QUANTUM LEAP - RA - THE DEFINITIVE RARE AND ETHNIC VIRTUAL INSTRUMENT
In ancient Egypt, RA was regarded as the creator of everything, the god of the sun. RA is usually represented with the body of a man and the head of a hawk, holding an ankh & sceptre. The chief location of RA worship was Heliopolis (a Greek word meaning city of the sun). RA is an appropriate name for the largest, and most comprehensive rare and ethnic virtual instrument ever made.
RA was born a few years ago, as a sample library called “Rare Instruments.” All of the sounds from Rare Instruments are included in RA, but this only represents approximately one-tenth of the content. The other ninety percent of RA was recorded at Ocean Way studios in Hollywood. Because of the size and complexity of the project, I brought in two talented producers, Pacemaker and Tony Austin to co-produce RA with me. They have worked on some other Quantum Leap projects and had some great ideas for RA. We spent time hunting down the best ethnic artists on the West Coast. Los Angeles is so ethnically diverse and blessed with excellent institutions like Cal Arts, it is actually the ideal place to record a rare and ethnic collection.
RA is a massive 14 Gigabyte Virtual Instrument that covers many typical, and some unusual instruments, from six areas of the World -
2. Americas and Australia
4. Far East
6. Middle East and Turkish Empire.
So what's so special about RA compared to other ethnic collections? For a start, I think you will really love these sounds for the same reason that Rare Instruments was so popular. Every instrument or ensemble was sampled extensively, so the character of the instrument was preserved. Ethnic (or World) music is all about expression, and how the instrument is played. To sample a Turkish wind instrument and not capture the bending, swelling and wavering of the notes is to miss the point completely. We made a big effort to keep things very organized, consistent, and intuitive, which is necessary with a collection of this size. Every instrument has many articulations and fx that range from very controlled, to very expressive. This allows you to actually “play” the instrument with authentic results. We also came up with some innovative ideas for achieving realistic legato. We call this QLegato™.
You will find RA has amazing sound quality. This is the famous Ocean Way sound: an amazing collection of vintage mics and a custom API console. RA was captured with a phase accurate 8-mic setup that gives a complete 3 dimensional image of the instrument. It is this type of sound that takes to artificial or sampled reverb extremely well. The sound is clear and broad. Mics used were Neumann U67 (U47s as alternates), Neuman M50, AKG C12 and Shoepps.
Another cool aspect of this virtual instrument is the fact that we recorded ethnic ensembles. This was done with African drums, bagpipes, gamelan and a Middle Eastern string section. The sound of these ensembles cannot be realistically simulated by layering solo instruments.
RA was a very expensive project, but well worth the cost. A lot of thought went into selecting instruments that would appeal to composers of all types, from dance music, to film. You might want to put the middle eastern string section in your next pop tune, or the hardanger fiddle in a sweeping romantic score ala LOTR.
You might also be surprised at how little percussion is included in this giant ethnic collection. The reason is, we already covered much of this in Quantum Leap Stormdrum. Stormdrum is the ideal companion to RA. The percussion in RA compliments Stormdrum perfectly.
You can have a lot of fun with RA. The possibilities are simply endless, especially when you mix the sounds of different cultures together. Load up the middle eastern string section, apply an Indian or Egyptian tuning from the micro-tuning presets and play octaves. Make a really cool groove with the didgeridoo fx and the Vietnamese jaw harp. Take a classical filmscore piece and replace all of the instruments with their ethnic counterparts: strings with middle eastern string section, solo violin or cello with electric baritone violin, hardanger fiddle or erhu, french horn with alpenhorn, flute with dizi, oboe with duduk, percussion with taikos and African percussion, harp with kora, trombones with rag dung etc. etc.... Or perhaps try the hurdy gurdy, hardanger fiddle, washburn guitar, mandolin and the dizi and make an interesting folk ensemble or the gamelan ensemble with the ney flute, duduk and esraj. And don’t forget the reverb!