An excellent tool for composers wishing to create a rhythmic foundation quickly.
Pros: – Loads of cool new rhythm – Quick workflow – Random button
Cons: – Limited tweakability/automation
Sample Logic makes massive and creative Kontakt sample instruments that straddle the instrumental and sound design worlds; super useful tools for composers for media.
Rhythmology is a step into the world of rhythm, pulse and beat. It’s just over 5GB of audio loops.
Rhythmology is a rack of 4 separate step sequencers, with just under 500 presets that load up what is essentially a construction loop kit of various beats and rhythmic melodies and harmonies. You can load a multi of 4 loops together, or you can load loops separately, and there are presets for both methods of loading. There is a menu based browser that enables the user to filter down the genre and mood of the sequence they wish to load.
Playing the instrument is simple. All four loops together? Hit C3. D3 – G3 are each separate loop respectively. Done.
Here’s some of the type of sounds you can create:
Rhythmology takes looped audio patterns of varying length bars (1, 2 or 4), and breaks them up into a grid of beat segments, that are then sequenced into the selected channel. As a sequencer, Rhythmology is pretty fantastic. Most of the parameters on each of the 4 sequences are malleable. Want a 7 bar sequence that goes forwards and backwards, playing the 4th segment of the loop every other note? Done.
The audio loops vary wildly. You’ve got predominantly a good chunk of drums: electronic, world drums, and a lovely variety of breakbeat kit stuff. But that’s just the beginning. There are loops of just cymbals, synth riffs, broken up vocals, electric and bass guitar riffs, tweaked acoustic instrument loops, and a fair amount of sound design stuff in there too – I definitely heard an electric drill in there somewhere.
The loops are just numbered, with a clickable heart if you hear something you like. You can filter down with the massive menu – insane vocal destruction being three filter words you can select for example. The audio is all cut up excellently. I couldn’t hear any clicks or pops when cycling through the audio, indicating a lot of time and care going into the slicing and dicing of the loops.
Each of the four sequences has its own FX section, with a click down button on the left-hand side opening up a larger sequenced grid with 5 set FX, and 6 user-selectable FX (from a list of 22). Each of the FX is sequenced to be on or off to match the beat of the sequencer, with the exception of volume, pan and transpose, which are more positional than just on or off.
This is where you can really get into the meat of the sequence, and start bringing it to life, by adding some movement to the sound (think a bit of stutter, delay, reverse, transposition, and then all the effects: reverb, transient, tonal delay, delay, vowel filter, tape saturation, to name a few) Each of them you can turn on and off with each beat.
There are preset patterns for each of the FX channels to flick through and give inspiration if you so need it. A click on each of the FX gives you a few parameters to tweak, including, bizarrely, one fixed parameter per effect that you can change with each beat, as a sequencer within a sequencer. So, for example, you can change the delay dry/wet mix amount with each beat, creating a bit more movement.
What I don’t get is why only one parameter can be manipulated like that, and why they chose those particular parameters. The one effect that I really wanted to be able to shift parameters about on was the stutter effect. I feel like Sample logic missed a beat here, as the stutter effect sounds very ‘machine gun’ and is quite hard to use subtly when you can’t manipulate the parameters as you go.
Having said that, there’s a massive amount of flexibility within the software, and on top of all that, if you can’t find the sound you’re looking for, there’s always the famous Sample Logic RANDOM button, which enables complete randomisation of pretty much anything (user selected) within each patch.
I love this button, as you can randomise stuff until you hear what you like, lock down the bits you like and keep randomising until you come up with a totally fresh idea. It’s great for kickstarting something new, instead of trudging through presets.
Finally, there’s a mix and master page where you can adjust the levels, pan and eq of each channel. You can also adjust the attack and delay of each slice within the sequencer, which can create some nice choppy, clicky sounds if that’s your bag. There’s also a cool ‘energise’ knob which adds excitation across the spectrum. To top it off, there are 6 user selectable effect slots with 22 fx to choose from, to glue your sound together.
As usual, Sample Logic have spared no corner to the GUI, and everywhere you look there’s a button to press, or a knob to tweak. Everything is cleverly interlinked, and you can get some pretty drastic changes to the sound very quickly.
This is an excellent tool for composers wishing to create a rhythmic foundation quickly. The 5GB of material provided is more than enough to get the creative brain tripping over itself coming up with loads of cool new rhythms.
The FX and sequence options are ample: standard for sample logic. This instrument is perfect for soundtrack composers looking for that creative dramatic bed to build the rest of the track on.
One thing I noticed, however, was I found that once settled on the rhythm you want, there’s not much room for automating it, which is both a blessing and a curse. It’s already complex enough to create unusual, intricate rhythms. But aside from layering the 4 layers separately, there’s not much tweaking that can be done to evolve the rhythm over time, without getting seriously caught up in the massive automation web that is Kontakt.
This tool is perfect if you’re wanting a solid, steady rhythm that will be the foundation for a soundbed. But if you want it to be focal, changing and evolving, then you’re going to have a battle on your hands. Of course, you can just add external fx to the channel to create movement, but there’s nothing to shift the actual sounds around easily from within the program.
Sample Logic has added NKS control, but without actually owning a NI keyboard, I can’t say if that solves that problem. However, that aside, you’re looking at a seriously heavyweight rhythmic tool that will come in immensely handy for your soundtracking needs.
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About The Author
Composer/Producer, and keyboard player. He has written and recorded soundtracks for a wide variety of media and co-owns DOsounds.com with Jake Owen, a music production company that gives him an excuse to buy more analog gear.
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