- Lyon & Healy Style 30 Concert Grand harp
- New Synchron Harp Player recreates the pedaling mechanism
- Chromatic and Pedal Mode
- Play glissandos simply by gliding over the white keys
- Quick access to pre-configured pedalizations
- Masterfully crafted mixer presets
When renowned composer, orchestrator and conductor Conrad Pope stepped onto Stage A of Synchron Stage Vienna before it re-opened its doors back in 2015, he happily exclaimed that this was finally a scoring stage big and especially high enough for the piccolo to sound as great as it should. As it turned out in the following years, not only was he right, but all the instruments and ensembles benefit immensely from the outstanding acoustics of this hall, making the sound of Synchron Stage a landmark in film scoring.
The harp is a supremely beautiful instrument that is also very complex. Even some of the greatest classical composers often found it difficult to write for the harp and its multi-faceted possibilities. The instrument is equally challenging to play. It’s almost impossible to master a demanding piece just by sight-reading, requiring adequate time to prepare and work out the pedaling. On the other hand, a harp can achieve sounds no other instrument can approach, particularly in the hands of a master player in an ideal acoustic environment.
With Tina Žerdin, long-time harpist of the Synchron Stage Orchestra, a wonderful Lyon & Healy Style 30 Concert Grand harp placed in the large hall of Synchron Stage Vienna, and the talent of Chief Recording Engineer Bernd Mazagg, we knew we had all of the elements put in place to create the best possible recordings.
But the idea was also to help you, composers and music creators, to write for this instrument and to play it authentically on the keyboard. Our goal was to create a software instrument with a user interface that lets you play sophisticated harp pieces, even with average keyboard skills.
Enter the Synchron Harp Player. In Chromatic Mode you can play the harp just like any other keyed instrument. In Pedal Mode the software recreates the pedaling mechanism and the scale possibilities of a real harp. The harp’s seven strings of each octave are represented by the white keys of the keyboard. Thus, playing a glissando is as easy as gliding your fingers over the white keys as you would on a real harp’s strings.
To control the seven harp pedals in Pedal Mode, there are seven function keys (key switches), with key velocity determining the top, middle and bottom position of each pedal. There are also several additional ways to select pedalizations. You can use separate key switches to access pre-configured tonalities (C, C#, D, etc.), specify the scale family (major/minor, 7th chord, whole tone, pentatonic) and the scale variant (major, melodic minor, harmonic major, harmonic minor). A Pedal Matrix that holds 144 pre-configured scales and their pedalizations can also be accessed using key switches. You can also create your own pedalizations and use a stepper when playing live, similar to the stepper of an organ for switching through registrations, one after the other.
Since the Pedal Mode only uses white keys to play notes, all the black keys are available to function as key switches for accessing the pedalizations in whatever way you prefer while composing or playing live.
It’s great fun to explore the various scales. Switch one or two pedals here and there, and listen to the result. We guarantee that you will be inspired to come up with harmonic combinations that you may not have considered in your usual composition process! What’s more, everything you do in the software player can be done on a real harp, so rest assured that your composition can be performed on the actual instrument, as long as you keep in mind the time constraints of real pedal operation. The user interface of the Synchron Harp Player even depicts harp pedal diagrams that are used to notate proper pedalization in a score.
In Chromatic Mode, only the general key switches to change articulations (regular, harmonics, bisbigliando), the release of a note (ringing or damped), and the switch to Pedal Mode are available. So when you play the harp like a piano, you may quickly want to switch to Pedal Mode for playing glissandos on the white keys, and back again to Chromatic Mode.
Harp Pedaling – How does it work?
For all articulations you can choose between ringing and damped, the latter referring to the harpist stopping the string vibration with the flat hand (étouffer). The ringing decay upon releasing a key can be shortened or lengthened using release control. Dynamic range control reduces or expands the dynamic reaction of the harp to key velocity. The “Glissando Smoother” is activated automatically whenever the software recognizes a glissando, i.e., the quick succession of adjacent notes. Here you can adjust the attack of the notes to create smoother glissandos, mimicking a harpist gently stroking the strings instead of plucking them. The velocity controller lets you assign key velocity to a CC controller, e.g., the ModWheel, which allows you to create even velocities for all the notes when you’re playing glissandos on a keyboard.
Multiple Microphone Positions
To capture the the harp and the wonderful ambience of “Stage A” of Synchron Stage, our engineers employed seven separate phase-coherent microphone configurations to provide a broad range of room options. All of them are available as separate channels in the mixer section of the Synchron Harp Player.
Pre-configured mixer presets provide a wide variety of tonal characteristics, from close to ambient, from from lush to mysterious, from natural to heavily processed with Signature Presets such as Intimate, Solitary, Muffled, Sharp and many others. As with all Synchron Libraries, you can mix the harp in stereo, 5.1 surround or even Dolby Atmos and 9.1 Auro 3D, or any other immersive audio format.
The Standard Library and the Full Library of Synchron Harp both include the same set of articulations and software functionalities. The difference lies in the number of provided microphone positions:
|1. Close Mic – Mono
|2. Mid Mic – Stereo (L/R)
|3. Main/Room Mic – Decca Tree Stereo (L/R)
|4. Main/Room Mic – Decca Tree Mono (Center)
|5. Main Surround – Stereo (L/R)
|6. High Stereo (3D) – Stereo (L/R)
|7. High Surround (3D) – Stereo (L/R)
The main surround microphone settings may also be used instead of the main stereo room mics in order to achieve a wider and more ambient mix. Blending surround signals with the other microphone signals creates a denser, more lush overall sound, even in stereo applications.
Room Mix Presets feature an excellent mix-down to stereo from the Decca tree and surround mic positions for a CPU and RAM-saving sound that’s perfectly balanced right out-of-the-box. A host of further Mixer Presets is available in the categories of “Decca Tree Multi-Mic”, “Surround to Stereo Downmix”, “Surround”, and “Signature”.
The Standard Library and the upgrade to the Full Library are separate downloads.
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