Slightly niche blog where I talk about some frustrations I’ve had with Native Instrument’s Kontakt and a link to a spreadsheet detailing some percussion instruments found in Komplete Ultimate 11.
As a classically-trained composer I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the orchestral sounds and instruments I spent years studying. Since I increasingly work in a digital space, it’s important for me to be able to find the instruments I’m looking for. In my present workflow the majority of my software instruments are hosted within Native Instrument’s Kontakt, a beast in the world of samplers. However, I’ve been running into problems with actually finding the instruments I’m looking for, specifically percussion.
Disclaimer: I should highlight that while there are MANY other orchestral libraries, I currently don’t have the budget to use them, so will be focusing on what comes in Native Instrument’s Komplete Ultimate 11 - that’s all I really own at this point with regards to Kontakt libraries.
The adventure begins when I wanted to find a ‘clave’ instrument. To find instruments in Kontakt you typically just go to the Database area and enter in the name you want; you’re then presented with all the instruments which have been tagged as having some relevance to that instrument - ‘Piano’ gets 831 results (though a lot of those are based around pretty liberal tagging). However, ‘Clave’ gets 0 results. This felt strange to me, as I dug a little deeper.
There’s an instrument in the Kontakt Factory Library (i.e. the default instruments that Kontakt’s shipped with) called ‘All Percussion’. With such an ambitious name I felt that this must be where I’d find the claves of my desire - and lo, there they were! However, actually finding them was a different matter.
To actually search through a Kontakt instrument you have to go into Edit Mode, and then search through the sample groupings to find one named ‘Claves’. You can then work out what key that sound is mapped to by selecting the sample in question and check the key range. This is a massive faff, especially as the Kontakt UI can be hugely frustrating (how is there no full screen option??).
It doesn’t look like there’s any way to export the group names as a .csv so actually finding out what instrument samples are stored within an (unhelpfully named) Kontakt instrument appears to literally be a case of typing out the names of all the sample groups and what key they’re mapped to… so that’s what I’ve done!
Here’s a Google doc with all the instruments and the key ranges within the ‘All Percussion’ Kontakt instrument. I’m still exploring to see if there’s a better way to do this, but for now here’s my contribution to help others who might be in a similar, ultra-niche position.
Here's a sample of the instrument list I've made for "All Percussion" - may end up having to make more if I can't work out a better way of listing what instruments are available!
For all it’s incredible music-making capabilities (which cannot be overstated), Kontakt can be hugely frustrating on simple UX levels - you can’t actually alphabetically order the (aesthetically beautiful) instrument library without 3rd party software [LINK]. The fact that there’s no way to either search within instrument sample groups or export the sample groups as any sort of list/csv makes it really difficult to make the most of Kontakt instruments - there’s no other way to quickly see what instruments are available.
‘Til there’s a better option, there’s going to be a lot of people who won’t be able to find that clave their looking for.