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Orchestral Tools Berlin Harpsichords (KONTAKT): A Review




Introduction




If you are a music producer, composer, or enthusiast who loves the rich, baroque sounds of harpsichords, you might be interested in this new sample library from Orchestral Tools. It is called Berlin Harpsichords, and it is part of their renowned Berlin Series, which features high-quality orchestral instruments recorded at the Teldex Scoring Stage in Berlin.




Orchestral Tools – Berlin Harpsichords (KONTAKT)



In this article, we will review this sample library and explore its features, benefits, and sound quality. We will also give you some tips on how to use it in your music production projects. But first, let us briefly introduce what harpsichords are and why they are important in music history. We will also explain what KONTAKT is and why it is a powerful tool for music production.


What are harpsichords and why are they important in music history?




A harpsichord is a keyboard instrument that produces sound by plucking strings with small plectra attached to jacks. It was one of the most important keyboard instruments in European music from the 16th to the 18th century, especially during the Renaissance and Baroque periods. It was used both as a solo instrument and as an accompaniment instrument for vocal and instrumental music.


Harpsichords have a distinctive timbre that is bright, crisp, and resonant. They also have a limited dynamic range, meaning that they cannot vary the volume of the sound by pressing the keys harder or softer. However, they can create different tone colors by using different sets of strings, called registers or stops, which can be combined or switched by levers or pedals.


Harpsichords were developed in different countries and regions, resulting in different styles and designs. Some of the most famous harpsichord makers were Ruckers from Flanders, Blanchet from France, Kirckman from England, Zell from Germany, and Grimaldi from Italy. Some of the most famous composers who wrote for the harpsichord were Bach, Handel, Scarlatti, Couperin, Rameau, Purcell, Vivaldi, and Telemann.


What is KONTAKT and why is it a powerful tool for music production?




KONTAKT is a sampler software developed by Native Instruments that can emulate nearly any type of sound with recorded audio files. KONTAKT libraries are instruments built for KONTAKT that can range from singular percussive instruments to entire symphony orchestras. KONTAKT has a free sample player and a paid version, and also comes with a factory library of over 43GB of samples from nearly 900 individual instruments.


KONTAKT is a powerful tool for music production because it allows you to access a huge collection of sampled instruments from various genres, styles, eras, and cultures. You can also customize your sounds with various effects, filters, envelopes, modulators, scripts, and more. You can also create your own instruments by importing your own samples or using the built-in editor. KONTAKT works with nearly every DAW (digital audio workstation) as a plug-in or as a standalone application.


What are the features and benefits What are the features and benefits of Orchestral Tools Berlin Harpsichords (KONTAKT)?




Orchestral Tools Berlin Harpsichords (KONTAKT) is a sample library that features two traditional harpsichords French and Italian recorded at the Teldex Scoring Stage in Berlin. The library is part of the Berlin Series, which aims to capture the rich, baroque sounds of the classical era with high-quality orchestral instruments. The library is formatted for the full version of Native Instruments KONTAKT 5.8.1 or higher, and also works with the free KONTAKT Player.


Some of the features and benefits of this library are:



  • It offers a realistic and expressive sound of harpsichords, with multiple microphone positions, round robins, dynamic layers, and release samples.



  • It includes two different harpsichords, each with its own character and tone: the French harpsichord has a warm and mellow sound, while the Italian harpsichord has a bright and crisp sound.



  • It provides a variety of articulations and playing styles, such as sustains, staccatos, trills, mordents, glissandos, and more.



  • It allows you to customize your sound with various options, such as tuning, key noise, pedal noise, resonance, reverb, EQ, and more.



  • It is easy to use and navigate, with a clear and intuitive interface that shows all the relevant controls and information.



  • It is compatible with other libraries in the Berlin Series, such as Berlin Strings, Berlin Brass, Berlin Woodwinds, and Berlin Percussion.



  • It is a great addition to your music production toolkit, whether you want to create authentic baroque music, add some historical flavor to your compositions, or experiment with new sounds and textures.



In the following sections, we will take a closer look at each of the two harpsichords included in the library: the French harpsichord and the Italian harpsichord. We will describe their specifications, sound examples, and tips on how to use them effectively.


French Harpsichord




Description and specifications




The French harpsichord is based on a historical instrument built by Nicolas Blanchet in 1733. It has two manuals (keyboards) and four registers (sets of strings): 8' lower manual, 8' upper manual, 4' upper manual, and lute stop upper manual. The lute stop is a special register that dampens the strings with a piece of cloth to create a softer and more intimate sound. The instrument has a range of five octaves from F1 to F6.


