I found this little beauty at my local thrift shop. It was missing some strings and was horribly out of tune, but I liked the vibe and the price was right at about $10. It says ‘Harbert Italiana Milano’ on it, and it looks it was maybe a children’s toy instrument from the 1960’s or so.
I had some horror pieces to write when I found this, and the piercing atonal condition that this instrument was in seemed just perfect for the job. I made some random samples of strums, plucks, hits etc. and set to work on it. Here’s one of the pieces from the batch.
Fun stuff. After this, a friend and I were making some samples of his cajon drum when we got the idea to take a cello bow to the zither. Here’s what it sounded like.
After doing some resampling and processing on this raw audio, I came out with this:
Its all stretched out, grained, detuned, and no longer sounds like the zither that went in. Some of the overtones actually sound like violin or cello harmonics. Could be a very nice texture for the right scene or project.
You don’t have to have expensive instruments or a deep mic locker to capture interesting sounds. It’s all about keeping an eye out for interesting and unusual sound sources, trying to capture them cleanly, and then getting creative with what you do with the samples.