PMvst

Pianobook - Kristiansand Concert Steinway

For those who may not know about Pianobook, here’s a copy of the ‘about’ page from the website

‘Curated by one of the founders of SPITFIRE AUDIO [Christian Henson] pianobook is a collective sample project that aims to bring together a community of likeminded music makers to talk about their stories through the pianos they use, admire and are inspired by.’

Last month I was in Norway and had Saturday off and took the opportunity to record the theatre’s Steinway. After rolling it out of the cupboard it lives in, I realised the concert hall was empty, so I made a sharp turn right and rolled it onto the stage and quickly set my laptop and mics up downstage centre.

I tried a couple of stereo sets of mics and ended up with 2x AKG C414 mics,. After a little experimenting, I moved them a little further back than may be a usual close recording setup, to get a little more of the room sound, else what’s the point in taking over the whole concert hall!!

I used Christian’s logic template [which can be found here with an explanation on how it’s setup] and started recording, knowing that the battery on my laptop was limited. Luckily after only a few interruptions from visitors checking out the hall, I got a few takes and packed up ready to edit.

At that point I didn’t have a lot of time so only made an EXS24 version which Christian featured in a recent vlog, you can hear it at the very start and around 2 minutes in….

So It made sense to convert it to a Kontakt version to give non Logic users a chance to play with it too and for me to learn a little about how that conversion might work….

Which is when I encountered some frustrating Kontaktness! Its default reaction to release triggers is not as a piano should react. [A release trigger being a piece of audio played upon releasing the key.'] For some reason the release triggers work as they should without the sustain pedal down, fine thats good, but when you hold the pedal and hit a note, the release trigger audio doesn’t play until you release the pedal, and when you do release the pedal, it plays back all the release triggers for all the keys you pressed whilst the pedal was down, so you get a big splurge… not good!

I came across another piano that did manage to make this work correctly called the Spring piano recorded by Christian himself and converted to Kontakt by Fredrik Fernbrant, I had a look through the script Freddie made and reverse engineered it to a point of understanding enough to make a version for the Kristiansand instrument. It was a good way of learning a little more Kontakt scripting, but I still feel a little out of my depth with it so will continue to learn more as i make new instruments.

If anyone does know how to do get in there and fix this, then that would be amazing, but there’s a button to turn the dry signal on/off in the gui, this is simply because I’m unsure how to get rid of that and have the dry signal permanantly ‘on’ whilst still making Kontakt react to the release triggers correctly at the same time.

Either way, long story short, here is the link to the Kontakt version! Enjoy!

https://bit.ly/2W9iTpj

Free Ghanaian Gyil Kontakt instrument - PMvst001

Since the last post about recording Stephen Hiscock's Gyil (Yes I was spelling it incorrectly! O dear) I took some time to edit and put the resulting hits into Kontakt. Here is a link to the Current Ghanaian Gyil V1.0,

Free Ghanaian Gyil download
Free Ghanaian Gyil download

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Specifications:
309 samples
5/6 velocity layers for each note
2x Round Robin for each note
3x patches
            - Original pitch                   
            - Tuned scale (CDFGBb)       
            - Chromatic scale pitched  

2x Beater options- Rubber (Rubber malletts made from Tires)
                                               - Sticks    (The wooden side of the malletts)

Requirements:
210MB Hard Drive space
Full version of Native instruments Kontakt 5

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Feel free to download and play with it if you're looking for something authenically african and I'd love to hear any feedback.

I don't want to dive too deep into a 'How to create a velocity sensitive instrument in Kontakt' post, but there's few thoughts from the process I thought it'd be interesting to note.

My main DAW's are Ableton Live and Logic, but I decided to try using Ableton for this process. The first step was to record the Gyil into Ableton through my SD 702 and soundcard. I only had two Preamps available at the time, so used an XY setup about a metre away from the top of the Gyil. The first note, having a few different mic positions would probably help with integrating the sound of the Gyil with other libraries, but starting with a fairly dry, close recording is great starting point.

The Gyil has 14 notes and I wanted to try 2 round robins of each and have 5/6 velocity layers for each note played with both ends of the beaters. So that's 336 individual samples to edit.

Manually this takes a while and is fairly tedious. Both Logic and Ableton have a feature which slices a piece of audio from its transient markers and creates a new MIDI instrument. However, neither of these cut the audio up usefully for Kontakt. Logic does have a 'Split Silence' feature that does a better job at slicing the regions, with a bit of tweaking, by transient. Either way there is an amount of time spent finessing this, as the hits need to be very closely trimmed to the start of the transient.

Logic Strip silence
Logic Strip silence

Once each hit was edited and ready to slot into Kontakt, I set up a new instrument and using the mapping editor placed the 6 velocity layers  for the first note on it. Spreading them across the 127 potential velocities.

Again this could take a while, but you can quite easily copy and paste one set of 6 velocity samples onto another key on the mapping editor, then re-locate each of the copied samples to the next note in the sequence to save time (I didn't find this out until I'd spent a good few hours on a fairly bumpy flight trying to be precise with my trackpad... Bad idea!)

Kontakt 5 Mapping editor
Kontakt 5 Mapping editor

A similar process applies to the second takes (Round Robin takes) this was fairly simple. The mapping editor works in groups, for each round robin you create a new group and set that group to be a certain either the first or second set of round robins. Again copying the already mapped first takes and pasting that into a new group meant I could re-locate the samples within this second group with the second takes.

I did the same thing with the hard wooden end of the beaters and placed those into two new groups. Had a play with photoshop and added the Attack and Release knobs through looking into the inner workings of other Kontakt instruments scripts.

A little messing with key switches and it was prett much there.

So please do have a play with the Gyil and enjoy