Creating sample based instruments using Pianobook?



  • Hi all,

    I'm completely new to the world of HISE and this is my first foray into sample based instruments (I'm a cellist, so things are a little more direct in my world...).

    I'm interested in using HISE to build sample based instruments and I'm thinking particularly of the Spitfire spinoff pianobook.com which is starting to amass some really great samples, mainly of quirky pianos.

    The library is mainly geared towards Kontakt, but each entry comes with the underlying samples at 'piano' and 'forte' levels and a release trigger sample of the key being released.

    Am I barking up the wrong tree, or is HISE a good fit for using this library to create something like a VST for use in a DAW? Also, if anyone else fancies helping me build a working virtual instrument and documenting the process to help others, I'd be delighted to collaborate!



  • @j_thornton Are you talking about releasing a commercial product using Spitfire's samples?



  • @d-healey No, no. I may have a complete misunderstanding as I have less than a couple of hours of practical experience with samplers, pianobook and HISE combined, but here's my thinking.

    The pianobook sample libraries look awesome but Spitfire's typical user-base are working composers with access to the full version of Kontakt. I completely understand why, given limited resource, pianobook builds for a single tool with broad adoption, but I'm not at the point where I can justify buying Kontakt just to see if I'm ready to dive deeper into this area. The pianobook instruments do come with the underlying samples though and they're stored in a common format (piano, forte and release samples) so I imagine that it might be possible to create virtual instruments in HISE using these resources and provide a 'how-to' back to the pianobook community in case anyone else wants to use the libraries without the Kontakt requirement.

    Does this make sense, or have I misunderstood HISE (or possibly sample based instruments in their entirety...)?



  • I was so confused by your link. It's .co.uk not .com 😉 Now that I've checked out the correct site I have a better understanding of what this is.

    I have less than a couple of hours of practical experience with samplers

    Based on this I would not recommend you use HISE for this project. Although HISE is totally capable of doing what you want I think you will have a big learning curve for what is a very simple project. If you plan to build more complicated libraries in the future then HISE is a good match, but if the pianobook thingy is all you want you're better off with something like SFZ.



  • @d-healey Oops, my bad.
    Yup, SFZ looks like another good possibility.
    One of the things that attracted me about HISE is that it looks very scriptable and the samples come with other assets such as images which would make the resulting plugin visually attractive. I've got a programming background, so suspect other aspects of HISE might be attractive once I get over the hump. I'm really quite attracted to the idea of adding open source support for pianobook, so might invest a few hours to see where I get. If so, I'll probably post some more specific questions...



  • @j_thornton

    I've got a programming background

    That's good, it will save you some time getting to grips with HISE.

    open source support for pianobook

    If you release any binaries you've built with HISE under a free license the samples also need to be under a free license.

    If you're not releasing binaries keep in mind that if you build a HISE project to share with others they will need to have a compilation environment set up on their system in order to build the plugins. Most users won't want to do this.

    User's won't easily be able to add their own samples like they can in Kontakt so you'll have to package them and to do that you'll need to have permission from the copyright holder.

    Assuming those things aren't a barrier I think the pianoboook samples would work really well with HISE's expansion system.



  • @d-healey That's super-useful feedback on the licensing/packaging side. The idea of pianobook is to make the samples freely available, so I think that might work out. I'm a complete noob and don't yet understand the formats involved, but I was thinking that pianobook contributors (or other members of the community) could build VSTi plug-ins using HISE and just include these as part of the individual instrument downloads. A simple-to-follow guide on downloading HISE, pointing it at the right assets and building a VSTi seems doable given that the pianobook assets are predictably names and located. Given the prospective learning curve, if this doesn't sound plausible, either technically or legally, let me know! (although HISE might be a fun project to become familiar with in any case...)



  • @j_thornton

    The idea of pianobook is to make the samples freely available, so I think that might work out.

    They must be released under a free software license. I'm not sure what license spitfire is using so you'll need to check.

    A simple-to-follow guide on downloading HISE, pointing it at the right assets and building a VSTi seems doable

    A simple guide is definitely dooable - I have one on my site 🙂 but I don't think most users are going to want to start messing with IDEs and compilers so you'll almost certainly need to supply binaries.

    if this doesn't sound plausible, either technically or legally

    Definitely possible technically, and probably legally depending on the license of the samples.



  • I think the licensing is likely to trip me up.
    Looks like a bespoke license including:
    "You may not copy, reproduce, republish, download, post, broadcast, transmit, make available to the public, or otherwise use the Site content in any way except for your own personal, non-commercial purposes although you are permitted to make links to the Site content from your own personal web-site. You also agree not to adapt, alter or create a derivative work from any content accessed from the Site except for your own personal, non-commercial use. Any other use of the Site content requires our prior consent in writing. Content of the Pianobook Library is subject to the terms listed above."

    I think that leaves only the option to try to get something working under HISE and then if anyone wants to build a personal binary they can, but wouldn't be able to release it in any form on the site. I think others have mapped individual instruments using SFZ. Another environment I have absolutely no knowledge of...

    Thanks so much for your help - incredibly useful!



  • @j_thornton SFZ is just a set of instructions in a text file. Really simple to make in any text editor although there are dedicated editors for more complex instruments.

    Spitfire's license is weird, unless there is more too it than you quoted it seems you can't even create commercial music with the pianobook samples.



  • @d-healey Yup, a bit of noodling with SFZ suggests it's going to be straightforward to write something to create a valid SFZ config file from the asset directory. Lots of subtleties to look into, but basically have something working and will probably knock together a web tool to just take a project stem and generate the appropriate SFZ file.

    There is more to the license, but it allows commercial use of the samples but explicitly not the repackaging of the samples into a commercial library (which seems fair enough). https://www.pianobook.co.uk/terms.

    Shouldn't cause any issues with providing tools to help create virtual instruments.



  • @j_thornton talk to the guys at Spitfire - let them know your suggestion - they may well like it and even host the finished HISE instruments for you.



  • @Lindon I doubt it, unless he gets a proprietary HISE license, otherwise anyone would then be free to redistribute Spitfire's samples.



  • @d-healey said in Creating sample based instruments using Pianobook?:

    I doubt it, unless he gets a proprietary HISE license, otherwise anyone would then be free to redistribute Spitfire's samples.

    The samples don't have to inherit the GPL license, as long as they are publicly available, I don't care (and the JUCE guys also won't sue you).

    Just ask the Spitfire guys if they are OK with it, then put your instrument project on GitHub, add a link to Spitfires Download site and done.



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