Join Evan Sutton for an in-depth discussion in this video Advanced realistic instrumentation examples, part of Advanced Instrumentation and Sound Design with KONTAKT.
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- Many of the instruments in KONTAKT that we load up are gonna be playable immediately. There are a lot of great things that sound great right out of the box. So for example, if we go to one of our pianos, say the Vienna concert grand, we open up that concert grand, it sounds great right off the bat. (instrumental music) You can use that for a whole lot of things. This is called the instrument panel in the front. This is where we have some basic parameters of the instrument that we can change based on our taste while we're actually playing it. This is sort of like in a car, you have the steering wheel, you have a horn, even a CD player, but you don't really need to be able to check the oil from inside of the car.
So we have the most immediately useful parameters right on the outside of the instrument in the instrument panel. By the way, a little nomenclature for us. These are called instruments. Anything we open up here, these are all called instruments. This is called the instrument rack. An instance of KONTAKT is a multi rack. You can see it says multi rack right here. What that refers to is multiple instruments in the rack. As we go through KONTAKT, there are a lot of levels of organization, all the way from the multi rack down to each individual sample. So I'm gonna always try and keep that nomenclature straight for you so that we know what we're talking about.
So the Vienna concert grand is an example of an instrument that has most of its parameters at face value. It's a very well-sampled instrument, it sounds really rich and dynamic, but there's not a whole lot to it. And I don't mean that in terms of the way it sounds. I just mean that in terms of driving the car. There isn't a whole lot to it. But if we go to some of these other instruments, such as horns, for example, let's go over to our horn section and I'm gonna grab a trumpet section, for example. Now the horns sound great right off the bat. So let's take a listen.
(instrumental music) Sampler horns are always gonna be a little bit suspect. We have to get some good instrumentation. They have to be played well to be very realistic. (instrumental music) But we do have some other things that we can do to make these instruments really pop. And this trumpet section is a really good example of an instrument that has a multi-sample structure, okay? So you're gonna see at the bottom of your screen, we have the keyboard in KONTAKT.
And if you are not seeing it, just hit this keyboard icon right here and that keyboard is gonna show you where all of the playable keys for this instrument are. If you ever take an arranging class for horns or for strings or for anything like that, one of the first things that you're gonna talk about is the ranges for the individual instruments. And for horns, especially, it really does end. You can really hurt someone writing a note that's way too high or way too low. So you got to watch out. The KONTAKT instruments tend to be quite realistic as far as the playable notes for each individual instrument.
They're a little streched on either side but mostly we're in the ballpark. What you can see at the bottom is that we have blue keys and those represent the playable keys that we have here. (instrumental music) Right now I'm sort of at the bottom. (instrumental music) Maybe that's a little bit high, but you get the idea. We can't go too much lower or too much higher than that. You may be saying to yourself, but Evan, there are some red keys down at the bottom there. Well, we have these extra keys down at the bottom. We have great sampling technology, we can hang on to a lot of samples in an instrument.
So what we have are actually different layers of samples that cover those blue keys. Those different layers are activated by the red keys down at the bottom. That is the C0 octave. So if I go down there and I play C0, (instrumental music) we're gonna have the regular sustained notes, okay? This is called sustain. (instrumental music) Now I'm gonna hit C#0, and you're gonna hear the articulation change. All of these notes change the articulation of the above playable notes.
So we had sustain, (instrumental music) now here is C#0. It's a staccato. (instrumental music) So we can actually change the way that these different notes play back in the moment. So I can go, (instrumental music) and it does actually sound different, and it's actually a different set of samples from the original one. So it's very realistic. Now here's D. (instrumental music) That's really cool, it's either a Sforzando or a Fortepiano. (instrumental music) And then we have the next one, (instrumental music) Nice fall.
(instrumental music) It's like the slipping on a banana peel, kind of. (instrumental music) So sustain, (instrumental music) staccato, (instrumental music) Sforzando (instrumental music) We have the fall, (instrumental music) and then the fall is the last one. So am I telling you that you should be playing these along with your MIDI keys? No. But they're great for sequencing. So I'm gonna put it back using my mouse there and if I go ahead and I just add a couple of notes here, I'm gonna slow this way down, (instrumental music) Okay, so this is a really simple rhythm and the thing to remember about this process is that the notes that you use to trigger these different voice groups, they're called voice groups, they just need to come right before or right with the notes you're trying to trigger it for.
