Hidden Gems In Kontakt’s Factory Library
Believe it or not there are a handful of very useable orchestral instruments included in the Kontakt Factory Library. If you are a new media composer who is still developing their collection of high end virtual instruments or if you are just looking for some alternatives or additions to your tried and true palette of sounds then I recommend checking these out.
Ensemble patches can offer a quick and easy way to sketch out an idea or act as a layering tool to add additional girth to existing parts. The VSL Brass Ensemble patch is a very capable instrument with several articulations: Sustain, Staccato and Sforzando among others. Like all the other VSL instruments mentioned in this article, this patch is created from material for some of VSL’s legacy products which were probably originally sold in gigasampler format. I am not sure of the exact instrumentation of this patch but it does has a wide range (C1 to D#5) which covers most of the brass choir’s range except the extreme lower end of the tuba. And offers up to 4 velocity layers which is as many as you might find even in some more expensive modern sample libraries.
Where to find it: Kontakt Factory Library > Orchestral > VSL Brass > Legacy VSL Instruments
The timpani drum is a low end, pitched instrument that is great for doubling with bass or horns or low brass any time additional impact is needed in an orchestral arrangement. Being the staple that it is for modern media composers, many third party developers have created some outstanding offerings of this instrument. The VSL legacy timpani is an extremely well recorded timpani with not 3, not 4 but 5 velocity layers! In both left and right hand variations (presumably you could combine both patches into a single round robin instrument for ease of programming). Also included in the folder are timpani rolls which are very conveniently looped.
Where to find it: Kontakt Factory Library > Legacy VSL Instruments > Timpani
If you are looking for a nice, clean harp suitable for ostinatos or simple melodies then this instrument will serve you well. Standard plucks as well as flageolets (harmonics) are included with up to 3 velocity layers.
Where to find it: Kontakt Factory Library > Legacy VSL Instruments > Harp
Mallets & Bells
Mallets and bells belong to that very rare category of instruments that most composers admit are so well sampled that unless given an unlimited time and budget, they’d probably be happy to use samples of. The VSL mallets are no exception and within the factory library are several pristinely recorded noteworthy instruments worth checking out:
Celesta – 4 Velocity Layers
Glockenspiel – 3 Velocity Layers
Marimba – 2 Velocity Layers
Xylophone – 3 Velocity Layers
French Horn Ensemble
This last instrument in the orchestral category is perhaps the most surprising of them all in particular because it incorporates legato, in this case by means of a KSP adaptation of VSL’s proprietary performance tool, which was previously created for emagic’s EXS24 sampler. It may not be the most agile or versatile legato, but it is perfectly suitable for performing melodies at a reasonable tempo. So if you have yet to invest in a dedicated brass library then this could be a great stop-gap.
Where to find it: Kontakt Factory Library > Orchestral > Legacy VSL Instruments > French Horn Ensemble > Legato Instruments > Frn Horn ens 4
If you have ever needed to lay down a driving, acoustic rhythm guitar part for a track but didn’t have access to an instrument or musician then the Akkord Guitar is worth looking at. The instrument offers major and minor chords with several strumming patterns. I have found myself reaching for the Akkord on a few occasions when I wanted to mockup a part that would be later recorded by a real musician and several other times when I just needed a very simple part to add some energy to a track.
Where to find it: Kontakt Factory Library > Band > Guitar > Akkord Guitar > Chords, Patterns
Saxophones and jazz brass are instruments that producers generally need less often than others, yet when they do have a need for them, they find themselves desperately searching for quality options. Unless you are a big band or musical theater arranger, you might not be willing to fork out the hundreds of dollars on specialised jazz centric virtual instruments, but you might still find yourself in a place eventually where you need to piece together a convincing horn section. The good news is that Kontakt includes a decent collection of instruments that can be useful in those times when you need to do some simple jazz or pop horn writing. Some instruments in this collection that I have found useful in my work are the baritone, alto and tenor Saxophones and the muted trumpet.
Where to find it: Kontakt Factory Library > Band > Horns
In addition to traditional acoustic instruments, Kontakt also includes a healthy number of sampled synthesizers. The list is quite huge so I won’t go into detail here but instruments in the: Pad, Choir, Bass, Lead, Mallet, Synth Drums, Arp, Seq categories are impressive and worth checking out. Presumably these are sampled from analog synthesizers but unfortunately (perhaps due to licensing reasons) the names of the sources are not provided. Regardless, there are some inspiring tones in here that any electronic, pop or cinematic producer would find useful in their work.
Where to find it: Kontakt Factory Library > Band > Synth
For some rather practical reasons, Kontakt’s factory library is mostly centered around instrumentation ubiquitous in traditional Western music. However, composers of world music need not feel left out. The world music collection of instruments that ships with Kontakt contains a few gems that might help you out when you are looking to authentically recreate or imply the sound of a particular region or culture.
Here is a short list of some of my favorites:
Strings > Oud, Sitar, Kora
Percussion > Daf, Darabuka, Riq
Flutes > Shakuhachi, Turkish Ney, Persian Ney
Where to find them: Kontakt Factory Library > World