Complex, noisy and plenty of midrange harmonics.
Complex… A piano can have upwards of 250 strings (compare that to a guitar that only has six). Every piano has a different frame for the strings that may cross strings, to save space, at different positions. This is especially true of upright pianos! The string placement can cause strings to interact with one another and cause sympathetic resonance where the energy from one string causes another string to vibrate. The sound can be quite different depending on pedalling as well.
Noisy… Pianos have performer noises: bench squeaks, fingers hitting keys, clothing movements, breathing, shoes on pedals, page turns etc.
Pianos also have plenty of mechanical noises such as the key mechanism going up and down, pedals going up and down including damper noises and don’t forget about the sound of the felt hammer hitting the string. These sounds can be picked up by certain microphones such as hammer mics and can be reduced by using other microphones that are away from such noise. These types of sounds tend to be removed from keyboard workstation piano sounds.
Midrange harmonics… A piano is not really a high frequency instrument, yet many enjoy the sound of a high frequency boost on piano recordings giving the illusion of clarity. Piano players may be more inclined to want to hear this as they are used to being close to the hammers while playing.
The larger the piano (seems counter intuitive), the less high frequency harmonics. Longer strings allow more of the lower harmonics to project. This is why some recording projects, particularly pop music, work best on smaller pianos. The sound may cut through a mix more with a smaller piano.
Most piano sample libraries try to get ultra-clean piano samples that minimize mechanical noise and can be processed (equalized) to bring up more apparent clarity in the piano sound. The result is usually a piano sound that sounds uniformly synthetic.
Clarity can come from placing microphones near the hammers instead of EQing. But this sound lacks body and warmth (from the lower harmonics) as the microphones are too close to the edge of the string. This would be like the sound of a microphone near the bridge of a guitar. Combining microphones from the inside of the piano can add that warmth back into the sound. Multi-mic piano sample libraries, such as the ones from Production Voices, allow this level of control.
Sometimes what we think a sound sounds like and what it actually sounds like can be two different things.
#1. Get to know your sample library.
Having thousands of sounds and not knowing how any of them sound or work is not very useful or productive. It may take some time for you to become familiar with how your sample libraries sound and respond, but this is time well spent. Choosing a quality library is a start.
As an example, I know a few producers who are familiar with the sound of the much older Bob Clearmountain drum libraries, but they still use them as they know the sounds. A sample library can be a valuable asset that lasts your entire production (or composing and performance) career.
Production Voices (www.productionvoices.com), a media sample library company based in London Ontario that specializes in musical instrument samples for performers, composers and producers, is looking for an eager, self-starter to assist with marketing and ad campaigns.
The successful candidate will assist with the marketing and promotion of Production Voices’ products in the following capacity:
Ad campaign development (physical print in media magazines, Google Ads and Facebook).
Social media presence: YouTube and Facebook.
Other marketing and promotion.
The ideal candidate would be a student studying marketing and promotion that is familiar with software virtual instruments.
There are performance bonuses based on sales and perks such as access to the Production Voices’ products and current developments. Otherwise, this position shall be considered an unpaid internship.
Start date: Immediately.
Contact: Send cover letter and resumé with references to Jason Chapman using the CONTACT US page on productionvoices.com with a subject heading of “Promotion Intern”.
On a recent sampling session, Production Voices used a certified Yamaha Technician to tune every day of the session!
The sampling session used 15 microphones and ended up 576.13 GB!
Stay tuned for details on this upcoming massive Piano Sample Library for Kontakt!