I am a carpenter in Vermont, US and was recently hired to do some work on a large, 200 year-old house in downtown Montpelier. The client had just bought the house and wanted to do some sprucing up before moving their family in. I was thrilled to find 90 percent of the original woodwork in great shape and even found some pressed leather wainscoting in pristine condition. Even more exciting was the antique upright piano that they had already moved in (not original to the house). I had been wanting to sample a piano for months after finding out about this community and this was the perfect opportunity. I got permission to stay after work the following day and do the recording in an otherwise empty house. Being downtown (albeit a town of 7,000 people) the recording took over an hour as many takes were thwarted by passing cars or barking dogs or screaming children.
I only own two mics, an AKG C1000 small diaphragm condenser and an AKG C3000 large diaphragm condenser that were given to me years ago by my recording engineer brother who had outgrown them. Despite being totally different mics, or because of it, the sound came out interesting and a little eerie. According to a business card inside the piano it was last tuned in 1976 and googling the serial told me it was made right around 1900 in Boston. I chose to sample as close to the recommended circle of fifths as possible but had to sub a couple keys on the high end to avoid massively out-of-tune strings (samples are labelled as such). I also did some tuning of individual samples during editing to bring them close to normal tuning. This piano owes it’s name to my initial reaction to being alone in this ancient empty house which is that there is a seriously good chance this place is haunted. I didn’t notice any ethereal voices showing up in the recordings but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there!
This was my first sampled instrument and I had a blast making it. If I did it again I’d play around a lot more with mic placement (maybe even with matching mics) and definitely would have loved to record the room/house, but I’m happy with the resulting character and I hope you enjoy it too.
Many thanks to Christian and the community for inspiring me to explore my creativity in a new way.
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I had to get this because 1) it’s called “Ghost Piano,” 2) the back story is great, and 3) I grew up in Vermont. I love the soft, subtle character of this piano sound…it is ghostly, for sure, but more sensual and ethereal than frightening to me. But I’m certainly not going to play it while looking into a mirror in a dark room at midnight, because I think we all know what happens when you do that! Thanks, Andrew, for this great sound. I converted it to soundfont if you would like a copy to share.