Spaced Out Sounds with Spitfire Audio: Kepler Orchestra

Complex poly rhythms? Cyclical scales? Inspired by Terry Riley and Philip Glass? That was more than enough to get me interested.. Along with the Johannes Kepler title reference, it felt like this sample library was made specifically for my own tastes!

Spitfire Audio’s KEPLER ORCHESTRA — like many of their top tier libraries (such as the Bernard Hermann toolkit review I posted a while back), was recorded at London’s legendary AIR Studios’ Studio 1. The entire polyrhythms feature is centred around their newly developed and rather impressive sounding, “interactive Systems Grid articulation mapping tool”, based on its innovative Evo Grid technology, which apparently will “allow anyone to easily write and create complex polyrhythms a la late-20th Century composers like John Adams, Steve Reich, and Terry Riley”, that’s me basically sold then!

The ‘Evo Grid’ is a fairly novel matrix approach to creating the poly rhythms, something I like about using modular synthesisers is running a sequencer module alongside a traditional DAW sequencer and this feels a along those lines, breaking out of the linear comfort can often result in an interesting (or accidental?) spark of inspiration. The grid itself is split by time divisions — duplet (pair of equal notes to be performed in the time of three), triplet (group of three equal notes to be performed in the time of two or four), quintuplet (group of five notes to be performed in the time of three or four), and septuplet (group of seven notes to be performed in the time of four or six), tempo locked to the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), which allows users to quickly create sophisticated combinations of different rhythms. I’ll be looking into mapping this to my Kenton midi controller to jam on-the-fly.

kepler orchestra, with new evo grid for repeating notes

In practice, one thing I did notice using the evo grid, is some of my arpeggiations/polyrhythms would result in audible clicks when changing chords, even after some meticulous quantising and aligning, this was with only one track and hitting around 38% CPU. I’m hoping this is a bug that will be remedied in an update, because it made some of my takes unusable.

warped instruments

Also included, is the complementary ‘warped’ instruments, which is a welcome surprise! A really nice sounding ambient synth with lots of variations to accompany the ‘main’ orchestral section, these ran without any of the glitches I was experiencing earlier.

Kepler Orchestra will be available at a special promotional price of £199 direct from the Spitfire site until 6th June 2019.

Psychotic Strings and Haunting Horns, with Spitfire’s Bernard Herrmann Composer Toolkit

To kick off the reviews section I was keen to get something really juicy to feature, and well, it doesn’t get much more succulent than a new orchestral library inspired by the works of legendary composer Bernard Herrmann. Anyone with even a passing interest in films will have heard the iconic ‘stabbing’ strings in Hitchcock’s Psycho and that butt-clenchingly tense Vertigo score, or the moody and melodic saxophone in Scorsese’s Taxi Driver.

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