NAMM 2021: Spitfire’s Contemporary Drama Toolkit focuses on feeling, not theory

The new velocity-focused instrument packs 72 instruments in 44 patches, with help from Samuel Sim

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Spitfire Audio Contemporary Drama Toolkit

Image: Spitfire

BAFTA and Ivor Novello Award-nominated composer Samuel Sim has teamed up with Spitfire Audio for the second time, following the success of British Drama Toolkit. The new instrument library, Contemporary Drama Toolkit, maps out intense sound palettes across your keyboard, with new layers triggered by different velocities. The NKS library gives you the freedom to soundtrack to picture in realtime, without needing to change settings on your screen.

Contemporary Drama Toolkit comprises 72 individual instruments across 44 different patches. This includes tones from analogue synths such as the Roland Juno 6 and Korg MS20, along with vocals and leads from guitars, electric cello, electric violins and more. These sounds have been processed by a variety of analogue effects, vintage stompboxes and Eurorack modules. Sim and Spitfire have spent a significant amount of time treating the recordings to create a collection of bold sounds. The real hook here, though, is the velocity mapping.

Each patch has a range of instruments and textures that are activated by velocity values. When laying down a cue with other sample libraries, one would have to record or programme each part at a time to create a cohesive, dramatic section. With Contemporary Drama Toolkit, new elements can be introduced immediately and in response to what’s happening on-screen using alterations in velocity.

Three sections are represented in this way: Texture, Loud and Soft. Texture represents sounds that form the bed of a part with textural qualities; Loud introduces expressive, impacting leads and Soft bridges the gap between the two with gentler instrumentation. You can either play parts live or create a theme or melody and adjust velocity levels in your DAW to meticulously create a cue.

This simple yet powerful workflow is complemented by an intuitive user interface with only the essential parameters onboard. You can control mic placement and mix, low-pass filter, Expression and reverb, with an ADSR envelope for amplitude. Round Robin and legato settings can be toggled, too.

Contemporary Drama Toolkit isn’t named so because of its use in contemporary genres, but because of a “contemporary approach to scoring – the kind of scoring that many directors are asking for today”, Spitfire’s co-founder Paul Thomson explains. “It’s incredibly simple, it’s very expressive and easy to articulate emotion in these patches, with lots of inspiration from a huge palette of sounds to give you this contemporary scoring style”.

Samuel Sim and Spitfire Audio’s broadcast-ready sound set is available now at an introductory price of £129 until 11 February, moving up to £169 thereafter. Contemporary Drama Toolkit requires Native Instrument’s free Kontakt Player 5.6 or higher to run as an NKS instrument.

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