As regular users of Sonic Foundry's Acid will be aware, the company now have an established line of loop library 'packs', consisting of four or five individual CDs that have a common theme. The most recent releases are the Scoring Pack 1 and Scoring Pack 2, the first of which is the subject of this review.
As the titles suggest, these packs are clearly aimed at those producing music for picture. Scoring Pack 1 consists of five individual loop libraries; Cinematix Volume 1, James Johnson Spektral Minimalism, Robert Rich Ambient Atmospheres & Rhythms, Numina Emotional Peak Sounds For Cinema and Orchestral Series 3: Cinematic. In total, the pack contains 1460 loops totalling some 2588MB!
Cinematix Volume 1
This title contains 300 loops in three sections. Music Beds provide some almost complete (if short) music pieces. Titles such as Funky Mama, Cop Show and Dark Beat give an idea of the eclectic content. The Sound Effects section also includes a wide range of styles, with some true sound effects, but mostly dark-sounding synth-based atmospheres. The Individual Instruments & Grooves section is split into a number of smaller groups covering guitar, horns, pads, strings, keyboards and drums/percussion and there is more here for music construction, rather than the textures that dominate elsewhere.
This library comprises four sections: Complete Beds, Complex Wave, Pad FX and Sublime Keys. There are only 123 loops in total, and these are essentially a collection of long soundscapes, some running to 20 or 30 bars. These mostly provide a fairly relaxed and dream-like feel. The only real 'melody' loops are within the Sublime Keys section, with some gentle piano, vibe and bell loops. The whole CD is excellent — it just leaves you wanting more!
Ambient Atmospheres & Rhythms
The 500 loops here are in seven sections and give a strong eastern feel. For example, the Clean Flutes section consists of short (and quite haunting) flute melodies mostly of an eastern origin, rather than western orchestral. The Drones & Abstract section provides mellow and soothing textures based on flute, piano and bell sounds, along with a few creepy ones. The Ethnic Percussion section offers a collection of various djembe, dumbek and frame drum loops, while the Melodic section includes various short phrases played on kalimba and marimba (amongst others), and these could easily add an ethnic touch to any 'East meets West' type arrangement. The Synthetic Pulses section is completely free of man-made vegetarian food, but does contain various processed sounds with a strong rhythmic feel, while the Metal and Twinkles sections consist of various steel and wind chime-like objects being hit.
Peak Sounds For Cinema
As with Spektral Minimalism, the Numina set contains a smaller number of loops that are longer. Both the Beatz and Drones sections set a fairly unsettling mood — think monsters creeping up on the unsuspecting heroine and you will be in the right ball park.
This dark theme continues into the One Shot, Sound FX and Themes sections, with the latter providing some really nice textures that also contain a melodic component. The Quirps section is also dark, but the loops here contain a high-tempo rhythmic feel. This whole library is definitely aimed at those who need to suggest that something unpleasant is about to happen — put these loops up against the right footage and your audience is going to be drawn slowly closer to the edges of their seats!
Series 3: Cinematic
The final library is the Cinematic title from the Orchestral Series and, as this was covered in Sample Shop back in SOS October 2001, a quick recap is all that is required here. Essentially, the library contains 27 small orchestral construction kits with an emphasis on moody, thriller-style underscore — again, you just know something bad is going to happen!
Scoring Pack 1 is very much about dark and disturbing atmospheres. These loops would work really well under footage that requires an unsettled or tense feeling, or perhaps for dark corridor scenes in a first-person computer game. In using this collection, I found that loops from the first four libraries could be blended together quite easily, mainly because there was little in the way of chord sequences to worry about matching. What was a little more surprising was how well many of the orchestral loops could also be made to sit over some of the textures and drones. Given the type of content, this collection is not going to appeal to many straight-ahead music producers, but for those using Acid as a music-to-picture tool and who want to give their audience the creeps, it has plenty to offer.