The idea was to sample 3 different members of the hammered dulcimer family which gave me a wide pallette of tonal colors to work with. From Volumes 1 to 3 we move from dark to light and big to small.
Volume I – Cimbalom
Each note of the instrument was recorded at mf, f and dampened articulations. This was the first sound library available for this wonderful beast of an instrument, with a distinct and unique tonal imprint to infuse into your music tracks.
The Cimbalom is a musical instrument of the Hungarian Gypsies, and may be tracked back in history to the Orient and the Middle East. An early known version of this instrument in Arabia was called the “Kannun”. Today an instrument in wide use of this same family is the Hammered Dulcimer. The largest of these instruments is the Cimbalom. It is the national musical instrument of Hungary and is used in the Classical and Folk Music as frequently as Piano.
The Cimbalom may be described as a 125 stringed instrument on a soundbox, mounted on removable legs. Its tone is a cross between the piano and the Harp with a range of 4.5 octaves. The instrument is played by striking the strings with 8-inch long wooden or metal mallets (wooden in this case). The two carved wooden sticks are wrapped with cotton, wool or leather creating sounds that range from bright to very soft or the tips of the mallets can be left bare, creating a sound similar to that of a banjo .Two damper bars and a foot pedal help to control the sounding vibrations of the Cimbalom. The Instrument stands about 3 feet high on its removable legs and weighs about 150 to 175 pounds. The strings are like piano wires but custom made to fit the instrument. Music from classical to gypsy and jazz to rock can be played on the cimbalom.
The Cimbalom was sampled in stereo at 24 bits/44k into a Alesis ML9600 High Resolution Master Disc Recorder using a stero pair of Nuemann KM 184 mics into a Grace Design 201 mic preamp. The 24 bit resolution has been retained for this sample library. Two dynamic levels (mf & f) were recorded as well as a set of dampered notes for each note of the Cimbalom. Rolls (tremolo) were also recorded at a later sampling session and they are integrated into this library. The Cimbalom library is 414 MB.
Volume II – Concert Grand
453 MB of 24 bit stereo samples of this lovely triple coursed instrument. Each note sampled with wood & felt hammers as well as plucked with the flesh of the thumb. “Drag” ornaments were also sampled for each pitch with wood and felt hammers. This instrument has a big sound and is quite a bit brighter than the Cimbalom.
Most hammered dulcimers you see these days are double “course” instruments. Meaning they use 2 strings per note (much like a twelve string guitar). One of the unique things about the “Grand” is that it employs three courses making for a bigger sound as well as a bigger instrument. Not quite as big as the colossal Cimbalom, but still quite a big instrument to lug around. The Cimbalom’s sound-print is quite a bit darker than this instrument. These “Grand” triple coursed hammered dulcimers enjoyed a bit of a revival among folk musicians in the 1960’s.
The Concert Grand hammered dulcimer was sampled in stereo at 24 bits/44k into a Alesis ML9600 High Resolution Master Disc Recorder using a stereo pair of Nuemann KM 184 mics into a Grace Design 201 mic preamp. Total size of all samples and .nki’s combined is 452 megabytes. The Concert Grand hammered dulcimer was sampled with wood and felt hammers as well as being plucked by the flesh of the thumb for a very dark and warm tone color.
Also sampled with both wood and felt hammers were “drag” ornaments – created by one hammer bouncing repetitively on the string to be finally interrupted by the other hammer which plays a long accented note. This ornament is generally used leading into a downbeat. So the bouncing portion of the note is just ahead of the beat acting as a pickup or anticipation into the down beat.
Volume III – Hammered Dulcimer
Most hammered dulcimers you see these days are double “course” instruments. Meaning they use 2 strings per note (much like a twelve string guitar). The range of this dulcimer spans 3 octaves from D2 – D5. I have stretched the highest sample all the way up to C6 to extend the range of the instrument. This hammered dulcimer represents what would be considered today as a “standard” hammered dulcimer for lack of a better term.Sampled ArticulationsThe Hammered Dulcimer was sampled with both leather and wood hammers. Leather being softer and the wood hammers being brighter. The samples in this library total 372 MB. The Drag ornament was also sampled.