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Progressive rock keyboard giant Adam Holzman

TALK talks to our own Jerry Kovarsky about the lead

and pitch-bend technique of Jan Hammer.
10 Voices, tips, and breaking news from the Keyboard community.
Craig Andertons top tips on getting more
NEW GEAR realistic sampled bass guitar sounds.

12 Our monthly wrap-up of the most interesting products from the 38 DANCE
keyboard, recording, and professional audio worlds. Improve the groove part 2: customizing loops.

Stewart Copeland has long been much Nine great developers of
more than the drummer in seminal Soundware for Electronic Music
English rock trio the Police. Hes also a
lifelong proponent of music technology 44 WORKSTATION
and an accomplished film composer. Korg Kross
On the heels of his latest opus, a full-
length soundtrack to the silent version 48 DAW
of the Biblical epic Ben Hur, he shares Bitwig Studio
his thoughts on why working to picture
taps the ultimate musical skill set. 52 VIRTUAL ORCHESTRA
MakeMusic Garritan Instant Orchestra
At just 21, Reuben James is making a 56 SOFT SYNTH
big splash both solo and with retro-soul Madrona Labs Kaivo
artist Sam Smith.
8Dio Rhythmic Aura and Hybrid Tools
26 ROCK EastWest Steven Wilson Ghostwriter
Five ways to play like Led Zeppelins
John Paul Jones. 62 SEQUENCER
Arturia BeatStep
Geoffrey Keezer on getting your left CODA
hand to think like a bass player.
64 Five things award-winning songwriter and producer
Dan Wilson has learned about songwriting.

Online Now!
Up close with Moog
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6 Keyboard 07.2014
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VOL. 40, NO. 07 #460 JULY 2014
EDITOR IN CHIEF: Stephen Fortner
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8 Keyboard 07.2014

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Editors Note Connect

Comment directly at

Whats the difference between libraries, vir- online. Whatever you call these tools, what mat-
tual instruments, and soft synths? You hear ters is what they can do for your music. In this keyboardmag
these terms used a lot, often interchangeably. issue, we round up some of the best soundware
Here are the definitions we at least try to stick for electronic music, and present full reviews of
to at Keyboard: A library is a set of sounds within several outstanding software sound sources for KeyboardMagazine
some larger hardware or software ecosystem. modern soundtrack work. Next month, part 2
These days, thats most often a soft sampler like of our roundup will cover more orchestral and
Kontakt or UVI Workstation, but the term ap- cinematic fare. KeyboardMag
plies equally to aftermarket sound sets for hard- On another topic, Ive gotten to spend more
ware synths like the Korg Kronos and Yamaha time with the Acoustic Image Flex amps re- Keyboard Corner
Motif XF. A virtual instrument is a program viewed last month by Richard Leiter, and have
or mobile app that makes sound on its own been steadily becoming ever more impressed
though it may have its own sample engine baked with the sound quality they pack into such a email
in, as with EastWests Play system. A soft lightweight package. Look for videos about them
synth is a virtual instrument that lets you tweak soon at and youtube.
enough deep-level sound parameters to qualify com/keyboardmag1. I also wanted to point out
as a synthesizer in the same sense wed talk one goof in that review that was actually my
about hardware. (For the record Id call a soft- editing bad: the statement that the Flex was
ware B-3 or grand piano a virtual instrument, originally built for bass. While Acoustic Image
but not a soft synth.) started out as a bass amp company, the Flex is Stephen Fortner
I could take up the next two pages talking in fact a full-range compact P.A. systemnot to Editor
about the gray areas, but for both our sakes, Ill mention one heck of a keyboard amp. See you
take that discussion to the Keyboard Corner next month!


11% 2%


BESIDES 15% 13%



Polls rotate every two weeks, and can be found at the bottom of our homepage.
10 Keyboard 07.2014
Key Secrets That One Sound
In The Art of Digital Music (Backbeat Books, 2005), Spectrasonics
mastermind Eric Persing (shown) told me, Basically, every
synthesizer can make at least one really good sound. So I dont ever
YEARS say, Well, that instruments just junk, because invariably when I
shut my mind to one approach, somebody will come along and do

AGO something with that instrument thats amazing. Have you found
the killer sound in each of your instruments? Once you do, make

TODAY it truly yours by inventing new ways to play it, via touch, phrasing,
modulation, and effects. David Battino

Tony Kaye held forth in our July 1984

issue about the keyboard sounds and
parts of Yes now iconic album 90125. His stage rig: an original Emulator sam-
pler above a Korg BX3 organ, plus a stack of Yamaha DX7, Oberheim OB-Xa,
and Kawai electric grand piano. Jim Aikin penned an extensive how-to on
transcribing music, and guitarist Pat Metheny appeared in a two-page ad
for New England Digitals Synclavier II. Reviews, on the other hand, were of
gear that has since faded into obscurity: a CV-to-MIDI converter from a com-
pany called Digi-Atom, and the Decillionix DX-1. Not to be confused with
Yamahas huge FM synth, the latter was a sampler card and software for the
Apple II computer.

Keyboard Compositions . Ramin Djawadi

My First __________________________
Years before composing soundtracks for Game of Thrones, Iron Man, and Pacic Rim, composer
Ramin Djawadi conjured melodies on a much simpler machine. When I was four years old in Duisburg,
Germany, I learned on my parents two-manual Technics organ. You could play a chord while the organ
created arpeggiated accompaniment. Even though the young Djawadi couldnt reach the organs pedals,
he learned a great deal by experimenting. I would improvise and come up with melodies, he says, and
by the time I was six or seven, I would come up with something one day and come back to it the next. I
didnt notate or record anything, I just made up little tunes and keep working on them. By the time he
was a teenager, Djawadi had graduated to using the 16-track sequencer on his Korg O1W to layer sounds
for live rock, funk, and classical performances but he still traces his melody-making back to the Technics
organ of his early childhood. I loved playing with it, and that really was the rst time I ever composed
music, he says. For more on Djawadi, visit | Michael Gallant

07.2014 Keyboard 11

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12 Keyboard 07.2014


I never got the gIft of pIano-tude, jokes polIce drummer stewart

Copeland during a recent trip to New York City. I sit at a piano keyboard all
day, every day, entering notes, and I can barely play Mary Had a Little Lamb.

14 Keyboard 07.2014
That may be a bit modest, but even if Copeland isnt poised for a career as a concert pianist, his
three-decade arc as a sought-after composer has never looked brighter. From his scores to lms like
Rumble Fish, Talk Radio, and Wall Street, to his forays into ballet, opera, and symphonic works, the
legendary rocker continues to prove that hes just as potent away from the drum kit as he is behind it.
Now with the debut of his 400 plus-page score to the 1925 silent lm Ben Hur, Copeland returns
with a riveting multimedia experience. On a recent press stop in New York City, he sat down with me
to talk about his continuing evolution as a musician and composer.

07.2014 Keyboard 15
How did your new score to the 1925 Ben Hur this? So I thought of [organizing] a concert. Next thousands of Italian extras leaping to their deaths
film come about? I thought, What would make the concert more to escape them. It was absolutely amazing, but it
The music started as an arena show that I com- exciting? And my manager Derek Power said, How was two hours and 20 minutes long. So I ripped the
posed the music for. I ended up owning all of the about using the silent film? To which I replied, DVD of the silent film and imported it into Final
music from it because the production went bust. Theres a silent film? So I looked at the special edi- Cut Pro, cutting it down to 90 minutes and adding
Later, the show was purchased by a different im- tion package of the 1959 version of Ben Hur starring in the music I had already written for the arena
presario whos actually still running it today, but by Charlton Heston, and one of the DVDs had the show. Then I set about getting the rights from War-
that time, the music I composed and all of the copy- 1925 silent version of the movie on it. I checked it ner Brothers to use that edit in our live concerts.
rights had reverted back to me. I hate to see a good out, and it was colossal! The scale of it is just huge,
tune go to waste, so I thought, What can I do with with ships crashing into each other in flames and How long did that process take?
It took two years of working our way through
the studio labyrinth to secure the rights. My man-

INSIDE THE SACRED GROVE ager had to basically invent a route to connect every-
body involved. After we did, we got the 80-year-old
Copelands studio is both lm composing crucible and space for recording print of the film, which took two weeks to defrost.
impromptu jams with fellow accomplished musicians. Heres the essential gear It hadnt seen the light of day since the 1960s, and
that makes it tick, in Copelands own words. it was in a format that no longer exists, running
somewhere between 18 and 22 frames per second
depending on who was cranking the machine at the
time. I had to digitize the film at 24fps, so when I
got the movie back and cut it to match my original
musical cut, nothing matched. Things were running
either longer or shorter. At this point I had 410
pages of score where every dot was matched to a
frame of picture. So I had to recut every single shot
of the movie to make the music fit correctly.

Did you adjust the music or the picture to

Computer Mac Pro as main recording machine. make things fit?
PCs for hosting libraries such as I adjusted both. Originally, I assembled my
Vienna and Gigastudio. first slash cut with orchestral music I recorded in
Software Composing: MOTU Digital Performer. Bratislava, overdubs in Istanbul, plus music recorded
Scoring: Avid Sibelius. in Dusseldorf and Los Angeles. I had themes for par-
Audio recording and routing: Avid Pro ticular scenes, and I tried to keep the integrity of my
Tools. original cut. But when I got the movie back, I had to
Video editing: Apple Final Cut Pro, but re-adjust everything so it worked and made sense.
switching to Adobe Premier soon.
Also, Adobe After Effects. What software did you use for composing?
Master Controller M-Audio ProKeys 88. Score notation?
Other Keyboards Akai LPK25. I compose in MOTU Digital Performer, but
1948 Hammond Model M with Leslie. I use Avid Sibelius to get the score ready so the
1935 Blthner grand piano. musicians can read it. Sibelius is hell to use as
DAW Control Surface An old Digidesign ProControl. a composition platform. People do it, but its
Audio interfaces MOTU 2408 Mk. 3 (x3). insane. But [as a scoring platform], its like some-
Main outboard gear Racked Neve and Brent Averill mic body turning on the lights.
True Systems Precision-8 mic preamp. How has your studio situation evolved over
Avalon AD-2022 converter. the years? At one time you were composing
Other than that, audio processing is all with the Fairlight CMI.
software! Well, Ive been following the technology. I started
Studio monitors Near: Alesis Monitor One. with the Fairlight and Kurzweil together, actually.
Far: PMC.
Microphones Shure, mostly. I love the SM7B. Do you still use the Fairlight?
There are a couple of big Neumanns, No, but Ive got three of them in storage! I
AKGs, and Sennheisers. cant bear to see them go, but obviously now
Instruments The worlds largest collection of the theyre irrelevant. My compositional career
cheapest instruments money can wouldnt have happened without them, though.
buyone or more of everything! The Fairlight made me as a symphonic composer
possible. I used to joke, One day theyll have

16 Keyboard 07.2014
Drawing on influences as diverse as hip-hop completely over, to the point where people MOOG MINIMOOG VOYAGER
artists like Outkast and Madlib, rock and alt-rock are [asking], Are you guys clinically depressed ELECTRIC BLUE
artists like Sparklehorse and John Frusciantes or something? Its so interesting, because we AVAILABLE THROUGH
solo recordings and 60s French pop music, dont even notice itlike we dont even realize GUITARCENTER.COM
electro-pop duo Phantogram, comprising that its happening. (VYMIN0011)
childhood friends Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel,
have transcended those roots with their latest Barthel, who handles the bulk of the keyboard
release, Voices, while mounting riveting live playing live, is overjoyed at having been able
shows that continue to grow their audience. to work with Moog instruments, especially the MOOG SUB PHATTY
Moog Voyager. Its just this warmth and gritty (LPSSUB001)
Despite the intensity and lyrical darkness of thickness that you can find with Moog, she says.
much of their material, offstage they are self- Weve always wanted to use them. I think its a
described as kind of goofy. As Barthel says, huge element in our sound. I mean, Im a super
We just like to mess around and have fun and bass head, Im always like yeah, more bass. Lets
laugh a lot. The seriousness pops out, though, feel it. I just love it so much. And Moog is, it.
when they start to talk or think about their PHANTOGRAM
music. Whenever we switch over to music, See the whole interview and the gear AVAILABLE NOW
[even] if were just talking about [it], we switch at PHANTOGRAM.COM
this in my watch! I totally got that wrong. Its seems to come instinctively to me. I majored in
not in my watchits in my iPhone! I carried music in college, but the deeper part of orchestra-
on using Kurzweils for awhile until I started us- tion, as opposed to composition, is something
ing the M-Audio ProKeys 88 to control software I have studied in depth. Understanding how to
instruments. I had been looking for the longest communicate nuances in the score to the musi-
keyboard with the fewest buttons, because I dont cians playing it, and how to balance an orchestra
need its internal sounds. The ProKeys is an excel- on the scoring stage requires you to put those
lent machine. I also have an Akai LPK25 that I kinds of instructions on the page. I actually had a
use for traveling and to send patch changes. professor come over and beat me up until I start-
ed to understand the craft. I would write a score
What are your main instrument libraries for and he would send it back just covered in red
composing? ink. He never suggested what I should do; he just
Vienna Symphonic Library and [the instru- showed me what the problems were, and I had to
ments included with] Sibelius. The score to Ben figure out how to fix them on my own.
Hur is huge, so I often have to work things out in I also learned how to balance the different
General MIDI because its just too large to drive sections in the orchestra by going directly to the
other sample libraries. Thats a bit of a drag. I know master scores. In fact, right under my studio desk,
the music, so I dont need the ear candy of huge I have the score for Stravinskys The Rite of Spring,
sample libraries all the time Im working, but it which I pull out for reference. Im not trying to
sure would be nice to hear it that way. There really write that piece of music per se, but I want those
are two completely different missions: One is to textures. So Ill look and see, Oh, hes got the
make music sound great coming out of the speak- contrabassoon down there. I sort of have an idea
ers, and you need something like Vienna or Hans of how Stravinsky builds his sound palate. But
Zimmers library for that. Thats actually a rela- Ravel and Debussy? With them, what sounds like
tively easy job. The other is to get the music onto just beautiful waves of sound has all kinds of stuff
the page so that it reads well and you communicate going on under the hood! Its like a sonic wash,
nuances to the orchestra musicians who will be but its percussive with little grains of sand and
playing it. Thats the really tricky part. It takes ten texture in it. And so you check the score and see
times more effort and concentration to do that. exactly whats going on. Thats how Ravel himself
learnedby studying the scores of masters.
Where did your fascination with film scoring
come from? So its those kinds of textures that you seek
From a call I got from Francis Ford Coppola to out and try to integrate into your own scores.
score the movie Rumble Fish in 1983. Thatll do it! Exactly. Im stealing the textures, because its the

It was never on your musical radar before that? I hold that the only way to learn. You just dont get enough podium
time as a composer to learn by trial and error. With
No, not really. I always had orchestral music
going around in my head, but I never really gave film composer rock n roll, I can pick up a guitar and try things out
live. But I dont get the chance to see if an orchestral
it much time, because it wasnt who I was as a
performer. I listened to it, but the idea of mar- has the widest idea works without assembling an orchestra. So
theres no way around studying the scores.
rying my rock drum world with orchestral music
felt pompous to me. Film composing is what skill set of any I once read an interview where you said all

actually brought me back to the orchestra. In fact, you needed to compose were ivories and fad-
I hold that the film composer has the widest skill ers. Are those still your only requirements?
set of any musician. Well, I also need an application. Im a Digital
Performer guy, but I gather Logic and the rest of
Why is that? them all pretty much do the same thing. By now,
Because the craft of film composing requires and so forth. Its not just, I have a nice tune and Ill though, DP is basically invisible to me; my fingers
that ultimately every form of music, ethnicity, time follow it wherever it leads. The film composer has just know where to go. I also recently discovered
period, and emotional state be represented. You to go to complex yet precise emotional places con- a new application called Streamers that lets you
have to work with every known form of not only stantly. So he or she learns the skill set of how to get integrate visual cues for film scores easily. In old-
music, but culture as well. Theres also the specificity there, and what music takes you there. en days, they would actually drill holes into the
of it. When somebody like [British composer] Mark celluloid to give the composer cues. Streamers is a
Anthony Turnage writes a concerto, he goes where Your scores have so many different sonic modern-day version of that same principle.
his instincts take him. Hes an artist with a capital elements in them. Did you consciously study
A, and he never has to step outside of those in- different kinds of ethnic music? Your work crosses many artistic divides, from
stincts. But a film composer has to go exactly to the I never studied ethnic music, but I have stud- rock drumming and orchestral composition,
specific emotion that each situation requiresto ied orchestration. I actually worked with a pro- to film editing and direction. Do you find it
happy, or sad, or happy/sad with a tinge of whimsy, fessor on it. Re-creating different types of music easy to pick up new creative disciplines?

