The vast majority of piano virtual instruments out there are pretty darn similar. While there are a few notable exceptions, no matter how thoroughly you sample a piano, it will normally sound like a piano. Unless, that is, you redesign the instrument itself, as acclaimed piano maker David Klavins has. Watch the above video for a fascinating insight into this process.
The maker of the Klavins Piano Model 370i (the world’s largest upright piano, which became the basis for The Giant virtual instrument) has built another innovative instrument. It’s called Una Corda — Italian for ‘one string’ and it’s a 64-key upright piano made to explore the sonic possibilities of an instrument that was equipped with, funnily enough, only one string per key across all registers. Also, to make a more resonant tone, the whole frame of the instrument is open and a ribless soundboard is employed.
Musician, composer, and producer Nils Frahm commissioned the piano and played an integral role in its development. To expand the available sonic textures and create new sound design possibilities, Frahm contributed fabric preparations, placing different fabrics between the hammers and strings, and moving hammers closer to strings to further alter the sound. While fabric preparations are generally used to dampen strings and soften tones, Frahm’s preparations are created to produce rich, percussive textures with additional overtones.
Klavins built an 88-key version of the piano specifically for Native Instruments. Uli Baronowsky and Galaxy Instruments transformed that distinctive creation into Una Corda — an unusual virtual instrument that infuses new sonic colors into contemporary classical, film music, jazz, pop, and electronica. Baronowsky faithfully captured the piano by working closely with Klavins and drawing inspiration from the ways in which Frahm uses the instrument.
The Una Corda virtual instrument is available now for £129.