Jul 29, 2015
(and last updated on Aug 20, 2016)
The Taijiguy GigaTron (TGT)
About the samples
The equalised Mk II Violins
About the Mellotron sounds
The Mellotron samples in this Giga file were made by taijiguy, a.k.a. Bernie Kornowicz, and are his copyright. You are free to use the samples in any way you like, except to package them for commercial purposes. This licence gives you the right to use these samples, together or separately, in any creative musical work whatever, free or commercial. These musical works may be distributed in any way, without any attribution whatever. You MAY NOT sell the samples or the Giga file and you may not repackage the samples in a different format and sell that.
This Giga file are made by Quirq with Bernie's express permission and is copyright Quirq. You may freely distribute this Giga file, provided that it is distributed with this README file and provided that it is not distributed commercially.
2. Giga format
With the permission of Bernie, the samples were compiled into Giga format by Quirq in December 2010, using Gigedit, part of the LinuxSampler project (www.linuxsampler.org). Bernie had one note per sample, so no pitchshifting was necessary and the natural range of a Mellotron has been retained.
To retain the essence of the Mellotron, the samples are unlooped and not velocity sensitive in any way. A low pass filter is mapped to the modwheel to emulate the tone control on a real Mellotron. No other unnatural effects or tweaking are used, except as mentioned below for the "M400" sounds.
The large Giga file is keyswitched so that you can change sounds in real time -- as you could on a real Mellotron -- that is, without having to load another Giga file. The keyswitching runs from C0 to C1 (a fifth below the bottom note on a Tron). The switching works as follows:
From the site:
"The 3 Violins and Combined Brass were sampled in 2003 from a 1973 Mellotron M400S. The String Section, Combined Choir, GC3 Brass, M300A, M300B and Woodwind 2 were sampled in 2008. The Mk II Flute and Cello were sampled in 2010... The samples were recorded "hot" with the tone control fully clockwise. This is not how M400's are normally played. The tone control is generally set from about 1/8 to 1/3 clockwise, assuming the amplification system tones are flat.
"These samples have not been looped so as to retain the need to use the spider technique of playing a real Mellotron. If you want to loop them, that's your choice. They are approximately 7 seconds in length and retain both the initial attack, and in many cases, the bad endings."
The information on that site states that the Tron is a M400S, serial number 500, whose restoration was completed on 28th August 2005. At the time the Three Violins and Combined Brass were sampled "The Tron's condition was decent. The heads were cleaned and the azimuth was aligned by Streetly Electronics in England (the original maker of the Tron) just prior to sampling. The capstan was clean, but the pinch rollers were a little dry. The cabinet was out of square. The tapes and frame were brand new."
4. The equalised Mk II Strings
Conventional wisdom has it that the famous Three Violins sound from the M400 Mellotron was just the previous Mk II Violins sound that had been highpass filtered. Ryder Duncan, a.k.a. Squonk on YouTube, does not think that this is the case and, after extensive experimentation, has arrived at EQ settings which he feels come much closer to turning the Mk II Violins into the M400 Three Violins/Violins sound. Details can be found at http://ryderduncan.com/themusicalbox/?p=33.
Squonk's videos on YouTube are also well worth checking out if you are a Tron fanatic.
The Mk II Violins samples were processed using these EQ settings to create the three pseudo-M400 sounds: "M400 Violins" for the generic EQ settings, "M400 Violins Yes EQ" for a softer, more Yes-like sound and "M400 Violins Smooth Ryder EQ" is Ryder Duncan's own personal EQ settings for a smooth sound.
5. About the Mellotron sounds
Please see the section above regarding the M400 Violins sound and its relationship to the original Mk II Violins. The M400 was the most portable and cheapest incarnation of the Mellotron and was introduced in 1970. After this time, I would expect most, if not all, bands touring with Mellotrons would have used the M400. No doubt many studios still retained Mk IIs, but the smoother, softer, more luscious M400 Violins sound is what one usually associates with music made after this time, such as by the likes of The Strawbs, Genesis, Yes, Red-era King Crimson and countless other great progressive rock bands of the 1970s and beyond. The M400's predecessor, the rare M300, had all new soundsets recorded for it, in two banks labelled A and B. These sounds were apparently favoured by the late "Woolly" Wolstenholme of Barclay James Harvest: the M300 was popular with BJH, Gentle Giant and others. The Mk II was a huge, two manual beast released in 1964, so music such as "Nights In White Satin" and other classics by the The Moody Blues and early King Crimson would have featured the much more strident, almost grating sound of the Mk II Violins (which is what the modwheel/"tone control" is there for!). The Mk II and M400 Violins are three instruments together, hence also being commonly called the Three Violins sound. The M300A strings sound was two violins playing together, whereas the M300B sound is a solo violin.
The 'cello sounds were recorded by a session musician called Reginald Kirby. According to many sources (possibly all repeating each other), Reg played on a number of recordings by The Beatles "including Eleanor Rigby", although other sources give a different name for the cellist on that piece. Anyway, Reg refused to re-tune his 'cello for the Mellotron recording session, so the bottom five notes of the Mellotron Cello are actually double bass, which is why they sound so dramatically different.
The Mk II Brass, or Mk II Combined Brass as it is also known, is a mixture of two saxophones, a trombone and two trumpets. The GC3 Brass was created for a Scottish jazz trombonist called George Chisholm and is three recordings of individual trombone notes mixed together.
The Combined Choir is a mixture of the Boys Choir, Male Choir and Female Choir sounds and is not to be confused with the famous 8 Choir, which consists of four male and four female singers.
The Woodwind2 apparently includes a French horn and a piccolo. In addition to what exactly, I don't know...
About the Demo
The demo plays through each of the sounds in turn: "M400 Violins", "M400 Violins Yes EQ", "M400 Violins Smooth Ryder EQ", Cello, followed by demonstration of the five double-bass notes on the Cello sound, String Section, Mk II Strings, M300A (violins), M300B (solo violin), Mk II Brass, GC3 Brass, Mk II Flute, Woodwind2, Combined Choir.
There then follows a demonstration of the low-pass filter, which is swept using the modwheel, using the "M400 Violins" sound. Notice the tapes running out: the Mellotron's seven or eight second note length is preserved as the samples are not looped. The filter is manipulated again briefly to find a nice setting, before playing a pad part using the "M400 Violins". The final part of the demo uses a short motif played with the filter fully open again, first on the "M400 Violins", then String Orchestra, M300A (violins), M300B (solo violin), Mk II Brass, GC3 Brass, Flute, Woodwind2 and finally Combined Choir. No processing of any kind was used, except Linuxsampler's in-built low-pass filter, where noted above.