This unique vocal instrument is based on a simple concept with a rather remarkable pedigre: chromatically sampled vocal sustains captured over 150 years ago. This original method of recording, called ‘Phonautography’ was invented in the early 1850s, by French inventor Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville. The sounds were captured by projecting the voice and other sounds into a cylindrical horn attached to a stylus, which in transfered the vibration into lines over the surface of oil lamp soot-blackened sheets of paper. These raw archival recordings were preserved by the French Academy of Sciences and finally decoded by First Sounds with the help of laser scanning equipment at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
We chose one of the very earliest human sound recordings – a simple vocal scale sung by Martinville himself in a recording called Gamme de la Voix (or “range of voice”). We then hand-crafted each of these samples by splicing, editing and manipulating raw sound into a fully playable chromatic solo vocal instrument. But that’s just where we started. Next, we took that modified sound and warped it beyond all recognition using a variety of DSP and sound design techniques to create a diverse and compelling range of different ambient soundscapes, sonic textures, tonal pads, synths, atmospheres, drones and resynthesized drums.
Special thanks to First Sounds, an informal collaborative of audio historians, recording engineers, sound archivists, scientists, individuals and organizations who aim to make mankind’s earliest sound recordings available to all people for all time. First Sounds was founded in 2007 by David Giovannoni, Patrick Feaster, Richard Martin and Meagan Hennessey. The original version of this sample library was published in 2010 by Tonehammer. In this new version, we’ve vastly expanded the features and content, with nearly 200 MB of newly created ambient and percussive sample content, full user interface and performance controls and our custom DSP effects rack for the Kontakt presets. We’ve also expanded sfz support, with custom performance controls for the free Sforzando player by Plogue, so everyone can enjoy this cool piece of modified sonic history.
The 1860 recording we chose for this library features a D major scale being sung by a single voice, believed to be that of the inventor Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville himself. The original capture left the pitch one octave too high, giving the resulting timbre a female vocal quality. The newer version was translated at the proper original pitch, revealing the singer to have been a man. We used both audio files to give us a full two octave range of notes to work with.
You’ll notice that the uncanny distortion of pitch, smearing of tone and significant loss of acoustic information creates a ghostly warbling, almost weeping quality, somewhere between a voice and a strange woodwind-like sound, possessing a frail and innocent affect. It reminds us of the humble beginnings that our modern audio-visual media has grown from and ever-increasing power to share and explore music and sound that modern technology has given us.
We began with the individual notes that we were able to isolate from the source and loop to allow sustained playing. Our goal was to preserve the character and qualify of the sound just as it was for the main “Gamme de la Voix” sustaining vocal instrument. We then branched out widely, using all of the modern sonic manipulation tools at our disposal to craft 31 unique ambient synths, pads, drones, atmospheres and soundscapes as well as 41 electro drum kit sounds, including kicks, snares, hats, fx and more. This new content is totally unrecognizable from its humble origins, but the old soul of the sound somehow seems to carry through.
- “Gamme de la Voix” Sustaining vocal instrument
- Phonambiences: 31 sytnhs, soundscapes, atmospheres, pads and drones
- Phonautogram Drums: 41 percussive hits & FX
- Custom Kontakt GUI with automatable controls
- Custom Kontakt DSP Mulit-Effects Rack
- Custom SFZ GUI with automatable controls
The Kontakt nki presets in this library are is designed for the full retail version of Kontakt 5.1 or later. The free Kontakt Player and special “Libraries” tab do not support this open-format Kontakt library. It includes fully accessible unlocked wav sample directories to allow optional user modification, customized mapping and reprogramming to other formats and audio environments.
Users who do not own the full version of Kontakt can use all of the content and enjoy most of the control features available in this library by using the universal sfz presets in an sfz opcode spec 2.0 compliant soft-synth or sampler engine. However, not all sfz-compatible engine developers support the full sfz 2.0 standard, so we highly recommend using the Sforzando or Aria plugin engines with these sfz presets.
- 107 Samples
- 278 MB installed
- 3 .nki presets (unlocked)
- 3 .sfz presets (universal format)
- 31 ambiences
- 41 percussive sounds
- 16 bit / 44.1kHz & 48kHz stereo wav samples
- Kontakt 5.1 .nki, Sforzando/Aria .sfz presets
- Click here for detailed pdf user manual
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Important Note: The full retail version of Native Instruments Kontakt version 5.1.0 or higher is required to use .nki instrument program presets included in this library. The free Kontakt “Player” and special “Libraries” browser rack do not support this standard open-format Kontakt library.
A SFZ 2.0 Opcode Compliant plugin engine is required to use the .sfz presets in this library. We recommend the free Sforzando player by Plogue to enjoy all advanced sfz features in this library. Sforzando is compatible with vst, au and rtas plugin format standards.
System Requirements: Windows XP / Vista / 7 / 8. Intelmac and Mac OSX 10.6 or higher. Dual Core CPU, 2 GB System Ram, 7200 RPM SATA or SSD hard drive recommended for this library.