Harpsichord - Free Ableton Live Pack 162


Happy Halloween 2017!

To celebrate the occasion, I have a very special Free Ableton Live Pack. Mitchell's Harpsichord! This instrument was sampled and built by Charlie McCarron and Mitchell Adam Johnson. They sent it to me and I added a few little finishing touches to their meticulous labor. We would like you to have it for free!

This instrument is extremely life-like. Charlie and Mitchell painstakingly sampled every note of the harpsichord, as well as the mechanical noises each key makes. The instrument gives you control over whether the notes are sustained or staccato, a filter, a reverb, the volume of the mechanical noise, and the volume of the strings. They made use of a clever trick with Ableton's Note On MIDI device to make the mechanical noises sound after the MIDI note is released (Note off). When you turn down the strings volume all the way, the mechanical noises are then sounded when the MIDI note is initially pressed (Note on). This allows you the option to use the mechanical sounds percussively. 

Screen Shot 2017-10-31 at 3.31.33 PM.png

Mitchell has an interesting story behind this harpsichord, which I'd like to share:

I used to search on Craigslist for harpsichords, celestas, and mellotrons. Rarely would anything pop up. Then one day in November of 2010, a harpischord appeared. I sent an email, and got this prompt response: Thanks for your interest in the harpsichord.  Alas, it is already spoken for.  You are third in line, and I’ll let you know if the first two fall through. -Bob

Well, turns out the first two people were from out of state, and the arrangements were just getting too complicated for the seller. He sent me another email letting me know that the harpsichord was mine, if I could pick it up sometime in the next couple days. I rushed over there, checked it out, and bought the harpsichord for $150.
Bob, the seller, taught me how to tune and adjust the instrument. He also gave me all the necessary tools as well as extra strings and spare parts.

Bob related to me the story of how he originally acquired the harpsichord. What I remember is probably slightly off here and there, but here's the basic tale:

In the late 70s, Bob had the idea to build his own harpsichord. He planned on making it extremely authentic to the Baroque era - complete with decorative paint and gold trim. Well, a year went by, then another, then another, and Bob was still putting together this extremely intricate project.
The construction was taking much longer than expected, and Bob just wanted to PLAY a damn harpsichord. They aren't like guitars or pianos, where you can just pop into a shop and play around; they're hard to come by.

So Bob began searching for a harpsichord to purchase - one for him to play around on while his own project was plodding along. This is where THE harpsichord enters the story.
I'm not sure how Bob ever found this person in the early 80s (without the internet), but SOMEHOW, Bob stumbled upon this boy genius, whose name I can't recall.
Anyway, the story within the story goes like this: Some high school student was taking a shop class, and was just getting bored with how basic the class projects were. So while his buddies were building bird houses and shelves, this boy decided he was going to build a fucking harpsichord. And he did just that.

So Bob found this student and bought the instrument off him for basically nothing. Zoom to 2010. After 30 years, Bob finally finished building his own, much more complex harpsichord. Multiple registers, intricate decorations - just beautiful. As he had no need for two harpsichords, he decided to sell one. He could've asked for $1,000 and someone certainly would've bought it. Instead, he decided to list it for $150.

So yeah, I entered "harpischord" into the search bar on Craiglist.

Please be sure to check the work of both Charlie McCarron and Mitchell Adam Johnson:

Charlie McCarron:

Website - Learn about Charlie, including his excellent podcast Composer Quest

Twitter - Send some love!

Music Production Lessons Podcast - Learn a thing or two with these great lessons.

Charlie on the Music Production Podcast - I had a great talk with Charlie on my podcast!

Mitchell Adam Johnson:

Bandcamp - This harpsichord will be heavily featured on his upcoming album Marigold.