The French harpsichord was recorded with three microphone positions: close (direct sound), mid (room sound), and far (ambient sound). You can mix and match these positions to create your desired balance and depth. You can also use the mic merge function to save RAM by loading only one mixed position. The library has 16 round robins per note and three dynamic layers per note (controlled by velocity). It also has release samples that add realism to the sound when you release a key.


Sound examples and tips




The French harpsichord has a warm and mellow sound that is suitable for delicate and expressive music. It can create a smooth and elegant atmosphere with its sustained notes, or a lively and rhythmic feel with its staccato notes. It can also perform various ornaments and embellishments with its trills and mordents. Here are some sound examples of the French harpsichord in action:



  • French Harpsichord Sustain 8' Lower Manual: This example shows the basic sound of the French harpsichord with the 8' lower manual register. You can hear the rich tone and resonance of the instrument.



  • French Harpsichord Staccato 8' Lower Manual: This example shows how the French harpsichord can create a lively and rhythmic feel with its staccato notes. You can hear how each note is crisp and clear.



  • French Harpsichord Trill 8' Lower ManualFrench Harpsichord Mordent 8' Lower Manual: This example shows how the French harpsichord can perform ornaments and embellishments with its mordents. A mordent is a rapid alternation of a note with the note above or below it. You can hear how the mordents add flair and expression to the melody.



  • French Harpsichord Lute Stop 8' Upper Manual: This example shows the special sound of the French harpsichord with the lute stop register. The lute stop dampens the strings with a piece of cloth, creating a softer and more intimate sound. You can hear how the lute stop changes the tone and color of the instrument.



Some tips on how to use the French harpsichord effectively are:



  • Use the velocity to control the dynamics and expression of the instrument. The higher the velocity, the louder and brighter the sound. The lower the velocity, the softer and darker the sound.



  • Use the sustain pedal to create legato and connected phrases. The sustain pedal will hold the notes until you release it, creating a smooth and continuous sound.



  • Use the modulation wheel to control the volume of the release samples. The release samples are the sounds that occur when you release a key, such as the pluck of the plectrum or the vibration of the string. The modulation wheel will adjust how loud or quiet these sounds are, adding more or less realism to the sound.



  • Use the key switches to change between different articulations and playing styles. The key switches are located on the lower end of the keyboard, from C0 to B0. Each key switch corresponds to a different articulation or playing style, such as sustain, staccato, trill, mordent, glissando, etc. You can see which key switch is active by looking at the interface or by pressing the info button.



  • Use the register switches to change between different registers or sets of strings. The register switches are located on the upper end of the keyboard, from C7 to G7. Each register switch corresponds to a different register, such as 8' lower manual, 8' upper manual, 4' upper manual, or lute stop upper manual. You can see which register is active by looking at the interface or by pressing the info button.



Italian Harpsichord




Description and specifications




The Italian harpsichord is based on a historical instrument built by Giovanni Battista Giusti in 1693. It has one manual (keyboard) and two registers (sets of strings): 8' single and 8' double. The 8' single register has one string per note, while the 8' double register has two strings per note, creating a fuller and richer sound. The instrument has a range of four octaves from C2 to C6.


The Italian harpsichord was recorded with three microphone positions: close (direct sound), mid (room sound), and far (ambient sound). You can mix and match these positions to create your desired balance and depth. You can also use the mic merge function to save RAM by loading only one mixed position. The library has 16 round robins per note and three dynamic layers per note (controlled by velocity). It also has release samples that add realism to the sound when you release a key.


Sound examples and tips




The Italian harpsichord has a bright and crisp sound that is suitable for energetic and virtuosic music. It can create a sparkling and brilliant atmosphere with its high notes, or a powerful and dramatic feel with its low notes. It can also perform fast and complex passages with its glissandos and arpeggios. Here are some sound examples of the Italian harpsichord in action:



  • Italian Harpsichord Sustain 8' Single: This example shows the basic sound of the Italian harpsichord with the 8' single register. You can hear the bright and crisp tone of the instrument.



  • Italian Harpsichord Sustain 8' Double: This example shows the fuller and richer sound of the Italian harpsichord with the 8' double register. You can hear how the two strings per note create a more complex and harmonious sound.



  • Italian Harpsichord Glissando 8' Single: This example shows how the Italian harpsichord can perform fast and complex passages with its glissandos. A glissando is a rapid slide up or down the keyboard, creating a sweeping and dazzling sound.



