From treated trombones to tweaked-out trumpets, Heavyocity's Forzo provides a 21st Century take on virtual brass.
Heavyocity's Novo Modern Strings, reviewed by Robin Bigwood in SOS November 2017, presented naturalistic, multisampled Traditional patches alongside more experimental, synthetic Evolved sounds. Follow-up Forzo uses the same engine to do for orchestral brass what Novo did for strings.
In Forzo, the Traditional synth engine is joined by two Evolved engines called Brass Designer and Brass Loop Designer. Each of these is to all intents and purposes identical to the equivalents found in Novo, barring a handful of differences appropriate to brass rather than strings. The Evolved engines, particularly the Brass Designer, are complex beasts that will be discussed in due course; it's also well worth reading Robin's Novo review, as the principles described there apply equally to Forzo.
Recorded at the famous Skywalker Sound (see what I did there?) under the aegis of composer Jason Graves and Hollywood film score engineer Satoshi Mark Noguchi, Forzo assembles an epic 26-piece brass ensemble comprising 12 horns, four trumpets, eight trombones and two tubas, totalling 14.6GB of data (28.7GB uncompressed). The library is organised as nine Kontakt NKI patches, with 250 snapshots to get you started.
The Traditional category presents each section individually as playable multisampled patches, plus a Full Ensemble patch that renders the entire 26-piece ensemble playable from the one patch. Unlike your typical Full Ensemble patch, which simply maps and layers the individual sections together, Heavyocity state that Forzo's version was recorded with all the sections playing together in the same room at the same time, giving it a natural sense of acoustic realism. (Quite how they dealt with the issue of spill is not mentioned.)
Back to the individual sections, the Horns are represented by two NKIs: one 'normal' and the other Stopped (with mutes). Trombones occupy two NKIs: Tenor and Bass/Contrabass. The sections' articulations are selected by keyswitches over a range of F6 (note 101) to C7, duplicated across C-1 (note 12) to G-1 to suit those who prefer their keyswitches at the left-hand end of the keyboard. Even so, my 76-note controller has to be transposed down by two octaves to access these, which is why I personally prefer Spitfire Audio's system whereby the keyswitches can be dragged around en masse to wherever you prefer.
Traditional patches have eight articulation slots; on loading, these are populated with a predetermined selection, but they can be customised with whatever you want from the extensive selection available (see 'Traditional Instruments & Articulations' box). These range from the usual sustains and staccatos to swells, crescendi, aleatorics and extended techniques such as clusters, cluster swells, atonal pedals, random staccato patterns and rhythmical pulses — the available choices vary depending on each instrument section. The unmuted Horns have the largest variety, with 21 possible articulations.
Whilst it would be...
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