Virtual Instruments for Polka Music!



IMPORTANT: All of these instruments require the FULL version of Native Instruments Kontakt.
They are not licensed for compatibility with the free Kontakt Player.
 

See FAQ #9 at the bottom of the page for more information.




   ACCORDIONS
 
 
 
 
 

 
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$14.00

 
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$14.00

 
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$14.00

 
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$14.00
 
 




 
    

 
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$14.00

 
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$14.00

 
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$14.00







   BUTTON BOXES

 



 
 
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$14.00



 





   CONCERTINAS

 
   


 
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FREE

 
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$14.00

 
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$14.00







   PIANOS & ORGANS

 
 


 
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$14.00

 
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$14.00








   TUBAS

 




 
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$14.00









   BUNDLES

 




 
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$182.00 
$91.00 (50%)







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Frequently-Asked Questions


Q1: What is a virtual instrument?

A. A virtual instrument is a digitally-recreated version of an actual musical instrument that can be played with any MIDI controller, such as a piano keyboard, when connected to a computer. For sample-based virtual instruments like these, individual notes from the actual instrument are recorded and then compiled into a software-based instrument. The MIDI controller "plays" the virtual instrument by triggering the real instrument's recorded samples.

Q2: How is a real instrument sampled?

A: Every note/sound the instrument can produce is individually sampled in my recording studio using high-end recording gear. Let's look at the Karpek accordion, for example. It has 41 keys on the right hand, producing different 41 notes. I sampled all 41 notes in two reed combinations: master and clarinets. On the left side of the accordion, I sampled the basses and chords in just one reed combination. There are twelve bass notes, and each note has four corresponding chords: major, minor, dominant 7th, and diminished. I also sampled a couple of reed switch noises.

Right Side: 41 keys x 2 reed combinations = 82 samples
+ Left Side: 12 bass notes + 48 chords = 60 samples
+ Reed select sound effects = 2 samples
Karpek Polka King total = 144 samples

Q3: How are virtual instruments created from the samples?

A: When all of the instrument's notes have been sampled, I painstakingly edit their start times, lengths, and relative volumes for consistency. Then I import the samples into a software program where I assign each sample to its respective note on a MIDI keyboard. Then I will script code (similar to C++ computer programming) and create graphics to give the instrument a visual interface with some user-adjustable controls.

Q4: How are your polka instruments different from the same instruments offered in other libraries?

A: The main difference is that the brand, model, and tuning of these instruments are synonymous with polka music. These are not instruments made for French cafes, Cajun jitterbugs, or Brazillian tangos. The second difference is that the recorded samples were performed in a way that is suitable for the polka sound. For example, the concertinas and accordions have a harder attack than the "mushy" sound you may be used to getting from sound modules. The tuba samples were recorded with a hard attack plus a taperered sustain, allowing the musician to play staccato or add legato-sounding ties between notes.

Q5: Do your instruments have audible loop points?

A: No, because none of my instruments' samples loop. A "loop" is when a section of a sample is repeated over and over so that holding down a key will produce an indefinite tone. The problem with looping samples is that you can almost always hear the beginning and end of a loop cycle, making a sustained note sound unnatural. I've experimented with looping samples, and found that it's much more practical and pleasing to the ear not to loop them. All of my instruments' samples are typically six to ten seconds in length (up to 15 seconds for the piano) which is more than enough.

Q6: What makes a virtual instrument sound so much like the real thing?

A: When you play a virtual instrument, you are hearing the sound of the real instrument. Every note you play on your MIDI keyboard will trigger the recorded sample of the real instrument's respective note. For example, if you press the C4 key on your keyboard, it will play the recorded sample of the real instrument's C4. Play Db4, and you'll hear the real instrument's recorded sample of Db4, and so forth. A real instrument's notes can also be multi-sampled, meaning that multiple samples of the same note are recorded at various volumes and timbres. The virtual instrument can be scripted to trigger these sample variations, which adds significantly to its realism. In my opinion, however, the technique by which a virtual instrument is played is what really makes the biggest difference. You still need to play a virtual instrument as closely as possible to the way the real instrument is played.

Q7: Why doesn't a virtual instrument sound EXACTLY like the real thing?

A: What makes a real instrument sound the way it does goes far beyond the notes the instrument produces. A performance on a real instrument is comprised of an infinite number of subtle nuances that our ears take for granted. Things such as the movement of the performer, the velocity of air, the position of the performer's hands, and the acoustics of the room create subtle variances in sound that we don't think about, yet, those variances are what our brain subconciously uses to distinguish that a real instrument is being played. Some high-end virtual instrument manufacturers spend a lot of time developing ways of recreating many of those subtle nuances, but for the most part, a quality performance on a well-sampled virtual instrument is good enough to gratify most listeners.

Q8: Are your virtual concertinas and button boxes restricted to their native keys?

A: No. Every note available on the actual instrument was sampled, and where a note didn't exist on the instrument, one was digitally created. So all of the button boxes and concertinas are chromatically playable in any key. In addition, just for fun, some of the virtual instruments I offer have extended high and low ranges that go several notes beyond the physical limits of the actual instruments.

Q9: What computer software and musical gear do I need to play your virtual instruments?

