Notion''s included symphonic sound library contains the standard orchestral instruments (including piano), and Sound Expansion Kits featuring new instruments and/or new performance techniques have been available for some time. Prior to version 2, Kits were available for a variety of strings, percussion, brass, woodwinds, and harpsichord. New Expansion Kits released with Notion 2.0 are Solo Strings I (previously only string sections were available), two new libraries of orchestral percussion instruments, saxophones, mallets (marimba, vibraphone, crotales, and chimes), more string-ensemble playing techniques, and a rhythm-section Kit that includes electric bass, double bass, drum set, electric guitar, and keyboards (Fender Rhodes Mark V and Hohner Clavinet D6; see Web Clip A). These Kits are performed by top musicians on high-quality instruments and are uniformly excellent and beautifully recorded.
FIG. A: This score excerpt demonstrates the Mallets Expansion Kit with crotales, rolls on the marimba and vibes, different motor settings, and sustain pedal.
In some cases, Expansion Kits add entirely new instruments that were not previously available. Among these are the Percussion I, II, and III; Saxophones; Expanded Mallets I; and Rhythm Section libraries. The Solo Strings I library adds solo instruments from the string family (with legato, staccato, pizzicato, accent, and trills; see Web Clips B and C for a score that uses these symbols and their audio playback).
In other cases, new performing techniques are supported for instruments that have already been available. The new Expanded Orchestra Strings II Kit, for example, adds col legno (playing with the wood of the bow), sul ponticello (playing at the bridge for a bright, glassy sound), Bartok pizzicato (letting the string snap against the fingerboard when plucking), a variety of tremolando intervals, and open string, natural, and artificial harmonics. Overall, the palette of string timbres is greatly expanded (see Web Clips D and E for a score that uses these articulations and their audio playback).
Fig. A shows a short passage employing the new Mallets Expansion Kit. The score calls for a roll in the marimba, for the vibraphone motor to be switched off and then turned back on at fast speed, vibe sustain pedal, and a short demonstration of the crotales. As you can hear in Web Clip F, the sounds are excellent and the various playing techniques are faithfully represented. The realism of the rolls is especially striking. Notion''s sample libraries are totally integrated into the program, work seamlessly with the notation symbols you create, and are well documented. The most notable omission is vocal sounds—there is currently no choral Expansion Kit.