MOTU has unveiled Ethno (Mac/Win; $295), a virtual instrument that includes an 8 GB library of instruments, loops, and phrases from a variety of world cultures and regions: African, Asian, Australian, Celtic, Eastern European, Indian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and West Indian. Ethno works as a stand-alone instrument or within VST, DXi, MAS, Audio Units, and RTAS hosts.
Ethno includes a multi-column preset browser that lets you search by region/culture or by instrument categories. The categories include Woodwind, Stringed, Bell/Metal/Gong, Key, Voice, and Percussion. When you load a sound, a map displays the area of the world that the instrument comes from. Click on the map and a picture of the instrument appears so you can see what it looks like.
Because many of the instruments do not conform to equal-temperament tunings, two different Ethno presets are provided: one preset with the original, unmodified tuning and a second preset with each note tuned to the 12-note chromatic scale. That allows you to play the instrument in its authentic form or incorporate it into conventional orchestrations.
The 4 GB of loops and phrases include percussive rhythms, vocal utterances, solo and ensemble voices, single-instrument chord progressions, multi-instrument rhythm sections, ornamental flourishes (such as harp glissandi), and much more. Rhythmic loops play in tempo with each other, and the Sync to Host button allows loops to play in tempo with the time line of plug-in host applications such as MOTU Digital Performer, Digidesign Pro Tools, and Ableton Live.
Highly rhythmic and percussive loops are stored as sliced loops, similar to REX2 files. With a single click on the Map button, loop slices can be automatically mapped to MIDI notes as single hits or beats. You can then trigger and record the individual beats from a MIDI controller to completely rearrange the beats.
For more information, visit the MOTU Web site.