Welcome to the third entry in our Plectra Series of deep-sampled plucked, picked, and strummed instruments from around the globe! The Kazakh Dombra is an ancient fretted lute with two strings and an integral part of traditional music from Kazakhstan. It is playable as a solo instrument, as part of an ensemble, or to accompany epic songs and poetry. To truly capture the authentic playing style of the dombra, our instrument was performed by Asset Abdrakhmanov in Almaty, Kazakhstan and recorded by Sergei Smorgov.
Articulations in Plectra Series 3 include multiple types of pitch bend articulations that help reproduce the colorful range of timbres the dombra is capable of. These include mordents (single up-and-down bends), major and minor trills (repeating between two notes), and full neck slides from each note on each string. Standard sustains and muted playing are of course also available, along with true legato hammer-on and pull-off playing for authentic transitions between notes.
This library is a fantastic tool for those looking to add an authentic East European / Russian sound to their arsenal. From chase scenes to underscore, virtuosic solo parts, or layering with other sounds of the region, we think you will find the textures of this instrument to be very musical and inspiring!
The demos below showcase Plectra Series 3: Kazakh Dombra in a variety of contexts. “Dressed” demos incorporate other instrumentation, while “Naked” or unlabeled demos feature nothing but Kazakh Dombra.
The dombra has a bright, percussive tone with a quick decay, making it ideal for very quick playing; to facilitate this, we sampled the instrument with up to 16x RR (8x up/8x down) per chromatic note on both strings. Along with useful features like an octave of unpitched quick strums and ‘repetition triggers’ that allow for extremely fast live parts, this is our first library to feature flexible velocity mapping AND keyswitching. You can easily enable or disable any articulation, change their velocity range, or assign custom notes to toggle them on or off!
There’s even more to (Kazakh Dombra) that we’ve skipped over, like reverb, the cool legato hammer-ons, and more keyswitch instruments. The programming is very well done on this instrument, even more impressive for the price. For $29, it’s a no-brainer for composers and anyone looking for unique ethnic flair in his or her sample library.Neptune, Voxcaliber
We came up with the idea for Sitar Nation in mid-2007, after noticing that despite the growing popularity of ethnic instrument libraries, few products sampled non-Western instruments with a level of depth expected from a modern sample library. We spoke with numerous composers and producers who were unhappy with the current offering of ethnic instrument samples which only provided an “overview” of sounds and lacked the detail necessary to provide realistic solo performances.
The sitar, tampura, tabla and baya were chosen for our library not only because these instruments have remained a foundation of Indian classical music for centuries, but also because they have even permeated Western music since the 50s and 60s. Sitar Nation is the first library to capture these instruments with a level of detail and realism normally reserved for violins and pianos, allowing the composer to control and play these beautiful sounds without relying on excessive programming.
The library is built on 2.7gb of “unlocked” 24-bit/44.1khz audio content. Eighteen main patches cover a variety of important playing techniques for all four instruments, all of which can be loaded from up to three positions: close, room, and ambient. This, combined with extensive sampling for velocity and round robins, allows you to carefully reproduce authentic sounds OR simply add flourishes of flavor to your compositions with a minimum of time spent.
Also included with Sitar Nation is a set of seventeen FX patches which take the core audio content into new directions using both pre-rendered offline processing and effects/programming within Kontakt. The result is a wide variety of highly useful sounds, from drones and percussion to chimes, pads and keyboards.
Handcrafted, Gourdless Sitar Performed by Thomas Flanagan, the sitar we recorded is a custom-made instrument crafted from wood that seasoned for seven years! Articulations include plucking (thumbed and picked), mordents (quick “turns”), strums of the chikari (rhythm) strings, whole tone bends, glissandos at different speeds and both major and minor tonalities, basic phrases and tremolos. Thorough velocity and round robin sampling was used for many articulations, with up to four layers and three round robin groups.
Tampura Traditionally an instrument played by an apprentice sitar player to accompany an expert. Though the body is smaller than the sitar, the simple, open drones it produces have a unique timbre that provide an excellent rhythmic base. This instrument was also performed by Thomas Flanagan.
Tabla & Baya A set of two custom-made, carefully tuned hand drums performed by Jeremy Dyen. The sheer number of strokes possible for the tabla or baya alone is staggering, but we chose to thoroughly record some of the most widely used and recognizable techniques such as both edge, open and muted strikes as well as multiple pitch bends in different directions and at different speeds. Every stroke was recorded with nine velocity layers and three round robins to allow for seamless, human performances.
