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Topic: Bad Tempered Claviers

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  1. #1

    Bad Tempered Claviers

    I just purchased the PMI Clavichords and Forte E libraries and, to my disappointment, found both to be horribly out of tune with all my other sample libraries.

    My request for technical support yielded a single response to the effect that both were tuned to earlier (unspecified) musical temperaments and that the only remedy is to retune them in Kontakt 2 (the sampler that I am using).

    Unfortunately, I don't have a clue as to how to do this. Transposing the clavichords up a semitone helps a little with the first one or two octaves, but it gets out of tune higher up and some individual notes are just hopeless. And the fortepiano sounds terrible, no matter what I do to it.

    It is my understanding that, to retune a keyboard instrument, one would have to tune each key individually to the appropriate pitch (A=440, etc.) but there doesn't seem to be a way to do this in Kontakt 2. All I can see is a way to raise or lower the pitch in semitones (or fractions thereof) and I have no idea what the current pitch is or what it should be changed to so that it is in tune with every other sample library I own.

    I also have reservations about retuning samples. Won't that significantly distort the character of the instrument? I mean if the note which is supposed to A(440) is tuned to a pitch somewhere in the neighborhood of Bb and you retune it to 440, now you have an A with the timber it would have if it were tuned to Bb and not, theoretically, what it would sound like if the physical instrument were tuned to A before the sample was recorded. (That's what it sounds like to me when I listen to the sample.) While I wouldn't expect it to be very noticeable at the low end of the instruments' range, I expect that it would be more jarring on the higher notes, where the strings may be made of different material and have a different resonance.

    I haven't received a response from PMI regarding my questions about this.

    Finally, even without retuning, I am getting a nasty delay on the release samples for the clavichord instruments. It sounds like a bad echo effect. Really, to me it sounds like there is way too much time between the release of the note before the release sample starts. I have no idea how to fix this, other than using the instruments without the release samples -- which makes it lose even more character.

    I would be grateful for any advice on how to fix these problems because these instruments are utterly useless to me in their current condition. Also, I wanted to alert anyone tempted to purchase PMI instruments from Sampletekk that there is no indication on its web site that they are tuned to different temperaments.

    Allegro Data Solutions

  2. #2

  3. #3

    Re: Bad Tempered Claviers

    Quote Originally Posted by ejr View Post
    I just purchased the PMI Clavichords and Forte E libraries and, to my disappointment, found both to be horribly out of tune with all my other sample libraries.

    My request for technical support yielded a single response to the effect that both were tuned to earlier (unspecified) musical temperaments and that the only remedy is to retune them in Kontakt 2 (the sampler that I am using).

    Unfortunately, I don't have a clue as to how to do this. Transposing the clavichords up a semitone helps a little with the first one or two octaves, but it gets out of tune higher up and some individual notes are just hopeless. And the fortepiano sounds terrible, no matter what I do to it.

    It is my understanding that, to retune a keyboard instrument, one would have to tune each key individually to the appropriate pitch (A=440, etc.) but there doesn't seem to be a way to do this in Kontakt 2. All I can see is a way to raise or lower the pitch in semitones (or fractions thereof) and I have no idea what the current pitch is or what it should be changed to so that it is in tune with every other sample library I own.

    I also have reservations about retuning samples. Won't that significantly distort the character of the instrument? I mean if the note which is supposed to A(440) is tuned to a pitch somewhere in the neighborhood of Bb and you retune it to 440, now you have an A with the timber it would have if it were tuned to Bb and not, theoretically, what it would sound like if the physical instrument were tuned to A before the sample was recorded. (That's what it sounds like to me when I listen to the sample.) While I wouldn't expect it to be very noticeable at the low end of the instruments' range, I expect that it would be more jarring on the higher notes, where the strings may be made of different material and have a different resonance.

    I haven't received a response from PMI regarding my questions about this.

    Finally, even without retuning, I am getting a nasty delay on the release samples for the clavichord instruments. It sounds like a bad echo effect. Really, to me it sounds like there is way too much time between the release of the note before the release sample starts. I have no idea how to fix this, other than using the instruments without the release samples -- which makes it lose even more character.

    I would be grateful for any advice on how to fix these problems because these instruments are utterly useless to me in their current condition. Also, I wanted to alert anyone tempted to purchase PMI instruments from Sampletekk that there is no indication on its web site that they are tuned to different temperaments.
    The clavichord and fortepiano are early-music instruments, so it sounds like PMI was trying to be "historically accurate" with its tuning system. But very bad on them and Sampletekk for not telling you what they used. Without that information, I don't see how it would be possible for you to retune with any sort of accuracy.

