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Orchestral Tools launch Abacus

Samples a range of children's toy instruments

Orchestral Tools Abacus vintage children's toy instrument sample library piano ukulele music box

Abacus is the latest release from Berlin-based sample library experts Orchestral Tools, and has been developed in a collaboration with English composer Richard Harvey. Capturing the sound of a range of historic children’s instruments that date back to the Victorian era, the library promises to offer an emotional palette of early childhood sounds that are ideal for nostalgic and historic scoring, as well as genres such as horror, fantasy and more.

Orchestral Tools say that all of the instruments featured have been captured as faithfully as possible, with the library offering actual pitch ranges and specific mapping and articulations for each instrument. Everything has been recorded from five microphone positions which can be mixed within SINE Player, offering detailed control of each instrument’s overall sound.

Two antique musical boxes are present, and have been tuned to A440 rather than their original 19th century tuning to ensure they can be easily added to contemporary compositions. In order to sample every note individually, the cylinders were removed from the box and each of the notes were played with a dentists pick. A selection of tuned percussion is also provided, ranging from three types of bells to instruments such as xylophones, metallophones and kalimbas.

Two solo recorders, high and low recorder groups and a High G whistle offer a selection of wind sounds capable of producing interesting melody lines, whilst some textural effects are on offer courtesy of a vintage melodica. Plucked instruments also make an appearance, with a the banjolele combining the scale, tuning and playability of a ukulele with the unmistakable timbre of the banjo, whilst a more traditional alternative is provided thanks to concert and bass ukuleles.

Four toy pianos are included in the library, and are said to offer nostalgic tones capable of setting moods from whimsical to sinister, with percussion duties taken care of by the likes of guiros, washboards, drums, woodblocks, castanets and a toy banana shaker.

“When I wanted unusual, magical, even childlike effects, I often couldn’t find the sounds I needed. I’ve spent years sourcing the instruments to recreate those special, evocative, nostalgic echoes from my past or my imagination, and now I'm sharing this lovingly amassed collection, as high-quality samples, with my peers.” - Richard Harvey


Abacus runs within Orchestral Tools’ SINE player, which is supported on PCs running Windows 10, and Macs running macOS 10.13 and higher. Standalone, VST, VST3, AU and AAX versions are available, and the library requires 19GB of disk space.

Pricing & Availability

Abacus is available now, and is being offered for an introductory price of €139 until 21 June, after which it will be priced at €189.

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