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REVIEW: Gothic Instruments - Dronar Live Strings module

Laura  Barnes
REVIEW: Gothic Instruments - Dronar Live Strings module

Gothic Instruments is well known for its virtual instrument modules that help musicians and sound designers create interesting and complex soundscapes.

Previously, MI Pro has delved into the immersive and explosive sounds of Gothic Instruments’ Sculptor Live Impacts, and we’ve also got to grips with mind-melting Dronar Guitarscapes Module.

The latest offering from the virtual instrument maker is the Dronar Live Strings Module. Following on from Guitarscapes, this piece of software is set out in much the same way, but this time throws the user into the world of a top class orchestra – the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra to be exact.

Live Strings promises the ability to create “a massive range of strings-based textures, from natural live strings and live-played effects, to awe-inspiring soundscapes, with hundreds of varied presets and a huge set of controls designed to invite deep exploration, expression and discovery”.
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As someone who has a passion for both music and cinema, I was keen to see how easy it would be to create these impressive soundscapes, especially as someone not too familiar with Kontakt – the software sampler that the Dronar range works with.

At first, I must admit I was a little overwhelmed by Kontakt, but as my music software journey was only just beginning, I knew it was time to do the thing that you’re supposed to do when you starting something new – read the manual, of course.

It turns out installation was easier than I realised, and that was the same time I also realised that manuals are actually useful, and maybe I should have another go at building that DIY theremin I bought off the internet 7 years ago…

Anyway, back to Gothic Instruments’ clear and concise instructions, I realised I could easily access the huge 10GB worth of live recordings from the Files tab and make full use of the helpful Quick-Load feature, which lets you customise the layout and access your formatted files and libraries in one location.

Once I was set up and ready to start my masterpiece, I was surprised to discover how easy it was to begin making some impressive noises – just from a single note on my MIDI controller.

Pressing just one key will give you an octave-based drone. Holding down different numbers of notes offers up a selection of octaves, fifths, fourths and chords. This is incredibly handy if, like me, you’re not a music theory master or a seasoned pianist. For those looking to create something a bit more complex, you can of course hold down more that four keys, which causes the arpeggiator to create intricate runs for you to get swept up in.

At first I was a bit unsure whether I’d be able to create anything vaguely resembling a cinematic soundtrack, but Dronar makes it very easy to get your basic few notes on the go and just discover and play around with all the options, buttons and controls the software has to offer until you end up with something you like.

You can play about with synth, effect, arpeggio and rhythm sequencer controls to your heart’s content to help you create an abundance of powerful cinematic soundscapes.

There are 731 presets, along with an extensive array of customisation options. But if you’re looking for a few simple buttons to help you adjust your sound, the main screen has your back. It features quick controls for FX level, Intensity and Movement, letting you easily adjust the levels of each one.

For those needing a bit of inspiration, Live Strings comes with a hoard of patches, organised into different menus and categories. This covers everything from ‘Emotional Strings’ and ‘Horror Soundscapes’, to ‘Alien Planet’ and ‘Ominous’. This is great for giving you a starting point to expand upon. There are 204 patches built from 12 individual Drone presets to get lost in.

Live Strings’ user interface is simple to navigate, with the library’s main interface offering up the most important controls without the need to click through menus. Seeing as you’re able to create interesting sounds with just one hand, it’s easy to use a mouse at the same time to fiddle with virtual buttons and create some interesting textures in no time at all.

While Dronar Live Strings is clearly design for scoring soundscapes for cinema, it’s ease of use makes it a great tool for a beginner who just wants to explore how this type of sound design works.

Yet, despite being so beginner-friendly, there appears to be a never-ending rabbit hole of dials, buttons, switches and whatnot for an experienced sound designer to get well and truly lost in. And most importantly, the starting samples are of such a high quality that Dronar Live Strings would be a fantastic addition to anyone looking to add the sounds of a top-class orchestra to their projects.

Gothic Instruments’ Dronar Live Strings Module is available now from Time + Space.

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Tags: time and space , Software , Reviews , Gothic Instruments , virtual instrument , Dronar Live Strings

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