    Absent the ability to retune your PMI instruments, you may want to look into purchasing GPO 4. The library includes a large number of tuning schemas you can import into the ARIA player. I'm thinking that one of those temperaments would match the clavichord and fortepiano, so what you'd be doing is retuning the GPO instruments to your PMI instruments instead of trying to go the other way around. You would have to go through a trial-and-error process to find which tuning schema is the right one, but if this works, it would save you a massive amount of heartache trying to manually retune instruments yourself.

    With all that said, you have a much bigger problem in the release issue you mentioned. It sounds suspiciously like bad programming, and honestly this is something PMI should be helping you to fix. If they're not being responsive to you, then once again bad on PMI for lousy customer support.

    Steve
    If you'd like to hear a couple of pieces I might actually finish someday, please visit my virtual concert hall.

  4. #4

    Re: Bad Tempered Claviers

    They were actually very nice about this. SampleTekk agreed that there should have been some sort of notice about the earlier tuning on the web site. They gave me credit toward another download.

    For the clavichord sound, I am now using a harpsichord with the first manual and lute (muted) stops enabled. It's pretty close to texture I was after. The site I got if from has two good harpsichord Kontakt instruments with detailed descriptions of which stops could be played simultaneously on the real instrument, which I found very helpful, and all keys sampled individually. Remarkably good quality for freeware, actually. They also have a small salon organ, which I am hoping to find a use for some day. (http://sonimusicae.free.fr/accueil-en.html) The PMI organ is much more detailed, though, if poorly documented.

    I'm not sure that I want to get involved with Aria yet. I am nearly finished working on a score that I have been putting together for years. Nearly everything is in Kontakt. It's just a few instruments here and there that I might like to replace, just for a little more variety of texture. Though I would make an exception for Garritan Choirs.

    Allegro Data Solutions

  5. #5

    Re: Bad Tempered Claviers

    Quote Originally Posted by ejr View Post
    They were actually very nice about this. SampleTekk agreed that there should have been some sort of notice about the earlier tuning on the web site. They gave me credit toward another download.

    For the clavichord sound, I am now using a harpsichord with the first manual and lute (muted) stops enabled. It's pretty close to texture I was after. The site I got if from has two good harpsichord Kontakt instruments with detailed descriptions of which stops could be played simultaneously on the real instrument, which I found very helpful, and all keys sampled individually. Remarkably good quality for freeware, actually. They also have a small salon organ, which I am hoping to find a use for some day. (http://sonimusicae.free.fr/accueil-en.html) The PMI organ is much more detailed, though, if poorly documented.

    I'm not sure that I want to get involved with Aria yet. I am nearly finished working on a score that I have been putting together for years. Nearly everything is in Kontakt. It's just a few instruments here and there that I might like to replace, just for a little more variety of texture. Though I would make an exception for Garritan Choirs.
    Okay, so a happy ending of sorts.

    Regarding your reluctance with ARIA, I totally relate. Over the summer I picked up work on a symphony I started, then shelved years ago. This was the first time I was able to render it with something decent (GPO with KP2, to be precise). Now I'm redoing the same material from the ground up with GPO4. I'm talking about only about 5-6 minutes of music so far, but if I had the thing even close to completion, I'd seriously rethink any decision to go through the rework process I'm pursuing now.

    As wonderful as the technology is, it's also a two-edged sword. I'm very mindful of the fact that trying to chase after the "latest and greatest" takes time away from what composers should be doing, which is -- composing.

    Steve
    If you'd like to hear a couple of pieces I might actually finish someday, please visit my virtual concert hall.

  6. #6
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    Re: Bad Tempered Claviers

    I developed a clavichord library last year for Kontakt. Not chiming in an as excuse for self-promotion: Rather, I just wanted to lend a positive comment to PMI's version - of sorts.

    Before beginning work on my own, I purchased the PMI out of curiosity, to see what was out there to top. It was dirt cheap, and seemed after a cursory look that it might work in certain applications. I didn't get very deep before I knew what I needed to know, so I haven't tried it since. One of the things I incorporated was temperament: The instrument was sampled in equal temperament, and a variety of period temperaments are available at the click of a mouse.

    I just want to say that if the PMI seems shoddy, that would be because it's very old. Libs get antiquated quickly in the sample business, but Post was a trailblazer when this stuff was being produced. Also, it doesn't surprise me that support would be poor for such an old product at such a low price.

    Not trying to justify your predicament, but them's the breaks, I guess.

    Try googling "Clavichord Sample Library"

    Best,
    Belbin

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