I just got the GigaHarp and have been playing it for the last couple of hours. Here are my initial impressions (Bill see if you agree/disagree). First off, it\'s typical top notch GigaSampler quality (read: sounds infinitely better than previous attempts at sampling the instrument and fully exploits GS capabilities). Wonderful clarity and detail throughout the instrument. The glisses are exceptionally well implemented. You have the ability to lower and raise the virtual pedals using MIDI controllers corresponding to the seven pedals on the harp. I use the MIDI faders on the Kurzweil K2500X to control the pedals. All this makes for very realistic glissandos in all the keys (you just \"strum\" on the white keys).
The harp is just one big .gig with five programs: two melodic \"chromatic\" harps, two designed for white key glisses, and one damped melodic. The help file is complete with detailed info on playing the chromatic and gliss instruments.
About the only negative I\'ve run into on the initial playing of the instrument is that the panning is wierd in a few places. Using the melodic programs on the C# and D direcly above middle C, when you play through all of the velocities, you\'ll hear ping ponging as the sound goes from middle, left, then right. This is noticable if you\'re panned wide, but if you tighten your pan to 11 o\'clock/1 o\'clock it\'s not noticable. This can probably be adjusted in the instrument editor.
Is it worth it? Like the Larry Seyer Acoustic Bass it\'s priced at $299 for a single instrument. Obviously a lot of work went into recording and programming this .gig, adn from that standpoint it\'s certainly worth it. The bass is easier for me to justify as I\'m into music that regularly requires an acoustic bass. For me the harp is more esotaric, but then again, there might be a lot more harp music in my future.
I agree with Busch’s evaluation of the Gigaharp library - quite beyond anything available before. A couple of additional points: the midi files which contain the clever “pedaling” controllers for glissandos omit a couple of scale types I consider essential – pentatonics and whole tone. The good news is that the user can easily add these by modifying the controller files. I did this last night (and threw in Altered dominants for good measure) and found the process painless. The other point is that the amazing realism of the glissandos comes at a high price on polyphony. Don’t throw away your AO glissando samples just yet. You may need to resort to them when the going gets thick. Or you could always add another GigaSampler to handle just the harp! Verdict: a new standard in sampled harp.
Chris, I\'m not an expert in MIDI orchestration like some in this discussion group--I\'m just getting into it. I\'m afraid I\'ll defer to others with more experience in that area. Yes, the sound appears to be close miked in a studio.
Chris, funny you should ask. I spent several hours last evening trying to answer my own questions about how well this harp would fit into an orchestral setting. In the process I ran into a couple of snags. The ideal for orchestral mixes would have been to record the harp seated in place in its traditional position on either the left or right side of the stage in a nice hall at a natural distance. But I’m sure they chose not to do that because it would have limited the number of uses for this library. With its relatively dry, close recording, this harp can be used for solo, chamber work, and orchestral pieces by varying pan positions, reverb levels and EQ (possibly rolling-off the high end a bit as you move the instrument back on the virtual stage). Panning isn’t as natural sounding as a true, in-place stereo recording, but it can be very effective if done carefully. That’s what you need to do with this library. The first thing I noticed was that the basic sound of the harp matched surprisingly well to the glissandos in the AO library (which also needs to be panned further off-center). Not a perfect match, but usable with a little tweaking. This fills the missing single note function in AO. The next thing I noticed was that a few of the higher notes exhibited too much sound board “thump” when put into an orchestral setting. What added “character” in a solo setting sounded more like microphone overload distortion with the orchestra. So I went in to see if I could edit those offending notes to reduce the “thump.” Most of the notes in the library are in compressed format and therefore cannot be loaded directly into Sound Forge, but, interestingly, almost all of the notes I wished to edit were uncompressed. Perhaps the developers anticipated this possibility? Anyway, I used a multi-band, dynamic EQ to remove most of the thump in the samples without doing damage to the notes (fortunately, they did not occupy the same part of the spectrum as the thumps) and listened again. Much better. I then noticed that when using midi panning to position the harp to the left side of the orchestra, that certain notes in the second to top octave did not pan with the rest of the instrument. Very odd. I went in to the Instrument Editor and tried to identify the source of the problem, but was unable to pin it down. The instrument would pan in its entirety to the right, but not to the left. So I changed my approach, assigned the instrument to separate outs on the Aark 20/20 and panned the harp at the mixer, added some high quality reverb and things sounded excellent. I’d still like to get to the bottom of the panning issue, but later. These problems have tempered my initial enthusiasm a bit, but the fundamental strengths of the library remain, especially the ability to construct believable custom glissandos to match the musical situation. And yes, it blends nicely with the orchestra if you mix with care. I repeat my caveat about polyphony: I found that when I tried to use harp with strings and a few other instruments that I quickly ran out of polyphony during glissandos. Fortunately, I run two GigaSamplers on separate computers and moved the harp to the second GS. Problem solved. But keep this in mind if you are running everything on one GS. Rapid glissandos with full-duration stereo samples, like this, will eat up 64 notes before you can say, \"what happened?\"