A: You will need a software program called Kontakt. It is a worldwide industry standard program available on the Native Instruments website. There are two versions of Kontakt available: the full version ($399) and the free player edition. The full version is required. These instruments will not work in the free player edition for more than fifteen minutes, because the player edition is designed to be compatible only with specially licensed virtual instruments. You will also need a MIDI controller, such as a digital piano. My instruments are designed to be performed most easily on an 88-key keyboard.

Q10: Do I need special permission or licensing to make a CD using your virtual instruments?

A: No. The instruments you purchase are yours to perform and record with as you please. You can play them live on stage and on any recordings you produce. If you are a commercial studio, you are welcome to use the instruments on any of your clients' recording projects without needing to pay for additional licenses.

Q11: Are there any restrictions placed on owning your virtual instruments?

1.) You cannot copy/distribute the instruments. 2.) You cannot use the instruments' recorded samples to create new instruments for sale or distribution. 3.) You cannot make the instruments available for synthestration via any automated, web-based services. (Such a service does not yet exist, but it may someday.)

Q12: Do you offer these instruments in different formats?

A: No, just Kontakt. I understand Kontakt is expensive, but it is a world standard. Many developers use Kontakt because it provides the greatest programming capability. Check the Native Instruments website often for sales, especialy holiday sales. Once a year, they usually offer Kontakt for half price ($199.)

Q13: Why are you creating virtual polka instruments?

A: Most developers who create virtual concertinas and accordions develop them with more "universal" types of world music in mind. This leaves a distinct gap in the virtual instruments market. I discovered that gap one day while searching for a virtual polka concertina for one of my studio's productions. I couldn't find such a concertina, so I made my own by sampling a friend's concertina. From that point on, I decided to boldly go where no virtual instrument developer dares to go — into the world of American polka music.)

Q14: When will new instruments be available?

A: I don't work on a timetable of any kind, so the best answer I can give is I don't know.  I'm just a one-man operation, and creating virtual instruments is one of many interests that vies for my spare time when I'm not playing tennis or recording music.

Q15: Why do you give your instruments seemingly-related but odd names?

A: Names and logos of businesses and their products are often registered trademarks protected by copyright. While it is legal to mention the brand names of instruments and manufacturers, it may not be legal to use them for their virtual counterparts. To respect and avoid infringing upon any copyrights, I mask or blur all company logos/brands and give my instruments unique names.

Q16: I want to buy one accordion. Which one do you consider the best all-rounder to buy?

A: I am asked this question a lot. The simple answer is that NONE of these accordions are all-rounders. That's the whole point. These accordions are specific to polka music, so please base your purchase on the type of polka music you're creating. Let the demo songs be your guide.

Q17: Do you offer free, promotional copies of your instruments?

A: No, not unless I specifically ask for demos of one of my instruments.

Q18: Do your instruments ever go on sale?

A: I price my instruments at only $14 each so that you can afford to buy the ones you need when you need them. For those of you don't really need any of these instruments but suffer from G.A.S., I run a Black Friday sale every year during Thanksgiving weekend where you can pick up individual instruments for less (usually 50% off.) I also run a second sale through the Christmas season. In addition to these sales, my mail list subscribers may receive special promotional prices on new instruments.

Q19: Do you offer refunds?

A: No, not unless I specifically allow them for a special sale. As is standard practice in ecommerce, downloaded software cannot be returned. All sales are final. It is your responsibility to make sure the software you have will support these instruments. Do not purchase anything on this page unless you are using a legal, full version of Kontakt.

Q20: Why can't I find you on any social media sites?

I used to be involved with social media years ago, but now it's turned into a giant data mining industry whose primary purpose is to harvest, assimilate, and archive everything you say, tweet, pin, post, share, and like. I prefer my privacy. Social media is good for business, but I value principles over profits.

Q21: What happened to Polkasound Productions Recording Studio?

A: After serving musicians for 30 years (1990-2020) the studio has closed. As of April 1, 2020, Polkasound no longer offers recording services to the public. Notice of the studio's closure was posted on September 1, 2019.
 
Troubleshooting

Q22: I loaded an instrument but I don't hear any sound (or I just hear clicking noises.)

A: If you loaded an .nki patch with "MW" in it, you need to move your keyboard's modulation wheel up.

Q23: Kontakt says your instrument was produced on a later version, and I need to update mine.

A: If you receive that message when trying to load and play my instruments, then you are using a version of Kontakt that is older than the version I used to create the instruments. Update your version of Kontakt.

Q24: Kontakt says your samples are missing, and is asking to search for them.

A: Sometimes this happens. The samples are located in a subdirectory of the instrument you downloaded. Point Kontakt to the folder where those samples are, and then the instrument will load and play normally. To avoid running into this problem the next time you use the instrument, save the instrument by overwriting the existing .nki file.

Q25: I added your instruments to my cart, but when I got to PayPal, they disappeared from my cart.

A: I don't know what causes that to happen for some people, but if it happens to you, one solution is to log into your PayPal account first, then add the instrument to your cart, and then check out.
 

Do you have any questions that have not been answered here? Shoot me an email.

Tom Brusky



Copyright © 2007-2020 Tom Brusky LLC.