18 Keyboard 07.2014


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I love to tinker around. Im an close-miked. Plus, I have six cam-
app geek. Most composers and eras with six hours of memory in
editors who are younger than each of them. So the whole studio
me have their own fingers on the is ready to rock.
computer keyboard when theyre I invite my friends over and
composing. Its no big deal to I tell them the cameras are on.
them. But no one from my genera- Theres no camera operator or
tion does. They pace in the back sound engineerwere just drink-
of the room and their workday ing tequila and doing what musi-
doesnt begin until their engineer cians do. We have parties and we
arrives. And when the engineer jam. Theres no Can you give me a
goes home, theyre done for the level? kind of studio experience.
day. My engineer of 30 years, Jeff Its all music. So for instance, the
Seitz, started out as a drum tech. guys from Pearl Jam come over to
We both learned studio technol- the Sacred Grove. We play all night
ogy together and went through and then they leave. But I recorded
everything from two-inch analog everything!
tape, Mitsubishi digital, PCM, the Fairlight, and
the advent of Mac-based sequencing and record- Are any other musical projects keeping you So what are you doing with the material?
ing. But our relationship is 100 percent social inspired currently? Well, I can hand the musicians other instru-
now. Hes one of my closest friends, but we dont I have a series of videos up on YouTube called ments while were listening to the playback of
work together anymore. Im a one-man show. Live at the Sacred Grove, which was inspired by what we just jammed to. So, for example, well
[Laughs.] the realization that when Im not composing for overdub ideas for brass parts, singing them
film, I still have a studio full of instruments and through the mouthpiece and just having fun.
You dont like having someone at the con- a trunk full of microphones. So I wired my studio Then they leave and I can Foley in those parts.
sole with you while youre composing? up and miked up all the drums, amplifiers, the I can loop a particular part in Digital Performer
I dont need to. And he doesnt particularly like Hammond organ and Leslie speaker, everything! until I find what Im looking for, and then I cut up
staring at the wall! Every square foot of my studio is wired up and the 15-minute jam down to seven minutes and I
Keyboard_vpc1_v5_VPC1 11/1/13 2:09 PM Page 1

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20 Keyboard 07.2014
start overdubbing different parts, like Tower of
Power-style horns, for example. Ive had Tommy
Lang, Ben Harper, Stanley Clarke, Jeff Lynne,

Snoop Dogg, Taylor Hawkins, Neil Peart, Matt
Stone, and many others. Its not only about the
live jams, its about the inception of an idea.

FIDELITY. Theyre literally making it up while theyre there.

Its like [Daryl Halls TV show] Live From Daryls
House, but different, because these musicians
arent promoting their new song or new album.
Its just for having fun.
Flex Cab
Flex Pre
Are there any plans for the videos besides
just letting them be seen?
No. I put them up for all to enjoy. Id love to
make an album from those sessionsnot for
commercial exploitation, but just so people can
listen to it in their cars.
Flex Pre: an exceptionally transparent, Let your brain absorb the many musical
full-featured, stereo-capable preamp advantages of Flex at our website.
As a guy who has worked in seemingly every
that can sit on edge of your keyboard. Then involve your soul with a two-week
area of the musical arts, what keeps you
Flex Cab: an amazingly compact, high trial audition through an AI dealer.
delity, tri-amped powered enclosure. hungry and motivated?
Alone or together, theyre the ultimate Well, I do like the big mission. With my 60
at faithfully and exibly reproducing years of making music, I feel that its my respon-
your instrumental and vocal sound. sibility to what Ive learned to keep challenging
myself and go to places that only a person finally
Find a dealer at equipped with my experiences can go. I like mak-
Acoustic Image products are protected by the industrys best warranty. ing these Sacred Grove videos because theyre
fun. Theyre free. I do them to give back. I feel
that Ive been amply rewarded for my music. Not
only have I paid my dues, Ive earned my due. I re-
ally feel that way, and I have no desire to extract
more money out of my fans. All I want is for them
to enjoy my music. Thats why I do things and
why Im talking to you. I just want more people
to hear it.

What advice do you have for aspiring film

composers today?
I would tell them to eat their vegetables,
meaning study your orchestration, because thats
the one skill that the kid next to you with his lap-
top and his copy of Reason cant compete with.
Learn about the general theory and use of the
orchestra, because the biggest composers work-
ing today know it. No one is going to steal James
Horners job, but the average electronic composer
has to be scared for his or her job these days. So

Stewart Copeland
Discusses Ben Hur

Stewart Copeland
Ben Hur clip


22 Keyboard 07.2014


up the musical world both with U.K. retro-soul phenom Sam Smith and with his own preme Jazz Festival in the U.K. with my trio, then
acclaimed groups. Hes our Talent Scout artist to watch this month. Keep up with off on a European tour with Sam Smith. Im also
him at currently doing a lot of songwriting and collabo-
ration, trying to work on my own material.
HOMETOWN: Birmingham, U.K. MY BIG BREAK: Playing with Ruby Turner.
This was a learning curve, for me to play for ADVICE: Never get comfortable or lazythose
MUSICAL TRAINING: Two years at Trinity the biggest voice of soul music in the U.K. Also, are the easiest things to do. Play as many gigs
College of Music. playing with a group called The Funk on Me, sup- as possible with as many people as possible, and
porting B.B. King in Europe when Iwas 16. I then woodshed whenever you get the chance, as
FIRST GIGS: Ruby Turner, Yasmin, Abram started touring on the jazz scene with the late, finding the time gets harder when youre on the
Wilson 4tet. great Abram Wilson, the Clark Tracey Quintet, road. Learn to play all your tunes in all 12 keys!
Jay Phelps, and Jean Toussaint, and regularly Transcribe from the most prolific players of all
MUSICAL INFLUENCES: Michael Jack- played the late show at Ronnie Scotts jazz club. time that have changed your instrument, like
son,Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Errol Later, I started playing for Sam Smith and the Errol Garner, Ahmad Jamal, and Herbie Hancock.
Garner, DAngelo, All Lovers Rock, Ahmad Jamal, project has really blown up. It should be a very Only practice things that you cant dotheres no
Miles Davis, and more. busy year.We just played on Saturday Night Live need to feed the ego. Be humble and put the time
in America. in at the piano or you will get found out!There
NOW: Gretchen Parlatos The Lost and Found; LATEST ALBUM: Playing on Sam Smiths de-
Grant Green with Sonny Clarke, The Complete but record In the Lonely Hour, released in May of
Quartets; Raphael Saadiq, Instant Vintage; Nat this year.
King Cole, After Midnight; Wynton Marsalis, Sam Smith with
Black Codes (From the Underground). FAVORITE KEYBOARD GEAR: Ive been us- Reuben James:
ing the Nord Stage 2 and Electro 4D around Europe Stay With Me
INSTRUMENTS PLAYED: Piano and various and the U.S. for the Sam Smith tour. Im switching
stage keyboards (see below). to a full Korg setup for the rest of the year.

24 Keyboard 07.2014
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but he was responsible for many other duties as well, most notably for playing keyboards. In fact, some of Led Zeppelins most
identiable and iconic moments were due to John Paul Jones inventive and eclectic keyboard parts. Here are ve ways to get
inside his many different keyboard styles.

Ex. 1.
1. Clavinet Comping
b r
& b 44 j r j
Taking a cue from the soul, R&B, and
j j funk bands of the day, John Paul Jones
. . . . . . . . # . b
. found a way to work funky Clav parts
into the Zeppelin sound, infusing
? bb 44 them with unabashed arena-rock flare.
. . . . . . . . Ex. 1 is in the style of Jones Clav riff
. . . . . . . . to Trampled Under Foot.

Listening List: Essential John Paul Jones Albums

In Through the Out Physical Grafti Houses of the Holy Zooma VULTURES
Door Them Crooked Vultures

26 Keyboard 07.2014
Ex. 2.
2. Effected EP
& # # 44
Ex. 2 is in the style of Jones intro to the
. song No Quarter. On record, Jones ran a
Hohner Electra Piano (not to be confused
with the RMI keyboard of the same name)
? #### 4 j through an EMS VCS3 synth and modu-
4 . .
lated the filter with a sine wave LFO. The
result is a unique and psychedelic sound
that works perfectly for the song.

3. Mellotron Mayhem
A keyboard instrument popular during
Led Zeppelins era was the Mellotron,
Ex. 3.
which derived its sounds from tape
# # b
4 b # .
loops of real instruments. This gave key-
&4 w J J boardists the ability to have literally any
3 3 3
recorded sound at their fingertips. Most

b #
# # b of the time, the Mellotron was used for

? 44 w J J
emulating string, flute, or horn sections.
Jones employed it on songs like The
Rain Song and Kashmir. Ex. 3 is in
the style of what Jones played on the
bridge of Kashmir. An interesting note
is that Jones arranged real strings and
Mellotron together for the recording.

4. Synth Sense
Ex. 4. Always at the cutting edge of keyboard
b n b n . technology, Jones used the mammoth Ya-
4 b n
& 4 b n maha GX-1 (also a favorite synth of Keith
Emerson) to great effect on the In Through
the Out Door album, most notably on the
track All My Love, where he married
classical, rock and prog sonorities into a
majestic sound all his own. Ex. 4 is in the
style of Jones solo break on that song.

Ex. 5. 5. Roughhouse Piano

Jones wasnt scared to bring it on home

& 44 ... . .. when the moment called for it. A perfect

.. example is his piano solo break on Fool
In the Rain, which Ex. 5 is a tribute to.
j r j r
. .
Jones plays that passage with flare and
? 44 . . .
reckless abandon, while also showing
. . . .

great ability for syncopation and feel. It
J J is truly one of the greatest keyboard mo-
ments from the Led Zeppelin catalogue.

Not many people are aware that John Paul Jones

was already an experienced studio musician before joining
Led Zeppelin, and as such, knew a lot about crafting

compelling keyboard sounds, says Matt Beck, who

plays keyboards and guitar with artists like Matchbox Play-along audio
Twenty, Rob Thomas, and Rod Stewart. He also examples.
recently joined the musical cast of Beautiful, the
new Broadway musical about the legendary Carole
King. Follow him on Twitter @mattymay.

07.2014 Keyboard 27

5 wAys to
think like a
bass player

As keyboArdists, we often hAve to plAy left-hAnd

bass, whether in an organ trio or at a casual cover gig. The best way
to internalize the logic behind great bass lines is to study actual lines
played by great bassists. In this lesson, well focus specifically on
the style of the legendary jazz bassist Ray Brown, with whom I had
the pleasure of playing with for three years from 1997 through 1999.
Here are five ways to build better bass lines. [Also see our tutorial on
creating better sampled bass guitar sounds on page 36. Ed.]

ex. 1.

1. Use a wider note range

Ray Brown utilized the full range of his
bass when walking bass lines. On the
piano, the low end corresponds to the
lowest E on the keyboard, and high notes
extend to well above middle C. Ex. 1 is
much like a blues in the key of C we often
played together. Notice how Ray starts in
a relatively high range and walks upward,
then reverses direction, culminating in
a low G in bar 10. Most keyboardists use
a much narrower range for bass lines, so
stretch your boundaries!

listening list: ray brown with Geoffrey keezer

Some of My Best Friends Walk On Live At Starbucks Christmas Songs

Are . . . Guitarists With the Ray Brown Trio

28 Keyboard 07.2014
Ex. 2.
2. You Dont Have to
Play Roots on Beat 1
In bar 5 of Ex. 1, the chord is an F7 but Ray
starts on C, which is the fifth of the chord.
This is because its the continuation of a
descending melodic line that starts in bar 3.
Ex. 2 shows a few ways you can walk on a
C7 chord without starting on the root. Using
a strong chord tone (like the third, fifth, or
seventh) on beat 1 of each bar helps to keep
the harmony clear.

Ex. 3.
3. Chromaticism Is Okay,
Even Down Low
In Ex. 3, the bass surrounds the root,
third, and fifth by starting a half-step
above, then going a half-step below the
strong chord tone. This creates a snaky
sounding bass line that imparts tension
Ex. 4. and melodic interest.

4. Mix It Up
Ex. 4 shows Ray walking on I Got
Rhythm-style chord changes. Notice how
he alternates between static notes (bars
1, 2, and 5), and moving lines (like bars 3,
4, and 6 through 8). Variety is the key. Its
even okay to repeat notes.

5. Let the Bass Line

Be the Melody
Sometimes, the bass line itself is the hook
Ex. 5. or the most important melodic idea in
the tune. Ex. 5 is in the style of Rays
tune The Real Blues, a piece we played
every night. Though one cant literally
bend notes on an acoustic piano, try to
emulate the bluesy style and feeling of a
bassist sliding up the string from the G
natural to G# when playing this excerpt.
In addition, be conscious of placing ac-
cents so the notes really pop.