So in other words, I'm triggering the sustain group using this note, and it's right in line with these notes up top; but I can trigger my staccato group any time before the next set of notes hits. Listen, (instrumental music) Okay? So I can do the same right here. In Logic, I just hold command to get the pencil because it's my secondary tool. So I'm just gonna go through and add some notes for the rest of these guys, and they're gonna be really simple and I'm just gonna do my Sforzando at the end.
In fact, I'd like to just make sure that I'm using the right word here, and I can just go ahead and I can look, I'm gonna crack this open using the wrench. They're calling it a crescendo here. Okay, that's fine. You'll know everything about what's under the hood there momentarily but for now, just worry about the front. I just didn't want any trumpet players at home go "How can he say that?" Okay, so here's what we've got. (instrumental music) Okay, I kind of screwed that velocity up a little bit.
There we go. (instrumental music) That's not too shabby. That's working pretty well for me. I like that very much. Let's go ahead here, I'm gonna expand these chords a little bit, bring them down. (instrumental music) I have two different songs going here.
(instrumental music) All right, this is getting interesting. Now I'm gonna add another instance of KONTAKT and I'm gonna show you another instrument that has another approach to performance. Let's bring in KONTAKT 5, right now I'm just working in stereo mode. And let's go to the Factory Library. And I'm gonna be clicking on these top icons to get out of the folders that I'm in. And I'm gonna go over to choir, and let's go to vowel morphs.
So we have vowel key switches, which would work just like those horns did, we can switch vowels between A, E, I, O, U, and they work really well. But I want to show you something else. This is called a vowel morph, so I'm gonna go from A to E, oh, actually, you know what, I'm gonna go from A to M, I like a good mmm. So we're loading all of these samples and it does sound pretty close, it's kind of a gothic choir. (synthetic choir music) Some nice reverb there and as you can see in the front, we have some controls over reverb and we have actually a nice chord tool that we can use.
So if I turn this, I can make this so it plays a 135, that's just one note. (synthetic choir music) And if I want to, I can also make it tonal. And I can say, "Okay, well this is actually gonna be "in D minor, and it's gonna play a 135 figure." (synthetic choir music) Totally up to you how you want to do it. I'm gonna turn this off because I already have some chords in there that I'm using. And they're very appealing chords to me. So let's take a listen.
Let me grab these guys. I'm gonna go ahead and delete my key switch notes down at the bottom here. I'm gonna take these and drop them an octave. Let's see how that sounds. (synthetic choir music) That's a little high, we'd like it lower. (synthetic choir music) Okay, that's working for me. Now let me show you something.
We can actually switch to an mmm by moving through this morph. KONTAKT uses really advanced technology to allow us to morph between two different sounds. So let's listen. (synthetic choir music) And right now, what we have is the ability to use mod wheel or after touch to activate that. So I'm gonna actually use my mod wheel while this goes by and make it so that my longer notes are mmms. So I'll just record this, I'm gonna make sure I have overlap turned on.
Take a listen. (synthetic choir music) Okay? So if I show you that MIDI info, it looks like this, okay? And I think I jumped out of that mmm a little early so I'm just gonna move these over a little bit. By the way, that was just recording the mod wheel on my MIDI keyboard. So here it is with the horn section, and let me just label these for you real quick, horns, choir.
Let's take a listen here. (instrumental music) And there you have it, pretty solid. A lot of fun to set up and I just want you to keep your eye out for instruments that have these advanced capabilities for switching sounds and things like that because it really is up to the designer how they want to do it. There aren't a whole lot of huge standards other than the key switching, so just keep your eye out and think about what the different capabilities that these instruments have are because we've got more samples than ever, we've get better sampling technology than we've ever had, and I highly encourage you to explore some of these really realistic instruments.
- Loading and routing MIDI
- Multi-output routing
- Customizing with audio FX and modulation
- Time stretching audio
- Layering groups
- Instruments and buss FX
- Resampling and customizing instrument
- Audio editing in the Wave editor