There are a ton of free resources out there for film composers (besides this website). Here’s a list of some of my favorites – everything from books to a fully sampled orchestra!
- Creative Music Producing eBook
- Free Orchestral Samples
- Epic Trailer Sounds
- Unique Instrument Samples
- Remix Project
- Music Composition Class
- Royalty-Free Samples
Ableton released a free download of their ebook Making Music: 74 Creative Strategies for Electronic Music Producers. More than just a short promotional pamphlet, this is actually a pretty hefty tome. It’s a collection of great strategies for writing music and well worth a read.
Free Orchestral Samples
Most Hollywood blockbusters have huge orchestral scores, which can be tough to do for a DIY composer. But never fear, here are some amazing FREE orchestral samples that can elevate your next project to that big-budget sound.
This is awesome. ProjectSAM is known for high quality orchestral sample packs. They’ve taken patches from their most popular libraries and released it as The Free Orchestra. You usually pay a premium to get orchestra samples of this quality. Download these today and have some fun.
Red Room Audio is offering several free instrument downloads, including Palette, which is an orchestral ensemble library. It features strings, woodwinds, and brass. For more textures, their ‘Snaps, Claps, Stomps, and Shouts‘ has some really great human percussion, including choir shouts.
Strezov Sampling seems to specialize in sampling ethnic instruments from around the world. They have three instruments available for free: Xiao, Duduk, and Taiko drums. Try these out to add some unique voices to your score.
The Versilian Studios Chamber Orchestra is a full-featured orchestral sample library, and is priced accordingly. However, they also release an open-source Community Edition of the orchestra under a Creative Commons 0 (public domain) license. There are many plugin versions of this orchestra, choose the one that suits your DAW best.
This is an orchestral sample library with a true DIY spirit. The Alpine Project collects the best free samples available in the public domain, then packages them as free virtual instruments. Currently they offer Brass, Woodwinds, and Strings, with individual instrument downloads.
Audio Imperia is another brand that, like ProjectSAM, specializes in orchestral samples. Their introductory-level orchestra is only $99 (which is a steal itself) but you can’t beat free. This Epic Trailer Sounds collection has a bunch of designed sounds that are common elements in film trailers. If you’ve ever wanted that massive WHOMP sound in your trailer score, this is for you.
I’m offering custom-sampled virtual instruments for free. I recorded a souvenir kalimba as well as a Wurlitzer organ for use in a short film score and decided put it out there for you to use as well! Check out this post to read about the sampling process.
This is something different – Isolate/Create is a project started by a collection of bands during the COVID-19 pandemic. A great mix of metal and hardcore groups released their raw recordings and mixer tracks, making them available to download and tweak to your heart’s delight. This isn’t exactly film composing per se, but it is a lot of fun.
OpenCourseWare is a huge collection of university courses made available freely online – and there are a ton of music-related courses. Massachusetts Institute of Technology spearheaded the OCW movement, and their library of courses is one of the best (not to mention the caliber of the institution). Check out this listing of free music courses, or this composition course in particular.
Brian Foo has started Citizen DJ by pulling samples from the vast catalogue of audio recordings in the Library of Congress. You can browse a curated collection and download interesting audio samples for use in your music creations. They’ve also programmed a simple step sequencer into the website so you can play with the samples through your web browser.
These are some awesome resources to kickstart your next composing project. Get out there and take advantage of them!