The Ajatar Kantele is a sample-based, digital recreation of a finnish zither instrument called the kantele. The instrument has a long history rooted in the finnish national epic, the Kalevala, and is the national instrument of Finland. The name Ajatar refers to a female woodland spirit in the stories of Kalevala.
The kantele family of instruments has many members from the traditional 5-string kantele to the 38-string concert kantele that Ajatar represents. A kantele is plucked with fingertips rather than nails or plectra, the resulting sound is easily distinguishable from other zither counterparts for its soft attack, brilliant, clear timbre, very long sustain and unwavering pitch. The Ajatar Kantele was built by Koistinen Kantele Ltd.
The leading principle while sampling the Ajatar was authentic, natural recreation with maximum flexibility for experimentation. The samples come in multiple microphone positions (contact, close, room) to allow natural or user-added reverberation and feature round robin keyswitching to avoid sample repetition. The end result is a sampled instrument that is easy to play and hard to distinguish from a real performance.
The Ajatar Kantele was played by Vilma Timonen. She is a young pioneer of the finnish folk revival and was very recently awarded with the finnish Grammy-equivalent, the Emma, with her group Vilma Timonen Quartet for their album 'FORWARD'. Recording, editing and sample programming was done by Matti Strahlendorff. The project was funded by the Sibelius Academy Development Centre with additional support from the Sibelius Academy Centre for Music & Technology. Recording took place at the Sibelius Academy Chamber Music Hall in Helsinki.
The team would like to thank the Sibelius Academy, Koistinen Kantele, Kalev Tiits, Santtu Valve, Jon-Patrik Kuhlefelt, Matti Jordman, Vesa Norilo, Panu Aaltio and Milla Viljamaa.
The team used highest quality recording equipment on the project. Schoeps CMC5 microphones and RME soundcards and preamplification were used for highest fidelity possible.
Ajatar Kantele is available for both MAC and PC in Native Instruments Kontakt format. The instruments different microphone positions can be separately downloaded, the entire sample library is about one gigabyte in size. You need the Native Instruments Kontakt Player or Native Instruments Kontakt v2.0+ to use these samples. The Kontakt Player software is freely available for both MAC and PC here. You can even use these samples in the notation software Sibelius if you have its bundled Kontakt Player installed. For live playing you require a MIDI or MIDI over USB keyboard or similar device and (very importantly) a sustain pedal for the long sustains of the instrument.
You can download the instruments different microphone positions here. If you’d like to try just one version at first, choose the close mic position which offers the most neutral sound. Add your own reverb to taste.
You are allowed to use the product freely on commercial or noncommercial projects as part of a music or sound effects track. You are also allowed to alter the sample material for your own use, but you should share it only in its original form.
You are forbidden to sell or bundle the material into a commercial product.
For clarifications on all issues please contact us via email. We'd be grateful if you let us know what projects you've used Ajatar on.
You can also help Ajatar stay on the internet and produce more superior quality freeware samples by donating any amount through this link.