Keezer demon-
strates melodic
Well-crafted bass lines should not only keep time and
bass lines.
outline chord changes, they should contain all the beauty
and motion of a good melody, says keyboardist and
Play-along audio
composer Geoffrey Keezer, who joined Art Blakeys Jazz
Messengers at age 18 and has since gone on to work with
Sting, Diana Krall, and Wayne Shorter. Keezers latest release
is a solo piano recording entitled Heart of the Piano. He offerss
online piano lessons at

07.2014 Keyboard 29


Holzman on
Jan Hammer

AdAm HOLzmAN IS ONE OF THE mASTERS OF LEAd SYNTH SOLOING, ANd makes use of bends of a minor and even major
best embodies the techniques and vocabulary pioneered by Jan Hammer. We had a third, so he sets the wheel range to a perfect
deep conversation on the art of synth soloing, and he delivered me a burning audio fourth. I found his wasted motion argument
clip demonstrating the concepts we talked about, while showing off his amazing compelling. [For more on pitch-bend, see Jerrys
chops. He was most recently profiled in our September 2013 issue, where you can columns from January through March 2012 Ed.]
read more about his gear and current gig with the Steven Wilson Band.
Lessons from Jan
Basic Sound Jan Hammer developed the techniques and vo-
As a starting point for a straight lead sound, Adam keeps things pretty standard. Hell mix a sawtooth cabulary that most of us still draw from in our
oscillator with a pulse oscillator at the same octave, with very subtle detuning. The filter is open about playing. No one has since come along and become
75 percent with little to no resonance or envelope depth, and he uses a basic fast attack, full sustain, the next thing in approaching the synthesizer as
fast release amp envelope (see Figure 1). Hell map filter cutoff to a foot pedal. He never uses reverb, a lead solo vehicle, states Holzman. So what les-
preferring either a tight slapback echo, or a longer echo with regeneration dialed back to support the sons has Adam learned from the master?
sound, not overwhelm it. Jans approach to pitch-bend is masterful.
Hearing him play a few years ago with the Mahavishnu Project (with Jan Hammer as a special He mixes upward and downward bends, scoops
guest), I was taken with his sync lead sounds as well. He explained that he prefers no automated and fall-offs; using half-steps, whole-steps, and
sweep of the modulating oscillators pitch, which is often done via an envelope or LFO (see my Sep- minor and major thirds. But the biggest point Id
tember through November 2012 columns for more on sync leads). He likes to set it to a nice interval make is that the bend is always a natural part of
to accentuate the harmonics, and will sweep that pitch with a knob, slider, or pedal. But on its own it the phrase he plays. Too often I hear keyboardists
stays staticno Lets Go Cars presets for him! play a complete musical thought, and then add
a little pitch-bend wiggling as an afterthought.
Pitch-Bend I hate that! Learn to incorporate bends as an
Adam has a strong opinion on pitch-bend range. He feels its foolish to set the range to only a whole- intentional part of the line, and practice until it
step, which is the common default. That forces you to move the controller very far to get the most becomes second nature.
commonly used bend, he points out. Its not smart ergonomically, all that wasted motion. Adam Finally, Jan didnt always just run up and
down the keyboard. He stated small motifs
based on a few notes, and then mixed up the
order of those notes, and used rhythmic displace-
ment to develop those ideas in compelling ways,
states Holzman. The idea might be a simple pen-
tatonic or blues lick, but often hed superimpose
another tonality over the key center. I like to do
this as well, so for example, I might move into F
minor or G minor over a Cm7, or move to Db ma-
Fig. 1. Adam Holzmans minimoog lead template, recreated using jor for a little bit, and then come back home.
Arturia miniV.

32 Keyboard 07.2014
Adam Schools Us
Adam recorded a short example (named Kihei Stomp after where I live in Hawaii), which you can hear online. A slowed-down version is also posted along
with the full transcription, so you can learn to play it.
Notes that are bent are shown in regular size with a graphic to show the bend direction, and the bend interval note is smaller (and in parentheses) so
you know which pitch to get to.

Bars 1 through 4 (Ex. 1) feature some blues scale licks, and Adam does some tasty whole-step upward bends, as well as a half-step down bend on beats
3 and 4 of bar 1. Notice in bars 2 and 4 how he uses the classic fusion lick of repeating the same note, one reached by a bend, and the other played open.

Ex. 1.

#n #n
&b R b

whole-step whole-step
bend half-step

bend bend

Ex. 2 shows more expert pitch-bending; in bar 10 the upward bends are used as a type of note release. This is a common move that guitarists make,
and is similar to an effect that brass players use called a doit, where the player moves the pitch upward through a rapid gliss on the release of a phrase. At
the end of bar 12 into bar 13 Adam employs a soulful upward bend of a minor third and hangs on it, before finishing the phrase. Very tasty!

. 11
Ex. 2.


9 10


&b R

whole-step whole-step
bend whole-step bend whole-step
12 13 bend

b b
whole-step bend


minor third

bend 3

In Ex. 3 we see the technique of superimposing another harmonic center over the chord. In bar 16 Adam is playing in F minor, and then finishes the
phrase in bar 18 with a fast, descending Db major scale run. This adds interesting color to a one-chord jam.

Ex. 3.

n 18
b bb b b
j j
16 17
b b n b bb
& b R bb 3 j
R b

Ex. 4 shows a riff that immediately struck my ears as being like classic Jan Hammer. In bar 20 Holzman uses the major third over the minor seventh
chord (along with another minor third bend), as Hammer has done on many recordings. Use the following scale: C, E, F, G, and Bb, played over the Cmin7
chord (transposed appropriately if youre in a different key). This scale is sometimes called the Mixolydian pentatonic, the dominant pentatonic, or even
the Jan Hammer scale.

Ex. 4.

? n
19 20
minor third

& b n b

07.2014 Keyboard 33
In Ex. 5 we see more F minor superimposed over the Cmin7, and now Adam explores a repeating motif (C, G, and Ab, as shown by the red notes),
twisting and turning the phrase around, and using the previously mentioned rhythmic displacement to wring a lot of variety from just a few note choices.

Ex. 5.

22 23 24
& b b R b b
25 26 27
& b b n b b

Practice Tips
Thanks to Adam Holzman for sharing so much with us all. Just playing these
licks (and the whole solo) could keep you busy for weeks. Break it down into Get the full transcription of Kihei
smaller segments, playing along with the slower speed audio file first before Stomp along with normal and slowed-
bringing the tempo up. The rhythmic notation is pretty difficult, but by first down audio les.
listening to Adam play it youll get the hang of it. Pay close attention to the Visit Adam online at
bendsnot all of them are perfectly in tune, and thats intentional. Thats
not a license to be sloppy, as when its not intentional, you should be trying to
nail those bends!

The Keys
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Fig. 1. Vir2 Basis is one

of todays leading virtual
bass guitar instruments,
but a few MIDI and
processing moves will
make it sound even more

Lay Down the Down Low


ELECTRIC BASS GUITAR IS A VERY DIFFERENT ANIMAL FROM SYNTH BASS. IF center, with a second mic back, perpendicular to the
youre playing sampled bass from a keyboard or virtual instrument (see Figure 1) cones edge, and mixed lower. Reversing the second
and the goal is realism, then these tipsinvolving tone, MIDI, and techniquewill mics phase can also provide useful effects. I almost
help you create compelling bass lines. never add room sound to bass.
Unlike guitars, bass sims dont need to produce
The Bass Signal Chain overtones. Psycho-acoustically, the ear can fill in heavy distortionwhich is very difficult to get
Start with a dry, unprocessed sampled bass instru- the fundamental better if it receives this additional right. All the main players (IK, Native Instruments,
ment, then enhance it with suitable processing. high-frequency information. When mixing, this Softube, Waves, Line 6, Overloud, Studio Devil,
This takes more work than calling up a preset, but also leaves a little more room for the kick. For the DI Peavey, etc.) make fine bass amp sims; IKs SVX
baking an effect into a sample isnt how a real bass sound, I prefer EQ after compression (see Figure 2). model in AmpliTube 3 (see Figure 3) nails several
works. Bass interacts with its environment. For the miked-amp sound, run a bass amp classic Ampeg bass amp sounds.
Bass recording usually involves a direct box (DI) simulation in parallel with the dry track and blend
running straight into your console or audio inter- them instead of using a sample that incorporates an MIDI Timing
face, a miked amp, or both. The dry sound is essen- amp sound. The sampled bass will interact with the One of MIDI basss big advantages is being able
tial for a DI emulation. An LA-2A or 1176-type com- simulation, so there will be less distortion when you to tweak timing. Traditionally, kick and bass com-
pressor, which can give a more aggressive sound play more softly. Also, many amp sims let you vary pete for the audio spectrums low end, and be-
for rock and R&B than an SSL-type bus compressor, virtual mic placement in relation to the simulated cause bass is non-directional on playback, theyre
is typically next in the signal chain. Bassists use cabinets speaker cone: centered gives fuller lows, both panned centerso they potentially obscure
compression for several reasons (sustain, even re- to the side gives a tighter sound, and off-axis makes each other even more. Try this: To emphasize the
sponse, touch) but because many playback systems the sound more diffuse. As in real life, I generally bass and the melody, move the bass a few ticks
and the human ear lose response in the bass range, place one mic close to the speaker and just a bit off- ahead of the beat, but not enough to hear any
consistent bass levels have a better chance
of being heard. Some bassists prefer lim-m-
iters over compressors because tam- Download ten note slides sampled from Gibsons EB-5 bass, in 16-bit/44.1kHz WAV format.
ing only the peaks can give a more Hear these techniques in action at
natural sound.
Regarding EQ, a significant high-
end boost emphasizes pick noise and

36 Keyboard 07.2014
Fig. 2. An 1176-style Fig. 3. IK Multimedias
compressor followed SVX is modeling an
by a +3dB shelf starting Ampeg BA-500. Note
around 2kHz gives dry the mic positions for
bass a smooth, dened the virtual cabinet.
sound in a mix.

one dedicated one octave to slidesfive down-

Fig. 4. The rst slide goes in ward, and five up/down. Occasionally adding these
half-steps from tonic to an promotes a realistic vibeand you can download
octave higher. The second one ten free EB slides online.
slides from G to E and steps
down over three semitones. The Mod Wheel Options
pitch bend then returns to zero If your modulation wheel controls vibrato, repro-
before the next E plays. gram it to one of these alternatives for more realis-
tic performance control.
Drive amount. Tie the wheel to drive amount
so that rolling the wheel forward adds growl.
Treble pullback. Pull down the highs by lower-
kind of delay. To emphasize the kick and rhythm, pitch-bend range of +/- 12 semitones, which is what ing a lowpass filter cutoff or tone control frequency
move the bass slightly late. The bass actually I use for bass to make these kinds of slides possible. when the bass needs to sit more demurely in a mix.
sounds softer when late and louder when ahead. (Note that pitch-bend has a resolution of 14 bits Hard picking. Roll the mod wheel forward to
with two bytes, which is why were dealing with increase amplitude of an envelope spiking a lowpass
Slides these big numbers, not the usual MIDI CC values of filter to give a quick, bright transient. If you can
Slides are an important bass techniquenot just up 0 to 127.) control more than one parameter at once, a very
or down a string, but over a semitone or more when slight upward pitch bend from the same envelope
transitioning between notes. For example, when can enhance the realism.
going from A to C, you can extend the A MIDI note Sub-octave. Some bassists play higher on the
and use pitch-bend to slide it up to C (remember to 0 0 neck and use an octave divider for a huge eight-
add a pitch-bend of zero after the note ends). string bass. Roll the mod wheel forward to add the
1 683
Unless youre emulating a fretless bass, you want sub-octave at dramatic moments. [This is a signature
2 1,366
a stepped, not continuous, slide to emulate sliding sound of renowned bassist Pino Palladino. Ed.]
3 2,048
over frets. Quantizing pitch-bend slide messages so Wah. Create another layer with the wah, and
theyre stepped is one solution (see Figure 4). Even 4 2,731 overlay the wah on top of your main layer. Adding
if theyre not exact half-steps, they go by quickly 5 3,413 wah to the main bass sound dilutes its power.
enough to be perceived as non-continuous. For ex- 6 4,096
ample, with a virtual instruments pitch-bend set to 7 4,779 Playing Technique
+/-12 semitones, quantizing the bend to 32nd-note 8 5,461 There are bass fingerings that allow seamless
triplets will give exactly 12 steps in a one-beat oc- 9 6,144 transitions between notes, but it often takes some
tave slide up, while a sixteenth-note triplet gives 12 10 6,826 time to lift a finger off a string, push down on an-
steps over a two-beat octave slide. Make sure theres 11 7,509 other string, and pluck it. To simulate this, leave
no smoothing enabled for the pitch bend function. 12 8,191 spaces between notes, especially when you want to
For precise slides, the following table shows emphasize a songs rhythm.
the amount of pitch-bend change per semitone. Most importantly, remember that bass strad-
For example, if an octave is a pitch-bend value of Another option to add realism: Borrow a real bass, dles the rhythmic and melodic worlds, with differ-
8,191, and you want to start a slide three semitones and record slides (its not that hard) into a sampler ent music emphasizing different elements. Bass
above the note where you want to land, start at a or SFZ instrument (see last months issue for my can do anything from acting like a melodic kick
pitch-bend value of +2,048 and add equally-spaced column on rolling your own samples). I created drum to providing harmonic counterpointbut a
events at +1,366, +683, and just before the final several bass instruments for Cakewalks Dimen- good bassist (or virtual bassist!) never forgets that
note, 0. This assumes your virtual instrument has a sion Pro using a Gibson EB 5-string bass, and each bass is part of the rhythm section.

07.2014 Keyboard 37

Improve the Groove


of an electronic dance track. This month, well look at ways to customize pre-existing loops. While some producers go deep
and completely transform their loops into sonically unique track elements, there are several simple techniques that let you
quickly customize your loop material into something with more creative expression.

half Measures
Heres a little secret for increasing the energy in a drum loop: Crop it to a half-
measure. While one- and two-bar loops are certainly more complex, you can
quickly achieve a more driving, energetic feel by simply shortening the loop to
a half-bar. Even the funkiest drum loop can be transformed into driving techno
using this technique, so if youre looking to make hard music, this trick should
be at the top of your list.

Gating highpass Filtering

Sometimes a loop will contain This may seem obvious to
a kick and snare that you dig, some, especially considering
but will also include percussion that countless libraries use
elements that are too dense and this technique for the creation
busy. In most cases, the kick and of their top loops, but for
snare are the loudest elements in a those who are just getting into
loop, so by applying a noise gate to soundware, a highpass filter
its track, you can effectively isolate is a great way to minimize the
those elements while muting the rest. Start with the gates default kick, snare, and mid-frequency percussion while keeping the shakers and
preset then adjust the threshold until just the kick and snare are hats intact. This trick alone will stretch the value of even the oldest loop col-
present. From there, tinker with the gates attack and release to remove lection, so if you hear a groove with great top-level elements but want to use
any pops or click. your own kick and snare, this is the way to go.

