Gravity by Heavyocity is a beast of a library designed for Kontakt. It shines at creating a modern sounding film score, and is a powerful tool for sound design. However, if that’s not your bag, it can still be a useful additional tool for other genres, so don’t write it off. Additionally, some of it’s powerful features will no doubt inspire you to take your music to new places.
Gravity’s menu is a bit confusing and overwhelming at first glance. The top menu is divided into Hits, Pads, Risers and Stings. There are then submenus, for example Complex, Element Menus, Elements Ambient and Elements Short. Since it’s a bit unclear what they do, let’s address each category.
Elements typically means one instrument. Basically what you’d think of as a normal keyboard instrument preset, each key plays a note higher or lower of the same instrument.
Anything that says Menu typically means that there is a different “sound” on each key. Think of this as akin to a “drum set” on a keyboard where each key is a sample of a different drum or cymbal.
Here’s an example of a menu creating an atonal tension cue. As I go up the keyboard, some of the samples just rise in pitch, but others introduce wind and whistle type sounds. (Obviously more subtle than my drum set analogy.)
Complex means that there are 3 layers in the preset. The GUI will show a mixer and controls for each layer.
Breakouts are like menus, but also have “selector keys” that let you layer elements to create new sounds. You can turn on effects with keys, for example holding A6 for a measure causes the panning effect in this clip. And F6 turns on distortion, letting go turns it off.
Heavyocity Gravity’s Main Interface
The Main tab is where you do the high level tweaking. The most obvious thing is the big circle in the center. With the Punish button/tab selected, you can click the circle and drag up or down to raise or lower the effect. Punish adds Saturation and Compression. You can click the red button (circle) below it to turn the effect off.
By selecting the Twist button, the circle now changes the effect. Twist offers a tone altering “twist” type effect. Like Punish, click the circle and drag up or down to change the amount of the effect. The circle button below it turns the effect on or off. There are also two modifer knobs, Tone selects the frequency that the effect is centered around, and Rate controls the rate of the animation. This is locked to beat (1 bar, 1/2 note, 1/16 T, etc.)
For some patches, like Breakout Hits, there’s a Sample button on the Main screen. This allows you to do some high level tuning of the sample. It’s actually fairly handy when layering, making it easy to pan various elements, and adjust the volume level of each element. Additionally, breakouts will have one sample on a key, so you’d ordinarily be stuck with whatever note/tone that sample is set to. The Tune knob let’s you tune up/down in semitones so that it can be in the correct key.
The next obvious thing is the ADSR envelope on the right. This has your typically Attack Decay Sustain Release settings. One thing that isn’t obvious on first glance is that the ADSR Envelope will have 3 tabs if you load a Complex Pad or Rise Breakout, otherwise it’s just one. To make things a bit more perplexing, if you load a Menu or Hits Breakout, then the ADSR is tied to each key. So while the GUI will only show one ADSR Envelope, if you tweak it, and then hit a different key, you’ll notice that it changes to whatever that key’s ADSR is set to. The Link tab will allow you to link all the envelopes together, and just use one master ADSR, which frankly can make life a bit easier. This section is especially useful when the “hit” is just a bit too much, or not enough, and to make the tail last a bit longer.
The Master Effects section on the left comes with four built in “rack” effects. A Convolution Reverb allows you to select the Pre-Delay, Room Size and Dry/Wet Mix. It comes with about two dozen presets, like “Cathederal”, “Small Hall”, “L Plate” and so on.
Also included are Chorus, Delay and Distortion. While these are tweakable, they have no presets.
There are also performance Controls in the lower right, under the ADSR. Velocity will make the MIDI notes softer by rotating left and harder by rotating right. Unison creates a thickening sound by using mulitple samples detuned from the original. This will be familiar to you if you play older analog synths. Additionally, there is Glide, but it’s not available on all patches. Similar to analog synths, this controls the pitch timing when transitioning between notes.
Gravity Filter and EQ
This screen is slightly different depending on what you have loaded. To turn each section on, click the box next to each name.
The Master EQ section is the same for all instruments, and affects the entire preset on a global scale. It has 4 bands, and each band can be boosted or cut using the 4 sliders. The knob under each slider is used to select the frequency for that band, with the two outermost selecting for the low and high shelf starting point. The bottom two knobs are for the Q of the center frequency. It’s nice that it’s included, buy you may want to leave this disabled, and adjust with your favorite EQ plugin or outboard gear.