  • Italian Harpsichord Arpeggio 8' Double: This example shows how the Italian harpsichord can perform arpeggios, which are chords broken into individual notes played in succession. You can hear how the arpeggios create a sparkling and brilliant atmosphere.



Some tips on how to use the Italian harpsichord effectively are:



  • Use the velocity to control the dynamics and expression of the instrument. The higher the velocity, the louder and brighter the sound. The lower the velocity, the softer and darker the sound.



  • Use the sustain pedal to create legato and connected phrases. The sustain pedal will hold the notes until you release it, creating a smooth and continuous sound.



  • Use the modulation wheel to control the volume of the release samples. The release samples are the sounds that occur when you release a key, such as the pluck of the plectrum or the vibration of the string. The modulation wheel will adjust how loud or quiet these sounds are, adding more or less realism to the sound.



  • Use the key switches to change between different articulations and playing styles. The key switches are located on the lower end of the keyboard, from C0 to B0. Each key switch corresponds to a different articulation or playing style, such as sustain, staccato, trill, mordent, glissando, etc. You can see which key switch is active by looking at the interface or by pressing the info button.



  • Use the register switches to change between different registers or sets of strings. The register switches are located on the upper end of the keyboard, from C7 to D7. Each register switch corresponds to a different register, such as 8' single or 8' double. You can see which register is active by looking at the interface or by pressing the info button.



Conclusion




Summary of the main points




In this article, we have reviewed Orchestral Tools Berlin Harpsichords (KONTAKT), a sample library that features two traditional harpsichords French and Italian recorded at the Teldex Scoring Stage in Berlin. We have explored its features, benefits, and sound quality, and we have given you some tips on how to use it in your music production projects. We have also provided some sound examples of each harpsichord in action.


We have learned that harpsichords are keyboard instruments that produce sound by plucking strings with small plectra attached to jacks. They were one of the most important keyboard instruments in European music from the 16th to the 18th century, especially during the Renaissance and Baroque periods. They have a distinctive timbre that is bright, crisp, and resonant, and they can create different tone colors by using different sets of strings, called registers or stops.


We have also learned that KONTAKT is a sampler software developed by Native Instruments that can emulate nearly any type of sound with recorded audio files. KONTAKT libraries are instruments built for KONTAKT that can range from singular percussive instruments to entire symphony orchestras. KONTAKT is a powerful tool for music production because it allows you to access a huge collection of sampled instruments from various genres, styles, eras, and cultures. You can also customize your sounds with various effects, filters, envelopes, modulators, scripts, and more.


Recommendations and ratings




If you are looking for a realistic and expressive sample library of harpsichords, we highly recommend Orchestral Tools Berlin Harpsichords (KONTAKT). It offers a great value for money, as it includes two different harpsichords, each with its own character and tone. It also provides a variety of articulations and playing styles, as well as options to customize your sound. It is easy to use and navigate, and it is compatible with other libraries in the Berlin Series.


We give this sample library a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. It is a high-quality product that delivers what it promises. The only minor drawback is that it requires the full version of KONTAKT 5.8.1 or higher, which might be an additional cost for some users. However, it also works with the free KONTAKT Player, which is a plus.


FAQs




Here are some frequently asked questions about Orchestral Tools Berlin Harpsichords (KONTAKT):



  • How much does it cost and where can I buy it?



It costs $149 USD and you can buy it from the Orchestral Tools website. You can also get a discount if you buy it as part of the Berlin Series Bundle.


  • How big is the download size and how much disk space does it require?



The download size is about 7 GB and it requires about 14 GB of disk space after installation. You will need an internet connection to download and activate the product.


  • What are the system requirements and compatibility?



You will need a Windows 7 or higher or a Mac OS X 10.10 or higher operating system. You will also need at least 4 GB of RAM and an Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon 64 X2 processor. You will need the full version of Native Instruments KONTAKT 5.8.1 or higher or the free KONTAKT Player. You can use it as a plug-in with nearly every DAW (digital audio workstation) or as a standalone application.


  • Can I use it with other sample libraries or instruments?



Yes, you can use it with other sample libraries or instruments, as long as they are compatible with KONTAKT or your DAW. You can also use it with other libraries in the Berlin Series, such as Berlin Strings, Berlin Brass, Berlin Woodwinds, and Berlin Percussion.


  • Can I get a refund if I am not satisfied with the product?



Yes, you can get a refund within 14 days of purchase if you are not satisfied with the product. However, you will need to provide proof of purchase and uninstall the product from your computer. You can contact Orchestral Tools customer support for more details.


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