Carnival Waltz w/ Ondes Martenot samples

Posted: 7/12/2015 12:59:45 AM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 7/29/2014

Carnival Waltz - Theremin part played by Ondes Martenot Virtual Instrument

Carnival Waltz - Score

This has been a bad couple months for my poor ears - which are not great after damaging them from playing headphones too loud for too many years, not to mention a bad case of tinitus. Now to boot, a sinus infection took out my right ear this month and it’s just starting to come back thanks to the wonders of modern medicine.  So I haven’t been able to hear that well the past two months and it’s been killing my theremin playing (which ain’t in the best shape to begin with). What’s a poor composer with a really bad theremin habit supposed to do?

Being extremely interested in virtual instruments, I tried making a theremin sample library this week using my Etherwave, but it is not satisfactory to use at this point. Still have a lot of work left there – and there is no good theremin virtual instrument on the market. But low and behold, there is a very interesting Ondes Martenot Kontakt library by Soniccouture, a company that makes some excellent and also unusual sample libraries (they have a Novachord and Guzheng that I’m looking at). So I shelled out the $ and bought the Ondes Martenot instrument to use until I can hear my theremin again.

With this Ondes Martenot (they got in Thomas Bloch to sample one of his instruments) you can control all kinds of things with MIDI CCs (even some things you can’t on the real instrument).  You have control of the oscillator mixing, glide control/time parameters, volume shaping and most importantly vibrato speed and depth. You also can control which of the three Ondes speakers you use and mix them as you like. They even created a polyphonic version of the instrument. There's also an ADSR function (they added) to allow you to easily get the numerous envelope shapes you can on the real instrument. However, you just don’t sit down and play this thing. You have to look at all the Ondes techniques and decide how you will use your MIDI controllers and/or DAW functions to apply the MIDI controls you need to get the effects you want (I bet the Haken Continuum would be a great controller for this).

I thought I’d experiment today with it taking the ”Carnival Waltz” I wrote to start testing different theremin instrumentation settings and redo it with the Ondes sample set. Tried all kinds of glides, vibrato shapings and volume controls. The GUI lets you arbitrarily mix the Octaviant, Nasillard, Creux, Onde, Gambe and  Petit Gambe oscillators – a pretty even mix used in this test.  The voices are Omnisphere Mixed Jazz Samples on “Dah”.

I do think that this virtual instrument can approach the theremin sound with a bit of twiddling and work on MIDI technique. Certainly it might be useful for a composer who wants to write O.M. or theremin music and would like to get a decent approximation of what it might sound like. Sometimes you buy a virtual instrument and it’s not what you expect, but I think this one is going to be useful (especially when I work with it more and learn its fine points). My example here is kind of taking it over the top a bit. Need to see how it works with very subtle passages the real instrument shines on.

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