These days no self-respecting hard drive is without at least a handful of multi-gigabyte sampled piano libraries. From meticulously-recreated Yamaha grands, to meticulously-recreated Steinway grands, to meticulously-recreated Bosendorfer grands, all your tasteful piano ballad needs are covered.
But what if you don't want
tasteful piano ballads? What if you want something a bit more, well… rock and roll? Something that punches through your mix and lays down the stride? Something with a bass end that thunks along with your kick drum and a treble that can shimmer and glow and break up like a blues guitar? Enter Analog Piano, the antidote to all those oh-so-tasteful silky smooth piano libraries.
The source instrument for Analog Piano is the Crumar ColorSound CompacPiano, an awful name for a wonderful machine. The ColorSound was intended as a stage piano, but derived all its onboard sounds from good old analogue electronics. It has three preset tones, of which it's the piano that makes you stop and take note: rich, solid, satisfying, and with a natural affinity for contemporary music styles. In many ways it straddles the tonal qualities of an acoustic and an electric piano, sounding more like a "real" piano than a Rhodes or Wurli, but with the same EP-style grunt and heat to the sound. The other two preset tones, HonkyTonk and Clav, are less convincing as instrument emulations: the Clav is a rich buzzy tone but without a real Clav's proper bark to it, and the HonkyTonk is a sort of halfway house, combining the Piano tone's attack with some Clav buzz – again, not much like a real honky-tonk, but interesting nonetheless. We imagine most players steered well clear of both of these as performance instruments, but for more textural roles they can be unusual and effective, especially put through some effects (as you'll hear in the demo).
In fact, it has to be said that we imagine most real players steered well clear of the ColorSound entirely, for the simple reason that in a moment of face-palm head-slapping madness, Crumar made the thing unresponsive to velocity. That's right, no matter how softly or hard you hit its keys, the ColorSound just pumps out one unvarying tone. For this reason alone it failed to do well, and quietly vanished into the backwaters of history.
But that sound… that sound. If only there was some way to retrofit proper velocity sensitivity and liberate it...