In this review we take a look at Alphorn from Sonokinetic…
Publisher Sonokinetik Ltd.
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We’ve all seen pictures of men in short trousers playing the alphorn even if we’ve never heard one. They vary in size from one alpine region to another, have a narrow bore and can reach around 23 metres in length. Although they’re made entirely of wood they sound very much like a brass instrument. With a wide dynamic range, anything from soft silky notes to rattling shouts are possible, and with no valves, only the notes of the natural harmonic series can be played.
Sonokinetic sampled a Bavarian instrument and programmed it for Kontakt 4.2.4 and up. It can be switched between a ‘natural’ version, which plays from a low F up in octaves, major fifths and thirds culminating in an off-key scale of F major, and an ‘extended’ one with the missing notes included and the instrument retuned in Kontakt. As you can imagine, the latter provides a much more playable instrument that could easily provide a solo alternative to the French horn. Also, being multitimbral, some sweet sounding pads are possible, too.
Growling is a feature of alphorn playing, and to that end there’s a velocity controlled ‘growl’ section with a simple threshold control. Reverb is on by default with level and size controls, and a basic EQ section is also included with hi, mid and low frequency level knobs.
As you’d expect, articulations can be selected by keyswitching. They can also be selected by clicking on the splendid depiction of a wooden horn, which takes pride of place in the centre of the interface. They are: sforzando (with a fall off after the initial swell), marcato (accented), staccato and sustain.
Sonokinetik’s products are noticeably different to most other samples library producers with titles that, initially, may appear slightly odd to some. Who else has sampled the alphorn, you may wonder? Well Garritan have in their World collection but it’s nowhere as detailed as Sonokinetic’s Alphorn, which transforms a very basic wooden horn, limited to the notes of the natural harmonic series, into a sophisticated instrument with full notation across its range.