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Free collection of 550+ high quality, community-made virtual instruments (pianobook.co.uk)
80 points by praash 11 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 7 comments





I shared this with HN because it is a relatively new project that is not easily found when searching for instrument samples.

Pianobook's main focus is radically different from commercial, high quality virtual instruments: creating something unique and embracing any of its imperfections:

- Instrument is broken or out of tune

- Recording with a lousy smartphone

- Environment is not an ideal studio

- Using less samples that gain character from pitch shifting

- Processing with unconventional effects

Take a listen to the "King's Cross London Underground": https://soundcloud.com/kelan-rooney/kings-cross https://www.pianobook.co.uk/library/kings-cross-london-under...

This one madlad sampled a piano in the middle of a busy metro station, letting all crowd noises and train squeaks scream in the background. Using his smartphone. And it sounds incredible.

You absolutely do not have to sample every key of a piano individually to recreate an instrument with incredible character. Using LESS samples sounds different, but can sometimes sound BETTER if you do clever tricks. See this video: https://youtu.be/YbbBGYKucHY?t=50

You can probably tell that I'm enthusiastic about this. Whoops.


Can these instruments be used without Kontakt? Free to use is great, but Kontakt seems expensive.

Edit: Answering my own question. It seems there's a free Kontakt Player: https://www.native-instruments.com/en/products/komplete/samp...


Yes! Most instruments also have alternative formats, including:

- SFZ, with loads of compatible and free players: https://sfzformat.com/software/players/

- DecentSampler, an open format but a proprietary implementation. https://www.decentsamples.com/product/decent-sampler-plugin/


Isn't the explanation on the linked video all wrong? Stretching the signal doesn't lose any information, and it doesn't make the waveform look more like sine wave.

I would prefer to keep the samples as clean as possible so that they can be utilized in different contexts, but I can see the value of degrading the quality of final mix. If there is an artifact in one sample, it will be repeated in each played note and it becomes noticeable and distracting to listeners.

Thanks for submitting the sample collections. I'm browsing through it and there's lot of useful stuff there.


I absolutely agree that the "theoretical explanation" in the video is bogus. Pitching up a sample is when high frequency information above Nyquist is lost (or aliased back down, if your sampler is garbage).

When a sample is pitched down, the overall timbre obviously becomes darker, and there's an empty gap left to the top. The sample's highest frequencies might also become more perceptible and pronounced because of imperfections in human hearing and playback systems.

That particular argument in the video is flawed, but the point was this incredible shift in mentality that it's perfectly fine to be very crude in the process of sampling. This also helps with the purpose of inviting more people to try out sampling. Pianobook is filled with great instruments made by first-timers.


Thanks for the link, I didn't know this existed.

this is awesome! i have actually recorded 300 piano symphonies with my (old) iPhone

i was initially thinking to rewrite some of them later, but i decided not to, because it will take the art out of it

i’ll be now publishing as is, in low quality, not perfectly on time and with occasional mistakes - just as it should be




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