I once had to play a piece called 'Era Madrugada,' for piano and small ensemble, in which I was required to stand up and pluck several notes, rather than playing them from the keyboard.
(Actually it's quite a funny story. My university had two pianos in the concert hall. I wasn't allowed to rehearse on the 'best' piano, because the piece was marked 'ffffff' for several extended passages. So I rehearsed on the other piano, and got used to the look of it's interior, and could pick out the strings I needed to pluck. Following the final rehearsal I went to change for the concert - meanwhile a university porter assumed that I would want to perform on the best piano and swapped them. So I came on stage to find that I was now on a very strange piano, with a completely different frame inside. I had to ask the front row of the audience whether anyone had any Post-It notes, so that I could find the strings I would have to pluck and leave labels by them. Definitely the most unorthodox beginning to any performance I've given.)
Anyway...it started me thinking that there probably aren't any sample libraries for composers who want to specify techniques inside the piano. I know there are many Prepared Piano libraries around, but I haven't seen anything for avant-garde techniques on an unprepared piano.
With that in mind I thought I'd start making my own. On Tuesday I happened to have a few hours to spare, so I went into school (we're on Easter break) and recorded myself playing the piano there. I only had vague plans, and some articulations haven't worked out too well, but I'm busy making Kontakt programs of the ones that did. Here's the first offering. It's a program of the noise made when you scrape a thumbnail down the length of the strings.
This technique only works on the heavier, wire-wound strings at the bottom of the piano, and in fact, in this case, only worked well for the first octave. So it's just A0 to G#1. Every string has been scraped at three different speeds (Slow, Medium, Quick), with and without pedal, down the stretch of string behind the dampers. There is also an alternative set of quick samples, where I scraped the section of strings in front of the dampers - this gives a more aggressive metallic sound. Keyswitches are as follows:-
C2 - Slow
C#2 - Medium
D2 - Quick
D#2 - Aggressive Quick
Applying the pedal will trigger the pedalled versions. I've cheated slightly and made the program velocity sensitive as well. In reality the volume is dependent on the speed at which the string is scraped, but here you can have a quick scrape and make it artificially quiet if you so wish.
Ideally I would also sample the whole piano played straight, at multiple velocity layers, so that you could put together a performance including straight playing and avant-garde techniques. Given how much of my life is being eaten up by trimming samples and mapping them, I don't see this happening. So, for reference, the piano is a Yamaha C3. It may be possible to make the samples sit convincingly with something like the 7Cs, but I haven't tried it.
For none Kontakt users the wavs are labelled as follows:-
First the note name (A0 to G#1), then a P if the sample is pedalled, then speed (S, M, Q). The '1' on the end is there in case I later want to do a round robin version, since I've only used half my samples so far. The alternate quick samples have 'alt' at the beginning of the sample name.
Hope you like these. I'm working on a couple more programs which I'll post soon.