Omni | Electronic Autoharp
Omni is a sampled Omnichord for Ableton Live, containing all the sounds of the classic Suzuki Omnichord and several sounds from the modern Q-Chord. The original Omnichord OM27 was released in 1981, and was loved for it's charming 8-bit sound and the ability to strum it like an auto-harp. Famous users include Grizzly Bear, Arcade Fire, David Bowie, Brian Eno & Daniel Lanois, Gorillaz, Mark Mothersbaugh, and Jim James of Morning Jacket.
Although the strummed SonicStrings are the most utilised feature, the Omnichord also provides the player with organ-style chords, auto-bass patterns and drum loops, allowing the player to emulate the sound of a full band. There are many different ways of playing the Omnichord, and I've aimed to make this Ableton Live Pack as diverse as possible. I sampled my old, beaten up Omnichord OM36 and six sounds from my Suzuki Q-Chord. The strummed instruments mimic the Omnichord with complete accuracy, and allow you to create fully adjustable strummed arpeggios for use in your own music.
Artwork by Andreia Calhau.
The OmniStrum instruments replicate the harp-like strums that can be played with the Omnichords strumplate. I've used Live's MIDI effects to create the arpeggios, meaning they can be played at any speed, and I've also replicated the way that the Omnichord plays different chords with different arpeggio patterns, so every arp strum plays just like the Omnichords.
As well as arpeggio speed, the note sustain length can be adjusted just like the real Omnichord, and I've also added a tone function and an adjustable range knob that takes everything up or down an octave. Chorus, vibrato and reverb make up the effects, and the Analog setting adds subtle imperfections to the instrument that make it sounds more real. The sounds are classic, guitar, piano, harp, flute, synth and vibes.
The OmniOrgan instruments play the chord backings the Omnichord produces to accompany the strums, they can either be played alongside the OmniStrums instruments, or on their own. I've also included OmniOrgan PF, which is the OM36 run through an Eventide PitchFactor pedal, creating some really dense harmonies - one of my personal favourite tricks!
OmniBass & OmniDrums
OmniBass and OmniDrums provide the rhythm section element of the Omnichord; with the former playing auto-bass patterns, and the latter triggering lo-fi drum loops. The bass patterns match the chords of the OmniStrum and OmniOrgan instruments, and can be used to provide bass accompaniment, and both instruments automatically adjust to Live's tempo.
The Omnichords auto-bass was used in the Brian Eno track Deep Blue Day, which appeared in the soundtrack to Trainspotting (the scene where he dives into the toilet!). Here's what Daniel Lanois says about the track:
Brian had discovered this little toy instrument called the Suzuki Omnichord – you could think of it as an electronic harp. It mimics strings and has a little built-in bass element: almost one-stop instrument that provides a whole sound of an entire band. We found that by recording this thing and slowing it down, we were able to get this very beautiful, deep, jukebox sound. Brian came up with this little groove. It ultimately became a track called “Deep Blue Day.” It’s the “bom-dru-fum-fum-fum,” almost like a slow tango of sorts. - Daniel Lanois
If you want to check out Omni for free, you can download Omni Lite. It includes all the major, minor and dominant 7th arpeggio strums from the OmniStrum Classic instrument. You can download it and freely use it as you wish, and if you fancy more sounds, you can check out the full version!
The full version includes 320 24bit WAV samples, 7 strummed instrument with 7 chord types, 7 keys instruments, 10 auto-bass instrument, 2 organ chord instruments, a drum loop instrument and the MIDI Strum Device to create your own strummed instruments using any sound you like!