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Topic: Alternate Reality (idea for a sample library)

  1. #1

    Alternate Reality (idea for a sample library)

    There's been a lot of talk about how most sample developers and library buyers/users are unimaginative, and I tend to agree to a point, since I understand making/using sample libraries of established instruments is what sells. However, if a developer feels adventurous enough, I'd love to see a library that's truly imaginative and exciting. I have a hypothetical library idea, and since I'm no sound programmer, I'll just give the idea away to anyone that wants to give it a shot.

    Alternate Reality - A sample library/physical modeling/synthesis hybrid VST instrument that contains purely instruments born of the imagination, or maybe from an alternate reality. Exotic and exiting instruments that sound nothing like anything you've heard, yet sound and perform as if they really exist in reality. You might ask, "Can't you do that with Hartmann Neuron?" or "Isn't that what synthesizers like Absynth does?" Well, yes and no. Synthesizers do have totally imagined sounds, but they way the patches are designed, they always play like synthesizer sounds--not instruments that sound like they could really exist in reality. There aren't really articulations or extensive performance techniques with synth sounds. Although you could rig a bunch of controllers to control various parameters in realtime, synth parameters are quite different from articulations of real instruments, both in control and sound.

    Here are a couple of possible imagined instruments:

    Alien Black Box - A metallic box made of alien material that can be shapeshifted in realtime. You can squash the box, twist it, pull it, fold it..etc like clay, and it will snap back to its original shape if you let it go. With the other hand, you have a resonator rod that's charged with energy, which you can use to strike the box or rub against it like a bow. Attached to the box is a foot pedal that controls the actual pitch of the instrument, while shapeshifting the box alters its timbre/tone.

    Hydro Slap Slab - A long piece of board divided into equal sized rectangle wells, all filled with a liquid substance that could change its vicosity in a fraction of a second--from oily to pure water, thick tar, liquid plastic, mercury..etc. To play the Slap Slab, you use two sticks that have a cup-shaped beater on the end of each stick. The cup-shaped beaters can produce sound by filtering the liquid substance through a chamber, which when pressurized by force will produce sound (simlar to slapping a cupped hand on the surface of water, but much more complicated). The beater's pressure chamber has the ability to repel the liquid substance instantly, so even when the liquid is thick, it will not stick inside the pressure chamber. How thick or how slick the liquid is will change the sound the chambers produce, as does the amount of pressure you use to slap the liquid rectangles. The liquid's viscosity is controlled by a blow controller hooked up to the board--more blowing pressure will make the liquid more fluid, less pressure will make it more dense.

    So how would you go about designing these sounds without having them just end up sounding like synth patches? Like I said, I'm no sound programmer, but my educated guess would be to actually build some elements of the sound source out of real material, sample them, then combine the samples with physical modeling and synthesis techniques. For example, to design the Alien Black Box patches, I would guess you'd go and sample an actual metal box being struck and bowed by something. You could rig some type of electronics inside the box, and then charge whatever you're using as the rod with electricity so that the electronics inside the box will react to the rod contacting the box. Then, you could use other types of metal of varying sizes and shapes for different timbres/articulations. After getting the source material, you could then use the data with physical modeling and synthesis. For the Slap Slab, actually sample various liquids being slapped by various sized cups, bowls, tubs..etc with various sized openings, then use organize the source material into various corresponding pitches, timbres..etc for further physical modeling/synthesis.

    So, is my idea worth trying, or am I just being an insomniac with a runaway imgination?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Dallas, Texas

    Re: Alternate Reality (idea for a sample library)

    One word: Reaktor

  3. #3

    Re: Alternate Reality (idea for a sample library)

    when physical modeling first appeared on the scene years ago in fledgling form (where it still pretty much is today) one of the things promised were impossible instuments built out of combinations of real instruments. You could have a piano with the bell of a tuba, or a bowed clarinet. Hasn't happened yet, obviously...

  4. #4

    Thumbs up Re: Alternate Reality (idea for a sample library)

    We need more people (developers) thinking like this.

    - G

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    St. John's NL

    Re: Alternate Reality (idea for a sample library)

    That is a good idea. One thing I've been doing lately is combining sounds from libraries I have and/or samples I created myself, mangling the results with gigapulse and/or other processing, and sampling the results as new instruments, thus bypassing the need to apply unique and CPU devouring FX to what, in the end product, would be a small element of a mix.

    Ex1. When working on a piece of electronica, I wanted an orchestral "rip", composed primarily of the performance gliss horn and performance legato piccolo from Opus 1. A little percussion (snare and timp) crescendo intensifies it. These voices, together with the hall impulse I wanted, would have pushed my resources too far, considering that the bulk of my power was in use by sonar and already running gigapulses. Sequencing a bunch of these rips and creating some separate samples yeilded "rips.gig", which I know I can't sell, but it's handy, and nice to have. It takes one voice worth of poly at a time, 0% of my ram, and 0% of my Cpu. Bring on the cheap thrills!

    Ex. 2. A harmonica sampled at a single velocity layer with no fancy programming results in a reed organ-type sound. Neat. I coupled it at the octave, augmenting the effect. Then I gave it a cathedral impulse reverb. Just fr kicks. Sample that. Edit, and program the release samples. You've got something new! The one I did is certailny not market-worthy. But again, It's nice to have. It takes NO resources at all, and sounds like the result of all that polyphony/CPU eating stuff.

    If someone offered to sell me a CD full of instruments like this at a price reflective of the modest effort needed to create it, I think I'd bite. I mean FULL. None of these would be unique if a bunch of people owned them. There'd have to be a lot of stuff there. Not as lofty as your Idea, but just thought I'd share.


  6. #6

    Re: Alternate Reality (idea for a sample library)

    I'd buy it in a second. Great idea!


  7. #7

    Re: Alternate Reality (idea for a sample library)

    The Neuron keyboard and Neuron VS from Hartmann were a step in the right direction. They do basically exactly what you're talking about; it uses a new form of synthesis that gives you control over the fundamental properties of different sounds. It starts with a core database of sounds, from pads, to pianos, to bells, and then lets you control both up to 12 parameters for both the 'body' of the sound and how the sound is being generated.

    It's really a brilliant instrument. It's unfortunate Hartmann had a lot of trouble (and are now going out of business) - a VST priced at $900 with a massive dongle that was necessary to control it, awful CPU usage, bugs all over, almost universal incompatibility, etc. I'm hoping someone else will pick up the tech, like Korg did with vector synthesis when Sequential Circuits went under.
    Zircon Studios - Original music for media, electronica, sound design, and synthesis.

  8. #8

    Re: Alternate Reality (idea for a sample library)

    The problem with modular synth environments like Reaktor and Neuron is that it requires a lot of work from the user. A sample library where the developers did all the work coming up with all the instruments would be a different approach. Also the modular synth environments typically are CPU hogs, as they have to calculate all these different parameters in realtime.

    It's a shame about Hartmann Neuron. I've been a huge fan of Waldorf as a company for years--just adore their hardware synths. After they went belly up, it seemed Hartmann Neuron would be a second life for an ex-Waldorf designer, but now this happens. I guess some people just have really bad luck?

  9. #9

    Re: Alternate Reality (idea for a sample library)

    I'm very happy to say that a couple of years after I posted this thread, we're now starting to see some of my wishes coming true in the form of Omnisphere from Spectrasonics. Their psychoacoustic sound design approach is very similar to what I had described in this thread, and I had asked Eric if it's possible that they'll provide articulation controls for these imagined instruments in the future, and he said it's now on the wishlist.

    See, sometimes wishes do come true. Kudos to Spectrasonics for being imaginative and forward thinking!

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