The best virtual instruments are tricksters. They trick the listener into believing that the instruments are being played by live performers. It is not enough anymore to have perfectly recorded samples. The real trick these days is to make convincing libraries that sound as so close to real that they fool everyone. With Handheld Sound’s Flying Hand Percussion, I feel like it transforms me into a live percussionist!
The other important thing that many libraries miss is playability. That is definitely not the case with Flying Hand Percussion! According to their website: “FlyingHand Percussion is a dedicated Hand-Percussion sample library. It represents an authentic and evocative ensemble utilizing a great number of articulations, true replication of the drums’ behavior at various playing techniques, and authentic nuances from each instrument. Whether you are composing or playing live, the outcome is great responsiveness, authentic character, and complete genre freedom no matter the type of music you play or write.”
Though Flying Hand Percussion (FHP) is not a new virtual instrument, it is one of my favorite percussion libraries. It is because I am not a drummer or a percussionist, but I want to add realistic sounding percussion to my music, not loops or pre-recorded midi beats. FHP makes a percussionist out of me by allowing me to perform on the the instruments.
In fact, when FHP first came out in 2008, it won Electronic Musician’s “Editors Choice Award” – Best Sound Library. Back then, Sound on Sound had this to say about it: “To date this is the only hand percussion library I’ve tried that has been sampled to the same depth as, for example, the conventional drums of BFD or DFH … The instruments are recorded using multiple mic positions and are all stored as 24-bit, 44.1kHz samples with up to 20 dynamic layers per note.”
Since then it has had a total makeover, and it an even more powerful instrument than before.
Let’s start off with an overview of FHP by chcking out how it sounds in a real life setting – the African Savanna – in a VR game called Stampede that I am working on as the audio director:
Overview of Flying Hand Percussion
As the founder of Handheld Sound, and Core Team member of Designing Music NOW, Eitan Teomi, says about the new version, “The update is actually a complete overhaul. Newer GUI, re-programmed, and I have encapsulated all mic positions in one patch instead of having separate patches.”
It also contains a wide variety of instruments and playing styles along with a brilliant user interface that lets you clearly see what you are doing all the time. It has some cool sound design elements, as well as different mic positions and built in reverb and chorus.
The most unique thing about this library is they are all performed by a master percussionist by hand, only using sticks on a few instruments like the gong (tam tam) and timbales. This gives a really intimate vibe to the library.
Here is a complete list of the 20 instruments included in the library:
|Anklungs||Asian Bamboo rattlers (4 sizes).|
|Ashiko||14″ Maple Ashiko Drum.|
|Gran Casa||An Orchestral Bass Drum, suspended and played with hands.|
|Bells||A variety of Bell-like instruments.|
|Bongo Cajon||Bongo Cajon with Mahogany heads.|
|Boomwhackers ®||‘D’ and ‘G’ Boomwhackers.|
|Claves||The earthy ‘Piru’ claves.|
|Clay Drum||Custom made Clay Drum resembling an Udu.|
|Congas||A hi-end set of Congas.|
|Cowbell||3 different types of cowbells.|
|Frame Drums||16” and 22” Frame Drums.|
|Kanjira||Indian Kanjira Hand Drum.|
|Timbales||14” and 16” hi-end Timbales.|
|Triangles||Orchestra Brass Triangle and the one-of-a-kind Trine Instrument.|
|Naal||Custom made Indian Naal Drum. Its tone resembles a Tabla.|
|Plastic Bottle||5 Gallon Plastic jug.|
|Shakers||Assorted Shakers including Plastic, Wood, and Bamboo.|
|Morphosis||Electro Acoustic Drums synthesized from real objects’ resonances.|
|Mutants||Cinemtaic Sound fx, re-pitched instruments and Virtual ensembles.|
Let’s take a closer look and listen to some of the instruments in this amazing library:
Bass Drum – Played by Hand
The actual instrument sampled is more like a “Chimes Bar” which is horizontal instead of vertical, but they look and sound very similar.
Empty 5 Gallon Water Bottle
It is fun to load multiple instruments into Kontakt and just play them simultaneously with supprisingly realistic and cool results, as in these videos:
Kanjira and Tam Tam
Bass Drum and Bell Tree
Bottle and Djembe
Flying Hand Percussion is an amazing deal at $179 list. It has 40,000 individual samples, plenty of velocity layers, and 4x Round robin. Up to 3 mic positions. Over 50dB of dynamic range. Totally noiseless with no artifacts! Meticulous collection of articulations / extended techniques / Left-Right hand samples / multiple playing zones, and combination strokes. It requires Kontakt 4 or above to play.
It is great for natural sounding percussion, but also has amazing cinematic and sound design potential built in. If you can’t tell, I just love it!
When I begin to imagine the amount of work that had to go into editing all these samples and then coming up with an intuitive way of playing them and laying them out in Kontakt it is mind boggling how many hours must have gone into the creation of this instrument.
It will add a live and human feel to your songs, and if you like unique percussion, you will want to own this library!
30% Discount Coupon for Flying Hand Percussion
Use code designingmusic30 on checkout at Handheld Sounds Website. There are also lots of free Kontakt instruments you can download and try out.
References and Further Reading and Watching
Playlist with all the above videos on YouTube
FHP Examples on Soundcloud
“Lenke djembe from Mali” by Djembe Art. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lenke_djembe_from_Mali.jpeg#/media/File:Lenke_djembe_from_Mali.jpeg