Music Software from Spitfire

Latest Spitfire Signature sampling salvo opens window to the world with Fanshawe field recordings.

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Compositional tools creator Spitfire Audio is delighted to launch DAVID FANSHAWE – EARTH ENCOUNTERS VOL 1 — the latest addition to its SIGNATURE range of sample-based virtual instruments for Native Instruments’ KONTAKT PLAYER platform, this time showcasing the truly trailblazing archive left behind by English composer, ethnomusicologist, and self-styled musical explorer David Fanshawe — at The NAMM Show 2015, January 22-25 in Anaheim, California.


“Through the adventures of music and travel, I have been privileged to experience our world as a composer and musical explorer. It is my humble dream to go on sharing my aspirations with future generations through the legacy of my sound archives.”  – David Fanshawe (1942-2010)

A distinctive pattern, product, or characteristic by which someone or something can be identified. So reads a typical dictionary definition of the word signature. Spitfire Audio’s SIGNATURE range sample library luminaries certainly have a signature sound — hence the apt appellation. As such, it is an absolute privilege for Spitfire Audio to add the notable name of David Fanshawe — best remembered for his legendary choral work African Sanctus and for his lasting legacy to world music, The Fanshawe Music Archive, about which none other than The British Library Sound Archive advances, “His collection of field recordings and the knowledge this imparts are invaluable…” — to that range’s lengthening lineage for all to hear and make their own musical explorations with. Which is a very exciting prospect for anyone — all the more so since the composer’s own musical excursions touched the hearts and minds of such an appreciative audience, including classical composers of such standing as Richard Blackford and the dearly departed Antony Hopkins, who paid tribute to the talented musician in question thusly: “His music is literally unique, both in conception and completion. Fanshawe is also deeply concerned lest the folk music of the endangered countries should be lost to future generations.”

Antony Hopkins would surely have also appreciated the sentiment behind DAVID FANSHAWE – EARTH ENCOUNTERS VOL 1, the first release in a continuing collaboration between Spitfire Audio, the estate of David Fanshawe, and Fanshawe One World Music, a unique, ear-catching collection of recordings residing under the watchful eye of Jane Fanshawe. For the DAVID FANSHAWE – EARTH ENCOUNTERS collection will help to support the work being undertaken to prepare the astonishing archive that was David Fanshawe’s generous gift to the world for its eventual establishment as the premier resource for researchers and musicians worldwide. Work thereof includes cataloguing and digitising the entire archive with the aim of finding it a permanent home within a national museum or university of note.

Notably, with the DAVID FANSHAWE – EARTH ENCOUNTERS collection, Spitfire Audio aims to capture inspirational musical performances and sounds which can then seed future music-making as a kind of DNA. David Fanshawe was already trailblazing this pathway while Spitfire Audio co-founders and composers Christian Henson and Paul Thomson were still immersed in their formative years in education. Actually, African Sanctus left an indelible musical mark on the then-teens; the remarkable reception to its UK premiere at the Three Choirs festival back in 1978 — conducted by Paul Thomson’s choirmaster — was still being talked about many years later at the festivals in which Paul performed as a schoolboy chorister.

Compositional accomplishments outside of vocal pieces included scoring more than 50 films and television productions, while Fanshawe’s field recordings have also graced the big screen, ‘starring’ in high-flying films such as Seven Years In Tibet and Gangs Of New York. Yet with his feet planted firmly on terra firma, Fanshawe’s musical explorations saw him extensively travelling throughout Africa, the Pacific, the Middle East, and the Far East with his Nagra, Uher, and Stellavox machines. These recordings were made at a unique moment in time when the ancient world lived alongside advancing technology. Fanshawe faithfully used this technology to capture cultural traditions before technology’s inexorable onward march made the world a smaller place and cultures and traditions became more homogenised. However, describing Fanshawe’s remarkable recordings as a once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment would really be branding them with a stereotypical cliché when, in reality, they truly represent a ‘once-in-humanity-time’ accomplishment — to be forever treasured by all who hear them. This is no proscenium presentation. Close your eyes, listen, and it’s like you’re really there as part of the truly enlightening experience, enjoying the perfect sonic ‘sweet spot’. So many of these recordings feature instruments, music, and languages that have since become extinct. By being offered to the world with Spitfire Audio they are being brought back to life, sowing the seeds of inspiration for future music-makers by becoming the DNA of what we will be listening to for future generations to come.

Collectively, with the DAVID FANSHAWE – EARTH ENCOUNTERS collection, Spitfire Audio also aims to live up to its namesake ‘content creator’s’ credo: One World, One Music. Meaningfully working with an initial selection from the archive to present a library of carefully curated loops, phrases, one-shot instruments, and vocal performances perfectly recorded by Fanshawe himself, DAVID FANSHAWE – EARTH ENCOUNTERS VOL 1 will provide instant inspiration to composers, producers, and musicians the world over. Listening to these extraordinarily vivid sounds is akin to looking through a window into a different time and space.

Selections are presented in DAVID FANSHAWE – EARTH ENCOUNTERS VOL 1 in such a way that they can be pitched up and down, played at different tempos/speeds, and more besides. There is also a stupendous section of ‘warped’ content where the Spitfire Audio team took the original recordings and created all manner of interesting sounds from them, ranging from ethereal pads to pounding distorted beats and anything and everything in-between. Such sounds are loaded into two differently-designed ‘engines’ — each geared up to differing sonic approaches and treatments. The first provides an easy way to add ‘everyday’ effects like chorus, delay, distortion, EQ, filtering, phasing, and reverb to the original content, together with more radical sound morphing controls (within the Wobble and Yoke section). The warped content creatively benefits from Spitfire Audio’s powerful proprietary eDNA (electronic DNA) engine — as devastatingly demonstrated on the earlier EDNA01 – EARTH release, which includes individual and independent modulators; control of trim, bend, glide, cloning, tuning, and ADSR; wobbles that modulate pitch, volume, and filters; a gating and sequencer section with full control over amount, shape, speed, and length; 34 custom effects and impulse responses; and also an ability to crossfade between two selected sounds with speed and phase control capabilities additionally at hand… how adventurous can you go?

DAVID FANSHAWE – EARTH ENCOUNTERS VOL 1 provides users with endless creative inspiration while bringing its namesake celebrated composer and musical explorer’s work within reach of the music-making masses for the first time. Spitfire Audio is showcasing this first volume on a display designed to give everyone ‘hands-on’ experience of ‘The Spitfire Way’ in Hall E, Booth #6945 at The NAMM Show 2015, January 22-25 in Anaheim, California. Come check it out.

DAVID FANSHAWE – EARTH ENCOUNTERS VOL 1 can be purchased and downloaded directly from Spitfire Audio from January 24, 2015 for an attractive introductory price of £149.00 GBP (around $225.00 USD) — rising to an RRP of £199.00 GBP (around $300.00 USD) on February 7, 2015 — from here: (Note that this is a free Native Instruments KONTAKT PLAYER library — no additional purchases necessary to run this product to its full potential.)  For more detailed information, please visit the DAVID FANSHAWE – EARTH ENCOUNTERS VOL 1 webpage here:

Watch Spitfire Audio Director Paul Thomson’s telling DAVID FANSHAWE – EARTH ENCOUNTERS VOL 1 video walkthrough here:


One Response to Latest Spitfire Signature sampling salvo opens window to the world with Fanshawe field recordings.

  1. Alex says:

    Hey, you’re the goto extrep. Thanks for hanging out here.

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