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ProjectSAM Swing! More

Kontakt Instrument By Nick Magnus
Published August 2017

Swing! More (henceforth S!M) is the follow-up — indeed the sequel — to ProjectSAM’s Swing! Kontakt sample library. Subtitled ‘the other film orchestra’, the focus is once again on the jazzy film and TV scores of the ’60s, epitomised by the likes of Mancini, Schifrin, Barry and Goldsmith.

ProjectSAM Swing! MoreS!M’s library is broken down into seven categories: Big Band Chords, Brass, Guitars, Percussion, Piano, Saxes & Clarinet, Strings and Vocals. There’s particular emphasis on Brass and Reeds, augmenting those found in Swing!: clarinet, solo soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxes, a new tenor trombone, and a delightfully emphatic and farty bass trombone. ‘Full Big Band Chords’ comprises real section performances of 12 different chord voicings (sustained and staccato), each in five different inversions, in all 12 keys, mapped across the keyboard for easy access. ‘Trombone Chords’ similarly offer 11 or 12 voicings (depending on key) and four inversions.

The Guitars category adds Banjo, Mandolin and Jazz Guitar to the arsenal, the latter including nine tempo-sync’ed prerecorded phrases in all keys. Fretless and Electric basses each come with a selection of sustained, staccato, muted and glissando articulations.

Moving on to Percussion, ‘Big Band Drums’ provide perhaps S!M’s best highlight. Offering a playable kit (GM layout) and various tempo-sync’ed grooves, these sound authentically live and punchy, especially the Tom grooves (think Monroe, Grable or Hayworth sachaying onto a night-club stage). The spectacular collection of ‘crazy endings’ would challenge even the keenest drum programmer to replicate. Bongos, Congas, Shakers, Agogo bells and Windchimes complement the kit, with a rather nice Vibraphone bringing up the rear. Piano comes as two patches: ‘Swing’ and ‘Warm’, each having two tonal variations. Whilst no match for a dedicated piano VI, they sit quite comfortably doing a tinkling accompaniment behind everything else.

The Strings are surprisingly good considering they’re part of a much larger whole. The ‘All Strings’ patch lays a complete playable ensemble across the keyboard; separate ‘Celli and Basses’ and ‘Violins’ patches allow individual control of those sections (there are no violas). Arco sustain, tremolando and staccato articulations are provided, with modwheel dynamic crossfading between four layers from pp to f on the sustain and tremolando articulations. Pizzicato is additionally available for the Celli/Basses. Despite the Legato patch names here, there is no such behaviour on the strings: they’re 100 percent polyphonic.

Lastly, in the Vocals department are the women that go ‘Ooh’ and ‘Mmm’. Legato and Poly versions are provided; the legato here is particularly smooth, and perhaps the most successful legato scripting in this library.

As with Swing!, articulations are selected by a variety of methods: keyswitches, velocity or modwheel position, depending on the instrument loaded. Personally, I’d prefer if articulations were all keyswitchable, firstly for consistency, and secondly because the articulations selected by low key velocity often play at an unintentionally low volume. Perhaps ProjectSAM might consider disconnecting the velocity to volume response in such cases for the next update?

I should mention that during my explorations, I discovered a number of programming faux pas and other anomalies. However, it should be taken into account that the review copy is version 1.0, and ProjectSAM are aware of some issues, which will hopefully be addressed in the next update. Nevertheless, the overall content is great; the various sections blend together very naturally, and I recommend listening to the excellent demos on the ProjectSAM web site as proof of concept.