Special FX From the unprocessed audio content, we created a number of patches using both offline and Kontakt processing to open up a whole new dimension in sound. For example, “Livewire Drone” takes sitar drones and uses FM synthesis and waveshaping to “electrify” the timbre of the sitar. “Deep Chime” uses extensive granular synthesis to create an ominous, semi-harmonic orchestral chime hit with a reverberant ambiance. The two “Shaped Kit” patches use ring modulation and waveshaping to turn the tabla and baya into an electronic percussion set.
Sitar Nation: Classical Instruments of India is easily the best collection of sampled sitars I’ve ever played. Given some of the sampled sitars we’ve all heard, that may sound like faint praise, but this set from Impact Soundworks pole-vaults over the others with a playability, a musicality, and a complexity that place it alongside the best sampled instruments of any stripe.
Sitar Nation is full of surprises, but the most pleasant one is the set”s overall musicality and expressiveness. If you’re looking for classical Indian instruments (and then some), Sitar Nation is an outstanding value. (5/5 stars)Marty Cutler, Electronic Musician
The deepest koto, bass koto and shamisen library ever released, featuring world-class performer Masayo Ishigure! 2 mic positions, extensive dynamics and RRs, FX patches and extensive traditional and contemporary articulations.
We created Koto Nation out of a desire to see traditional Japanese instruments receive a deep, thorough sampling treatment, much like our acclaimed North Indian sample library Sitar Nation. While there are a handful of libraries which include samples of the koto and shamisen, they feature only the most basic articulations and few (if any) velocities or round robins. To our knowledge, the bass koto has never been sampled at all! Given the popularity of the shakuhachi and taiko in many Western film soundtracks, we wanted to allow film composers, hobbyist producers, ethnomusicologists, anime fans and everyone in between access to these classic instruments and complete the repertoire of traditional Japanese sounds available.
This library includes a massive number of samples spanning a wide variety of both traditional and extended playing techniques all recorded by koto legend Masayo Ishigure (Memoirs of a Geisha). This includes close and stereo room mic positions! A total of 25 main patches spread among the three instruments cover all crucial playing techniques, such as sustained picks with a plectrum, pizzicato, octaves, glissandi of multiple types and speeds, vibrato, tremolo, mordents (pitch bends), and mutes, as well as extended techniques such as atonal glissandi, finger scrapes, string hits and hard plucks.
Multiple dynamic and round robin layers were recorded for each articulation, as well as variations in speed or tonality where appropriate; for example, the koto tremolo can be played at two main speeds (with fine speed control), mordents can be set to whole-tone or half-tone, glissandi can be played slow, fast and in ascending, descending or mixed order, and so on. This incredible depth of sampling allows for unparalleled realism, allowing the instruments to stand alone in a solo context as well as in a larger composition.
Koto The national instrument of Japan, and one of the oldest stringed instruments in the world! The koto has 13 strings with an equal number of movable bridges allowing the player to adjust tuning, something that is often called for in pieces. It is traditionally played using three finger picks used to pluck the strings, but a variety of other techniques have developed as well such as finger tapping, harmonics, pizzicato, etc.
Bass Koto Developed in the early 20th century, the bass koto is a much larger version of the standard koto which adds 4 additional strings and allows for much lower pitches to be played. Its deep, warm sound and large range has made it popular in some forms of Japanese traditional music as well as contemporary music.
Shamisen Like the koto, this three-stringed developed centuries ago and became an integral part of Japanese music, perhaps most associated with its role in traditional theater where it is still used. It is typically played with a large plectrum, and can be played solo, used to accompany singing or other instruments. Many playing styles have evolved over the years – we recorded a shamisen constructed and performed in the classical jiuta style, as opposed to the tsugaru style typically used in rock or pop music.
Special FX Also included in the Koto Nation library is a set of 9 “FX” patches, which apply online and offline processing to the core audio to take it in new, musically interesting directions. These sounds range from granular pad textures to warm sustains, drones, airy resonances, percussive hits, distorted synths and eerie ambiances.
This is all that really matters at the end of the day for most, and this has a very detailed, authentic sound. For me, it’s awesome, it’s not a general use, all around instrument. It’s specific to the instruments it covers, and it covers them well. … at the end of the day, a great sound is a great sound, and with all the articulations in this library it’s really easy to find what you need. It’s priced well within the reach of everyone from hobbyists to professional composers, so that’s always a plus. (4.5/5 stars)JK Swopes, Sounds and Gear
The most realistic and detailed virtual oud instrument ever released! Plectra Series 4 includes a custom-made, masterwork Turkish Oud performed by Stelios Varveris and produced by Dimitris Plagiannis. It features all crucial articulations, a gorgeous & inspiring UI, and a full microtuning engine for authentic playing.