This month I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing the new ‘Cinematic Keys’ sample library from Sample Logic (www.samplelogic.com). Now I’m sure that you all have many different piano libraries that you can go to- many of the top sample libraries have great libraries containing millions of round robin (different samples used when playing repetitive notes), multiple velocity layers and lots of different microphone positions. I was interested to see what Sample Logic could do with a piano aimed at more cinematic music.
Installation was fairly straightforward, a simple piece of software to download first before downloading the actual product (called Continuata which enables you to download and install the software just by having a serial number).
To give you a brief overview of the product, this is the Sample Logic description of Cinematic Keys –
CINEMATIC KEYS™ is a complete collection of 850+ traditional and mutilated Instruments & Multis derived entirely from recordings of keyboard instruments. Weighing in at over 8GBs, CINEMATIC KEYS not only includes amazing, ready-to-play, psycho-acoustic sampled melodic and percussive instruments, but uses these instruments to enter into the morphed world of score-ready hybrid sound design. CINEMATIC KEYS is powered by Kontakt Player.
What intrigued me about this product was a slightly different take on the standard piano sound. I was keen to look into the ‘mutilated instruments’ and the ‘score ready hybrid sound design’ that the company claims to have produced.
First of all, don’t think of this library as simply a piano library – it is so much more. It contains grand pianos, upright pianos, harpsichords, Wurlitzer’s, electric toy pianos, as well as sounds created by playing the piano in unusual ways (plucked, picked, and e bow style techniques).
Lastly, a major inclusion in the library is the whole ‘destroyed piano’ sound, where the company has taken an upright piano into a car garage and taken it too pieces using sledgehammers, machetes, blow torches and much more (what a recording session that would have been!). This produces some really unusual and interesting samples that are perfect for Horror, Sci Fi, Crime, Detective, and other shows of that nature.
Let’s get stuck into the instrument and open up some of the basic piano patches to start with. The patches are separated into the following sections
- Piano Acoustic
- Piano Effectual
How Does it Sound?
I started off in the Piano Acoustic section, where you have some basic piano patches. Check out my twinkling here –
Ok so the piano sound is not the most impressive sound, but this library is so much more.
Moving deeper into the Piano Acoustic section, I combined a few patches together with Delay and reverb to create the following –
This is where Cinematic Keys really excels, it is so much more than simply a piano sample library.
Moving on from the library, we have a wonderful Wurlitzer sound –
The company has gone beyond simply sampling these pianos, they have really gone into a lot of depth thinking about alternative ways to play and record each instrument. This is very evident in each section of this library, with many patches being played in a different manner and using different technologies (like Ebow for example)
The TOYS section is a wonderful collection of small Toy pianos that has a huge range of uses in all sorts of music.
The SYNTHS section is an interesting collection of ‘synth’ style sounds that have been morphed and changed from the original recordings of pianos. There are some great patches here aimed at dance music, and playable polyphonic synths.
The HARPSICHORD patches sound fantastic, and are a great addition to this library. I am using the Harpsichord more and more in my work, and really starting to appreciate its sound for film and TV use. Check out this small demo I made using the Arabic scale, and the Harpsichord Octave patch –
Now onto the seriously good part of Cinematic Keys. The two folders ‘Piano Effectual’ and ‘Arpeggiated’ are really where this library comes into its own.
First of all, the arpeggio function and trigger function of this instrument are incredible, and really give you so many more options above the arpeggio that comes built in with Cubase. It is quick to get results, and can provide hours of fun shaping the sound that you require.
If sitting around for hours shaping your sound is not really your thing, then the ‘Arpeggiated’ folder contains a great selection of ready made arpeggio sounds – perfect for Film and TV. I’m finding that arpeggios work wonders for background music. They have a little rhythm, but they don’t bring too much attention too the music (which the directors will love), and they are more creative and interesting than basic chords. Check out the demo I’ve created below using multiple arpeggio patches. This is 4 different arpeggio patches all moulded and shaped together with some panning, and tempo synced delay to really create a vast sound –
I’m finding that I am choosing multiple patches more and more these days and combining them to create something that is more than the sum of its parts. Sample Logic have really created a very playable library, and all of the patches work really well together effortlessly.
Some of these Arpeggio patches are so good and unique, they could easily find themselves on a feature length film score with no other instruments added – they are that good. They can also be thought of as a rhythmic texture from which to build a composition, and provide that ‘something different’ to a composition. The word Hybrid is used so much these days, but these arpeggios can really give your compositions that Hybrid sound and bring your music into the 21st century!
The interface needs a brief mention here – it looks fantastic. It is uncluttered, easy to navigate, and everything just works – other sample library developers take note! The Cinematic Keys interface is a breeze to work with – helping you get to what you need quickly and effortlessly.
Is It Worth the Price Tag?
In terms of cost, Cinematic Keys is not the cheapest library on the market, but it’s also not the most expensive. If you consider that you get so much more than just a basic piano library, then you are actually getting great value for money. I would encourage you to check out the You Tube video and look into the wide range of patches and instruments that you get – this is so much more than just another piano sample library.
Don’t forget – we’re running a competition to win Cinematic Keys at the moment. Enter here: http://filmandgamecomposers.com/giveaways/win-sample-logic-cinematic-keys/