Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Arpeggiators have long proven themselves to be a useful addition to the synth World, but with the development of programmable arpeggiators, the lines between step sequencing and arpeggiation have become blurred. This concept hasn’t always been one to make the leap to acoustic instrumentation, in no small part thanks to the intricacies of acoustic realism. Pathfinder Violin straddles this divide, in quite an inspired way. The basic concept is much like an arpeggiator; play a chord, and Pathfinder Violin will react to the notes that you play, corresponding to selected patterns or shapes.
Playing host to 2.6GB of compressed sample data, the 9000+ solo violin samples are organised in the background, according to the selected ‘path’. These paths can be adapted and edited, in order to handle as many notes as your fingers can muster (well, eight in total) creating lines and patterns which sound natural and effective.
This instrument is very visual in its concept; the left of the instrument window indicates the notes being played. If you play a triad, the three notes are named, and ordered from bottom to top. If you add a fourth note mid‑cycle, that note will be introduced on the next playing of the cycle loop. The path cycle defaults to a four‑bar loop, but this can be altered to suit a shorter number of bars or note values, down to a single crotchet. There’s also a Tempo Sync element, which will halve or double the cycle’s speed, and hence length.
Editing may also be taken further, thanks to the editing mode where you can build and play your own paths.
A large number of preset paths have been included with the instrument, ranging from plain sustained notes to arpeggio‑based movements. The latter include the ability to move swiftly or legato‑glide, with a highly effective sense of portamento. The net result is that the playing of a chord will yield beautiful polyphonic movement, which can be adapted by altering notes or switching up the chosen path via keyswitching. It’s a clever concept, and one that yields results quickly and impressively. Editing may also be taken further, thanks to the editing mode where you can build and play your own paths. This can be incredibly exacting, as you prescribe exactly which note from your chord heads where, along with the ability to truncate notes and phrases.
The slower‑moving part leading is very realistic indeed. There is often a sense of feathered bowing, which sounds exceptionally natural, although I did notice that with some of the faster phrase movements, there was a slight sense of note granulation. There is a built‑in 50ms delay, which will require a degree of on‑screen nudging; de rigeur for anyone working with orchestral samples!
Pathfinder Violin is a very desirable package, delivering quick and effective results for solo violin interest at an attractive price.