Envelope Get Your Freq On

Followers If you really want to get freaky, conga and
Many modern plug-ins, bongo loop elements can be transformed into
especially filters, now include synthetic djembes and dumbeks by applying
envelope followers. While frequency shifters and ring modulators, with
these are ideal for wah a touch of slow LFO modulation of their
effects, slapping a lowpass or frequency. To get the best results, start with
bandpass filter with the cutoff lower frequency settings and tinker from
modulated by an envelope there. Higher values will give a shortwave
follower is a tried-and-true method for adding a French house element radio effect, which is also cool for
to your grooves. Check to see if your flanger plug-in includes an envelope techno and harder genres.
follower as well (many of Ableton Lives effects include envelope followers Audio examples.
baked right in). When applied to flanging, this technique gives loops a
squishy, wobbly vibe thats great for tech-house and techno.

38 Keyboard 07.2014
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Soundware for
Electronic Music


soft samplers like Kontakt, complete packages for Able-
ton Live, or patches for soft synths like Massive and Om-
nisphere, the soundware landscape for electronic music is
more of a jungle than an oasis. Between direct-sales devel-
opers and online stores like Big Fish Audio, Loopmasters,
and Beatport, its easy to experience option paralysis
when shopping for sonic material for your studio.
As a producer whos worked with soundware of all types (and the author of the book
Power Tools: Software for Loop Music), Ive mapped this terrain extensively. Over the
years, several developers have come to the forefrontand Im not just talking about
house music or EDM. While many of these companies do focus on dance music, theres
something for every production style if you dig a little deeper. Here are my picks.

40 Keyboard 07.2014
Big Fish Audio Vengeance Samples Sample Magic
As both developer and distributor, Big Fish Audio German developer Vengeance has been a staple Sample Magic burst onto the market about five
has been a titan of soundware for close to 30 in electronic music production libraries for close years ago and quickly rose to the top of profes-
years. You dont achieve that kind of staying pow- to ten years, despite being rather difficult to find sional scene, not just because of their impeccable
er if youre not delivering both quality and range in the U.S. The American distributor is ReFX, the production standards and engineering chops, but
in your offerings, so when it comes to soundware, company that brought us the Nexus and Van- because the material in each collection was abso-
if you can imagine it, theyve produced it. guard soft synths. lutely spot-on in terms of genre credibility. My
In the this feature, it would be impossible to Vengeance libraries arent just useful, theyre verdict from previous reviews of their products
cover Big Fishs gargantuan catalogue, but Ill say kind of legendary. Martin Garrixs platinum-sell- still stands: If you want your productions, whether
this: Ive been using their products for well over a ing Animals relied heavily on several Vengeance theyre original music for film and TV or straight-
decade on projects ranging from TV commercials samples. Steve Angellos KNAS, a number one up remixes, to have a certain streetwise air, Sample
to remixes for name artists. In fact, their Rush Beatport hit in 2010, is based entirely on a lead Magic should be among your priority purchases.
2 Progressive House library still gets a workout synth loop snagged from Vengeance Future House As for their older collections, some of the
even in my newer tracks, despite its agethanks Vol. 2, so its safe to say that Vengeance samples material remains evergreen, specifically the Funky
to its useful array of sound effects, explosions and loops are extremely well-crafted. House Grooves series, which includes amazing
and sweeps. Vengeances strongest collections are largely fo- conga, percussion, and top loops throughout.
As for their latest material, Big Fish is on top cused on the festival sound. Their trance libraries As for their newest releases, the magic re-
of the festival trends with their Dancetronic, Fu- have been used by countless big name producers, mains in full effect. If youre an old school disco
ture Complextro, and Progressive House Hits (for including former students of mine, Tritonal. Their lover (or fan of Daft Punk, minus the expensive
Kontakt) libraries. While the construction kit progressive house libraries have helped to launch sample licensing), their Hed Kandi Disco House
approach to organizing many of their libraries careers. Even Deadmau5 relied one or two of their collection is mind-blowingly good. In terms
may feel a little too easy for artists who prefer to earlier electro collections when he was just getting of acoustic material, the Tribal Percussion loop
handcraft their productions, for jingle and com- his start in electronic music. library has real staying power, thanks to its inclu-
mercial work, theyre absolutely indispensable The biggest caveat with Vengeance material is sion of ethnic drum loops in both mid-tempo
especially if youre working on a tight deadline that it gets dated quickly. Timeless is not a word (100 bpm) and house (120 and 126 bpm) ranges.
with a fussy client who wants the now sound of Id use here. But for some producers, thats exactly While the Sample Magic brand is clearly fo-
today for their spot. whats needed to stay competitive in certain areas cused on dance music, much of their catalogue
The Big Fish construction kits are still work- of the EDM landscape. Because of this companys is far more flexible. For example, the Disco and
horses when it comes to drums, effects, and slavish devotion to being absolutely current, Id Swing Brass library will easily accommodate rock,
genre-specific basses. Not all of their products even go so far as to say that stocking up on this pop, and jazz genres and the Vintage Breaks series
rely on the kit approach, so if you want a collec- seasons crop of Vengeance libraries is about as is loaded with uncanny recreations of famous
tion thats more flexible in specific areas you just close as one can get to hiring a ghost producer acoustic drum grooves.
have to shop harderbut rest assured, youll find provided you release those tracks before someone That said, they continue to deliver the goods
it. else does. when it comes to modern dance sounds, notably
their EDM Superstar Sounds libraries for Massive
and Sylenth. Make no mistake, Sample Magic de-
livers astonishingly high quality material across
the board.

07.2014 Keyboard 41
Loopmasters Toolroom Records Cr2 Records
Ive been a fan of Loopmasters since their Joey U.K.-based Toolroom Records has been at the fore- Cr2 Records is another dance music label thats
Youngman Jacked Out Future House collection, front of the European dance scene for over a decade, been sticking a big toe into the soundware mar-
which has found its way into a couple of my re- with countless releases by names like Mark Knight, ket. Rather than simply focus on the big room
mixes over the years. While their website serves Fedde Le Grand, and David Guetta, so their legiti- progressive and electro thats dominated their
primarily as an online shop for numerous devel- macy in this market is massive. Like several other artist releases of late, their foray into sample
opers, their in-house libraries are stellar, thanks dance record labels, theyve leveraged this credibility libraries shows a lot of range so fardespite the
to their ongoing approach of recruiting top pro- into the soundware and loop market, with a focus on fact that only five are available at the time of
ducers. classic house, tech house, and a bit of progressive. this writing: Heavy Electro, Sound of Techno, EDM
In addition to Joeys collection, Ive become a They kicked off their soundware series in 2010 Festival Kicks and Drops, Deep Analogue House, and
fan of several of their newest products, notably with a varied collection of synth and drum loops Bass Music.
the Sebastien Leger Funky Tech House and the curated by label head Mark Knight. Toolroom Records The electro and EDM entries sound very of
Philip Bader Rough Tech House libraries. If youre Samples 01 is brimming with extremely high quality the moment, but the techno, house and bass
a fan of either, these are about as close to collabo- material that encapsulates the labels impeccable music libraries look like theyll stand the test of
ration with those artists as you can get. taste in funky grooves and synth programming. time a bit longer thanks to their production qual-
Loopmasters products arent exclusively With that success under their belt, Toolroom ity. While the Analogue and Festival entries are
artist-centric. Theyve got a slew of other librar- ramped up in 2013 with four more collections of strictly audio samples and loops, the electro, bass
ies that are more genre-specific and of uniformly samples and loops, all of which became instant hits and techno collections also include MIDI files and
high quality. Best of all, many of their products with the underground house community, thanks to Native Instruments Massive presets, adding con-
come in customized versions for Reason, Live, and their production aesthetics. While more narrowly siderable value. Whats more, their newest Bass
Kontakt. And if youre looking for just specific ele- targeted dance libraries often sound dated within Music library also includes 20 minutes of video
ments (say, just drums), many of the collections a year or so of their release, the Toolroom series tutorials.
can be purchased on a per-instrument basis at has a timeless quality. The synth material tends to Considering that Cr2 has released five li-
a lower price. This is especially relevant for key- date itself over time, but the drum loopswith braries in the span of four months, it looks like
boardists, who are capable of coming up with their their gorgeous EQ, compression and undeniable theyre getting serious about the soundware
own unique riffs and may just need a tight groove groovewill last a lot longer than most. market. Ill definitely be watching out for new
and the odd vocal sample. This spring, Toolroom released two new librar- releases. So should you.
ies that focus even more on what house producers
need right now. Their Ultimate Drum Loops collec-
tion is organized into small construction kits that
include isolated top loops, percussion loops, and
main drums for each. This makes arranging your
intros, breakdowns, and drops a total breeze.
Their other new release, Essential Progressive
Leads, is a bit more restrained than many of the
latest EDM packages, but in my experience thats
a great thing because it extends the expiration
date further.
The bottom line is that Toolroom is a gold
mine for house producers, or any composer who
needs to sound like one.

42 Keyboard 07.2014
Wave Alchemy Xfer Records Ilio
For a boutique soundware developer, Wave Al- Steve Dudas metamusic company, Xfer Records, While many of these collections in this roundup
chemy has a sizable following among the biggest has only released one library, Deadmau5 Xfer, are loop-centric, Ilios series of EDM patches for
names in dance music. Chris Lake, Noisia, Umek, (available from Loopmasters) but its arguably Spectrasonics powerhouse soft synth, Omni-
and Robert Babicz have all used their loops and one of the most popular collections in the history sphere, deserves a mention of its own.
samples in their productions. Whats more, of dance music. Why? Because it was designed Omnisphere is one of the most powerful
visionary upstart Matt Lange has contributed specifically for Deadmau5 and was used exten- plug-ins available for hardcore synthesists, with a
countless samples and loops to several of their sively in his early work. depth that puts it in a class by itself. But tapping
collections, so the Wave Alchemy portfolio truly So, if you need the official sound of Dead- that powerespecially in the context of electron-
is by producers for producers. mau5, this is a turnkey solution, but its good for ic music, dance or otherwisecan be a bit daunt-
One of the great things about their line is more than just that. In the words of Steve Duda, ing if youre not intimate with its capabilities.
that much of it is actually quite timeless and We tried to make an assortment featuring a Fortunately, Ilios EDM collection provides
ripe for further editing and refinement of your variety of sound sources . . . so they can fit into a ample song-starting inspiration while leaving
own. While their special FX collections include production workflow without stamping their own plenty of room to compose your own riffs and
excellent risers and transitional effects, they also flavor on a mix. leads. Each of the four EDM librariesAscension,
include extremely complex soundscapes that are In my own productions, Ive found this to be Ignition, Fire, and Eclipse: Lunar, cover a different
absolutely inspirational in the right context. true. Ive relied on the kicks, claps and hats in this aspect of dance and electronic music production
The same goes for their outstanding new library countless times. In fact, the single-shot (and the first three in that list are available as a
Synth Drums collection, which includes ready-to- samples here are among the best Ive ever used. bundle). Fire focuses on nastier, grittier textures.
roll versions for Battery, Kontakt, and Reasons That said, some of the synth loops have begun to Ignitions more up-front sound delves into electro
Kong. Its also available as an Ableton Live pack show their agebut thats to be expected from any territory. Ascension includes over 200 tempo-
and of course, individual hits for those who like collection thats been around for over five years. synced rises and whooshes, all of which are
to roll up their sleeves and tinker with the mate- There are rumors that theres another Dead- extremely detailed and flexible. Finally, Eclipse:
rial directly. mau5 library due in 2015. If so, be sure to keep Lunar is the most versatile of the bunch and
Wave Alchemy libraries arent strictly for your eyes and ears peeled for it. It will be another probably wont date itself as quickly. Theres also
dance music, either. Modern Guitar Tools is a new instant classic in a market that's overflowing with another collection, Eclipse: Solar, thats queued up
offering thats absolutely top-notch and includes options. for release this summer.
a vast range of loops ranging from funk to rock to I was extremely impressed with the range of
heavily processed experimental fare. I can heart- flavors in each of these packages. And because
ily recommend it for artists looking to have guitar theyre Omnisphere patches, theyre playable in
material handy for everything from old-school a way that loopware normally isnt. So, if youre
disco to Radiohead-style ambiences. waveal- looking for patches that stand apart from the Mas- sive-Nexus-Sylenth collective, and you think more
like a keyboardist than a producer, these bundles
are both affordable and extremely useful.

07.2014 Keyboard 43



sound for prices creeping ever closer to chump change. Case in point: the Kross.
Ostensibly its Korgs entry level synth workstation, but its sound engine is de- PROS Excellent sounds.
rived from the agship Kronos. By judiciously reducing the feature set and building Highly portable. Able to
it in a lightweight all-plastic enclosure that should result in chiropractors earning a run up to four hours on
little less, Korg offers the hobbyist and weekend warrior (whether they play in bars, battery power. Light and fast
churches, or what have you) what seems to be a pretty compelling choice. keyboard action. Sequencer
is easy to use. Preset beats
Overview above the keys instead of at the left end, obvi- and phrases are very musical.
The Kross continues Korgs streak of delightfully ously to keep the footprint tight. Its up to you Records audio along with
different industrial-design ideas; Starting with the whether this is the right or wrong place to sequences to SD card.
Radias and continuing through the SV series stage put them. I found that I adapted to this position-
pianos and KingKorg virtual analog synth, its been ing without much thought. Above the pitch and CONS USB connection
pretty easy to spot a Korg product based strictly on mod wheels, two assignable switches offer a ton and audio input not
its shape. Here, things are comparatively subdued, of options: locking the pitch wheel, changing the implemented in a way
with the wildest feature being the red parts of the octave, muting and unmuting Combi layers, tog- that makes the Kross a
enclosure and the seemingly cute but rather sensible gling portamento, and on and on. USB audio interface. So
built-in carry handle to make the Kross 61s sub-ten- To the right of the volume knob is a pair of lightweight that you may
pound weight even easier to manage. The panel is all clicky wheels that scroll you through the sounds. need tape or Velcro keep it
go and little show, with gold lettering on a gloss black The leftmost wheel calls up categories that are in place in your stand.
background. In some lighting conditions, reflections grouped in a sensibly musical manner, and the
from the shiny panel make it hard to read the labels. right wheel scrolls through the sounds in that
But as with the labels on any synth, the more familiar category. The Category wheel basically bookmarks
you become the less you actually do read them. the first sound in each Category. Moving to the buttons that get you into the Global mode (where
Korg placed the pitch and modulation right, we find the LED-lit buttons that select Pro- you do system-level things like set the velocity
wheelsrather than their customary joystick gram, Combi, and Sequencer modes, below them curve and damper switch polarity), set up splits

