian Emotion bundle priced at $39.95, for Indian strings and woodwinds
• And finally, of greatest interest to me, the Voice of India bundle priced at $49.95, featuring vocal samples of Baul singers, qawwals, Hindustani classical vocalists, Carnatic classical vocalists, konnakol and even mantras, Bollywood vocals (what on earth could these be?) and Rajasthani vocals.
The demo samples for this pack feature stunning vocals by Bauls, so if they are any indication of quality this should be a great sample library. My only regret is that none of the sample libraries I browsed through seem to be bothered about acknowledging the performers who played and sang and recited in order for these samples to be recorded in the first place. You hear great sitar playing and you immediately want to know who played. You hear a good voice, you want to know who it is.
Besides, isn’t it well within the performer’s right to be identified and acknowledged? I apologize in advance if the performers are acknowledged in the literature that comes with the libraries, and if I have failed to see the acknowledgements. But if indeed no performers are acknowledged, please, sample makers, give us tagged samples with the names of the performers, won’t you?
Write to Shubha at email@example.com