Orchestral Tools has released its latest sample collection, Salu. The Salu collection is a set created by performers at the Arvo Pärt Centre in Estonia. Pärt’s music is always delicate, close to religious, with a high degree of sacrality. The Salu samples collection draws on those qualities with a unique assembly of close, intimate, experimental instruments and textures. It has been designed for sensitive, inspired musical expression.
Salu (€399 regular price; €279 until January 1, 2023) lets you create music and soundscapes that appeal to your most fundamental emotions, including reverence, sadness and stillness. It uses instruments and experimental articulations that you won’t find in mainstream orchestra and music playing practice. The instruments include harps, a kannel, (an Estonian plucked string instrument belonging to the Baltic box zither family), a soft upright Steinway K-132 piano, and experimental percussion. In the articulations lists you’ll find octave sustains, major and minor arpeggios, and irregular repetitions, crescendos and slow accents, as well as irregular drops, bows, texture bows, and more. The collection wraps up with a large set of “processed” sounds that I see as a en efficient way to create soundscapes.
Unlike many of Orchestral Tools’ other sample collections, Salu was recorded in the middle of a pine forest, more specifically in the Arvo Pärt Centre. In 2010, the Pärt family established the Centre, an institution responsible for maintaining Arvo Pärt’s personal archive, in the village of Laulasmaa, Estland. The centre opened to visitors on 17 October 2018 and contains a concert hall, a library, and research facilities. The building, its integration with the forest and nature itself create an environment that creates an atmosphere of peace, calm, and reflection.
Salu’s source of inspiration
To understand the Salu collection you need to know a bit about the inspirer. Although Pärt started out composing music in neo-classical style, he ultimately ended up with a style called “tintinnabuli” — like the ringing of bells.
You will need a somewhat reflective mind to appreciate Pärt’s works. I regularly listen to his music, including Miserere, De Profundis, and Spiegel im Spiegel, and find those works deeply compassionate, delicate, as if Pärt wants us to realise life is easily broken.
Pärt’s work has been used in many movies. Spiegel im Spiegel, for example, is used in “You won’t be Alone”, as trailer music to “Gravity” and “silent House”, in “Burning Man”, and the list goes on. The music is characterised by simple harmonies, often single unadorned notes, or triads. Tintinnabuli style works are rhythmically simple and do not change tempo. Most importantly, all of these works invite the listener to self-reflect by creating an atmosphere of quietude.
The Salu collection is perfect for composing pieces with the same delicacy. Even the mic positions in the Salu collection include a larger number of close settings than others to get as much of the instrument without ambient sound, although those that do incorporate the recording of the room’s ambience are also included.
You would think Salu excludes the creation of less delicate music, but it does not. You will find more special expressions and articulations than in any other set that are excellent for creating or underscoring feelings of detachment, emotional inability, zen, etc. Salu is also a great fit if you want your music to emphasise emotions like discomfort in dramas, psychological thrillers, and other such non-action productions.
Salu is contraindicated when you want to invoke a pomp and circumstance atmosphere, but if you integrate it with samples from other collections, the results can be quite powerful. For example, the Solo cello, violin and viola samples are incredibly beautiful with sustain parts that can be played with or without vibrato and that feel right at home on tracks mixed with anything from chamber music collections to analogue or digital synthesiser tracks.