Native Instruments Emotive Strings Review

Emotive Strings is full of moving legato string phrases and arpeggios. Keith Gemmell is overcome with emotion…

Price £249
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Minimum System Requirements Free Kontakt 5 player or Kontakt 5. Download: 21.2GB (28GB compressed).


After the success of Action Strings, it was always on the cards that Dynamedion would produce a calmer sister library to compliment the former library’s inherent aggression.

Well, it’s arrived and it’s called Emotive Strings. As expected, the format is very similar to Action Strings, with 175 string orchestra phrases, two microphone settings and 64 themes, which are groups of up to five phrases that work well together. The free Kontakt 5 player is required to run it.

Melody Maker
Ease of use and fast scoring are the main objectives here and a MIDI keyboard controller, complete with Mod Wheel is needed to achieve them. Just like Action Strings, all the phrases are contained within a single instrument, so there’s no tedious browser searching. Once loaded in Kontakt, everything is plain sailing. Phrases are selected with the left hand and played with the right.

They are, of course, pre-recorded but much can be done to manipulate them including altering their pitch, either completely or at any point in the phrase. You can load up to ten at a time, depending on the type of phrase selected.


Single Pitch mode is probably the most useful because you can play chords and melodies using straight and triplet patterns as well as ostinatos. Automatic divisi also comes into play with Single Pitch mode: play two notes and the string section is divided into two sections with the same number of players retained.

In Melodic mode, phrases can be switched between major and minor with velocity control and with Emotives you can build, legato melodies and runs from phrases that were played legato during recording. These ebb and flow beautifully in conjunction with the mod wheel.

Whereas Action Strings was chock full of aggressive phrases and ostinatos, Emotive Strings is much gentler with plenty of smooth, flowing legato lines. Ostinatos are also present, of course, because modern film and game music demands them but here they are played legato and more and suited to subtle background work. The phrases are short, simple, effective and vibrato free, ideal for blending with other libraries. You can’t add vibrato but, again, much can be achieved emotionally with the mod wheel.

Sound editing is limited, which is not such a bad thing with this type of prerecorded material where speed and efficiency is all important. Two types of set EQ, a normal or wide stereo image and close or stage mic choices, are all that’s available apart from a basic convolution reverb.

Sweet Themes
Much of the material has a dreamy, haunting quality about it and that’s reflected in the theme titles – Storyteller, Dancing Snow, Hollow Winds, to name just a few. Others, though, have a sturdier character such as Last Stand and Shadow Hunters, adding variety to the menu.

It would be easy to snobbishly dismiss Emotive Strings as just another set of pre-recorded phrases but there’s no denying their usefulness, especially for busy composers on a tight deadline. Yes, there are limitations, particularly when it comes to editing the sound and stereo positioning and, of course, you can’t get at the individual string sections but an awful lot can be achieved with this library – we found it very inspirational.

A polished sound from the start, and musical material extracted and analysed from hit movie scores should kick-start just about any composer with a mental block. Also, once you get moving you probably won’t be able to stop because as well as blending the material with other instruments, it’s even possible to crreate melodies and even complete compositions with this library.

If you’re looking for a very easy-to-use simple string library, add Emotive Strings to your shopping list. If you’re familiar Action Strings you’ll have no trouble adapting because the basic structure of both libraries is the same. Emotive’s musical material, though, has a much lighter, smoother character and a more haunting sound quality.