Hang Drum: An SFZ and a test

A friend recently pointed me at a french musician playing a short piece using a  Hang Drum virtual instrument on a keyboard which sounded really nice. I immediately wanted to do “something like that” too, so I searched the web for some free Hang drum samples.

I found some at the web site of german composer and sound artist Andreas Bick.They sound a lot different from what I heard in the video mentioned above since Andreas is using soft mallets, but they were sampled pretty decently at 12 velocities per key.

Enhancing these with some SFZ config files for instant playability in LinuxSampler wasn’t too difficult, so here is an attempt at doing that. I provide 3 files, first one being just the original keys (no key ranges) and in mono, second being the same but spread out from E3 to A5 using ranges, and the third one is an attempt at making a “stereo” instrument by placing the samples in the -20..+20 pan range of LinuxSampler (which is really solved in a poor way since some samples’ range is just 1 note while others span a range of 7 or 8 semitones).




Simply place these in the same directory where the WAVs are stored, rename the files to end in “.sfz” so LinuxSampler/QSampler actually offers them for loading, and off you go.

Certainly, there must be a thousand things to improve (compensate for loudness differences between samples, better velocity mapping etc.). But this is how I learn – by simply doing it, waiting for the flame^H^H^H^H^Hfeedback and making it better the next time.

Here is a small experiment with this instrument. Using Qtractor as my weapon of choice for a MIDI/Audio sequencer, LinuxSampler, several LV2 plugins from the highly recommended Calf plugin suite. Bass played by a Yamaha P90, Shekere from the “Ethno World Library Vol.2″ by Marcel Barsotti. I admit I got carried away a little with delay and chorus, but it was still fun :-).

Snow – the right time to go “bare foot”?

Yesterday, we finally had a bit of new snow all the way down to the Rhine valley which was followed by a few hours of sunny weather – ideal for a little walk outside.

Blades of grass under snow near "Kaisereiche"
Blades of grass under snow near "Kaisereiche"

On the same day, I received a parcel with a pair of “Five Fingers KSO” shoes that I had recently ordered. This is an experiment for me – I read lots of reports on “running shoes have too much damping” and “feet are not made for such shoes” and “we all should move back to natural running”. The Five Fingers attempt to give an “almost-barefoot” feeling to build up strength again in the foot strings and muscles that have lied dormant for too long. Of course, that whole process will take months or more, but I am not really in a hurry.

So, I was very interested to find out myself what it’s going to be like to walk and run in such “shoes”. I guess a cold Saturday with snow is not the ideal test bed for a first try, but I was curious, so I put them on and had a 5km walk through the snow. However, since I am a coward, I was cheating a bit: I did also wear toe socks.

Five Fingers KSO
Five Fingers KSO in snowy conditions

First finding: The “KSO” (“Keep things out” – they enclose the feet pretty tightly) are really not made for snowy/icy conditions. Walking up/down steep passages felt quite slippery. There are other products from Vibram that are better fit for such purposes, and I am now waiting for the snow to melt away again to test mine in better weather conditions :-). Still, I did not slip a single time – walking in such shoes makes you more careful where you put your feet.

Second finding: Although the KSOs really don’t give a lot of protection (the sole is some 3.5mm thick), stones or gravel were no problem at all. I certainly feel them when I step on them (that’s the whole idea – “feel connected to the ground below your feet”), but they do not hurt at all. I inspected my feet afterwards, and found not a single scratch.

Third finding, and this was a real surprise – it wasn’t cold at all. Although I spent around one hour at pretty cold conditions, there were only occasional feelings of “it might get a little chilly now”, but this went away after a few seconds. Back home, I checked the temperature of my toes, and they really didn’t feel cold at all. I believe these thin soles cause the feet to “work with the ground” so much that they have no chance to cool down – unlike normal shoes, where the feet don’t really have a lot of work to do. This was really encouraging since I sometimes do suffer a bit from cold toes.

Slippery, but not cold at all - they make your feet work!
Slippery, but not cold at all - makes your feet work

In general, I am now very much looking forward to gain more experience with these. One dream would be take them on a hiking trip in the Alps – I saw a young man doing that last year near Oberstdorf (in a high-alpine situation on a “Via Ferrata”), and he confirmed it feels pretty safe. I find that idea fascinating.


Hapi vs. Xylophone by GoldBaby – SFZ file

The kind folks at GoldBaby have released quite a few free sample sets on their webpage (but definitely also check out the stuff they sell for money!). One particular sample set that caught my attention is “Hapi vs. Xylophone”, a blend of two similar sounding instruments.

The download consists of a 55MB archive and holds 26 high-quality samples (44.1 KHz, 24bit – no velocity layers, though) plus configuration files for EXS24 and Kontakt. I have written a small config file for SFZ which works nicely for me in LinuxSampler (simply download the file, remove the “.txt” extension, and place the .sfz file in the same directory as the samples).

Here’s a quick sound example; pad sound is courtesy of Yoshimi.



Linux Audio Conference: Call for Papers’ deadline coming up

Capturing the spirit (and ambient sound) of the LAC2010 in Maynooth, Ireland

The next (11th) Linux Audio Conference – or LAC#11 for short – will take place at the IEM (Institute of Electronic Music and Acoustics) in Graz, Austria, from May 9th to 12th, 2013.

As every ear, the Call for Papers and Call for Music has been sent out a while back, and the deadline for paper and music submissions is on February 4th. If you plan to submit a paper, use the remaining weeks (and, likely, weekends) to grab the paper template, write your paper and put it into a good shape, and then hand it in through the LAC’s participation page.

The range of available topics is wide, so anyone should find something that his paper fits into. Especially “user-view” papers have always been accepted with great interest, as in “this is how I use application xyz to produce this kind of sound/music”, or “here is my workflow based on these tools”. Besides papers, proposing a workshop might also be an alternative if you’re not that much into writing papers.

The LAC has always been a great event, not only due to the high-profile content of the papers presented, but also due to its social factor (spontaneous hacking sessions, getting into contact with developers and composers, and generally having fun together).

Don’t miss it!


New Year, New Blog, First Post.

Hi, and welcome to this new blog. My name is Frank Neumann, I live in south-west  Germany, and after far too long time I finally started my own blog today.
I owned the domain “linuxaudio.de” for a long time now (>8 years?) but never used it for  anything else than a simple “data buffer”. Now, thanks to the kind folks at gnuher.de I have a real WordPress blog to dump my brain into.

What can you expect? The plan is to write about things that I care about – mostly, as the name implies, about Linux Audio (making noises, sounds, music, creating work flows, explaining little tricks etc), but also about other computer-related things I am interested in – graphics, software development, whatever.

Besides, I’ll write now and then about the “life outside computer world” which to me means topics like:

  • My favourite sports – Running, Hiking, Climbing, Mountain Biking, ..
  • Photography
  • Life, the Universe and anything not covered so far

Those who know me a bit also know that I am incredibly slow, so don’t expect a new article every day (or even week). But you are welcome to check back now and then.

Happy New Year everyone – may it be soundful and musical,