44 Keyboard 07.2014
and layers, toggle the master effects, and mute In Use I Dreamed a Dream was a challenge because
and unmute the audio input. Shortly after receiving the review until I got a call the original recording was symphonic, and I
Still moving right, we find two buttons for the to do a pretty unusual gig. A conference of food- knew Id likely have an inexperienced singer who
audio recorder: Setup and Play/Pause. Worth not- distribution executives were going to be broken needed a rhythmic reference in the absence of the
ing is that the audio recorder requires a format- into groups of a dozen or so. Each group would drums, so I elected to bang out an eighth-note
ted SD card to be plugged into the slot in the back be tasked with writing new lyrics to its assigned accompaniment on a piano/string layer, with
panel. Formatting must be done on the Kross well-known pop song, incorporating aspects the strings volume tied to the mod wheel so I
itself, but its easy. Press and hold Exit while hold- of company culture and daily work experience. could swell them right at the key change when
ing Global/Media, page up once using the Page+ Then, each group would elect/conscript a solo the band also came in. I made up a quick layer
button below the LCD, and youre there. SDXC performer to perform its song with the band for with Program A000, Kross Grand Piano and
cards are not supported, but SDHC cards up to the whole assembly, American Idol-style. Wild set B043, Legato Strings 1, which already included
32GB in size are. list: Livin On a Prayer by Bon Jovi, I Dreamed volume control on the modulation wheel. But I
The display itself is well done; the screen a Dream from Les Miserables, Oh What a Night discovered that the mod wheel was also tied to
layouts and graphics are clear and easy to read, by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and Surf- the piano patchs brightness, which I didnt want,
though they do get packed a bit dense when in U.S.A. by the Beach Boys. The bands task was so I had to copy the piano patch to a user pro-
youre using the sequencer. to perform the songs matching as exactly as pos- gram location, assign the mod wheel routing to
I was charmed by the step sequencer. The 16 sible the original recordings, as the performers off in the Programs Filter menu, and use that
buttons above the top two octaves of keys corre- would have only the original recordings to work version of the piano layered with the strings. This
spond to 16 steps; lighting them up enters a step from and one 15-minute rehearsal with the band. only took about two minutes, and I hadnt even
for the currently selected voice. This is exactly how Upon setting up at the gig, it became appar- opened the manual yet.
Korgs Electribe groove boxes worked, and all of ent that I was going to need to secure the Kross Surfin U.S.A. has an organ solo and no other
them (plus countless other products) derive this to my X-stand with gaffers tape, as its so light keyboard part, but the organ sound is fairly spe-
scheme from the venerable Roland TR-808. Theres it felt like it could slide right off at the slightest cificit has a little bit of grind and a lot of the top-
a reason so many devices cop this way of working. provocation, and its small enough that I couldnt end rolled off either by the speaker itself or via EQ.
Its easy for the uninitiated to quickly understand, slide all of the stands rubber bushings inside the Combi A054, Rock Organ, was just the ticket with
and once learned its immediate and fun. Kross footprint. Nice problem to have. the mod wheel parked at about halfway to bring in

07.2014 Keyboard 45
The fairly basic rear panel is where youll nd inputs for a sweep pedal, assignable footswitch, and a damper thatunusually
for a keyboard at this pricesupports half-pedaling when used with Korgs DS-1H pedal (sold separately). You can record
audio from the 1/8" audio input and 1/4" mic input alongside what youre playing on the synth, to an inserted SD card.

the layer containing the sampled-in distortion. to reach for a second board, with the lead sound internal, external, or both, so other hardware can
What we all remember about Livin On a waiting for me there. be harnessed in your multitrack creations.
Prayer is Richie Samboras iconic talkbox guitar The Favorites feature is greatlots of synths
riff, but David Bryan played plenty of keyboard have some version of this capability, but I ap- Conclusions
parts. The intro needs an analog synth pad for preciate this simple and straightforward imple- I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Kross. I feel
the moody buildup and a bell-like sound for a mentation. Pull up a patch you like, press and the same way about it as I did Korgs PS60its a
little riff right before the vocal enters. Under hold Exit, then the Favorites button, then one fantastic choice, and an absolute godsend on gigs
the verse is a chop-chop-chop part on a percus- of the row of buttons numbered 1-16 (the same where parking is a long way away from the load-in
sive analog synth sound (Bryans Memorymoog, ones you use for the step sequencer). Done. Love (or youre getting there by public transportation). I
perhaps) and fat chord stabs for accents. Under it. Four banks of 16 let you store 64 Favorites, so liked the PS60s keyboard feel better than I like that
the pre-chorus are a high string stab/ostinato with a little planning you could easily line them of the Kross, but in this price bracket you dont often
and a bright analog poly synth. When the chorus up to match your set list. get keys that make you wax ecstatic. Its closest com-
arrives you get out of the way of the guitar with The sequencer on the Kross is a 16-track af- petitor is the Yamaha MX61. On paper, the MX61
some high, sparse chords on a thin pad. Even fair with a lot of capability. Its far more than a seems to have the Kross beat; the former offers audio
with Kronos technology baked in, could a $700 scratch pad, offering fine editing down to the interface functionality, more polyphony (128 voices
battery-operated keyboard cut it? measure. A couple of things to know: First, to versus the Kross 80), and a larger ROM wave stock-
The answer is actually a little anti-climactic in quantize or not must be decided upfront as pile. Let your ears in on that part of the decision,
a way. Yes, the Kross gave me what I needed, but theres no after-the-fact auto-correct. Second, you however, and go with the sound you prefer; judging a
I didnt even have to delve into programming it. cant save sequences to internal memory, only synths worth on ROM numbers is just plain silly, and
Incredibly, Combi B033, Majesty Pad did it all. to an SD card. Luckily, SD cards are cheap. The theres no question that the Kross sounds great. The
By playing softly, I brought out a simple analog capable mixer, which offers a couple of effects MX61 doesnt offer a multitrack sequencer (opting
pad sound for the intro. Playing hard copped sends, uses the Master FX devices. Programs instead to bundle a lite version of Cubase for your
both the bell riff and the chop-chop thing con- dont keep their own Master FX when used in PC or Mac) and isnt as physically small, although
vincingly. Playing very staccato and defeating the the sequencer, only the effects that exist at the both weigh less than ten pounds. But dont count the
effects with the Master FX button got the chop, Program level, but thats good news as things like Kross out until youve played it. I think you might be
and bringing the effects back while playing block tremolo, rotary speakers, amp simulationsef- surprised by what you experience.
chords got the fat stabs. I played the pre-chorus fects that become part of the essential character
ostinato hard with my right hand while playing of the sound rather than just seasoningare
the bright pad softly with my left. It was uncan- handled at the Program level.
ny. I dont know who to thank for this patch, but I
raise a glass to you, sir or madam.
Even though its more than a scratch pad,
it seems that the sequencer was really made
Bottom Line
Had this wunderpatch not been available, I to take advantage of the fact that every Combi
could have used the Split and Layer functions has a drum track and a polyphonic arpeggiator The Kross offers the sound quality
to quickly build what I needed and save it into programmed in, so that using it as a scratch pad of Korgs big dogs for hobbyist
the User memory. From there Id have placed it would be very quick and easy. The drums and money, in a package you can take
into my Favorites for quick recall, but Im getting arpwhich in a lot of the Combis function like anywhere. Its fun to sound this
ahead of myself. auto-accompaniment but way hipper than polkas good so affordably.
Oh What a Night was the only song on and tangossync to the sequencer clock (which
which I had to bring in another synth, and not can be set in real time with either the Tempo Kross 61: $869 list | $699 street
because the Kross couldnt give me the right knob or the Tap Tempo button right beside it), Kross 88: $1,299 list | $999 street
sound. For the songs two synth breaks, I needed making it really immediate to get something
a Minimoog-like lead patch, and the Kross has going. Use a Combi as your foundation and add
many good ones in the Lead Synth category and overdubs, then connect a mic to the input on
lots of raw material to build one from scratch if the back panel (its just 1/4" unfortunately) and Original audio
none of the presets had been right. In rehearsal record the audio of your sequence plus a vocal or examples.
I just couldnt manage the patch change from external instrument as a WAV file directly to an
the piano to the synth and back again quickly SD card. Darned near instant demo. Nice! Each
enough, even using Favorites. In the end I had sequencer track has three MIDI sync settings:

46 Keyboard 07.2014

Fig. 1. Not only do clip and linear views appear side by side, but its easy to toggle which is in control, track by
track. Going from improvisation to arrangement and back again is fluid.


Bitwig Studio 1.0


FOr yearS, prOducerS had GrOWN accuSTOmed TO dIGITal audIO cluding more of the editing and arrangement
workstations being variations on a theme. For all the significant differences, these conventions of traditional DAWs, a powerful
tools could be expected to work in the same basic ways. Then came Ableton Live. modulation system, and lots of original instru-
While adopting some of those conventions, it flouted others, with a non-linear clip- ments and effects.
based structure as the centerpiece. Now, Bitwig Studio is the first real challenger Launch Bitwig, and the software steps you
in the same mold as Ableton, and for a 1.0 outing, its surprisingly complete. Do the through configuring audio interfaces, controllers,
sum of its parts add up to a worthy alternative to other DAWs? and sound packs. Then, the program brings up
what looks like a typical multitrack DAW editing
Overview alike that experienced Ableton users will often window (see Figure 1).
Bitwig makes many design decisions that are find they dont have to crack the manual. That Along the bottom of the screen, choose Ar-
similar to Live. It combines non-linear clips and has earned Bitwig some criticism, not in the least range, Mix, or Edit, and you can focus on one
scenes with linear arrangement, adds a mixer because four Bitwig founders came from Ableton. task: linear arrangement (like most DAWs), clip
that routes instruments and effects, lets you In fact, though, Bitwig Studio looks like what launching and mixing (like Abletons Session
navigate sounds and devices from a Browser, Ableton Live might look like if given a second view), and focused, full-screen editing (much like
and so on. Menus and editing panes are so much blank slate. And Bitwig offers some twists, in- Cubase, but absent in Live). You can also choose

48 Keyboard 07.2014
Fig. 2. While effects and
instruments may have a
plain vanilla appearance,
the actual implementations
are terric. You can also see
which devices youve added
to each track in the overview.

Editing and Modulation

For mouse-based editing, its tough to
beat Bitwig Studio. Everything that
works with clips and clip automation
in Ableton Live, more or less, works
here. But to that, Bitwig adds features
seen in DAWs like Cubase. Theres an
ever-present Inspector tab for quick,
one-click access to lots of editing and
properties. And once you get into ei-
ther note or audio data, youre given
a fantastic amount of control.
With audio, youre free not only
to split by transients and the like,
but also slice up sounds within
clipsfinally. That lets you eas-
ily transform clips and divide and
from some useful view profiles, including the could be confusing. Here, its more fluid than in combine them. In addition to the usual envelope
ability to use a second display monitor. Live, even: You can toggle between triggering clips options, you can edit per-note expression and
The ability to use these views seamlessly in con- directly and playing back a defined arrangement micro-tune pitches one note at a time. Using
cert makes arranging tunes in Bitwig a joy. From the per track. Its easier to see and control. The upshot: layer editing, you can edit multiple clips at once,
Arrangement view, you can quickly pull up your grid you can play with your music using a combination not to mention audio and MIDI together at the
full of clips without switching views, and see your of jamming with clips and constructing horizontal same time.
mixer, clips, and arrangement side by side. Clips arrangements, rather than having to focus mainly I think my favorite editing feature, though, is
also display contents clearly, with MIDI patterns on one approach or the other. one thats gotten the least attention: bouncing in
previewed inside. Cakewalk Sonar did something Routing is accomplished largely as in Livea place (or to a new track) is extremely quick. Sure,
similar, but the relationship of clips to arrangement bay of devices runs horizontally, corresponding you dont get any clever audio-to-MIDI conver-
to each track. But whereas Ableton shows devices sion. But the ability to bounce out audio is often
only when selected, Bitwig tucks a preview into more useful, especially when combined with the
the channel strip so you always have an overview Slice to Drum Machine and Slice to Multi-
Snap Judgment of what youre doing (see Figure 2). You can also sample features.
open multiple files at once, though you must As to modulation, Bitwig Studio is in a class
PROS Seamlessly blends manually toggle the audio engine for each tab. of its own, rivaled only by the likes of Reaper or
clip-based improvisation That allows you to drag and drop content between Propellerhead Reason. So long as you use Bitwigs
with traditional arrangement. projects, but limits the use of multiple file sup- built-in devices, you can route all sorts of modu-
Advanced, easy editing for port for live performance. lation from anywhere to anywhere. That includes
audio and MIDI. Modulation The display in Bitwig is always tidy. Unfortu- various parameters in the synths and effects as
everywhere. Solid synths. nately, its also somewhat rigid. Most of the time, well as dedicated LFOs. The implementation is
Amazing effects. Fast and the scale of UI elements is fixed. The military- pleasingly simple: just point at the modulation
tidy. gray color scheme is mandatory, too. Icons can you want to use, and where you want it to go,
often be unclear, and theres not in-line tutorial and youre done. Its possible to hack some of this
CONS Basic audio routing content as in Live and some other DAWs, so functionality with Max for Live in Ableton, but
at this point. Little UI youll find yourself referring back to the manual its a far cry from having modulation everywhere,
customization or scaling. No when drilling down to individual devices. That natively.
AudioUnits support on Mac. said, once you adapt to the different views, youll Unfortunately, Bitwig Studio feels a little
Still early days for controller likely find working can be very fast. You can fly weaker when it comes to other kinds of routing.
support. between views and editingand editing is one of Side-chaining is present only in the Dynamics
Bitwig Studios strong suits. device. There are basic sends and receives, but