The filter section allows you to select Lowpass, Highpass, Bandpass, Formant and Vowel. You can select the cutoff and resonance of each. You also have Envelope, LFO, Key and Velocity controls. The LFO lets you adjust the amount of modulation applied to the filter cutoff. You also get standard ADSR controls. You can also pick the LFO filter type, Sine, Triangle, Square, Ramp Up, Ramp Down, and Random. And then adjust the LFO with the Rate and Sync knobs.
The Equalizer on the right is for the entire instrument if it’s an Element, but per key if it’s a Menu, and per Channel if it’s Complex. It’s a 3 channel EQ, with the sliders controlling the boost/cut, and the knobs selecting the center frequency and Q.
Gravity’s Trigger FX
This is one of the cooler features of Gravity. There are 5 effects, Distortion, LoFi, Filter, Panner, and Delay. You enable each one by selecting the red circular button. You can also use keys F6 through A6 to trigger these effects with your midi controller.
Each arrow button turns on the motion sequence effect. Disabled, it’s just a static effect.
If you click Advanced for one of the FX, then the advanced settings screen opens for that effect. Each one has a slightly different set of parameters to control. For example, Delay allows you to tune the Feedback and Width. You’ll notice that the two buttons on the left are the same buttons for that effect on the prior screen, and still offer the same control options. The Back button will take you back to the prior screen, while the arrows let you step through each effect’s advanced screen.
Each control has it’s own “grid” which is akin to a step sequencer. You can draw in a pattern, or use the shape tool options below to alter it. Each of the shape pattern buttons will offer x1,x2,x3,x4 which means divide the grid into that amount so the shape pattern can be repeated that number of times. There is a copy and paste button so you can apply the pattern elsewhere, and a RAND button to randomize the pattern.
There’s a two setting envelope, using the Attack and Decay knobs, to set the fade in/out times. The Rate knob controls both sequences and is tied to the beat (1/2, 1/4, 1/16, etc.) You can select the number of steps by choosing 16 or 32 to the right of each grid. The Range knob sets the modulation intensity. The Smooth knob sets how smooth the steps are (ie. all the way to the right, you won’t hear any stepping.)
Hint: The above grid will have 3 rows if you choose a Complex Pad or Riser Breakout, as there will be 3 channels.
This is the other magical part of Gravity. Motion offers a “global” Volume/Pan/Pitch sequence. Much like the Trigger FX, Motion can be trigger by playing keys A#6 through C7. You can also hit the play button to the left of the grid. You’ll also notice on the bottom right of every page is a play button with the numbers 1 through 8. Clicking that play button will also enable/disable the Motion effect.
The Pattern Chain
You can create 8 Motion patterns and chain them together. In the lower left, you can click in the box next to the Edit button that says 1. Scrolling up/down will allow you to select one of the 8 patterns for editing. The grid will update to whatever pattern you are editing. However, by enabling the Follow button, you will allow the grid to update as the pattern is playing. You can edit the grid in a similar way as the Trigger FX.
To set the chain length, you’ll notice in the middle of the screen, boxes numbered one through eight. Slide the mini down arrow that’s over box 1, to the right to select the chain pattern length. You can also click inside each of those numeric boxes, and drag up/down to change which pattern is used in that position of the chain. You’ll notice as you do this, it updates the global pattern control graphic (the one that’s on the bottom right of every page.)
There’s also a master envelope for the chain that offers Attack and Decay, as well as the number of Steps in the pattern and the Rate, which is tied to the beat. The really creative part is that you can first set the pattern for the volume, offering stuttering or gate type effects, but then take it to the next level with panning and pitch.
EDM and Hip Hop uses
While Film Scoring is probably most associated with Heavyocity products, Gravity lends itself rather nicely to other genres as well. If you are tired of searching for Riser samples, Gravity is a good option for creating your own. Here’s an EDM example where I use Gravity for the Riser, and another where I use it as a Downshifter.
Here it acts as a pad on a Hip Hop track, and adds some Formant so that there is some motion creating a “wavy” background.
The following Trap style clip uses Gravity for the melody, pad and backing effects. Only the drums and bass weren’t done in Gravity.
Check out our tutorial if you are struggling with making beats in Logic Pro X.