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.
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.