A Ghostly, Glitchy, LoFi, and Bursting-with-Character Piano for Ableton Live
My mother has a beautiful baby grand piano. Though I’d feel a bit dishonest calling myself a pianist, I love getting a chance to sit down at this piano to bang out some melodies. As much time as I spend playing around with synthesizers and digital instruments, there really is nothing quite like the sound of an acoustic instrument. Over the holidays, I sampled a couple of octaves on this piano, while my mother, grandmother, and aunt were in the kitchen having a conversation over a cup of tea. As the notes decay, you can hear their voices in the background, which I think adds a ton of character to this instrument.
Bringing Life to the Instrument…
I’m not one for trying to create pristine and studio-clean, sterile instruments. There are plenty of places you can find those kind of sounds; I prefer to offer something a bit different and unique. This free Ableton Instrument is a great example of that. I spent some time creating effects and modulations that will bring these piano samples to life with organic movement and personality. First, the samples loop around forwards and reverse. You can morph between two different samples of each octave. One of my favorite sound design features of Sampler is the Key Zone Shift (pictured below), it allows you to really change the timbre of your instrument. There is a knob for that control. I’ve also added some aftertouch control over the pitch. As you press on the keys, they drift slightly in tune. (This should be a lot of fun on Push).
A Call for Reinforcements
The instrument sounds cool on its own, but the samples are a little lacking in the low end (I recorded them using my iPad with a Tascam field recording mic attached). To counteract that, I placed a Simpler in the instrument rack with a triangle wave sample inside. There is some modulation to the Simpler to help give it some movement. Finally I decided to do one more thing: create another version of this instrument that sounds a bit glitchier. So all in all you get two instrument racks to play around with! I hope you enjoy it, and please send along any music you create with it; I’d love to hear where my mom’s piano goes!