Glass Works is a set of Kontakt instruments which collects together 3 rare musical instruments which use glass to generate sound:
Le Cristal Baschet, The Glass Armonica, and a set of Cloud Chamber Bowls.
We travelled to Paris to record with Thomas Bloch, a virtuoso musician who specialises in rare instruments, and Glass Works is the result.. cinematic, creepy and cool.
The glass armonica, also known as the glass harmonica, bowl organ, hydrocrystalophone, or simply the armonica (derived from "harmonia", the Greek word for harmony), is a type of musical instrument that uses a series of glass bowls or goblets graduated in size to produce musical tones by means of friction - rubbing a wet finger along the edge of the glass, as one might with a wine glass.
The instrument was invented by Benjamin Franklin, who called his invention the "armonica" after the Italian word for harmony. On Franklin's treadle operated version 37 bowls were mounted horizontally on an iron spindle. The whole spindle turned by means of a foot pedal. The modern version uses a silent electric motor. Over time limescale build-up gives the instrument a frosted appearance, like a rare crystal or stalactite.
The Cristal Baschet or 'Le Cristal' was designed in 1952 by Bernard and François Baschet. It consists of about 4 octaves of chromatically tuned glass rods, which are rubbed with wet ﬁngers. The vibration of the glass is passed to a heavy block of metal, which itself is tuned and in fact determines the ﬁnal pitch. The entire mechanism is ampliﬁed by a large steel plate called the “ﬂame”. There are also three small ﬁberglass cones that amplify the higher frequencies.
These pictures show the glass rods connected to the metal tines. Sound is produced by rubbing a wet finger on the glass - hence the bowl of water.
The Baschet brothers specialize in creating sculptures that can be played to produce music. They also invented the inﬂatable guitar and the aluminum piano, and created an educational instrumentarium for exposing young people to musical concepts.
The Cloud Chamber Bowls are Soniccoutures recreation of an instrument built in the 1950s by maverick American composer Harry Partch. It consists of hanging “bowls” which are sections of 12-gallon glass carboys. Both tops and bottoms of the carboys are used. Partch had 14 (later 13) bowls hanging from a large wooden frame he called a “tori”. The name “Cloud Chamber Bowls” arose from the fact that Partch found the original tops and bottoms at a Radiation Laboratory at UC Berkeley in 1950. The bowls were originally used for cloud chambers used in tracing paths of subatomic particles.
The original pitches of the bowls are basically random, as were Partch’s. For our Cloud Chamber Bowls kontakt instrument we have included a full chromatic tuning of the bowls, for convenience.Since we were unable to locate a set of Chamber bowls whose owner was willing to let us record them, and since most sets are 'home made' anyway, in the spirit of Partch we decided that we would make our own set. They are sampled with two different sets of mallets and a cello bow.
The Soniccouture Glass Armonica instrument features 3 alternate round-robin layers with expressive key-off samples. Use either the mod-wheel or velocity to add the sound of natural pressure to the sound.
The Soniccouture Cristal instrument uses 2.5GB of stereo samples spread over 4 octaves. 6 different articulations (with 3 alternate layers each) make the instrument burst with expression: sustain: soft & hard, Accent, percussion: hard & soft mallet, SFX.
The ‘Flame’ - the steel sheet that amplifies the sound - is modelled using convolution technology, so you can add as much or little of the effect as required.
The Cloud Chamber Bowls kontakt instrument contains 1.38 GB of stereo samples. 10 x 3 velocity layers ensure a seamless dynamic response. Switch between hard and soft mallets for a different timbre, and generate random sequences with the KSP Jammer module. The tuning of the CCB can be switched from the original random tuning to a more usable chromatic (C1-C5) range.
Possibly the ultimate pad instrument; bowing the glass chamber bowls witha cello bow produces an incredible organic drone sound. 5 alternate layers mean that the timbre stays fluid, and harmonics can be faded inand out using the mod-wheel to really add dynamics.
The Cristal SFX instruemnt uses Soniccouture's proprietary FOCUS system to turn a huge selection of clangs and live performances on the Cristal Baschet into a useable SFX instrument. Quickly audition different sounds by playing the single keys, then instantly map your chosen sound across the entire keyboard for chromatic playing - just hit 'FOCUS'.
Each Glass Works instrument features the Effects Panel, bringing together Tape effects, Phaser, Delay & Soniccouture's custom convolution reverb effects.
This is a Kontakt Player instrument. This means that you do not need to own the full version of NI Kontakt to use it. It will run as a plug-in instrument in any VST/AU/RTAS/AAX/WASAPI,compatible host program or DAW eg: Cubase, Logic, Ableton Live, DP, Reaper, Pro-Tools. No extra purchase necessary.
Windows 7 or higher (latest Service Pack, 32/64 Bit), Intel Core Duo or AMD AthlonTM 64 X2, 4 GB RAM (6 GB RAM recommended)
Mac: OS X 10.9 or higher, Intel Core 2 Duo, 4 GB RAM
Requires KONTAKT 5 or KONTAKT 5 PLAYER version 5.5 or later