Distressed Bowed Lyre

A hand-built bowed lyre phrase library

The story

Many years ago I wanted a bowed lyre, but being such a niche instrument they were very expensive. Instead of trying to buy one, I asked my dad to make me one, and he succeeded with the one pictured. Stealing the tuning pegs, tailpiece, and flattened bridge from an old unneeded violin.

Over the years however, I have not had a suitable place to store the violin bow I use to play it, so it has deteriorated in my dry room as you can see in the picture. Not letting this stop me from making a sample library, I took inspiration from the improv samples Westwood records for their untamed series. I recorded about 1 minute of improv on each note, or at least the ones I could comfortably play.

After some processing and tweaking, I put the samples in Kontakt, and set it so every time a note is played, it starts at a random point in the sample. This means you get a sort of random phrase library which provides a unique performance every time. The downside of this system is it works best if you record it directly to audio in real time, and don’t worry about the MIDI.

I also have it set to pitch down the samples by 3 semitones by default, as I find it sounds better most of the time. You may easily adjust the tune knob up 3 semitones to hear the original pitch. I also recommend trying out -9 semitones, it provides a nice deep sound.

Reviews for Distressed Bowed Lyre

  • Sound
  • Character
  • Playability
  • Inspiration
  • GUI

Leave a review to let others know what you thought of the instrument!

  • Raspy bowed sound for medieval music

    Good instrument for medieval, dark and viking music. Too bad the playing range is limited so you need to pitch it up or down to get desired notes. But still that bowed sound is amazing.

    saand13 November 2021
  • So unique but limited control

    For what this is this is extremely unique. It's very weird, scratchy, creepy and does not sound like a sample instrument. It might only be useful for special occasions or gently layering on-top of other orchestration but its extremely cool and creative. The control is very limited, its pre recorded performances all in the same key with no ability to control anything. It would have been nice to have more recordings in different keys to avoid un natural sounding pitch processing and ability to control dynamics would be nice but again for what this is, its really cool and unique

    septemberwalk26 October 2021
  • Character that could use some controls!

    This instrument is great with a lot of character, but with some controls it would be simply amazing. The GUI is just a wallpaper and basically 6 different samples - from g3 to c4. There are no mod wheel sliders even for the volume, so lower your volume before you press a key. Nevertheless, these 6 samples can create a beautiful-ly creepy atmosphere for the right moment. It's up to you!

    Alex Raptakis27 October 2021
  • Lots of character, but very limited

    This library has folky, down home character in spades, but you only get six samples, all of which are in the same key and which are laid out chromatically together. It would have been more useful to place them according to the note that changes on top of the droning notes. Because you're surrendering control over pitch and tempo, this sample pack is pretty limited in its usefulness.

    Sam Ecoff24 October 2021