Review: Best Service Alpine Volksmusik

Get your jah-jahs out with this unique sound library
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The Best Service Alpine Volksmusik library provides 24 sample-based instruments characteristically found in the music of Austria, Bavaria, and Slovenia’s Upper Carniola region. In particular, they’re suitable for up-tempo melodies framed in a pop-driven polka style. Stylistic differences aside, Alpine Volksmusik’s instrumentation could fit into any type of polka music, as well as other genres if you’re feeling adventurous.

In the Quick Edit window, you can easily adjust the sound of an instrument to fit your musical arrangement.

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The list of instruments in Alpine Volksmusik includes brass (solo trumpet, trumpet ensemble, baritone horn, bass trombone, tuba), a woodwind (clarinet), accordions, guitars (including “authentic Oberkrainer strumming” and a nylon-string instrument for bass), dulcimer, drums and percussion (such as tuned alpine cowbells), a fiddle, basses (such as a synth bass popular in the Zillertal area of the Tyrol), and vocals.

Overall, the instruments are of decent to excellent quality, and they are balanced to work in an ensemble context. The solo trumpet and tuba have a convincing, burnished tone, while the accordions (including the Steirische, a Slovenian button accordion) are excellent across the board. The hammered dulcimer is bright and resonant. One particularly amusing patch features yodels, as well as vocal exhortations in the Zillertaler dialect: Whether or not you understand the language, these samples are fun.

The steel-string Picking guitar patch, however, sounds static and suffers from too much sustain and a tweezed-out tone in the upper registers. Likewise, the Walzer electric bass has a long, ringing release that seems odd as a preset, though it is easily tamed with the editor.

The library includes a pair of excellent and versatile drum kits: one with multiple samples laid across the keyboard map; the other, a readymade GM-mapped kit. Both drum sets would serve well in mainstream pop productions, too.

Alpine Volksmusik loads into Engine, Best Service’s free, full-featured multi-timbral sampler for Mac and Windows OS. In addition to standalone operation, Engine supports AU, VST and AAX Native plug-in formats.

The Quick Edit window is the main screen and offers basic parameters for fine-tuning your sounds. Some of the patches include key switching in the lower octaves that are, for example, used to change an instrument from polyphonic to legato, mono mode: Legato comes in particularly handy with wind instruments where overlapping notes ruin the illusion of a real horn. In some cases, key switches shunt between sustained, marcato, and staccato articulations.

You’ll also find easy access to virtual knobs for controlling envelope parameters, pan position, reverb, and volume, among the more instrument-specific controls such as accordion-noise artifacts and buttons that change an instrument’s register. If you need to go deeper, click on the Pro Edit tab to gain detailed access to filters, a generous and interesting effects section, the modulation matrix, and the sample map. All of the controls are assignable to MIDI commands.

Alpine Volksmusik undoubtedly occupies an esoteric niche among sample libraries, but it covers its regionally based timbres with authenticity and an obvious affection for the music. Moreover, the unique instruments included in this library would make a welcome addition to any composer’s palette of colors.

The first time many of these instruments are available in a sample library. MIDI-assignable controls. Easy to edit. Key switching.

The over-abundance of sustain on some patches requires taming.


Marty Cutler’s new book, The New Electronic Guitarist, will be available in early June, 2017.