Sonokinetic Capriccio Review
Today, I’m lucky enough to review one of the coolest Kontakt libraries around: the Sonokinetic Capriccio. This is an orchestral virtual instrument phrases library, and before we continue, I urge you to watch some of the video demos Sonokinetic has on their product page, just because they are amazing!
Ok, done? Now we can go on with the review!
As I’ve mentioned, this library is all about orchestral phrases, that’s what you get, and trust me, that’s what you need.
In fact, what you get is orchestral section phrases, so, there’s a patch for strings, a patch for woodwinds, one for brasses, another for pitched percussion, one for non-pitched percussion, a patch for runs and finally, the only patch that doesn’t contain loops: the multisampled percussion. As expected, all patches, but the multisampled percussion, work in similar fashion.
Each patch contains three phrases per preset, one for low instrument, one for mid instrument and one for high instrument, of course, those phrases sync perfectly to midi clock, and has some separate controls for each of the three parts.
In each patch, you’ll find blue key switches from C1 to G2, this is the area where you will play major or minor triads. That’s it, only major or minor, no diminished, no chords without a 3rd, no 7th chords, etc, just major and minor, and only triads. You may think “oh, that’s quite a limitation”, but, trust me on this one, no it’s not, more on this later.
Back to the patch itself, there are three parts, low, mid and high for each patch, for example, in the Brass patch, you’ll have trumpets playing the high part, horns, playing the mid and trombones and tuba playing the low part, just as how orchestral sections usually work. For each patch, there are also four presets that can be changed on the fly with key switches (different keys for each patch). Each of the parts can be muted with key switches too (again, different keys for each patch). Right at the bottom right corner of the instrument, there’s a very important info button where you can see which keys work with each patch, and I mean, this is very clever, cause, this way you can play different patches at the same time using the same MIDI channel, and use the mutes and preset changes willingly.
Also, the expression of each part can be controlled with the mod wheel. I’ve also noticed the pitch wheel transpose all samples by a whole tone.
Each part can be set to play the phrase at 1x, 2x or 1/2x. and this can create some really complex phrases which is very neat. You can select from within several phrases to each of the parts, and what’s better, you can select a low phrase for the high or mid parts and so on, so, lots of options to mix and match, and every phrase in the phrase picker window has a preview button. Some phrases can play minor or major, and some of them have no 3rd 6th or 7th notes, so, some phrases will sound just the same if you play major or minor triads.
Things get pretty exciting when you turn on the + – button on one or various parts. This allows the green key switches (C5 to B5) to come to life. While you are still holding down the triad, press any of those keys to add intervals for the selected part (or parts). To my ears this is relative to the chord you are playing and not absolute values, meaning, for example, the E note equals to a major 3rd, regardless of the chord you are playing.
A bunch of advanced options appears when you click the preferences button (bottom left corner of the instrument). Here, you can set the volume for each of the three parts, and can also set the release volume separately, which is a very unique and cool feature, you can also adjust pan position for each part, and adjust the crossfade time for each part. There’s an offset control for each part, and trust me, this is an awesome tool to create polyrhythmic phrases or just to add some variation, or even a sloppy feeling.
When you get to the mics selection section, you immediately know why this worths 50 Gb of samples. There are various options, and you can even mix and match two mic positions: close mics, far mics, wide mics and decca tree (which is a 3 mic setup, normally used for orchestral and large ensemble recordings). So, for example, you can set up a mix between close and far mics and use the crossfade to craft the mix that better suits your needs.
Next, we find the tuning options, my guess is that they’ve recorded the samples using four almost standard classical tunings: 440Hz, 441Hz, 442Hz and 443Hz. What’s kinda strange is that by default it is set up to use the 441Hz samples… so, if you are working in conjunction with some other instruments, you might have to check tunings. Next is the harmonic shifter, and this works just for phrases marked as maj/min you can choose weather the different tones of the scale will have a major or minor function. Really useful if you are planning to write modal music or maybe use a weird (in a good way, of course) harmony structure.
Other cool features.
One of the features I like the most is that when you click the letter “o” in the word CAPRICCIO, it loads random phrases for some inspiration. Another cool feature is that when you click the top right icon in each part, it opens up the staff view where it shows the notation for that part. From this view, you can transpose the part and also drag to a midi channel in your DAW.
This is big, literally, and it also has a very cinematic approach to orchestral sounds. This is a great tool for scoring and I guess every composer should have this. Although you just get phrases, this is a really flexible instrument and you can create very complex parts and arrangements. Of course samples sound magnificent, and if you are not into scoring, this might add a little cinematic flavour to your music. To me, the only downside is that all phrases are in 4/4 measures, but I don’t think is a deal breaker. This is a great instrument, and personally, gonna use it a lot!
If you want to try this awesome virtual instrument, you can buy it directly from Sonokinetic website.[author image=”https://www.producerspot.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/piggy-sounds-logo.jpg” ]Rafael Hofstadter is a recording and mixing engineer and sound designer with 10+ years experience in playing and programming synths, recording, mixing and producing pop/rock/folk albums. He also runs piggysounds.com.[/author]