This unique vocal instrument is based on a simple concept with a rather remarkable pedigre: chromatically sampled vocal sustains captured over 150 years ago. This original method of recording, called ‘Phonautography’ was invented in the early 1850s, by French inventor Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville. The sounds were captured by projecting the voice and other sounds into a cylindrical horn attached to a stylus, which in transfered the vibration into lines over the surface of oil lamp soot-blackened sheets of paper. These raw archival recordings were preserved by the French Academy of Sciences and finally decoded by First Sounds with the help of laser scanning equipment at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
We chose one of the very earliest human sound recordings – a simple vocal scale sung by Martinville himself in a recording called Gamme de la Voix (or “range of voice”). We then hand-crafted each of these samples by splicing, editing and manipulating raw sound into a fully playable chromatic solo vocal instrument. But that’s just where we started. Next, we took that modified sound and warped it beyond all recognition using a variety of DSP and sound design techniques to create a diverse and compelling range of different ambient soundscapes, sonic textures, tonal pads, synths, atmospheres, drones and resynthesized drums.
Special thanks to First Sounds, an informal collaborative of audio historians, recording engineers, sound archivists, scientists, individuals and organizations who aim to make mankind’s earliest sound recordings available to all people for all time. First Sounds was founded in 2007 by David Giovannoni, Patrick Feaster, Richard Martin and Meagan Hennessey. The original version of this sample library was published in 2010 by Tonehammer. In this new version, we’ve vastly expanded the features and content, with nearly 200 MB of newly created ambient and percussive sample content, full user interface and performance controls and our custom DSP effects rack for the Kontakt presets. We’ve also expanded sfz support, with custom performance controls for the free Sforzando player by Plogue, so everyone can enjoy this cool piece of modified sonic history.
The full retail version of Native Instruments Kontakt version 5.1.0 or higher is required to use .nki instrument program presets included in this library.