What is Q?
The idea behind Q was to create a virtual instrument that composers, producers, sound designers, and music editors could use to quickly generate film, television, trailer, and advertising cues in a wide range of musical styles. Unlike many other virtual instruments, Q doesn't focus on one musical particular instrument or genre. Instead, Q was created to cover a number of styles; in particular, some of the more exotic and eclectic genres that are increasingly employed in modern cinematic music. A few examples of this are the Hong Kong Cinema, Middle eastern, Spaghetti Western, Ambient, Pulp Surfer, Horror, and Film Noir kits.
Many exotic and unusual instruments were recorded for Q, including Chinese drums and flutes, waterphone, tank drums, bowed electric sitar, and prepared piano. Where other VIs focus on detailed multi-samples, the emphasis for Q was live-played loops and phrases, which capture more of the authentic character of these instruments. Well over 95% of the raw sample content used to create Q was derived from organic instruments, materials, and live performances.
The harp, cello, some of the percussion FX, prepared piano, and the female soprano were recorded in Athens by my friend and collaborator on the Symphonic Maneuvers series of sample CDs released by Big Fish Audio, Kostas Varotsis. For the prepared piano recordings, Kostas inserted various materials between the piano strings, including rulers, wine glasses, elastic bands, and necklaces. Other FX oriented instruments like the Pedal Steel FX were recorded by detuning the instrument and "playing" it with keys, coins, picks, rubber mallets, and a credit card.
Q also features a large collection of sound design elements, from massive hits, fireballs, and swooshes to eerie metallic and instrument effects. Some of Q's metallic sound design elements were created from raw samples that were made by tapping on or scraping a collection of huge metal sculptures that were on display in a corporate park in New York. These samples had to be recorded very quickly, before a security guard kicked us off the property. The raw samples used to create some of the other metal effects in Q came from a variety of unusual sources, including wrought-iron railings, a 20-yard dumpster, an aluminum bridge, a steel utility pole cable, approximately 60 pounds of scrap metal bought from a salvage yard, and a metal Salvation Army donation box with a fantastically creaky hinge. Elements like these are really useful when creating trailers, promos, and cinematic cues. I collaborated with Ric Viers to produce the cinematic sound effects for Q, after I discovered a book on sound design that he wrote, called The Sound Effects Bible. Ric came up with some excellent contributions.
So that's a quick overview of Q, and what it can do. I hope you'll let us know what you think of Q, good and bad, so that we can continue to improve it in the future.
Producer for the Q sessions
What is Q?