Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Make It Funky: Sound Like Herb

Want to sound like Herbie Hancock? Well this week we've got the best free and paid for tools, from VSTi to sample sets.

And to get you in the mood, check this video of the man himself showing off his Fairlight CMI to Quincy Jones:

So, if you want  to capture the classic sounds of Herbie Hancock, where do you start? Well after that video, why not start with the Fairlight CMI digital sampling synth.

If you don't mind dropping a bit of cash on it, there's a superb emulation from Best Service called Cult Sampler, which retails for 99 Euro and uses the Native Instruments Kompakt engine.

They say:

"This library includes the sounds of the late 70s to the early 80s. Because the samplers at that time suffered from severe limitations in memory capacity (RAM), excess artistic high level sound programming was a must. Pitching and stretching of sounds was obligatory and 8 bit sounds were mostly the standard. This resulted in sounds with very special character. A character that nowadays is missing in our hyper-clean 24 bit / 96 kHz world of almost unlimited RAM.

"The 2000 sounds and multi-samples are perfectly laid out to play on your keyboard. Sounds of early vintage samplers like Orchestron, EMU II, Akai S-612, Ensoniq Mirage, Fairlight, Synclavier, Linn, Mellotron, Master Studio Coll., FZ-1, DSS-1. Each sound and multi-sample was produced on a highly professional level with the original samplers. Also on board are all these classic factory sounds."

Get yours here.

There is an alternative way to get your hands on those tasty vintage sampler sounds - gcoudert over at the EmusOnAcid forum has posted his full collection of Fairlight samples. Go here to download, the packs contain everything from percussion to FX, analogue synths to strings.

Herbie also famously used the Arp Odyssey synth.

The daddy of Odyssey emulations has to be Oddity from G-Force, which retails for 99 Euro. But once again there is a free alternative, in the shape of the remarkably good sounding Oddy-Free, which you can download here.

And finally, to complete the legendary keyboard collection? Well you're going to need some smooth electric piano and sharp, biting clav sounds.

Mr Ray VSTi from GSI does a great synthesised piano, and you can get it as part of the free donationware pack here. It includes: four types of pickups for Rhodes Mark I, Mark II, Wurlitzer and FM (DX7) simulation, adjustable pickup symmetry and distance, mallet hardness and hammer noise, a wah-wah effect, distortion and other effects.

If you take your electric piano seriously and have a few quid to spare, you should also consider the highly aclaimed Lounge Lizard from Applied Acoustics. It costs just over $200, but the sound is an incredible emulation of Rhodes and Wurlitzer pianos. You can read more and buy it here.

E-Piano from MDA is another good freebie, which uses a carefully sampled Rhodes to devastating effect. You can find it on their VST synths page here.

Finally, the Big Tick Ticky Clav is great for all your Clavinet needs. You can get it for free from here, all you need to do is give them your email address.

So get in the studio and get creating. Send your tracks, WIPs and studio kit recommendations to

1 comment: