Sonuscore The Score

Virtual instrument plugin

Sonuscore The Score

Review by George Shilling

Sonuscore have been producing sample libraries for 12 years. NI Komplete owners may be familiar with their Action Strings instrument, cleverly generating moving string parts with preset phrases. This latest collection is a monster library for film composers wanting to quickly knock up polished sounding cues, and it includes some unusual and clever tools to help and inspire you. I was lucky enough to be supplied with a preview of the new 1.2 update as I was finishing the review – more on that anon.

Best Part

Download is via Best Service so you must navigate their login and authorisation system, which works fine once you get your head around its Germanic foibles. The Score operates from within Kontakt. It will work with the Player version, but most composers will likely have the full version in any case.


Sonuscore The Score

Before we get into the clever stuff, it’s worth exploring the library of sounds and checking out some individual instruments. These are in nested folders of excellent individual sounds called ‘Singles’ available to load up and play. The Score is a 20GB download, so there’s a lot here. These are categorised into Orchestral (with 7 subcategories), Synth (5 categories), Band (with Drums, Bass, Guitars, Keys), World (5 categories), and Misc (Choir and Percussion). There are plenty of gems. The orchestral strings sound beautiful and responsive, and include various articulations including legato, pizzicato, SulPont, staccato, marcato and so on. However, they are simply divided into high and low strings, rather than separate instruments for violin, viola etc. In practice, this works fine and they sound thoroughly convincing in most situations and arrangements. The Woodwinds are similarly afflicted, so if you are wanting a detailed discrete library of separate flutes, oboes and clarinets, you’ll need to look elsewhere. But that’s not what The Score is about. In the World folder there is a sub-folder of Plucked instruments with a generous selection of nicely sampled instruments. Usefully, the Kontakt onscreen keyboard indicates the ranges available for each sound.

Carry On

All instruments are given three slots for audio processing effects, with a choice of six main effects: Filter, Dynamics, Distortion, Delay, Modulation and Reverb. Once loaded, you can edit settings in the main screen area. And you can simply drag the fx module slots up and down to re-order. These are great sounding and flexible effects processors with useful sets of parameters. For example Distortion includes six different types from Tape and Tube Saturation to Bit Crushing, and three adjustable parameters change depending on the type of distortion. Some of the library sounds seemed to perhaps unnecessarily include baked-in reverb before any had been added in the FX section, but this is forgivable in a film scoring library where you’re generally going for atmospheres!

Outside the Singles folder there are two main Kontakt instruments: Lead and Ensemble. The latter is where most of the clever stuff is for quickly generating your main soundtrack progressions, so we will explore that first…


Sonuscore The Score

Using the Find page gets you started. This browser lets you choose Genre and Style to narrow down choices, then you can pick a Story, which is what presets are called. Each has a description and/or helpful advice on its use shown in the browser. Loading a Story imports all the sounds and parts to start creating a score – remarkably quickly, considering there are up to 10 parts. Despite the high quality of the library sounds and effects, memory usage is commendably low. Each Story has its original intended tempo alongside its name, which handily gives an indication of the sort of area you need to set your DAW session’s tempo in. Once loaded, you are in the Shape page, where you can see up to 10 instruments across two pages. You can play simple chords, ride the Mod Wheel, and you have an instant score! But it’s also easy to refine things to taste, or get under the bonnet and make bigger changes. These mixer pages allow you to set levels, including limits for the level range available when riding the mod wheel. This allows some instruments and parts to be set to disappear at quietest volume levels, with them introducing themselves and building to a denser arrangement as you increase the mod wheel. Keyswitches select different sub-arrangements for Intro, Main (x2), Outro and End Note. So you can quickly knock together an arrangement to fit your brief. Instruments and parts can be replaced from the browser when you click their name, and of course you have access to the previously described effects chain options. And there is a Global FX page too.


