Review: Sonokinetic Capriccio

Capriccio from Sonokinetic is their largest cinematic sample library to date. Lynda Arnold delves into this unique product that provides high-quality orchestral sounds to composers of all levels.  

Sonokinetic recently released their newest orchestral phrase-based cinematic sample library called Capriccio. Capriccio builds on the success on Sonokinetic’s other phrase-based orchestral libraries that include Grosso, Minimal, Vivace, Tutti and Sultan Strings. Capriccio is their largest library release yet in terms of physical size and sound and includes new features and instrument additions, Runs and Melodic Percussion. I was intrigued and impressed by the demo compositions on their website and couldn’t wait to jump in and try it out. What I found after a bit of a learning curve, is a powerful composition tool for orchestral scoring that allows you to compose, edit, layer, arrange and customize typical instrument parts found in many cinematic orchestral scores. Whether you use a part here or there to add to an existing composition or arrange entire pieces using the phrases in Capriccio, this is a useful tool for composers at all levels limited only by one’ s imagination.

Figure 1 – The Six Instruments in Capriccio

Figure 1—The Six Instruments in Capriccio

Specs and Scope

Capriccio is a hefty, RAM heavy library, mostly due to the multiple microphone position options included for each instrument and phrase, but well worth the option to create orchestral realism. There is a ‘Lite’ version of each instrument featuring a combined microphone position if your computer can’t keep up. Of course you’ll get more spatial realism if you use the full version, but the Lite version is a nice option if you are using a phrase or two from the library to add to an existing composition. For my demo, I used the Lite versions of all the instruments and did my arrangement in Pro Tools 11. 

Capriccio comes in both 16- and 24-bit versions adding up to 54 GB of uncompressed content. Both 16- and-24 bit versions include over 38,000 samples, an impressive feat for an orchestral library of this kind. The sound quality of the phrases is wonderful too.

Using the Capriccio Interface

The Capriccio instrument interface in Kontakt 5 is clear, easy to use and well designed. The color variants for each instrument section in the orchestra are a nice touch. There are three layered parts for each instrument patch represented high to low pitch instruments with a variety of recorded phrases to choose from. The phrases range from repeated ostinato type rhythms to arpeggios of all kinds. There’s an option to mix together different phrases of the higher instruments, say violins, if you don’t need the cello or bass parts or vice versa. You can also create different instances of Capriccio in one Kontakt player if you want to separate the string sections into high, middle and low. I could go on, but I think you get the idea that Capriccio is highly customizable depending on your preferred workflow.

I found the information section (picture below) vital for getting to know the various parameters in the phrase windows and especially for learning the detailed key mapping setup for triggering mutes, presets and parts. Sonokinetic did a great job organizing the keyboard. I needed to hunt around on my controller for the mutes and presets initially, as the key mapped diagram does not have midi markers like C0 – C7 (this would be helpful in the future). I would suggest committing the parameter mapping to memory so you can work more efficiently. 

Figure 2 – Capriccio Information Section

Figure 2—Capriccio Information Section

Digging into the Phrases

There are 4 available phrase presets to choose from. Each Capriccio instrument is loaded with 4 presets with phrases that work well together as a template. You can easily swap phrases in and out with the phrase picker and integrate the sounds phrases with the others by using the offset slider in the global settings area at the bottom of the interface. Some combinations will work better than others and it’s wonderful to be able to experiment with these professionally performed and recorded bits. 

Figure 3—Engaging Offset Function in the Master Section

Figure 3—Engaging Offset Function in the Master Section

The recorded phrases fit well in a cinematic context, especially for creating suspense with minimal ostinato type lines or for layering parts from multiple sections to create typical, but effective polyrhythms for film sequences with more action. I loved working with the brass parts, especially the powerful low brass phrases. The woodwind layers are also quite nice, and will add a sense of whimsy and flight to any score.

Figure 4—Audition Phrases in the Phrase Picker Window

Figure 4—Audition Phrases in the Phrase Picker Window

It’s important to note that major or minor triads and their inversions trigger Capriccio phrases only. Also, it doesn’t matter if you play a root position or inversion of a triad, the phrase will still sound the same. The harmonic shift function in Capriccio allows you to mix and match major and minor triads to create different progressions and build 7th chords over root ostinatos, but you won’t find diminished or augmented chords included or any intervallic relationship you may use to create extreme harmonic tension. Still, there are so many permutations of the included material possible, that you can use your musical creativity in other ways.

Drag and Drop MIDI

Figure 5—Drag and Drop MIDI Area

Figure 5—Drag and Drop MIDI Area

One way to adapt instrument phrases and make them your own is by using the new Drag and Drop MIDI feature included in Capriccio. Any phrase can be dragged onto a track in your DAW and played by another instrument in your library. You can then edit the notes at will. Keep in mind that Capriccio will not play these MIDI phrases back. You’ll have to employ another orchestral instrument library. The ability to use these phrases outside of Capriccio is worth owning this library alone. The string and woodwind runs are a great example of how drag and drop MIDI can help save time if you don’t have great keyboard technique.

The ability to use these phrases outside of Capriccio is worth owning this library alone.

Setting up in the DAW

Figure 6—Capriccio Set-Up in Pro Tools

Figure 6—Capriccio Set-Up in Pro Tools

As I mentioned earlier, there are many ways to set up Capriccio in your DAW using the latest version of Kontakt. In my first demo session, I started with six tracks, each with a different instrument from Capriccio. As I started to build my arrangement, I programmed mutes and preset changes in some tracks and in other cases duplicated the instrument to use a different preset phrase. This helped ease my own workflow when mixing, compressing and editing the parts. The demo below contains only sounds from Capriccio with minimal effects and mixing so you can hear the basic sound of the library.

Here's a demo by Lynda Arnold using Capriccio:

Here's a demo track from the Sonokinetic website using Capriccio:


Round Up

Sonokinetic has a very unique product that will appeal to a variety of composers at all levels. Capriccio would work wonderfully in an educational context. Many producers and composers buy orchestral libraries, but lack the knowledge or experience to use all the instruments in an orchestra correctly or effectively. Capriccio is a product that starts to bridge this educational gap while offering a high quality orchestral sound at the same time. Composers can get to the task of working on their arrangement skills faster, increasing their knowledge and workflow. Listen to the demos and watch the informational videos to learn more about Capriccio and its many features.

Price: 299.90 Euros (Download or USB option)

Pros: Great Sound Quality and Orchestral Phrase Variety

Cons: RAM heavy, especially when using the 24 bit, full versions

Web: http://www.sonokinetic.net/products/classical/capriccio/

Lynda Arnold is a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist (voice, flute, piano, and guitar), and electronic musician/sound artist who has been producing, performing, and developing her own sound for over 12 years as ‘Divasonic;’ an ethereal, song driven electronic music project with multiple album and single releases on labels EMI, Cl... Read More

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