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Seeking civil-war-era piano sounds, some good and one awful

Posted By: laterbloomer

Seeking civil-war-era piano sounds, some good and one awful - 04/18/19 10:11 PM

hello— i am on the hunt for virtual piano sounds for a few different pianos that might exist in new england during the civil war. but the catch is that I need them to sound the way they would have sounded *during* the civil war. so, at the time when we are hearing them, they are fairly new (with one exception, explained below). (i am writing and recording some incidental solo piano music for a play adaptation of Little Women.)


i need to represent (1) a piano owned by a very wealthy family, (2) a perhaps-new piano gifted to a poor family (it could be the same as the first one but with some tweaks to differentiate it), and (3) a desperately horrific old piano owned by the poor family, perhaps even comically beyond repair.


I’m doing some research of my own, but I thought I should drop by here too, since you’re the experts!

All I own right now (and since the beginning of time) is Ivory. Someone suggested the Kremsegg collection for Pianoteq, but upon much thought I don't think that's the most economical choice for me in life. I wish I knew more about how to find these kinds of pianos as 3rd-party libraries for Kontakt..... if there are good ones out there, then maybe that's the better place to spend my money?

Unless there are other options that I don't know about?

Many thanks!
Posted By: newer player

Re: Seeking civil-war-era piano sounds, some good and one awful - 04/18/19 10:32 PM

There is a database of well over 100 Piano VIs on the "Digital Piano master sticky thread."

Not every piano is listed but it is a good start. In many cases the sampled or modeled piano type/year is noted.
Posted By: Charles Cohen

Re: Seeking civil-war-era piano sounds, some good and one awful - 04/18/19 11:40 PM

I think you should look at Pianoteq again. You don't need more than the "Stage" version (100 Euros or so). I _think_ that it will run as a VST, as well as "stand-alone". So you might be able to fit it into Kontakt. The user forum is at:

https://www.forum-pianoteq.com/

and you will probably get a firm answer there.

There are a few fortepianos available in the basic package (no extra charge), fully-functional. I just tried playing Pianoteq's test MIDI file (a modern slow blues) through the "C. Graf" (1826 model), re-pitched to A=440, and it sounded OK.

There's a "Condition" slider that lets you go from "perfectly tuned, perfectly even response" to "out-of-tune, broken, ready for firewood".

Download the free trial version (fully-functional except for a few notes), and see if you like it.

Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: Seeking civil-war-era piano sounds, some good and one awful - 04/19/19 12:18 AM

So ... Pianoteq can be set to sound like a Civil War-era piano?
How does anyone know what such a piano sounds like?
Posted By: BDB

Re: Seeking civil-war-era piano sounds, some good and one awful - 04/19/19 12:22 AM

If you want to be authentic, you should look into harmonium sounds. I think they were more popular than pianos then. Your income taxes were higher if you owned a piano!
Posted By: Chrispy

Re: Seeking civil-war-era piano sounds, some good and one awful - 04/19/19 01:20 AM

https://www.pianoteq.com/free_stuff is where the Graf is by the way. And you can change all kinds of settings in Pianoteq to make the instrument sound out of tune, more worn, etc.
Posted By: jon123

Re: Seeking civil-war-era piano sounds, some good and one awful - 04/19/19 01:22 AM

Pianoteq is the way to go. I've searched for historical pianos in the past and the only options I found were Pianoteq and Nord. Pianoteq also gives you the ability to change the condition of the piano from "mint" to "ruined."

As was said earlier, all you would need is the Stage version which is $149. With the Stage version, you get to choose two instrument packs. This gives you the opportunity to get both Kremsegg collections. Additionally, you get the KIViR collection for free, which has additional historical pianos.
Posted By: newer player

Re: Seeking civil-war-era piano sounds, some good and one awful - 04/19/19 02:17 AM

8Dio has a 1901 upright with original strings. You can hear demo and see features at:

https://8dio.com/instrument/1901-upright-studio-piano-for-kontakt-vst-au-aax-samples/

VI control forum member wrote "8dio 42% off all libraries starts april 20". Not sure of source.
Posted By: Charles Cohen

Re: Seeking civil-war-era piano sounds, some good and one awful - 04/19/19 06:50 AM

Originally Posted by MacMacMac
So ... Pianoteq can be set to sound like a Civil War-era piano?
How does anyone know what such a piano sounds like?


That's why we have musical-instrument museums. And that's how the Pianoteq engineers would try to match the sound of a few museum-specimen fortepianos.

I simply thought that the OP had rejected Pianoteq for inadequate reasons.

