I was very impressed with Gothic Instruments’ DRONAR Kontakt instrument when I tried it, and now the developer has come up with DRONAR Guitarscapes, an additional module that works as an instrument in its own right. It’s a 6 GB download and works in the full version of Kontakt, though not the free version. You have to navigate to the files rather than loading it as a library, but this is easy enough to do.
Time to ‘Scape?
As the name might suggest, Guitarscapes uses samples of guitars as the basis of its sounds though they’re barely recognizable as such, by design. As with DRONAR, the samples are merely a starting point and the instrument’s various stages are used to turn them into something far more complex and interesting. The main page contains a set of quick controls for fast tweaking of the key parameters: intensity, movement, FX sample level and the level of the three notes (hi, mid and lo) as well as reverb and delay levels. This is a good place to start if you’re looking to create a particular kind of sound and don’t yet want to get into the fine-grained controls.
Moving on to the Expert section, you get a control set for each of the three notes plus the FX sample section that lets you select a source sample or effect, change levels, filtering, tone and more. Sound is generated by layering FX loops and three different notes, so you can change a lot in this section. There’s a Randomize button that will insert completely new samples and a Smart Bass control: the instrument adds notes above and below the one you press automatically to create a bigger sound.
The LFO and FX section is used to control the behavior of modulation and the various onboard effects, while an arpeggiator section provides access to three arpeggiators that can work on any of the four sections, making for a great deal of movement within the sound if you so desire. A Rhythm Editor page allows the creation of patterns regenerated from live played rhythms and you can do things like adding accents, triplets and more. Reference to the manual is advisable just as long as you’re getting to know your way around the instrument, since the nature of the sounds means it’s not always immediately clear by listening what changes are happening when you’re in these deep menu sections. Last but not least, a Master FX section lets you process the output.
The multiple layers used mean that the sounds are big and cinematic, and the nature of the samples and the way they are processed makes this an ideal choice for scoring any kind of movies, TV, games or experimental music. The emphasis is more on the “scapes” than the guitars but that’s the right approach, and results in an instrument that sounds gorgeous: epic and bold, or up-close and insidious when required. The quick sound editing mode is the most gratifying since so many of the patches lend themselves instantly to use in soundtrack work. The more detailed sections provide a much greater degree of control, for those wanting to delve deeper. It’s very affordable too, so well worth a look.
Price: £59.95 inc VAT. / Around $80 USD
Pros: Excellent soundscape creation instrument. Perfect for scoring. Simple mode is quick and easy, and yields great results. More detailed patch tweaking available if you want it. Affordable. Very flexible.
Cons: The nature of long drones means paying attention when you edit to keep track of what’s going on. Doesn’t work in free Kontakt player.