The story

This started as a learning exercise but I liked the sounds I was getting, so I just kept going. All of the samples were made from recording an old, toy metallophon – essentially a glockenspiel/xylophone hybrid – that my wife had as a child growing up in Germany in the 1970s (and has kept ever since).

I included four mixable layers: hits, a pad, reverse hits and bowed. The pad works well with a long attack and release, but can also stand as a nice, warm, melodic synth with a shorter attack. Same with the bowed version. It was very hard to get much of a sound out of the metallophon when I bowed it since the bars are so small – and the bow was a short one for a child’s beginner violin – but once I played around with the samples, it brought out some nice textures.

There are three velocity layers and three round robins with the hits. I’ve also got close and ambient mics for the hits and reverse hits.

Lastly, I also included a percussion section I made by hitting different parts of the metallophon, banging mallets together and the box it came in. It’s copied across two octaves on the keyboard for better playability.

Massive thanks to Stephen O’Connell and David Hilowitz for their amazing tutorials. Also to Quentin Lachapèle for helping me puzzle some of the trickier stuff out, and to the community at VI Control.

I created a short little walkthrough here:


robin hilton


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