Last week I got an email from Soundiron asking me if I’d be interested in doing some beta testing on their latest instrument: Tuned Artillery.

Why yes of course I’m interested! I’m always looking for opportunities to try out new things and experiment!

In this post I’ll try to give you a quick overview of the instrument and some insight into the track I wrote for it.

The instruments that were sampled were some spent brass shell casings from WWI & WWII, a helmet and some grenades. The folks over at Soundiron pride themselves in their ‘deep-sampling’ and this is no exception!

They’ve recorded the shells with many different dry articulations, with sticks, brushes, mallets, palms & hammers at both the side and the base of the shells. Also for each of the 4 shells they have multi-mic patches where you can mix 3 different hall mics with the dry mic for both the base and the side hits. The sound of the shells range from beautiful metallic pings all the way to harsh clangs and with up to 10 velocity layers and 12 round robins there is lots of variety.

The helmet has hammer(harsher tone) and mallet(bell-like) articulations on the edge, and a hammer on the top, which is a nice muted ping. There are multi-mic patches for the helmet as well.

The grenade has a bunch of interesting articulations. Bounce-rolls on concrete and wood, clunks, grabs, pin pulls, shakes, rattles and a release ping. I find these to add some really nice textures, especially the grab & clunks when you bang down a bunch of keys at once. The bounce-roll on wood has a nice warm thud sound.

There is also a folder of ambiences where have stretched, morphed and performed their magic on the samples to twist them into unrecognizable textures and pads.

Also included is the Mega Mixer which was introduced on their previous instrument: Apocalypse Percussion Ensemble. This mixer gives you the ability to create your own customized patch where you can load up the particular instruments and articulations and spread them where you want over the keyboard allowing you to overlap them as you wish. Good for making epic patches.

The UI looks beautiful and along with the standard Soundiron controls like pitch stepping, convolutions and the Uberpeggiator, there is now an LFO section for volume, pan and pitch that can independently be tempo-synched or in free time.

Now for my song.

It took a few attempts to get something that I was satisfied with. It was nothing to do with the instrument, but merely me trying to work with something new and unique. At first I was trying to do something a little 20th Century a la Steve Reich. Here’s an early attempt:

I then realized (as it wasn’t quite working out for me) that I don’t know too much about this kind of music and I didn’t have the time to research it properly so it wasn’t quite gelling.

Then as I was playing around with one of the shell-mallet instruments, I can up with a nice little melody with a slight jazz sound. I then just let the track build as naturally as possible. This included incorporating some jazz drums(Toontrack) along with a piano and upright bass(Native Instruments). As you can hear in the solo track, the Tuned Artillery patches give a wonderfully full and complex textural background (& melody!) to the track.



All music ©2012 Shannon Penner.