The Forgotten Keys FK6 Kontakt instrument is based on the legendary Roland CompuRhythm CR-78 analogue drum machine released in 1978. The CR-78 was one of the first drum machines that allowed you to compose your own rhythms and store them in internal computer memory, making the machine more suited to professional musicians and recording artists than the preset-only machines that preceded it. Having said that, the preset rhythms can be heard on many well-known songs from that period. The 14 wonderful analogue sounds were the other reason for its success. A sound unique to the CR-78 is metallic beat. The original idea behind it was to give a more metallic edge to the high-hat and cymbal sounds but it is a great sound in its own right.
The instrument sounds on the FK6 originate from an extensively sampled CR-78. Each of the 14 sounds were sampled 8 times at 7 accent levels. Accent controls the volume of the sounds and in some cases, the attack also. Those with keen ears may notice that sounds such as the low conga also decay a little quicker at higher accent levels, but it’s very subtle. Both the long and short tambourine sounds were sampled (often overlooked) and the guiro has separate samples for the high and low pitched elements. The guiro is also synchronised to the tempo control like the CR-78. Sounds can of course be triggered externally via a MIDI keyboard or DAW sequencer and doing so gives access to the 7 accent levels for each note via velocity, something you cannot do on the CR-78.
A Mytek Stereo96 ADC was used for the recordings and great care was taken to achieve the best signal to noise ratio. The sounds are in 24-bit 44.1KHz wav format.
The rhythm patterns of the FK6 are created using the scripting capablilties of Kontakt. This has many advantages over sampling a rhythm loop including the ability to play at various tempos without artifacts, complete control over the volume, tuning, panning and muting of each sound in the rhythm, and the ability to mix rhythms together without sounds doubling up causing volume and phasing problems.
As well as the 34 preset rhythms, the CR-78 also had 4 user-programmable rhythms. Each rhythm could have up to 4 tracks. FK6 expands this to 6 programmable rhythms each with 12 tracks. Programming the CR-78 could be a bit hit and miss unless you had the optional WS-1 programmer that allowed you to enter the rhythm in step-time, so FK6 includes a virtual WS-1 programmer for step-time input.
Another improvement over earlier drum machines was the Variations section that came with the CR-78. This introduced a 1-bar variation either manually or automatically at a specified interval of 2, 4, 8 or 16 bars. There were 7 fill-ins, a break, snare and high bongo rolls and a mode called A↔B that alternated between the A and B banks of the preset rhythms. This has been fully replicated in the FK6.
The CR-78 can be heard on many famous recordings by various artists from The Buggles to Visage (see the sidebar for a list of some famous users). The Patches menu is a fun/interesting feature that tries to re-create the settings used on these songs. Effects are added if necessary and where programmed rhythms were used on the song, re-creations of these will be loaded into 1 or more of the programmable rhythm slots. Any user-programmed rhythms are restored when reset is selected from the menu.
The Setup tab offers greater control over how the FK6 sounds and operates. There are volume, pan, tune and mute controls for each sound. Incoming MIDI notes can be mapped to any rhythm or sound and outgoing sounds can be assigned to any available Kontakt output. Random tune and volume controls add a little human element to the sounds.