07.2014 Keyboard 49
Fig. 3. A handy package manager grooves. ReWire isnt supported, nor are Audio
makes installing and selecting Units in the Mac version.
additional sample content easy. Also, while Bitwig Studio improves upon
Lives editing functionality, it replicates even
some of Lives shortcomings: Theres no surround
but combined with Bitwigs modulation powers, audio support, nor any track comping facility. As
it may see a lot of action. in Live, clips can still be a nice way of recording
The synths and samples are nice, but the best live instruments, but managing and combining
bits are the audio effects. Blur is a unique filter multiple takes is still a chore.
diffuser capable of some gorgeous timbral ef- This isnt an Ableton killer just yet, however.
fects. The Distortion sounds simply amazing, Compared to Ableton Live Standard, Bitwig Studios
from subtle warmth to all-out grime, and easily offerings are fairly on par. But at that price, Ableton
beats any bundled distortion effect in any other gives you 11GB of sound content, more complete
major DAW at the moment. There are also some plug-in support, more extensive routing, more con-
spectacular filters. The rest is more bread-and- troller compatibility, and video support. Maturity
butter, but the audio quality of these standouts is counts for a lot, too: Bitwig is new enough that you
worth downloading the demo just to try. should take the demo for a test drive with all your
little more, and while Bitwig provides devices for Theres also full step sequencer and various critical plug-ins before investing.
simplifying access to external gear as Ableton other note effects, and everything integrates with
does, there are more restricted choices for rout- modulation. Conclusions
ing MIDI. Bitwig Studio can perform most of the There should be no doubt that Bitwig has built a
macro parameter assignment tricks that Ableton Taking Control contender. As a DAW to fire up and begin produc-
Live can, but Lives Device Racks have additional Bitwig Studio also offers some promising func- ing music, its a lot of fun. It has a welcome com-
options for intuitively combining different de- tionality for creating custom control mappings. bination of detailed editing and modulation with
vices. Also, Reaper, Cubase, and others have supe- Using JavaScript, any controller can have ad- a nicely-curated set of effect and synth tools, and
rior routing options. vanced bi-directional access to the software: that the merging of arrangement and clip views makes
Bitwigs most revolutionary features are still is, it can both control any element in Bitwig as the creative process feel a bit more fluid.
on the future roadmap. Bitwig says theyve con- well as respond (with text and lights) to events as Early-adopter enthusiasts will likely be
structed all the built-in Devices using their own they happen. Bitwig has included tools that make comfortable using Bitwig as a change of pace
modular environmenta bit like having Native it easy for hackers and vendors to create support. alongside other tools. At version 1.0, its still
Instruments Reaktor inside your DAW, only very That should mean that eventually you see lots too new to recommend to a wider audience as a
deeply integrated. For now, that power is acces- of vendor- and user-submitted scripts for control- main DAW. It is, however, one to watch. My hope,
sible only to the developers. When unleashed, lers, whether youre a coder yourself or not. This particularly with features like embedded modu-
Bitwig Studio could really change the equation feels like a 1.0 release, though, in that a lot of lar synthesis on the horizon, that Bitwig Studio
for people wanting modular power right in their third-party support simply isnt there yet. Theres strays further from the molds of other DAWs,
recording environment. a decent bundle of controller mappings for devices particularly Ableton Live. If they can retain this
from Korg, Akai, Livid, and others, but a lot of degree of focus and quality, and add more differ-
Instruments and Effects controllers are missing. I had the Nektar Panorama entiation, we may have a truly new player.
Bitwig may not give you quite the arsenal of tools P4 to test; support and documentation were still
that a Logic Pro X or Reason or Ableton Live evolving, but eventually the Panorama keyboard
Suite does, but there are some real gems in here. could be a killer combination with Bitwig Studio.
For starters, theres some great sample content.
While other tools try to cover the full spectrum
You can also right-click any parameter and manu-
ally assign it to a MIDI controller, of course.
Bottom Line
of every sampled instrument you might ever Bitwig Studio is impressively
want, Bitwig Studio focuses mainly on vintage Performance and Comparison complete for a 1.0 outing. It wont
drum machines, synths, acoustic percussion, For a version 1.0 release, Bitwig Studio has ac- make you abandon your current
and keyboards. Theres a lovely Clavinet, Rhodes, complished a lot. I noticed some strange behavior DAW, but enthusiasts ready for
Wurlitzer, and grand piano in the deal, plus some in a couple of plug-in UIs, and changing presets something new will be rewarded.
well-curated retro selections. It feels a bit like in internal devices yields some sound glitches.
you raided a talented producers hard drive (see But the software was stable and complete. It also $399 download
Figure 3). The sample content is fairly raw; its feels remarkably fast and responsive; whereas
mostly mapped as multi-samples and will prob- Live 9 often crawls along on my 2010 MacBook
ably require manually adding effects. Pro (with conventional hard drive), Bitwig Studio
The deceptively simple synths cover similar was always snappy. Theres something to be said
ground. You get a beautiful virtual analog drum for new blood. Walk-through
kit: kick, snare, tom, hat, and clap. Theres also Still, Bitwig has to go toe-to-toe with some video
a great multisampler, a poly synth, and the rich very mature DAWs, and theres a lot it cant do
FM-4. FM-4 isnt quite as intuitive as Abletons yet. Theres no video import. Groove options are
Operator or as deep as Native Instruments FM8, restricted to percentages; there are no custom

50 Keyboard 07.2014


Garritan Instant
Snap Judgment
PROS Great sounding
orchestral ensembles and
opportunity, as the entire premise behind it is such a necessity for so many modern all instrument categories.
musicians. Its a high-quality library (actually, more like a self-contained virtual instru- Easy for beginners to build-
ment) of ready-to-go orchestral combinations and soundscapes. Instead of you hav- up polished cues in minutes.
ing to load and blend dozens of multisamples, articulations, and solo instruments, the Useful mapping of layer
developers have taken care of that for you with pre-made ensembles, helping you get volumes to modulation
to the act of creating music all that sooner. On top of that, Garritan keeps both the wheel. CPU-efcient.
storage footprint and the price low, while packing a big wallop sonically.
CONS Very few solo
Overview the show are the Ensemble Presets, which are instruments. Aria player
Garritan Instant Orchestra (GIO from here on) pre-programmed multis made up of Instrument mixer could use better visual
covers the gamut of orchestral sounds from big Patches, and further divided into two sub-folders: level metering.
brass and strings to pitched percussion and mal- Combos & FX, and Moods. You can access Instru-
lets, and everything in between. The stars of ment Patches individually, and of course, craft

52 Keyboard 07.2014
Fig. 1. At upper right is the Ensemble Preset name, in this Fig. 2. A graphical key card makes the authorization
case Ghost Ship. The white mark at upper left indicates process painless.
that the patch in slot 1 is whats currently affected by
parameter knobs in the lower pane.

your own multis from them, but its important 200GB for some of my very high-end stuff. Acti- needed to audition and assign effects and do the
to note that these patches are mainly combina- vation was also easy. The key card authorization proper blending. Listen to audio clip 1, Garritan
tions of instruments themselvesjust more fo- was new to me at first: After downloading, you the Spy at to hear
cused ones. GIOs marketing is very clear that its enter a code to retrieve a PNG file that you then what I mean.
purpose is to get you from fingers-on-keyboard to drag onto the GIO screen, and youre good to go My second session started with a very slow
finished cue in minimum time, and to do this, it (see Figure 2). string dirge on top of which I added two different
relegates solo instruments to a different product I installed GIO on my new studio computer, tracks of random snare hits. The classical-style
in Garritans line: Personal Orchestra. There are but as I was leaving for a month of touring Id snares in the Lots of Snares patch have a very
exceptions, including piano, pipe organ, celesta, mainly be working on my older road laptop, natural, open, mellow tone. Using one part with-
and harpsichord, but youll need to look in GPO which has a 2.4GHz processor and just 4GB of out the snares engaged and the other with tight
or elsewhere for something like that lilting Game RAMthough it does run off a solid-state drive I snares resulted in a nice blend. While experi-
of Thrones solo cello. installed recently. I thought it that working on a menting with GIOs modulation wheel mapping,
Of the Instrument Patches, those classified slightly slower computer would be a good test of I also found that the snare rolls work great when
as Blending Textures map your MIDI controllers GIOs power needs. Im happy to report that on massaging volume in real time with the mod
modulation wheel to crossfade between two dif- my first try I was able to pull up a dozen instances wheel. With small pulses of the wheel, it sounds
ferent characters or even families of instruments of GIO at once with no problems. very human. (Listen to audio clip 2 online.)
(say, woodwinds and harp). In fact, many Ensem- Then, some heavy tympani from the Percussion
bles and Instruments make great use of the mod In Use Wow patch gave it great motion. A rhythmic osti-
wheel to bring in more layers, as denoted by the Once I had everything installed, I was ready to hit nato made of marimba and glockenspiel from the
suffix MW in the program name. the road. I had begun my foray into GIO rather Pitched Percussives patch was a nice touch as well.
All of this runs in Garritans proprietary clinically, reading through the manual. Its a great It was finished with some low-end wash from the
playback engine, called Aria, which provides 16 read, written like a primer on what Hollywood Ghost Ship preset and an expressive high string
channels of mixing as well as a number of use- composers do and how GIOs features relate. line from Grand or Dark, which also makes great
ful sound parameters and effects. These include But having just gotten off an airplane, as soon use of the built-in modulation wheel blending.
an ADSR envelope, lowpass and highpass filters, as I got settled I felt like going off the grid with- The high string line was played in real time
three-band EQ with sweepable midrange, vibrato, out their tutelage to see just how intuitive GIO with the expressiveness of a live string take. I was
and a stereo stage adjustment that overrides and its underlying Aria sample playback engine able to roll in brightness and volume with the
manual panning with a soundstage based on vir- were. I dove in and immediately got into the modulation wheel pre-assigned. It was a relief to
tual stereo mic placement (see Figure 1). Theres mood to make spy music. I loaded up a reverb- be able to bring in volume and tonal nuances with
also a nice send-based reverb in the form of an heavy tympani and went for it. just one sweepwithout having to map assign-
Ambience section with several lovely presets. Very quickly I went for the Ensemble Presets ments for things like layer volume and brightness
Journey Out to Sea and The Jungle from the myself. Sometimes MIDI is a four-letter word,
Installation Moods bank, and Wowsers Piano Effect from and GIO really took some of the headaches away.
Downloading and installing Garritan Instant the Combos & FX Bank. The end result was a to- Since I had such an easy time loading usable
Orchestra was easy. It weighs in at around 2GB, tally fun drama sequence assembled in much less presets from the Moods and Combos banks, I
compared to 30GB for the next smallest orches- time than it would have taken to load every layer decided to start from scratch on a blank palette. I
tral library on my hard drive, and upwards of of each pad manually, not to mention the time had a quick idea for a motion sequence that called

07.2014 Keyboard 53
Fig. 3. The mixer view in GIOs Aria
player, showing effects sends, pan pots,
and the beginnings of an author-built
Ensemble Preset.

Id like to see some sort of marker showing the

currently selected preset. When youre in the
midst of hunting for the right sound and so many
presets have esoteric names, its nice not to ask
yourself Did I just hear that? A visual reference
would do the trick here. (Note: You do get a mark-
er showing which patch in an Ensemble is cur-
rently affected by the onscreen effects controls.)
These are minute details when compared with
what youre getting for the price. Its no mean feat
to create something simple that can overtake you
creatively without overwhelming you technically,
for a mixture of marimba, glockenspiel, and piz- with plodding low percussion. With the wheel and Garritan Instant Orchestra has not just shown
zicato strings (see Figure 3). down its very mellow, but start to roll it up and its possible, but excelled at it. Its about quickly
Within a couple of minutes everything was an extremely ominous sustain of Earth Metal creating larger-than-life soundscapes with evolv-
loaded. I balanced the levels on the mixer screen Percussion and Earth Cavern Percussion patch- ing aspects that are playable in real timethe first
and added a touch of the reverb from the built-in es take over. Along with goosebumps. time. As such, it earns our hearty recommendation
Ambience effect. All the better, I had a cool custom for any keyboardists or aspiring composers my
sound created and saved before I forgot my idea! I Conclusions first virtual orchestra program . . . as well as our
then added some light percussion from the Instru- Garritan has definitely succeeded in creating an Key Buy award.
ment patch Percussion Extras and was now ready expressive and dense musical palette that can
to experiment with the Trill Exchange Ensemble immediately take you to realms that are ethereal, When Berklee-educated Korel Tunador
that Id noticed in the Combos & FX bank. bombastic, edgy, happy, sad, or any mood you isnt playing keyboards and guitar with
This was an interesting one, and definitely might associate with orchestral movie and TV the Goo Goo Dolls or Katy Perry, hes per-
not for your average love ballad. Each note is soundtracks. forming in support of his own releases,
an ominous swelling string trill that peaks into Ive heard some musicians say that the GIO No Tomorrows and The Early Mournings
something fitting for a horror scene or a whodun- librarys source sounds are not as realistic and var- EP. Find out more at
nit, and then calms down into a slow, decaying, ied as some of the much more expensive and mas-
sustained trill. This patch was very intriguing but sive orchestral sample libraries. This is true, but
too cacophonous for my specific cue. So I looked they outclass anything youd expect at this price.
more closely at the source sounds in the multi. It is And again, the designers didnt have that as their Bottom Line
a combination of half-step and whole-step trills on goal in the first place. They set out to give you com-
strings combined with woodwinds and brassall binations that would amount to something larger If you can trade ne-grained
at once. Its great fun and I am sure to revisit this than the sum of their parts, while freeing begin- customization for playability
Ensemble. But in this instance I just muted the ners from significant amounts of time that would and ease of use, Garritan Instant
whole-step trills, brass, and woodwinds, and added have been spent weeding through part after part Orchestra is the quickest way for
a single cell of Marcato Sharp Attack Strings. I to assemble the right blend. In fact, I suspect that a composing newbie to sound like
then saved this setup in my own user presets for even composers who are experts at that process John Williams or Hans Zimmer.
future reference. (Listen to audio clip 3 online.) might find themselves turning to GIO when they
Next it was time to experiment with the afore- want to work more quickly and the gig calls for its $199.95 list | $179.95 download
mentioned modulation wheel blends. Garritan ensemble-oriented sound.
has set up GIO not merely to generate a bunch of I applaud Garritans efforts as well as their
quick layers, but always to give you an overall pal- perspective. My only wish list items involve de-
ette thats playable. The pre-programmed options tails in the visual aspect of the Aria player. Spe-
run from anything from a strings-to-brass sweep cifically, Id like to see some LED metering on Original audio
to armageddon-like swells of multi-instrument the mixer channels (as in a DAW) for some visual examples.
dissonance. I went to the Infinity and Beyond feedback on whats going on with the individual
MW Ensemble Preset, which they describe as Instrument Patch levels when I work the modula-
strings and winds expanding to a large orchestra tion wheel. Also, when browsing for a new sound,

54 Keyboard 07.2014



Minimoog 40 years ago. You know the drill: a few oscillators, a lter or two, a couple
of envelope generators, a couple of LFOs. But todays computers are fast enough
that instrument designers are free to seek out new ideas and new sonic horizons, to
Snap Judgment
boldly go . . . you know the rest. Kaivo is one of that new breed. It has two resonators, PROS Exotic sound design.
but no lter. It only has one oscillator, but some of the waveforms crossfade among Unusual modules. Highly
four samples at once. It has a two-dimensional LFO and the most complex noise patchable.
source youve ever seen. It has no modulation matrix, just a click-and-drag patch bay.
The sounds it produces tend to be even stranger than that description would sug- CONS No lters. Only one
gest. If youre craving stock leads, pads, and basses, look elsewhere. Kaivos factory oscillator. CPU-intensive.
patch list sports names like Shrapnel Flute, Wandering Drum String, and Arf!

