Note: this post is from 2009, outbound links may be broken.
Soniccouture releases Glass Works
Soniccouture has released Glass Works, a Kontakt player instrument which collects together 3 extremely unusual and rare musical instruments which use glass to generate sound: Le Cristal, The Glass Armonica, and a set of Cloud Chamber Bowls.
Just locating these instruments was a challenge in itself – the third in the collection, Cloud Chamber Bowls, proved so elusive that after a lot of research and enquiries, we realised that if we wanted to sample some, we would have to build a set ourselves. The first two instruments – both as strange and beautiful as each other – required us to make a trip to Paris.
When beginning to research the Glass / Works instruments, we found that one name was ubiquitous; that of Thomas Bloch. A classical musician specialising in rare instruments, Thomas is a virtuoso who has worked with many famous names – Radiohead, Gorrilaz, John Cage, Tom Waits, and Milos Foreman to name very few. He is best known for 3 instruments – Ondes Martenot, the Cristal Baschet and the Glass Armonica. We contacted Thomas, and to our delight, he agreed to work with us. We travelled to Paris, and down a quiet street in the freezing January weather, we found Thomas Bloch. Working in his garden studio, we spent the next few days exploring the amazing range of sounds stored within. Soniccouture would like to thank Thomas once again for his hospitality in Paris.
Glass Works features
- Le Cristal — The Cristal Baschet or ‘Le Cristal’ was designed in 1952 by Bernard and François Baschet. It consists of about 4 octaves of chromatically tuned glass rods, which are rubbed with wet ﬁngers. The vibration of the glass is passed to a heavy block of metal, which itself is tuned and in fact determines the ﬁnal pitch. The entire mechanism is ampliﬁed by a large steel plate called the “ﬂame”. There are also three small ﬁberglass cones that amplify the higher frequencies.
- 2.5 GB library
- 24 bit 44.1khz Stereo sampling
- Convolution ‘Flame’ Processor : 4 IRs from the steel flame panel
- 6 different articulations : sustain: soft & hard, Accent, percussion: hard & soft mallet, SFX
- 3 Alternate round robin layers per articulation
- 11 Kontakt Player Instruments
- Glass Armonica — The glass armonica, also known as the glass harmonica, bowl organ, hydrocrystalophone, or simply the armonica (derived from “harmonia”, the Greek word for harmony), is a type of musical instrument that uses a series of glass bowls or goblets graduated in size to produce musical tones by means of friction – rubbing a wet finger along the edge of the glass, as one might with a wine glass. The instrument was invented by Benjamin Franklin, who called his invention the “armonica” after the Italian word for harmony. On Franklin’s treadle operated version 37 bowls were mounted horizontally on an iron spindle. The whole spindle turned by means of a foot pedal. The modern version uses a silent electric motor. Over time limescale build-up gives the instrument a frosted appearance, like a rare crystal or stalactite.
- 800 MB library
- 24 bit 44.1khz Stereo Sampling
- 3 Alternate Round Robin layers
- Hard & Soft articulation crossfade
- Natural + Synth Kontakt Player instruments
- Cloud Chamber Bowls — The Cloud Chamber Bowls are Soniccoutures recreation of an instrument built in the 1950s by maverick American composer Harry Partch. It consists of hanging “bowls” which are sections of 12-gallon glass carboys. Both tops and bottoms of the carboys are used. Partch had 14 (later 13) bowls hanging from a large wooden frame he called a “tori”. The name “Cloud Chamber Bowls” arose from the fact that Partch found the original tops and bottoms at a Radiation Laboratory at UC Berkeley in 1950. The bowls were originally used for cloud chambers used in tracing paths of subatomic particles.
- 1.38 GB Library
- 24 bit 44.1khz Stereo sampling
- Hard and soft mallet articulations
- 10 Velocity Layers
- 3 Alternate round robin layers
- Original & Chromatic pitch mapped instruments (chromatic mapping extends C1 to C5)
- KSP Jammer – generative arpeggiator tool
Glass Works is available for purchase as a download or on disc for 99 EUR. A bundle with the Skiddaw Stones is available for 139 EUR.