Cthulhu by Xfer Records is a chord memorizer and generator. Poised to be the perfect companion for songwriting and production, is Cthulhu VST the beast it appears to be?
What is Cthulhu VST?
Cthulhu is firstly a chord generator. What that means is it allows you to create and restructure full-on chord progressions with single-note inputs. This alone makes it an incredible tool for songwriters/producers who may not have faculty on a keyboard, or even just someone who’s looking to explore more harmonically complex arrangements they may not discover on their own.
Included are over 150 chord presets, including famous progressions by the likes of Bach, Debussy, Mozart, and others. We can thank Xfer programmer Steve Duda’s classical background for that! The best part is that every preset can be edited, too.
On the other side of Cthulhu is a pattern-based arpeggiator, allowing incoming notes or chords to be manipulated in a multitude of rhythmic ways. At face value, the Cthulhu VST plugin is a powerful tool for creating chord progressions virtually out of thin air.
How does it work?
Cthulhu doesn’t generate sound on its own. Alternatively, it sends MIDI information to another software or hardware synthesizer. To get started, you’ll need to load an instance of Cthulhu as well as your favorite synth plugin. From here, it’s a good idea to select a preset while you get familiar with the plugin. Once you’ve chosen a preset, you can press single notes and Cthulhu plus your synth will output full chords. Presets consist of the chords within a chosen key, as well as famous classical progressions.
The built-in arpeggiator provides a ton of control over the progression. Getting to know this section takes some patience and experimentation, as Cthulhu can be a little intimidating initially. However, it’s a great tool to inspire ideas, and it can even be used as an educational supplement—it displays the notes in each chord on a keyboard in the GUI.
How to import presets
Apart from those that come with Cthulhu, you can purchase presets from other developers. Cthulhu VST saves presets as .fxp files, which are subsequently stored in either the Arp or Chords folder. When you buy a pack of presets, you should receive them as .fxp which can be imported in Cthulhu.
The easiest way to do this is to open your DAW and load the plugin. Next, click on settings in Cthulhu (the gears/cogs icon) and click on Show Cthulhu Presets Folder. That will automatically open a window where presets are saved. If you’re importing a pack of chords, just open the Chords folder and drag & drop your new presets. Next time you open the plugin you’ll have new presets to play with.
How to add Cthulhu expansion packs
This is a commonly asked question which is really only another way to say, “How do I import presets into Cthulhu?” Whether you call it a preset or expansion pack, any new .fxp files you acquire for Cthulhu can be installed via the same instructions above.
Conclusion: Is Cthulhu VST Worth It?
In a single word, yes. Cthulhu VST is only $39 which is affordable by plugin standards. If you’re in need of a chord generator, whether to help you write songs or just inspire new ideas, Cthulhu is a great choice. Plus, the arpeggiator is feature-packed and useful for jittery and modulated electronic progressions.