56 Keyboard 07.2014
Overview output of the Resonator. Other than that, Kaivo pitches, and its overall range can be set in half-
Kaivo meshes granular synthesis with physical has no user control over the stereo image. steps. Both the number of steps and the offset
modeling and modular sound design. Like Ma- The second resonator, called Body, is mono- (starting step) can be modulated in real time, as
drona Labs first synth, the modeled analog Aalto, phonic: It processes the output of all of the can the playback rate.
Kaivo is laid out with half a dozen modulation voices together. Here you can choose one of two The LFO has X and Y outputs, which share the
sources in the top section of the panel, and sound wooden boxes, a metal plate, or a frame drum. frequency and output level controls. Waveforms
modules in the lower half. The sound modules are Because these are two-dimensional surfaces, you include circle, knights, and rain. Were run-
configured in a fixed left-to-right signal path. can set and modulate both the X and Y positions ning short of space here, so Im going to let you
The central area is the patch bay. Patch con- where the incoming signal will excite the model. download the demo version and find out for your-
nections are made by dragging the mouse from Tone, pitch, sustain, and nonlinearity can also be self what all that means.
one of the outlets of a module in the upper panel modulated. The noise source has a frequency control that
to one of the inlets in the lower panel. The upper The output module, at the right end of the goes from 0.1Hz up to 10kHz. It can have up to
modules also have inlets, so they can modulate lower panel, is fairly simple. It has a chorus effect eight narrow frequency peaks, and both the rate
one another. Small dials on the inlets are used to (implemented as an on/off switch), a Tilt dial, and level can be modulated. It can produce anything
set the amount of modulation. which tilts the signal toward the lower or higher from subtle tone changes to insane mangling.
Multiple sources can be patched to one inlet, part of the frequency spectrum, and a limiter The two envelopes are a bit more normal. One
but theyll all share the same amount setting. The (also an on/off switch). Since the resonators is an ADSR type with a velocity on/off switch and
Granulator and Resonator each have two pitch sometimes get a little too excited, having a lim- modulation inputs for attack, decay, and release
inputs, however, one linear and one logarithmic, iter on-board is highly desirable. time. The other is a delay-attack-release type that
and several of the modulation sources have out- I find that a good way to develop new sounds can loop, making it an LFO.
put level knobs, so theres a reasonable amount of in Kaivo is to leave both resonators off, by turn-
control over modulation depth. ing their wet outputs down to zero. Start by find- Conclusions
ing a Granulator sound that you like, and then I wouldnt mind seeing a few more modules
Synthesis add resonators to taste. The results can be quite added to Kaivos arsenal. But while its feature set
At the left end of the lower panel is the Granulator. organic, or possibly suited to a horror movie seems modest at first glance, theres a lot of cre-
This module produces tones using granular syn- soundtrack. ative sound power lurking in its guts. The CPU us-
thesis on one of more than 65 factory waveforms. age meters in my various DAWs showed intense
(An update is planned that will allow user waves to Modulators activity when I added a Kaivo track to a piece,
be imported.) Some of the included selections are Starting at the upper left corner, we have Kaivos but a glance at the Task Manager in Windows 7
actually four separate waveforms; the granulator MIDI input module. This has outputs for gate revealed that each instance of Kaivo was being
can be modulated in both the X and Y directions, (note on/off), pitch (note number plus pitch- run in a separate processor, so a quad-processor
Y modulation producing crossfades between one bend), velocity, aftertouch, mod wheel, and two machine should be able to run up to four Kaivo
wave in the set and another. This may sound assignable MIDI control change messages. Pitch- instances without needing to do any track freez-
confusing, but the animation of the panel display bend depth, glide, the number of notes of polyph- ing. In sum, its powerful, its strange, and having
makes it clear whats going on. You can program ony, and micro-tuning scale can also be set. a fast computer is a good idea. What else do you
(or modulate) the amount of grain overlap, the The most interesting output from this mod- need to know?
rate of grain production, and several other things. ule is called vox. This transmits the number
Next in line is a lowpass gate, which can func- of the voice that is currently being activated. If
tion either as a VCA or as a lowpass filter. Note, you set Kaivo to three-note polyphony and play

Bottom Line
however, that this filter is in line before the reso- a three-note chord, for instance, the vox output
nators, which are where a lot of the creative tone will transmit a value of 1.0 for the first voice, 2.0
shaping comes in. As a result, Kaivos sound will for the second voice, and 3.0 for the third voice.
seldom have a snappy cutoff when you release your You can use this signal for whatever you likefor Fresh sounds for edgy music.
finger from the key: The resonators will usually instance, giving each voice its own step sequencer
continue to ring for a few moments, if not longer. speed. Each voice has its own sequencer, though $129 direct
The first resonator, cleverly named Resona- all of them share the same panel settings.
tor, has a choice of seven models, including The sequencer has 16 steps and graphic edit-
strings, chimes, and springs. You can program ing. It has two outputs each for gate on/off and
and modulate the pitch, brightness, excitation the step value, and one of each type can be de-
position, panning, sustain amount, and nonlin- layed by up to eight steps. It might seem odd at
earity. If the Granulators pitch is tracking the first to have two step-value outputs for a synth Original audio
keyboard while the Resonators pitch isnt, youll with only one oscillator, but by delaying the step examples.
tend to hear quite strong resonant peaks depend- being sent to the Resonator you can produce two
ing on which note you play. independent pitch lines within a single voice.
The panning control applies only to the wet The output can be quantized to equal-tempered

07.2014 Keyboard 57

Left: Hybrid Tools.

Facing page: Rhythmic Aura.


Rhythmic Aura
and Hybrid Tools

been pumping out libraries that range from conventional orchestral titles to more soni-
cally adventurous collections that push the boundaries of cinematic sound. In particu-
lar, their Hybrid Scoring Tools (HST) series has quickly gained favor among many me-
dia composers, thanks to the immediate usability of the instruments and creative mojo
that can be conjured through the use of cleverly programmed performance controls.
Even so, the territory 8Dio hopes to claim is becoming increasingly crowded. In a mar-
ket with so many cinematic sample libraries and virtual instruments to choose from,
Snap Judgment
do these Hybrid Scoring Tools bring something new to the party? Read on. PROS Much of the material
in Rhythmic Aura is four
Overview Kontakt libraries, which means they wont show bars long. Performance
For this review Ill look at Rhythmic Aura Vol. 1 up under Kontakts Libraries tab. Instead, youll controls allow for easy
and Hybrid Tools Vol. 1, the first two installments need to navigate to the instrument files from improvisation with effects.
in the HST series, which currently comprises five Kontakts Files menu. This was a bit of a surprise Expert sound design and
separate titles. All of the collections are available when I first installed the samples, but not a huge inspiring sample content.
in Native Instruments Kontakt format, with two issue, except that it requires a slightly different
of the Rhythmic titles also available in Stylus workflow compared to working with many other CONS Loop/rhythmic
RMX format. (Ill focus on the Kontakt versions.) sample products. samples not provided in
Interestingly, Aura and Hybrid Tools dont em- I should also point out that the HST instru- sliced format. Time-limited
ploy Native Instruments third-party developer ments are download-only products. Theres no use in free Kontakt Player.
license; rather, theyre presented as open-format need to worry about long download times, howev-

58 Keyboard 07.2014
guitars in the mix, but the processed, making them suitable for heavier and
point is that the samples darker styles. The samples are also provided in
came from live performanc- 24-bit/44.1kHz WAV format complete with meta-
es of real instruments. The data that can be read by Soundminer, a popular
rhythmic patterns (auras audio search engine and management program
in 8Dio-speak) are orga- used by many in the audio post-production field.
nized into presets by instru- Format flexibility? Check.
ment type (e.g., Alternative Hybrid is brimming with the kind of high-
Strings, Banjo Bass, Tuned production, up-to-the-second sound effects and
Percussion, etc.), which I ear candy that one might use to take a track
found to be intuitive and from solid to stellar. Most of the presets consist
useful for easy auditioning. of distinct samples mapped to individual keys,
Musically, the samples which makes it easy to choose a general vibe,
range from simple tonal such as whooshes, and then play around on the
pulses and repetitive phras- keys until you find a sample that fits best in your
es of single notes and har- composition.
er, since Aura weighs in at roughly 1GB and Hybrid monies, to full chord progressions. Most of the There are also some very nice multisampled
at just under 1.5GBrelatively small footprints material has vaguely minor or sus qualities that synths that would sound equally at home in
compared to some of the mondo-sized libraries on would work well for evoking a variety of moods, soundtrack work as well as certain electronic and
the market. While it is possible to access Aura and from brooding and pensive to frantic and fearful. pop styles. I found plenty of great drones and
Hybrid from NIs free Kontakt Player, this will only While everything is presented at the base pitch of basses that will be making their appearance in
provide time-limited usage of the sounds, so to get D, you can easily transpose on the fly using key- future cues.
the most from these instruments you really need switches at the lower end of the keyboard. 8Dio went the extra mile by including 67 im-
the full version of Kontakt. My only criticism is that the loops arent pre- pulse responses (IRs), which can be loaded into
Both instruments have a similar two-page sented in a sliced format with individual rhyth- Kontakts convolution reverb. These IRs (many
user interface that looks a lot like a dedicated soft mic components mapped along the keyboard of which are also included with Aura) cover the
synth. The Main page offers several tone shaping similar to a REX file. If you want to create new gamut from custom-sampled rooms and halls to
controls, including a three-band EQ with select- material by rearranging individual hits within a the more exotic, allowing you to create new tex-
able mid frequency, as well as cutoff frequency rhythmic pattern, I recommend purchasing the tures and sonic landscapes.
and resonance for the lowpass filter (this isnt user Stylus RMX version.
selectable from the UI, although you can edit the Sonically, these are some of the most ear- Conclusions
instruments filter type if youre using the full ver- catching and musically inspiring sounds Ive had Rhythmic Aura and Hybrid Tools are top-notch
sion of Kontakt). Youll also find attack and release the pleasure to play. As I was auditioning instru- collections that carve out their own niche and
controls, along with speed and amount settings for ments during the course of the review, I kept take the notion of musical sound design to new
the audio gate, which can be applied to create cool getting distracted with new compositional ideas heights. The amount of creative flexibility and
rhythmic effects. Speaking of, both instruments that would start to take shape as I layered and production-ready quality that Hybrid Scoring
feature a set of built-in effects (Aura has seven, Hy- combined different samples. I especially appreci- Tools affords is hard to beat, and especially for
brid has eight with the addition of flanger), which ate that nearly all of the rhythmic performances media composers who produce music to dead-
you can tweak from the Effects page. are four-bar phrases, so they dont get boring the lines, these tools are invaluable.
Whats more, the effects can be momentarily way that one- and two-bar loops often can. Many
engaged by pressing specific keys at the top of other similar products suffer from short loops
the keyboard. This lets you play the effects in kudos to 8Dio for giving us the musical goods.
real time (though you cant trigger the gate from
the keyboard, which some competing products Hybrid Tools
Bottom Line
offer). It gets more interesting when you add As its name suggests, Hybrid Tools gives composers Some of the best sounds for modern
the modulation wheel, which is mapped to filter and producers over 900 musical sound design music-to-picture on the market.
cutoff, and the pitch wheel, which is mapped to samples organized into 38 instrument presets,
lo-fi amount. Putting all of these performance each of which represents a sound category. The Rhythmic Aura Vol. 1: $249
controls together, youre able to improvise with idea is that each instrument provides a certain set download | Hybrid Tools Vol. 1:
the sounds and create evolving passages without of tools that you can add to your tracks. $249 download
having to overdub a bunch of continuous control- Categories include Boomers (low impacts,
ler moves. Nice. low frequency swells, etc.), Downers (similar
to boomers, but with downward pitch shifting
Rhythmic Aura characteristics), Impacts, Rhythms, Synths, and
According to the documentation, Aura is cre- more. Many of the categories offer clean ver- Video walk-through
ated entirely from acoustic source material that sions, referring to less distorted sounds that are of 8Dio library
has been further manipulated to produce 540 meant to be very friendly to all styles from epic features.
organic arpeggiations. Its not all truly acoustic hybrid orchestration to electronica and pop, and
material, as there are electric and acoustic-electric gritty versions, which are more distorted and

07.2014 Keyboard 59


Steven Wilson Snap Judgment

PROS Inspiring sounds

geared towards TV, lm, and
game soundtracks with a
dark edge. Great collection
of guitars and basses with a
BY ROB SHROCK musical set of articulations.
Excellent use of effects for
unsettling ambiances and
and sound design expert Steven Wilson (prog solo artist and also frontman of engine adds new guitar amp
Porcupine Tree) and Doug Rogers of EastWest. Ghostwriter utilizes EastWests simulator and Echoplex EP-1
new Play 4 engine, which now features a new amp simulator and Echoplex EP-1 delay. Tons of personality.
delay designed specically for this library. Going by the name and product
description, I initially thought Ghostwriter was going to be a collection of sampled CONS Specic focus
phrases, like many libraries that use the construction kit approach to build of instrumentation and
up soundtracks. Thats not the case. With over 60GB of guitars, basses, drums, mood make it a set of very
keyboards, vocals, and a few random odds and ends, Ghostwriter is intended to interesting colors rather than
inspire composition through a collection of dark, moody sounds focusing clearly on a full palette. Drum kit sounds
rock instrumentation. This is accomplished through the masterful use of instrument are limited.
choice and effects to create an eerie and sometimes disturbing sonic landscape.

