Checking Out: String Murmurations by The Crow Hill Company

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String Murmurations, from new developer The Crow Hill Company, provides superb realism and instant scoring results under your fingertips. It’s an unorthodox approach to sampling, firmly focussed on human performances and a streamlined interface.

Jump to the Videos of String Murmurations by The Crow Hill Company

Jump to the Demos of String Murmurations by The Crow Hill Company

 

First Look: String Murmurations by The Crow Hill Company

The Crow Hill Company is a sample library start-up led by the co-founder of industry titans Spitfire Audio. String Murmurations is clearly a demonstration that the innovative mind of Christian Henson is as sharp as ever following his departure from Spitfire. The library definitely follows a thread started with the inventive techniques creating orchestral evolutions during Henson’s time there.

Whilst that method relied mostly on same pitch recordings, but with varying amounts of textural change, String Murmurations goes one step further and adds extensive melodic movement into the picture. With three distinct sound palettes in a bespoke interface there is lots to dive into here and with the promise of new ways of composing on offer, let’s dive in and see if it lives up to the hype.

Gestures Main Page

A critical step in assessing if String Murmurations is for you is to try and get past some of the ‘Henson Hype’ and examine it for what it is. There is plenty of clever marketing, fawning walkthroughs, and the age-old trick of renaming familiar things so they appear new. With all that said, Crow Hill have started with a big impact here and there is so much to admire. The recordings and performances are technically and emotionally superb and I do enjoy working with that interface. The one downside of their custom plugin however, is that there is no easy way to move sample content after installation. The only way to do it is download the whole thing again and reinstall, which is frustrating and time consuming.

Preset Browser

Whether it is for you will be a personal choice. I found the Gestures to sound splendid, but sometimes a bit unwieldy to realise the intentions I had in my head, though it has become more intuitive to use the more I have played it. Some may also bemoan the arguable dumbing down of orchestral writing, which can feel one step away from AI at times. Certainly my two year old daughter can now sound like a pro with just a few little fingers in the right places! It sounds like instant score, but is too much of the hard work done for you and with only 12 presets might we start to hear quite a few similar sounding cues appear? The Blurs are brilliantly realistic runs, but a bit isolating without more integrated non-run content to work alongside them and the inability to mix and match the presets to create your own more complex runs possibly makes it a little limiting. The Constellations by contrast will probably get most use in my own work. The slightly hybrid feel of them is really impressive, especially when coupled with the granular effect and the Glisten reverb. It’s a bit of a shame the Grain engine is only available on certain patches actually as it is really effective and musical. In a similar vein, the non-Gesture Selects are very inspiring as organic pads. The more basic patches should not be overlooked either; the normale, sordino, sul pont, and sul tasto patches in both products have very beautiful timbres.

Constellations Main Page

I am left a little conflicted with String Murmurations to be honest – some parts I really love, some parts are maybe not as impressive as I first thought once I had the actual samples in my hands. I think it will divide composers, but that is not actually a bad thing and Crow Hill should be applauded for launching with such a bold and inventive library that does make us all think a bit differently in how we might compose. Small String Textures could be a savvy buy as a less expensive taster if you are on the fence with String Murmurations. I also really like what they are doing to encourage less classically trained musicians to enter the fray, with a growing number of free educational resources. Alongside that, they also offer an excellent way to try their particular sampling ethos for free via the Vaults Beta plugin that is growing month by month with some very useful sampled instruments.

 

String Murmurations normally sells for £199 inc Vat from The Crow Hill Company.

 

Facts

35GB content, compressed to 19G
Direct download via Crow Hill installer app
Bespoke plugin for AU, VST3, VST, AAX
150 presets – 12 Gestures, 24 Blurs, 75 Constellations, 39 Selects
3 unique sound palettes
3 mics – close, wide, ambient
4 reverbs
Granular FX
Master processing – EQ, stereo width, room tone

String Murmurations normally sells for £199 inc Vat from The Crow Hill Company.

 

Demos of String Murmurations by The Crow Hill Company

Videos of String Murmurations by The Crow Hill Company