For film purposes, you might want a piano sound that sounds like what people _imagine_ a Civil-War-era piano sounds like. And for most people, an upright simulation, or a square-piano simulation, might work fine.
Posted By: Morten Olsson

Re: Seeking civil-war-era piano sounds, some good and one awful - 04/19/19 09:13 AM

For most people anything vaguely resembling the sound of a piano will do them fine smile
Posted By: CyberGene

Re: Seeking civil-war-era piano sounds, some good and one awful - 04/19/19 09:18 AM

Originally Posted by Morten Olsson
For most people anything vaguely resembling the sound of a piano will do them fine smile

Well, there’s a software VST that’s perfect for the purpose! Ohh, wait, I’m not allowed to mention it frown
Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: Seeking civil-war-era piano sounds, some good and one awful - 04/19/19 09:28 AM

Go ahead, CG. Say it. Say it. You know you want to.
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Seeking civil-war-era piano sounds, some good and one awful - 04/19/19 10:07 AM

Originally Posted by CyberGene
Well, there’s a software VST that’s perfect for the purpose! Ohh, wait, I’m not allowed to mention it frown

Pianoteq! 3hearts
Posted By: clothearednincompo

Re: Seeking civil-war-era piano sounds, some good and one awful - 04/19/19 11:30 AM

Well, Pianoteq IS very flexible.

Even the "freebie" K2 in the built-in sound pack can be tweaked into a variety of pianos.

I tried to tweak it into an upright and to some extent shortening the strings works, but seems like the bass-treble length ratio is a problem. To get upright like bass notes the string length needs to be so short that the mid and treble range turn into a toy piano.

But if one goes for the U4 package then maybe that can be turned into an awful small civil war era giveaway spinet, if spinets already existed at that point. (EDIT: They are actually a much later phenomenon.) Or to a full size but "somewhat beaten up" upright.

Other than that one can even adjust the dampers. Old uprights were "overdamper pianos", right? And they were even worse at dampening that modern uprights(?) And one can easily adjust the amount of resonances to have that slightly too small upright cabinet where from the sound can't really get out and everything turns into a huge mess unless you are careful with the damper pedal.

And the already mentioned condition slider! No need to read a manual to tweak the sound. Let the piano go bad. Then call in the tuner. It takes one second.
Posted By: karvala

Re: Seeking civil-war-era piano sounds, some good and one awful - 04/19/19 11:36 AM

You have basically three options that I'm aware of:-

(1) The historical modelled instruments that come free when you buy Pianoteq. There are five of these, of which the 1826 Graf is closest to your period. It sounds not bad by Pianoteq standards(!), and playability is obviously fine.

(2) The historical modelled instruments of the Kremsegg collection. They are split into two sets which are charged for separately, in addition to buying Pianoteq. In the first set, the Erard (1849) and Streicher (1852) are closest to what you want; in the second set the Pleyel (1835) and Frenzel (1841) are a bit earlier, and sound a bit earlier. I think the first set would suit your purposes better. Playability of these is fine as well.

(3) The historical sampled instruments of the realsamples Edition Beurmann collection. Of those, the 1848 Berndt ("Pianoforte") is the obvious one, though you might also get away with the 1873 Erard ("Grand Piano"). These instruments require the full version of Kontakt, so you would have to buy that. They are more realistic sounding than the Pianoteq instruments, but they're not very well sampled in my view, playability is awful and the sound is quite uneven.

So I guess it depends on your budget, and whether you want to directly play them or not. Finally, in terms of horrific sounding pianos, there are modern pianos in very bad condition which might fit the bill, notable the Death Piano from Production Voices. Worth listening to at least.
Posted By: laterbloomer

Re: Seeking civil-war-era piano sounds, some good and one awful - 04/21/19 06:09 PM

Thank you, all! This is such a wealth of leads/resources and I'm so grateful. And thank you especially for being patient with telling me about things that I would already know if i had been spending more regular time dealing with these things and dealing with this forum. Also, there are some very detailed responses in here, and you're so kind to have taken the time to help me.

To clarify, my reasons for "rejecting" Pianoteq were because there seemed to be both Kontakt solutions and Pianoteq solutions, and I thought, if I'm going to plunk a lot of money down for something, maybe it should be something that I can also use for non-piano sounds, in case that becomes a part of my life someday. But let's be honest....... knowing me, I'm probably going to end up buying both. Heh. I was just hoping that with the holiday weekend there would be sales, but I guess it's not THAT kind of holiday.

(Actually, another contributing reason was that I wanted to also love the Pianoteq regular pianos for my normal life-work, and I didn't think I loved them. But I'll admit, as someone who has only ever used Ivory, anything except Ivory will probably feel jarring to me at first.)

To also clarify a couple other things that came up:
1. I wish it could be harmonium, but the character being a pianist is very specific to the Little Women story.... wah wahhh.
2. I believe, with budget and space considerations, the production is using the same spinet or upright (gutted) piano (dressed in 3 different ways) to represent all three.
3. So obviously there are some realism stretches, since it's a play and it's being set up for some realism stretches. And yet I feel obsessed about getting the sounds right. Maybe because I would rather shop for software than actually write, who knows. It's certainly more fun.

Looking forward to digging into all your responses, and spending money on new toys to play with. Thanks!!
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