What is “Extended Piano”?
“Extended” is a term usually used to describe unorthodox techniques used when playing a musical instrument in an unconventional way, to coax new timbres from a traditional instrument.
Since the early 20th century, the piano has been at the forefront of this trend, with composers such as John Cage preparing the piano with nuts and bolts, Henry Cowell composing pieces in which the performer reaches inside the piano and plucks or strums the strings, and Stephen Scott bowing the strings with an ensemble of performers to produce an orchestral sound.
The latter inspired us to create the ground-breaking Bowed Piano instrument in 2008, and now we have revisited the same piano to build on that concept and further explore extended piano techniques for an exciting new suite of instruments.
Mute piano is a technique in which you lightly touch the finger at a nodal point on the piano string and play the key to produce a harmonic. In our Mute Piano instrument, this harmonic is the 3rd harmonic, so it sounds a 12th above the fundamental (an octave plus a fifth). This is the harmonic most used by George Crumb, who often included Mute piano is his pieces. It is also one of the few easily produced harmonics which the performer can actually reach while still being able to play the keys.
Using our custom KSP scripting you can opt to have the keyboard play either the notes you would expect, or the harmonic produced.
Mute Piano is an unexpectedly emotive timbre ; it seems to age the piano sound and give it a mournful, cinematic edge. It can also be very powerful and percussive at the extremes of the note range.
Our bowed piano includes three articulations, two made with very long bows which are sustained (and the samples are looped). We sampled a sustained bow at both a soft and very loud articulation. We also include a short bow made from a tongue depressor and horsehair, which produces a short staccato sound. This instrument is incredibly versatile, able to emulate strings both real and synthesized, as well as some of the most organic, shifting, detailed textures you will hear anywhere.
This is a technique in which the piano notes are plucked, either with the fingers or a plectrum of some sort. We used a guitar pick and recorded plucked notes with both the piano dampers down and up. The picked sound is very clean and pure, and sounds very close to a harpsichord. Used with a KSP Strummer script it can sound Harp – like or guitar-like, depending on strumming action.
The collection also includes a bonus ‘Hybrid ‘ Instrument, the Plucksichord. This features the plucked guitar undamped samples with the Key-off samples from Mute Piano. This produces an interesting harpsichord-eqsue behavior which can be heard in the ‘Scarlatti’ audio demo.
A piano of course has internal mallets itself (made of hard felt), but you can also hit the strings with foreign mallets to produce a different timbre. For this collection we recorded hitting the strings with a wooden mallet, and with a marimba mallet. The wooden mallet has a timbre reminiscent reminiscent of honky-tonk or “thumb tack” pianos, like those used in ragtime during the 1920’s (or Nancarrow’s player piano).
SFX Piano ( scrapes & strums )
We also recorded a large collection of strums and scrapes, but these are not always pitched, or else include large clusters that are difficult to map as a traditional instrument. For this reason, we’ve named this collection of sound “SFX”, and there are 127 different strums and scrapes included, one for every MIDI note. The SFX instrument is a ready-to-go soundscape, each key reverberating with the full frequency-range of a grand piano cabinet being abused. We include a KSP ‘key-shuffle’ function, to quickly re-sort the key-mapping for creative composition and performance.
- 127 Keys of Strummed and scraped Piano sounds
- KSP Shuffle Function – randomly rearrange keyboard for creative performance
- Full Synth Edit and Effects Panels
- 6GB Sample library – 3.5 GB with NCW ( Kontakt Lossless Sample compression)
- 24 Bit 44.1 Khz Stereo Sampling – 2829 Samples
- 5 Individual Kontakt Instruments : Mute , Plucked, Bowed, Mallet and SFX Piano
- Multiple Key-switched articulations, key-off samples, velocity layers alternate round robin samples for a natural response
- 40 Sound-Design Presets
- Full custom control interface with Synth, Performance and Effects Panels
- Soniccouture KSP performance modules : Glissando, Strummer, Jammer
- Includes the best-selling Bowed Piano sample set
- Windows 7, 8.1 or 10 (latest Service Pack, 32/64-bit)
- Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon 64 X2, 4 GB RAM (6 GB recommended)
- Mac OS X 10.9, 10.10 oder 10.11 (latest update)
- Intel Core 2 Duo, 4 GB RAM (6 GB recommended)
- 1GB free disc space for player installation
- additional hard disc space according to the library size
- internet connection for product activation required (on any computer)
- Audio Units
- AAX Native (Pro Tools 10 or later)
Visit the Native Instruments website for the latest version of Kontakt Player.