Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra’s second birthday is getting awfully close now. I just can’t believe it’s been that long since I released it. And before that I tinkered with the library on and off for almost a year and a half. The first public alpha release of samples from what would become SSO was in August 2009. That’s more than three years ago. And, I admit it, not much has happend since in terms of development.
So I guess it will come as no big surprise to anyone if I say that it’s very unlikely that SSO will ever be updated. At least not in its present form. I know there’s a lot of people who like SSO and I feel really bad about saying this, but it’s only fair making it official instead of keeping you all waiting. And I just don’t want to feel the pressure of being expected to update it anymore.
Why, you ask? Well, there are several reasons. The main one being that my time is limited. I have a job and a kid. These things have to take precedence no matter what, as I’m sure you understand. And when it comes to my free time I have to prioritize. While I love creating and working on samples of various kinds, I am first and foremost a musician and a composer. Making music is what I do, it’s my passion — it’s what defines me as a person. If I have to choose between playing/composing and creating sample libraries… then I’m afraid creating sample libraries will have to go, as much as it pains me.
Another reason is that SSO, from my perspective, is a project that’s getting long in the tooth. I started working on it because I was curious about the results one could get from faking orchestral sections by layering solo instruments, placing them in an artificial space and so on. As all SSO users will likely attest, it worked out surprisingly well. Still, the library has numerous flaws and it doesn’t make sense to me to keep working on it. Because it’s been more than three years. Because SSO began as an experiment rather than a carefully planned project.
I didn’t really know what I was doing and where I was going, and I didn’t stop to think about it a lot because it was fun and it was turning out much better than I hoped. It never crossed my mind that this weird concoction of free samples and hobbyist-level audio engineering might actually become fairly popular, and that people would expect me to provide updates for it. It still feels completely surreal to me that musicians all around the globe are using SSO as a serious composing tool. I’m humbled and flattered, but it’s still surreal.
Simply put, creating SSO taught me a lot of things. The most important one being that I am only a single person and attempting to create something as complex as an orchestral sample library in my free time is hubris of the highest degree. SSO certainly gave me a deeper understanding of what it takes to create orchestral libraries. Let me put it this way: I used to scoff at the pricing of VSL and other high-end libraries. I don’t do that anymore.
Nevertheless, SSO isn’t dead just because I say there will be no updates. You have the library. It is open and free and you can use, modify and share it to your heart’s content. And if you read the early bits of this post again, you will notice that it says “At least not in its present form”. No promises, no deadlines, no hints of anything specific to come. But rest assured that SSO is not the last release you’ll see from me.