Sampleson releases Akoustic spectral synth for acoustic instruments

Sampleson Akoustic

Sampleon has announced the release of its new virtual instrument Akoustic, a spectral synthesizer that is fully built upon acoustic spectra from real instruments. With Akoustic you can play with partials and spectra from real instruments in a additive synthesis way. A new approach to sound design. We created spectrums for acoustic instruments to be […]

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Past To Future Samples releases Untamed Drums Psychedelic Pop Vol. 2

Past To Future Samples Untamed Drums Psychedelic Pop Edition Vol 2

Past To Future Samples has announced the release of Untamed Drums Psychedelic Pop Vol. 2, a new sample library featuring punchy, crunchy and crisp drum sounds. This new volume in the Untamed Drums Psych Pop series continues with another vintage kit and samples, mixing electronic drums with untamed realism of acoustic drums. Hip-hop flavored hand […]

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An injury left Olafur Arnalds unable to play, so he turned to machines

Following nerve damage, Icelandic composer/producer/musician was unable to play the piano. With his ‘Ghost Pianos’, he gets that ability back, through intelligent custom software and mechanical pianos.

It’s moving to hear him tell the story (to the CNN viral video series) – with, naturally, the obligatory shots of Icelandic mountains and close-up images of mechanical pianos working. No complaints:

This frames accessibility in terms any of us can understand. Our bodies are fragile, and indeed piano history is replete with musicians who lost the original use of their two hands and had to adapt. Here, an accident caused him to lose left hand dexterity, so he needed a way to connect one hand to more parts.

And in the end, as so often is the case with accessibility stories and music technology, he created something that was more than what he had before.

With all the focus on machine learning, a lot of generative algorithmic music continues to work more traditionally. That appears to be the case here – the software analyzes incoming streams and follows rules and music theory to accompany the work. (As I learn more about machine learning, though, I suspect the combination of these newer techniques with the older ones may slowly yield even sharper algorithms – and challenge us to hone our own compositional focus and thinking.)

I’ll try to reach out to the developers, but meanwhile it’s fun squinting at screenshots as you can tell a lot. There’s a polyphonic step sequencer / pattern sequencer of sorts in there, with some variable chance. You can also tell in the screen shots that the pattern lengths are set to be irregular, so that you get these lovely polymetric echoes of what Olafur is playing.

Of course, what makes this most interesting is that Olafur responds to that machine – human echoes of the ‘ghost.’ I’m struck by how even a simple input can do this for you – like even a basic delay and feedback. We humans are extraordinarily sensitive to context and feedback.

The music itself is quite simple – familiar minimalist elements. If that isn’t your thing, you should definitely keep watching so you get to his trash punk stage. But it won’t surprise you at all that this is a guy who plays Clapping Music backstage – there’s some serious Reich influence.

You can hear the ‘ghost’ elements in the reent release ‘ekki hugsa’, which comes with some lovely joyful dancing in the music video:

re:member debuted the software:

There is a history here of adapting composition to injury. (That’s not even including Robert Schumann, who evidently destroyed his own hands in an attempt to increase dexterity.)

Paul Wittgenstein had his entire right arm amputated following World War I injury, commissioned a number of works for just the left hand. (There’s a surprisingly extensive article on Wikipedia, which definitely retrieves more than I had lying around inside my brain.) Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand is probably the best-known result, and there’s even a 1937 recording by Wittgenstein himself. It’s an ominous, brooding performance, made as Europe was plunging itself into violence a second time. But it’s notable in that it’s made even more virtuosic in the single hand – it’s a new kind of piano idiom, made for this unique scenario.

I love Arnalds’ work, but listening to the Ravel – a composer known as whimsical, crowd pleasing even – I do lament a bit of what’s been lost in the push for cheery, comfortable concert music. It seems to me that some of that dark and edge could come back to the music, and the circumstances of the composition in that piece ought to remind us how necessary those emotions are to our society.

I don’t say that to diss Mr. Arnalds. On the contrary, I would love to hear some of his punk side return. And his quite beautiful music aside, I also hope that these ideas about harnessing machines in concert music may also find new, punk, even discomforting conceptions among some readers here.

Here’s a more intimate performance, including a day without Internet:

And lastly, more detail on the software:

Meanwhile, whatever kind of music you make, you should endeavor to have a promo site that is complete, like this – also, sheet music!

olafurarnalds.com

Previously:

The KellyCaster reveals what accessibility means for instruments

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Audified launches ToneSpot Acoustic Express plugin at $19 USD intro price

Audified ToneSpot Acoustic Express feat

Audified has released ToneSpot Acoustic Express, a preset based version of the effect plugin that offers the same audio processing of ToneSpot Acoustic Pro with a reduced set of controls. Best tone of string instruments spotted easily. Improves the tone of stringed acoustic instruments such as acoustic guitar, piano, violin or cello. No more tweaking. […]

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Ample Sound releases Ample Guitar Super Jumbo at $135 USD intro price

agsj01

Ample Sound has released its new Ample Guitar Super Jumbo virtual acoustic guitar instrument for Windows and Mac. Ample Guitar SJ features the sounds of a Gibson SJ-200 acoustic vintage custom shop guitar. This elegant Virtual Instrument will bring you that inspiring tone and voice that you are looking for! The 8.6 GB virtual instrument […]

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Audified spots speedy tone-hunters with ToneSpot Acoustic Pro plugin

Audified TSAP

Audified has announced availability of its ToneSpot Acoustic Pro, a powerful plugin presented as an eye-catching, easy-to-use channel strip tailored to processing stringed acoustic instruments. Technology-driven, modern-day music production can commonly involve a lot of processing in pursuit of outstanding tones, and acoustic instruments are no exception to this unwritten rule — even when striving […]

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00Laboratories releases AG-20 Fingerpicked Acoustic Guitar instrument

00laboratories AG 20

00Laboratories has announced the AG-20 Fingerpicked Acoustic Guitar, a virtual instrument featuring the sounds of a Richwood A-20 acoustic guitar. The instrument features Predictive Playback, which adds 25ms audio delay in order to analyze MIDI notes. If a Major 3rd, Minor 3rd, 4th or 5th interval is played on the D string and above, a […]

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Loopmasters delivers stringed acoustic licks & riffs with Acoustic Blueprints

Loopmasters Acoustic Blueprints

Loopmasters has announced its new sample pack Acoustic Blueprints, a collection of stringed acoustic licks and riffs featuring the sounds of guitars, ukuleles, mandolins, dulcimers and more. Acoustic Blueprints comes with 570 MB of expertly played, recorded and produced loops that can be combined infinitesimally for an expansive plethora of tunes. You’ll have no trouble […]

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8Dio launches New Acoustic Grand Ensembles Vol. 1 for Kontakt

8Ddio AGE Vol 1

8Dio Productions has released the New Acoustic Grand Ensembles Vol. 1, an updated version of the Kontakt instrument library. The library contains five different Grand Ensembles: Concert Grand Piano, Acoustic Guitar, Xylophone, Glockenspiel and Tubular Bells. All containing multiple microphone positions. Something magical happens when you take several Concert Grand Pianos, put them in a […]

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Save 60% off SampleTekk’s sampled acoustic piano instruments!

SampleTekk Piano Sale

SampleTekk has announced the launch of a Piano Sale, offering a 60% discount on its grand piano and upright piano instrument libraries for a limited time. Do we have enough pianos? No! To get your 60% discount on all Grand Pianos and Upright Pianos, just write “morepianos”, (without the “”), in the shopping carts coupon […]

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