A marvelous 16th-century instrument now available for your 21st-century sampler.
The Best Service Italian Harpsichord is a digital sample library that contains nearly 550 single samples of a historical harpsichord built in 1579 by Pierluigi in Livorno. Sharing its tonal qualities for almost half a millennium, it is a classic example of how Italian harpsichords were built for about 200 years. Compared to its Dutch and English siblings, the Pierluigi harpsichord stands out due to its light and simple design (one 8' register) and mostly because of its fundamental, sonorous warm and deep tone.
This unique harpsichord in the collection of Andreas Beurmann still remains in excellent playable condition despite its age. The Pierluigi harpsichord is now in the Italian Harpsichord library, presented in its original meantone tuning at 383Hz (presets at 440Hz tuning included, too).
Like all harpsichords, the Pierluigi is not touch-sensitive like a piano. However, even if the differences are minuscule, not any given note will sound exactly the same due to different resonances of body and strings. Up until now, many keyboards and samplers represented harpsichords by always triggering off the exact same digital sample, leaving a cold and sterile sounding impression. In order to improve upon previous recreations and to pay tribute to the liveliness and depth of this antique harpsichord, the producers captured 8 variations of each note.
The release sounds of the keys are also of major importance. What was originally side noise is now often overlooked and even simply left out in artificial simulations, resulting in a very abstract overall picture. Therefore, the producers recorded 4 release samples of each note.
For the critical task of recording this harpsichord, they employed active tube-driven Royer R-122V ribbon microphones in conjunction with Crane Song Flamingo preamps and Universal Audio 2192 digital converters to do the Pierluigi harpsichord justice. For maximum sound quality, they recorded it in 192KHz/24-bits, downsampled to the resolution of your choice.
In addition to the samples, the Italian Harpsichord sample library contains an essay in German from Professor Andreas E. Beurmann, explaining both the historical and musical background of the instrument.