On the Play page you can see the supplied parts for each instrument (five at a time). Clicking on one takes you to a more detailed edit page, but before getting to that you can change the number of bars (up to four), time signature, and there are double or half speed settings. On the edit page you can modify the melody or chords, and set minimum and maximum velocities for the Mod Wheel, allowing the creation of different melodies depending on its position. Clever! And there are advanced arpeggiator options available in menus here. For sustained instruments you can edit the envelopes in quite some detail across the sequence. You also get handy global accent settings with various presets available for inspiration. MIDI for the parts can be dragged and dropped into the DAW across 10 separate tracks, and then you can edit parts here, use any other virtual instruments you’ve got, process them separately, opening up many further possibilities. You could even make use of the new Pro Tools MIDI plugins to get creative with the sequences, melodies and arpeggios.

On And On

From here you can also open up Chord Studio. This is a chord generating assistant with Timeline and Jam modes to create something unique with single clicks, whilst employing the patterns of the sequencer. Chords can be based on a scale or on a freely chromatic basis. You can also select inversions and a separate bass note. It’s extremely helpful if you want a bit of extra inspiration. Timeline allows you to quickly create a coherent and interesting progression, and is pre-populated with something suitable for the Story you’ve loaded. But it’s easy to dive in and change it, previewing from within Kontakt. And then when you are happy, you can easily drag and drop the MIDI into your DAW. If you create a Timeline sequence, it can be sent to the Lead instrument (NKI) which (if you have running in another Kontakt instance) has a Receive button to accept the data.

Top Of The World

So to the Lead instrument. Its mixer allows for two concurrent elements to be combined for more interesting textures. It also has a a browser with various helpful categories to find something suitable. There’s a piano roll editor, and there’s even a clever Melody generator, with parallels to the Chord Studio, which automatically generates tunes based on the chord sequences for you to use as starting points. You can set range limits, mode and scale etc., then hit Generate and see what it comes up with. And of course after fiddling around with the melody, you can drag and drop the tune into the DAW timeline.

Better Than One

The new 1.2 update adds some terrific new features – some of which were suggested by users. The biggest change is the addition of Free mode, that lets you play any or all of the 10 instruments in the Ensemble / Story directly via MIDI, bypassing the programmed sequences. This enables such joys as full orchestral sustains from playing one note – wonderful! To this end, there are eight new Stories that feature only playable instruments. A new External mode allows the multiple MIDI tracks dragged into the DAW to directly access the Ensemble instruments, which means you can play the original sounds and edit parts without having to individually load up the patches. You can also now automate the Solo and Mute buttons for each slot or control them with MIDI CCs. And there’s an Undo feature on the Play page to help edit parts.

Myths & Legends

All the sounds I tried in The Score were impressive, usable, and sounded very high quality. My first impression was that most of the moods and genres are dramatic in a rather negative or doom-laden genre, with lots of big percussion, action, adventure, war, myths & legends, and sci-fi styles, but digging deeper there are Romantic and Uplifting genre categories. Jonas Schusselin’s demo track Hymn Of The World proves that dramatically uplifting is achievable with The Score. So, plenty of moods and styles are covered across the 150 Stories, (30 have been added with the 1.2 update) although there are few humorous or quirky settings. It’s actually quite educational exploring the parts that are provided amongst the Stories. The effects are very high quality, including some long lush reverbs. But the cleverest parts are the way everything is put together so that it is quick to achieve great results, with pre-programmed sequences for beginning, middle and end, and help suggesting chords and melodies. It’s almost too easy to just load a preset and be done. But it goes as deep as you want it to – especially with the MIDI drag/drop. If you’re looking for help and tools for dramatic scoring, some fun and inspiration, then The Score is ideal.

Pros: Incredible scoring tool at low cost, Mod Wheel dynamic control makes it easy to be expressive, quick load times and surprisingly low memory usage, easy to learn and use, MIDI drag-drop flexibility.
Cons: It’s almost too easy to be lazy and use the Stories as-is!