The question of finding your own 'voice' as a creator is a challenging one. Sometimes the most distinguishing facet to an artist's sound is their broad colour palette. In music, we are faced with the same challenge. Sample libraries enable us to up our production value; to play instruments that we couldn't play otherwise. These can make highly realistic results and can feature huge sections recorded in beautiful environments. Unfortunately, eventually, everyone has these sounds. To be unique, Dan believes you should create your own. And with that, he has an offering!
This section is dedicated to a growing bank of FREE sample libraries, created by DAN for YOU. Every couple of weeks, this page updates, so be sure to come back here every once in a while to see what's new!
Each sample instrument is accompanied by a YouTube walkthrough and tutorial video to show you how the sounds were constructed. This might inspire you to create your own instruments with similar methods. Dan strongly believes there is a world of sampling magic in the way of pots and pans in your kitchen! Each instrument is then available to download from Pianobook.
Soft String Spurs Extras
Welcome to Soft String Spurs Extras, a sample library of my viola, serving as an accompaniment to the original and very successful Soft String Spurs. This library has been such a joy to put together and I hope you enjoy using it just as much as I enjoyed creating it. This library was recorded diatonically using three microphones – a close AKG C451B about 2 feet from the viola and a stereo pair of AKG C214s about 2 metres away. The samples were double-tracked, enabling a rich stereo field. The samples were then edited and processed using echos and reverb and cleaned using RX7.
The King's Upright
Welcome to The King’s Upright, a soft upright piano that cuts through a mix while maintaining a gentle tone palette.
It particularly thrives in the upper mid-range, serving well to deliver lyrical melodies to your pieces, solo or cinematic. There is also a pad layer included, which works well as an infinite sustain pedal. This blend can be adjusted using the Mod Wheel.
This instrument was recorded through a stereo pair of close-miked AKG C214s and Saffire Pro 40 interface, using Christian Henson’s medium-strength sampling template. The library has two dynamic layers (layer 1 and 2) and three round robins (RR1, RR2 etc). There are also some release triggers (RT) and pedal sounds (PU – pedal up, PD – pedal down). The custom pad sound blend can be adjusted using the mod wheel or you can right-click the blend knob to learn via whichever MIDI CC you like.
Sometimes, film scores require the assistance of electronic elements, but these can be difficult to place in the stereo field and can often dominate the frequency spectrum. In response to Christian Henson's Creative Cribs episode with Tom Fuller, I created this pack of simplistic Basic Backdrops, designed to enhance your scores with subtle, breath-like burbles. This pack was created principally using my harmonica.
Recorded using a single AKG C214, each pad contains a single sample from my harmonica, warped and sculpted carefully into soft even tones.
Thrumming Textures: Amped Ukulele
This is the third in a series of new submissions called Thrumming Textures, featuring my Mahalo ukulele. Typically, I don’t tend to like the sound of ukuleles - I think it has something to do with the range - but I appreciate their usefulness as textural, rhythmical layers. I therefore decided it could be fun to experiment with tuning down.
This library is a diatonically sampled, single-dynamic-layer instrument, close-miked using a single AKG C451 B. I recorded each note dry and then morphed it using Soundtoys’ Little Alterboy set to -12 pitch and -12 formant, put it through a GuitarRig amp and then added some EchoBoy delay to add stereo width. This can sound quite thumpy on it’s own so I also created a layer using reverb, which you can blend in using the Mod Wheel (CC1).
Pots & Pads
Welcome to Pots & Pads, a kitchenware sample library dedicated to my claim that you don’t need to be a musician or have expensive instruments in order to create your own sounds.
Available in this library are a range of hits and pads produced from the following kitchen ‘instruments’: Bowed Pan (kindly donated by Marco Iannello), Ceramic Pan Lid, China Bowl, Glass, Glass Teapot, Potato Masher and Thermos.
Each sound was recorded with a combination of Shure SM57, AKG C451B and stereo pair of AKG C214 microphones. The sounds were then processed with compression and EQ followed by a creative dousing in tape saturation and occasionally some delay. These instruments are available to download as Kontakt and EXS24 samplers and will be sure to add a rhythmic warmth to your tracks.
Soft String Spurs
Welcome to Soft String Spurs, a sample library of my viola. There are 3 main components to this collection of sounds; the Core, which has 4 dynamic layers (Levels 1 and 2 were recorded using a mute, Levels 3 and 4 were recorded without a mute), Harmonics (4 time-stretched and manipulated natural harmonics) and Swells. I recorded this diatonically, recording 4 bows per sample, using a combination of AKG C451B close and AKG C214 stereo room mics for width. To enhance the sound further, I also recorded multiple layers. Level 1 has just a single recording and Levels 2, 3 and 4 have 3, 4 and 5 layers respectively.
The samples were produced with minimal compression, EQ and reverb to allow you to have flexibility with the sound, but I must say they take very well to delay and reverb, as outlined in my YouTube walkthrough and tutorial video below. The dynamics of the Core library can be faded between using the Mod Wheel and the volume for the Harmonics and Swells can be adjusted with CC21 (Spitfire's vibrato control). The combination of these plus CC11 Volume controller allow for easy use of all three instruments simultaneously.
Thrumming Textures: Electric Guitar
This is the second in a series of new submissions called Thrumming Textures. I present my Dean electric guitar. I have had this instrument for about 4 years and regularly record it for soundscapes and textures. I find it works really well under arrangements and has a warm low-end. This library is a diatonically sampled, single-dynamic-layer instrument, recorded clean and direct into my Focusrite Saffire Pro 40. I sampled each note twice to add stereo width; using my finger on one side and plectrum on the other. Using delay, reverb and compression, the resultant library works best as a soft pad.
Thrumming Textures: Acoustic Guitar
In a series of new submissions called Thrumming Textures, beginning here, I present my Cort acoustic guitar. I have had this instrument for about 8 years and have never managed to play it properly. Despite that, I regularly record it, often playing just one voice at a time to form a larger textural pad under my arrangements. This library is a diatonically sampled, single-dynamic-layer instrument, close-miked using a single AKG C451 B. I sampled each note twice to add stereo width; using my finger on one side and plectrum on the other. I used some EQ and compression to glue it together and added a subtle delay up an octave to give it a bright edge.