Synchron Stage Vienna, sound studio with percussion instruments

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Vienna Symphonic Library

In addition to great live music, the Austrian capital is also home to the Vienna Symphonic Library – a digital database of sounds and samples recorded in the city by top Viennese musicians using cutting-edge technology, ready for people to access from all over the world. The company behind it is a research specialist that is committed to continuously developing its innovative music software and orchestral sound libraries.

Its founder Herbert Tucmandl is a trained musician who, among other things, has been a cellist for the Vienna Philharmonic as well as a cameraman, director and composer. For more than 20 years, he has been on a quest to record the sounds of the entire orchestra – individual notes as well as sequences – from solo violins and concert grands to double bass sections. Even voices and whistling have been digitized in all manner of variations. Composers, arrangers and studio owners all over the world realize their works by bringing together the individual samples on their computers to create a perfect-sounding score. Thanks to a virtual orchestra that is indistinguishable from the real thing, and a pool of ten million audio samples courtesy of the world-leading Vienna Symphonic Library.

Virtual Music Production

International, award-winning TV and film music composers use Vienna Symphonic Library products to create demos of their orchestral film scores, sometimes even combining the virtual sounds in the final mix with live recordings of the real orchestra.

Hollywood composer Danny Elfman (Mission: Impossible, Batman, Men in Black) confirms: "The Vienna Symphonic Library has been at the heart of my orchestral sample library for several years." Alexandre Desplat (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pets, The King's Speech, and The Grand Budapest Hotel – for which he won an Oscar for the Best Original Score in 2015) states: "Working in Hollywood requires an extensive library, so the Vienna Symphonic Library is really helpful." Ramin Djawadi (Game Of Thrones, Iron Man), meanwhile, is blown away by a certain sample collection: "Synchron Strings Pro is incredibly rich, vibrant, and agile, allowing you to realize the full range of string performances needed for dramatic scores." And Pinar Toprak (Captain Marvel, Fortnite) says: “Using the Big Bang Orchestra Series, I can find inspiration in seconds."

The music for lots of TV series from the US’s CSI to Germany’s legendary crime series Tatort, and commercials too, is produced almost exclusively on the computer – and that saves time and money.

Synchron Stage Vienna, outside, at night
© Heinz Zeggl

Synchron Stage Vienna

Synchron Stage Vienna, a recording studio complex with a fascinating history, serves as both company HQ and the studios where the sampling sessions for the numerous products offered by the Vienna Symphonic Library are recorded: part of the Rosenhügel film studios until the mid-1950s, the Synchronhalle was used to record anywhere up to ten film scores featuring large orchestras each year.

One gem bears witness to film scoring of the day: the three-manual Lenkwil cinema organ. In addition to numerous percussion registers, it features sound effects such as thunderclaps, car horns, galloping horses, birdsong, and even ocean waves. The organ is the only one of its kind in the world that is still located in its original scoring stage environment – and the reason why the building was heritage listed in 2009. Today the combination of the unique acoustics of the 540m² recording hall and the state-of-the-art recording technology is setting new standards on the international market. Synchron Stage Vienna is completely insulated from outside noise – to such an extent that the noise floor (the sum of all the noise sources and unwanted signals) is undetectable to any measuring device.

Synchron Stage Orchestra

Since 2016, recordings at Synchron Stage Vienna have featured the Vienna Stage Orchestra – in hybrid productions in which virtual sounds are combined with live recordings. Experience and plenty of practice – to an extent simply not seen in other cities – sets the members of the Vienna Stage Orchestra apart. Auditions and a specially developed training program ready the musicians for recording sessions in the studio. After all, the film music orchestra is expected to meet the exacting quality demands of (Hollywood) studios and film producers. The Synchron Stage Orchestra usually performs world premieres, composed especially for films or series, without any rehearsals, only sight-reading from sheet music – a task that only the best of the best are up to. Synchron Stage Vienna is the largest private employer of freelance orchestral musicians in Austria!

Hollywood and Netflix

Synchron Stage Vienna is now firmly established as a pioneering location for orchestral recordings on the international stage. Vienna-made film music can be heard in major projects in Hollywood and Europe, as well as China, India and Korea. Returning customers include production companies Netflix, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Terra Mater Factual Studios, Marvel Studios, Disney+ and Amazon Studios. Hans Zimmer was among the first wave of music producers to bring their companies – in his case Remote Control Productions – to Vienna. Its stand-out projects include the feature film Inferno (directed by Ron Howard, music by Hans Zimmer) as well as Netflix series The Crown (music by Hans Zimmer and Rupert Gregson-Williams), created by Peter Morgan (The Queen). For Zimmer, everything just fits:

"I loved working with all the musicians in Vienna at Synchron Stage. Because it's really an extraordinary place, with extraordinary people and extraordinary musicians."

Notable projects realized at Synchron Stage Vienna include the film scores for The Meg (2018), Ad Astra (2019), Klaus (2019), Promising Young Woman (2020), Over the Moon (2020), Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts (2021) and Moonfall (2022).

Text: Susanna Burger

Vienna Symphonic Library

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