Spitfire Audio previously worked with BAFTA- and Ivor Novello Award-nominated film and television composer Samuel Sim on its hugely-successful BRITISH DRAMA TOOLKIT to provide the most instinctive, immediate, and intense connection to the heart of composition as a KONTAKT-hosted sample library comprising a small string and woodwind section, recorded on the sound-specialising British music technology company’s purpose-built dry stage at its London headquarters. Although a more traditional package, presenting a unique way of interacting with the players — ensembles are mapped across the full length of the keyboard with the playing styles tied to velocity, instantly allowing anything from emotive whispered textures through to bold, characterful solos — set the fully NKS (NATIVE KONTROL STANDARD®) supporting plug-in instrument in question apart from anything Spitfire Audio had created to date… until now.
Needless to say, CONTEMPORARY DRAMA TOOLKIT takes a different approach by including 44 different combination patches and 72 individual instrument patches that bring together classic and contemporary broadcast-ready sounds originating from a masterfully mellow combination of the classic, chorus- enhanced tones of an Eighties-vintage, distinctive-sounding Roland Juno-6 analogue polysynth and textures from the iconic Seventies-vintage Korg MS-20 analogue semi-modular monosynth, alongside lead lines performed on guitar, electric cello, and electric violin, all processed via an enviable collection of analogue effects and Eurorack modules. All are carefully curated by Samuel Sim and Spitfire Audio’s production team of engineers and composers with expression baked into each sound. Simply speaking, velocity enables everything — from whispered textures to bold melodies blossoming from the simplest variance in playing, unlocking a world of sound in every patch. Consequently, CONTEMPORARY DRAMA TOOLKIT users can forget about the computer and quickly write music with little effort by responding instinctively to the drama at hand — just like the BRITISH DRAMA TOOLKIT trailblazer.
Putting it this way, Spitfire Audio co-founder and composer Paul Thomson’s heartfelt introduction is right on cue: “From his many years’ experience, Samuel has curated a set of sounds which allow you to articulate emotion incredibly easily, and are hugely inspirational, allowing you to react to picture in real-time as you play. When we say contemporary, we don’t mean contemporary in the sense of the subject matter, such as sci-fi, but we mean contemporary approach to scoring — the kind of scoring approach that many directors are asking for today.”
Think of it like this: trying to recreate a cue created in CONTEMPORARY DRAMA TOOLKIT or BRITISH DRAMA TOOLKIT using any alternative sample library would necessitate laying down each section at a time, starting with the bed, then the melodies, as well as taking time to find the sounds themselves — all of which would effectively steer the composer into writing in a certain way by building from the bed upwards, rather than reacting to the onscreen sounds or action.
As it happens, Paul Thomson himself is no slouch when it comes to finding his way around a keyboard, so is perfectly positioned to explain how he puts — and anyone can put — CONTEMPORARY DRAMA TOOLKIT’s musical modus operandi into practice: “Playing with a different kind of velocity triggers the different levels of sound — the different dynamics, and this is represented on the UI [User Interface] with three sections: the bottom [TEXTURE] section is for beds or textures; the top [LOUD] section is that very expressive lead type of sound; the middle [SOFT] section bridges the gap between the two and allows you to smoothly move between them. Either you play it in live, and you get a kind of manual dexterity of being able to play certain notes louder, or it’s very straightforward to play a part and them go in afterwards in your DAW [Digital Audio Workstation] and adjust the velocities to trigger the specific layer that you want each note to sound.”
Sounds simple? That’s the beauty of CONTEMPORARY DRAMA TOOLKIT. It is simple, yet works well. Which is, of course, what it is all about. After all, the curation of the sound itself is where Samuel Sim and Spitfire Audio have collaboratively spent so much time, treating the recordings and instruments to offer a wide array of useful sounds with modern music-making in mind. Minimal (MIC, MIX, LP filter, Expression, Reverb, and ADSR ENVELOPE) controls and (ROUND ROBIN & LEGATO) settings are equally endearing in their ease of use.
Ultimately, Paul Thomson clearly concurs when ending on a high note: “It’s incredibly simple, it’s very expressive — easy to articulate emotion in these patches, with lots of inspiration from a huge palette of sounds to give you this contemporary scoring style; you can either use it to create whole cues, just with individual patches, or you can use it to layer in with other sounds to give that kind of contemporary feel to your scoring.”
Time, then, for any composer to consider adding BRITISH DRAMA TOOLKIT to their scoring toolkit? Time, too, to score in an altogether different way since Spitfire Audio is making available an exclusive DRAMA TOOLKIT COLLECTION, comprising CONTEMPORARY DRAMA TOOLKIT and BRITISH DRAMA TOOLKIT, which is only available during CONTEMPORARY DRAMA TOOLKIT’s time-limited introductory promo period.