Native Instruments Discovery Series: West Africa

Style: Authentic West African music
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Kontakt is hosting West Africa; note the mixer toward the bottom, with the limiter effect being edited. The colored keyboard keys indicate articulations and other performance-oriented aspects, while the Pattern Player generates loops.

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Style: Authentic West African music

Product type: Virtual instrument with looped patterns and playable instruments

Loop formats: Playback within free Kontakt 4 Player, can sync to host tempo

Stats: 26 percussion instruments, 8 melodic, 888 patterns total (including variations)

Documentation: Well-written PDF with useful, applicationsoriented info

This library has the virtue of being hosted by Kontakt 4, an extremely capable sample player that provides significant customization—edit the onboard percussion patterns, instantiate onboard insert/aux effects, use articulations, add hits, and more. The loops aren’t sampled, but play in real time by triggering sounds, so they have inherent variations (thanks to the transparent KSP scripting engine). Percussion instruments are duplicated with 12- or 16-step patterns. Instruments include kora, balafon, flutes, djembes, percussion ensembles, etc.

There are 12 patterns per instrument, and 38 ensemble patterns (each with 12 variations). Although the emphasis is on authenticity, inclusion of performance gestures, and sparkling audio quality, allow the instruments to add an exotic element to anything from dance to New Age.

Compared to software like MOTU’s Ethno, the price may seem high. However, the approaches are different. Ethno emphasizes a comprehensive library, while West Africa is about exceptional playability for a more limited soundset.

Kontakt 4 has a learning curve, so read the manual. Once that’s squared away, the instrument itself is pretty obvious, and the documentation is helpful—within ten minutes I was putting evocative, expressive sounds on the timeline. Overall, the entire package is classy and musical.

STRENGTHS:
Excellent recording quality. Kontakt 4 Player is very full-featured. Editable patterns.

LIMITATIONS:
Kontakt 4 Player has a learning curve.

$119 MSRP
native-instruments.com

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