60 Keyboard 07.2014
Instruments mostly on the elaborate textures achieved with of mic choices, and you cant blend two mic or
Ghostwriters instruments are divided into six guitars and basses: Its harder to do this well, and amp combinations; its simply a large collection
folders of Guitar, Bass, Keys, Drums, Vocals, and thats the point. of presets. Other than the Vox AC-30, its not
Miscellaneous. The library is very well organized, The drum folder is built primarily around two visually obvious what model of amp youre us-
and most of the individual instruments have very kits, with an alternate snare provided for some ing. However, they largely sound really good as a
detailed names that let you clearly know what patches. You get the kit dry, with gated reverb, way to further mangle the sounds, and each amp
youre selecting, like Baritone Marshall Dirty Pwr- run through various mono amps (via the simula- model allows you to tweak the drive, bass, mid,
Chords in the Baritone Les Paul folder under Gui- tor), and with various effects. Snare 1 usually treble, and master volume.
tars. With so much great content to wade through gives you the options of snares on, snares on and The new EP-1 Delay allows you to set the delay
and learn, this makes it simple and efficient to wet, and snares off. Snare 2 is just an alternate time either in milliseconds or sync to your host
navigate the library and is greatly appreciated. drum with snares on. with a specific beat relation (like a quarter-note).
By far, the greatest attention is given to the I did wish there was more content in the drum Controls for flutter, drive, echo time, repeats
guitars, and it will take some time to explore all department. I understand Ghostwriter isnt in- and level are provided. There are no controls for
the various articulations and sonic creations. tended to be a full drum library; and there are creating panning delays or the sort; again, its not
The guitars are provided in a myriad of ways, like many other great rock drum libraries to be had, designed for that. The delay remains in stereo for
direct, dirty, heavy, spacey, modulated, driven, including EastWests own Ministry of Rock 1 and 2. stereo patches, and it really adds more depth and
re-amped, and so on. Each sound is tastefully But I would have liked more articulations, better flexibility to the sounds, overall. Alongside the
created specifically for the instrument at hand, cymbals, and a few more kit variations to feel like built-in convolution reverb and SSL modules in
and practically everything is useful in one way or I had it all covered inside Ghostwriter. The effects Play 4, theres a lot of sound design power in the
another. and mangled sonic variations provided are really hands of the user.
Once you find an instrument and sonic ap- good and creative; however, Id like to be able to
proach you like, youre typically given a number swap out a kick or set of toms, considering you Conclusions
of performance articulations, like sustained (with cant individually tweak the envelope or tuning of Once I understood the approach to Ghostwriter,
and without vibrato), staccato, muted, muted individual kit elements. I felt everything ultimately I was able to realize its full potential as a collec-
staccato, round-robin, and so on. Theres a Master had a sameness to it that lent itself to simple pat- tion of inspiring sounds. For me, simply going
patch for each flavor that contains all the articu- terns rather than detailed drum performances that through the sounds would inspire a riff or motif
lations in a key-switched version; however, these sound real, in spite of the imaginative variations that I could build on quickly.
patches obviously have much larger memory re- of the effects. Perhaps that was just my experience Creating authentic modern, interesting cine-
quirements and are slower to load. with it, but Im looking at it from the perspective matic textures in this genre is hard work, as it takes
There are only three basses included, but they of what personally inspires me. a real knowledge of tone and effects to sound mas-
all sound amazing and cover a lot of bottom end The miscellaneous sounds round out the col- terful. Given Wilsons experience and credits, I felt
territory. The Tunnel and Obliterator basses lection. Across the board, its evident that a lot of there was a lot of skill and integrity sitting next to
are given just a few variations, like normal, fuzz, time and effort went into creating these sounds, me as I begin exploring the various textures. When
swell, and filtered. The Spector bass is a more all with an ear towards coming up with cool you need dark and otherworldly, Ghostwriter is a
developed collection with DI, amp, grunge, edgy, things appropriate for the type of instrument in beautifully sinister collection of sonic colors.
fuzz, re-amped, and reverberant sub-folders. Fin- hand. This is where the experience and recording
gered, picked, sustains, muted, slides and expres- skills of Wilson and Rogers really shine through,
sive vibrato give you a lot of choices for building as pretty much everything here is useful in some
some very musical bass parts. Tweaking or adding
additional processing from the effects built into
way for this type of genre work.
Bottom Line
the Play engine (EastWests own sample playback Amp Models and Effects Eerie and otherworldly, Ghostwriter
platform, baked into their virtual instruments) In general, generous use of effects is employed to marries modern cinematic and
gives you a wide berth of bass possibilities from create all these great textures. Some effects are progressive rock tones into an
thunderous to unsettling to downright nasty. integrated into the samples (like a Leslie) and at unholy union that is ghoulishly
The keyboards and vocals are a lot lighter in the other times the effects are added within the Play great fun.
choices. Vocals are mostly male or female oohs and 4 engine, including the new amp simulator and
ahs, but theyve been given some amped, filtered, EP-1 delay. $395 street
and ambient variations. Keyboards and mallets are The amp simulator comes with 80 presets that
a cool collection of tripped-out Clavinet, pianos, sound killer. If it were a standalone plug-in, Id
Mellotron strings, celesta, glockenspiel, vibes, use it. Common amps like Fender, Marshall, Mesa
Farfisa, and a few other things. Theyve all been Boogie, Soldano, and Vox are well represented, as
processed pretty heavily and made into something are less common amps by Engl, Divided by Thir- Original audio
cool and eerie that would fit right into an episode teen, ToneKing, and Cameron heads. Most mod- examples.
of American Horror Story. Bizarre keyboard-based els give you different mic choices built into the
textures are easily found in other libraries and preset name, like Aguilar Bass Rig AKG D-112
synths, so I understand why Ghostwriter focuses or Roland 421. Its not an exhaustive collection

07.2014 Keyboard 61



FOR A COMPANY THAT MADE ITS NAME CREATING TOP-NOTCH SOFT SYNTHS, tion functions, which include forward, backward,
Arturias relatively recent plunge into analog waters is quickly becoming a deep-sea back-and-forth, and random.
dive. Case in point, their new BeatStep control surface. On the surface, the Beat- All in all, the BeatStep Is another awesome
Step looks like a slimline drum pad controller that bears a passing resemblance to product from Arturiaa company thats clearly
the Korg NanoPad, but swim a little further and youll discover that its also a fan- on a roll when it comes to delivering what the
tastic addition to a modern analog rig, thanks to its gate and CV outputs. modern market wants, at a price that real musi-
cians can actually afford. Thats why were award-
The BeatSteps small form factor and sturdy con- producer with a fair amount of analog gear, this ing it a Key Buy.
struction makes it a shoo-in for laptop performers. really got my juices flowing.
With space at a premium in a typical gig bag, the You can edit the sequences either directly
BeatSteps combination of price and functionality from the knobs or via the software editor, so live
(topped off with tons of multi-colored LEDs) will be performance tweaks are part and parcel of the Snap Judgment
fairly irresistible for DJs of all shapes and sizes. BeatStep experience. Whats more, you can save
As a pad controller, BeatSteps MIDI features specific key and scale information as part of any PROS Sixteen pads with
are remarkably robust, thanks in a large part to of its 16 presets, so flubbed notes are only an op- customizable velocity curves
its companion software that delivers a high de- tion if youre feeling bold. plus 16 endless knobs. CV and
gree of customization in a clean, intuitive inter- The sequencers clock is strictly USB, so you cant Gate outputs. Software editor
face. In addition to the expected MIDI controller sync the BeatStep from other analog gear, but for offers extensive customization
mapping options, users can easily edit perfor- 99 percent of users this wont be a problem. On the and sequence editing.
mance details like whether the knobs respond other hand, the swing parameter can only be edited
in absolute or relative modes, how quickly they from the software, which is a bit of a drag after be- CONS Sequencer clock is
respond to fast or slow knob twists (think of it coming addicted to the Roland Aira TR-8s continu- strictly USB. Non-realtime
as rotational velocity), and the velocity response ously variable swing in a performance context. swing parameter can only
of the pads (including exponential, linear, loga- While the step sequencer can be used tradition- be edited via software.
rithmic, and maximum velocity). Each of these ally for musical material, in conjunction with synths
configurations can be saved as a preset. This is
a lovely touch, as bangin tracks often result in
like Arturias own MiniBrute and MicroBrute or my
trusty Roland SH-101, I had even more fun using it Bottom Line
overly enthusiastic playing, while chill tracks tend to modulate parameters on my Tom Oberheim and Affordable Swiss Army Knife
to require a bit less performance bombast. Doepfer analog gear. Being able to sync the tempo sequencer and controller for both
Between these controller features and the to my DAW via USB, then use the CV out to modu- analog and digital rigs.
overall construction, the BeatStep is already a late the filters in my rig while tweaking the sequenc-
solid value, but Arturia also included a remark- es in real time felt a lot like magic in the context of $129.99 list | $99 street
ably capable step sequencer that works for both a studio session. Things got even more interesting
MIDI and analog CV/gate applications. As a when I applied the BeatSteps nifty pattern direc-

62 Keyboard 07.2014
S P E C I A LT Y A D V E R T I S I N G S E C T I O N Product Spotlight

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07.2014 Keyboard 63

Acclaimed singer and songwriter

Dan Wilson has been a frequent
presence atop the pop charts
since his 1998 song with Semisonic
Closing Time rocketed to number
one. Wilson has written songs with
artists including Adele, Pink, Nas,
Taylor Swift, John Legend and
others. His new solo album, Love
Without Fear, is out now. Find out
more at

1. Work on Your Music Every

Day, Inspired or Not

Once during my time as an art student, I com-
plained to my instructor, Tina Stack, that I wasnt
VE inspired to work that day, so I was going to knock

L EARNED off early. She said something that surprised me
and that has helped me ever since: Youre better

off staying and working, whether youre inspired

or not. The muse doesnt always visit. But when
she does, you need to be in your studio, working. If
the muse visits your studio when youre at the bar,
she cant do you any good. There was something
so liberating about the idea that I didnt need to be
inspired every minute of the day to be a real artist
BY DAN WILSON that I could get meaningful work done whether I felt
inspired or not. And even though I wasnt inspired
at that moment, inspiration would eventually come.
WHEN I WAS A VERY LITTLE KID MY PARENTS TOOK ME TO SWIM LESSONS. This turned out to be completely true. Over time, I
On my rst day, standing at the end of the diving board, waiting to jump in, I froze have learned that most great painters paint every
with fear. I couldnt climb down. I couldnt jump. What happened next was terrible day, most novelists write every day, and most great
but also helpful. My big, blonde, Norwegian-American swim teacher strode up musicians make music every day, whether or not
onto the diving board, wrapped me in her arms, and jumped into the pool with theyre feeling it.
me. My eyes were open as we went under, and I can still remember rising through
the blue and popping up to the surface with her. I was ne! There was nothing to
be afraid of. I enjoyed the water ever after.
So many musicians I know spend their careers standing at the top of the diving
2. Have an Artistic Practice
Prince has a great song called There Is
Joy in Repetition. Is there something about your
board, waiting to jump in. I wish I could wrap them all up in my arms and jump in artistic practice that you can do every day? At
with them. Songwriters, here are some good ways to get yourself into the pool. the same time every day, even? Its challenging to

64 Keyboard 07.2014
Categories Acoustic Products & Services Sounds, Sequences & Software
Acoustic Products & Services

Sounds, Sequences, & Software

Buying or selling instruments through our Classified

Ads offers you convenience, a big marketplace, and
a wide range of instruments and prices. However,
buying mail-order does have its drawbacks, too.
Keyboard Magazine suggests the following
guidelines to help the buyer and the seller in
these transactions: 1) Get a written description
of the instrument, which should include the serial
number. 2) Get front and back photos of the
instrument. 3) Get a written purchase agreement,
with a 24-hour approval clause allowing the buyer
to return the instrument for a full refund if it does
not meet reasonable expectations.

To adverTise, CoNTaCT:
specialty sales advertising, West
Michelle Eigen, (650) 238-0325
specialty sales advertising, east
Jon Brudner, (917) 281-4721

07.2014 Keyboard 65
only are other musicians good cheerleaders for great
music, but theyre also going to be crucial to your
There was something
steven cohen

own musical efforts. When Im at an impasse in the

so liberating
studio, when I cant figure out a great next verse for
a song, when I want to make a gig more interesting
and entertaining, I find the most effective trick is
about the idea that getting another musician involved.

I didnt need to be
4. Hang Out With

inspired every
Musicians, Be a Friend,
and Help Somebody

minute of the
This is a life youre trying to create here, an artists
life. Its not a windfall, or a payday, or a brand. Your
biggest and most complex creative project is the cre-
day to be a real ation of an artists life. And one thing that makes an
artists life worth living is the wonderful company
artistthat I could of other artists. Musicians are the funniest, silliest,

get meaningful
most generous, spontaneous, and overly dramatic
tribe of people in the world. By being a musician,

work done whether

you already have earned the amazing right to hang
out and have a beer with them, to help them move
house, to date them, and to bail them out when
I felt inspired or not. theyre in trouble. Dont forget about these things,
because theyre almost the best part. A teacher of
arrange your life so that you can have an artistic mine, Ron Jones, says: Work a lot, yes; work six
practice, but its not impossible, and its worth the days and nights a week, but save one day or night to
effort. Every weekday morning, after getting the hang out with musicians.
kids off to school, I try to play the piano for half and turning them into titles. I ended up writing a
an hour. I play Broadway standards and jazz hits
from the middle of the last century: Duke Ellington,
Harold Arlen, Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter, Wayne
lot of the album during that time. And I rode that
creative wave during the weeks to follow, even after
the song-a-day experiment was over. I owe Closing
5. Working on Music You
Love Is a Long-Term
Investment. Working on Music
Shorter, Charles Mingus, and Leonard Bernstein. Time, among other songs, to the artistic momen- You Hate is a Short-Term Hedge.
Its a joy for me, partly because I like the sense of a tum I got from that crazy month. Go for the Long Haul.
simple routine, partly because reading music is an Artist Tom Sachs says, The only reward for work,
interesting challenge, and partly because I know
Im loading up my imagination with great melodies.
After Im done with the greats, I start working on
3. Let Your Audience
Teach You
The best thing you can do to improve your songs is
is more work. Its hard to overemphasize how true
this is. Nobody in this gig wants to retire at age 35;
I dont care what you say. If youre a real musician,
my own music. The excitement of Ellington carries to play them for people, even if you dont feel like youll be stuck with this inconvenient obsession
me through, even when my own song might not be they are finished or good enough or original for the rest of your life. Which means most of your
quite figured out. enough. Dont wait for some magical readiness time will be spent working, and very little time will
Experimenting with new artistic practices can to descend upon you. You are ready now. Open be left for relaxing on the yacht that you buy with
be a fun game in itself. Among the most fruitful mic. Church talent show. A party or gathering with your royalties. If you succeed, the world will flood
songwriting times Ive ever had were two stretches friends. When you play your song for people, you get you with requests for more of whatever music has
when I wrote a song a day, every day, for a month. the amazing feedback effect of an audience. Its like brought you the most success. So if youre doing
The first time I did it was when I was writing mate- a magical kind of critique that needs no words. You music you love, in a style and a direction that you
rial for Semisonics Feeling Strangely Fine album. I will learn from the audiences reaction which songs love, your reward will eventually be this: the chance
got the song-a-day idea from a fellow songwriter, are good and which need work. You will learn which to do more music that you love. If youre doing
and it seemed interesting. The rules were that you of your tricks are worth using over and over (of music that you despise, just for the money, your
had to finish the song, from beginning to end, every course youll use the same tricks over and overwe reward will be to do more of the same music you
note of melody and every word of lyrics, by the end all do) and which trick isnt really a trick at all. And despise. I have friends who study the Top 10 and try
of that day. Importantly, it didnt have to be good; youll start to get yourself hooked on playing your to cop the sounds and styles of the Top 10. These
it just had to be done. Then the next day, you would songs for people, which is the biggest trick of all. friends dont even enjoy the sounds and styles of
start a new one. For the first two weeks, it felt weird Another great hidden benefit of getting in front the Top 10; they just think that by studying this
and artificial. The stuff I was writing all seemed a of audiences is that youre way more likely to meet music, theyll find their own paths to success. What
little forced. I nearly gave up the experiment. But other musicians that way. Musicians are always the a nightmare! I say, study greatness! What music
then suddenly I turned a corner, and writing a song first group of people to discover a new songwriter do you love most deeply? What really moves you?
became really easy. I found myself continuously or player. So you might find that during your first Study that with great passion, and try to follow that
transforming small moments from everyday life year of shows, most of the people who show up are music. Then one day the world will be asking you to
into metaphors, stealing remarks my friends made other musicians. This is a good thing, because not make more of what you love.

66 Keyboard 07.2014