Musical Instrument Samples

The University of Iowa Musical Instrument Samples (MIS) are created by Lawrence Fritts, Director of the Electronic Music Studios and Professor of Composition at the University of Iowa. Since 1997, these recordings have been freely available on this website and may be downloaded and used for any projects, without restrictions. These are used by musicians, application developers, teachers, students, and researchers. These have been used in over 270 published research articles and books. Please let me know if these have been helpful in your research and music projects.

Until 2011, the recordings were made with single Neumann KM 84 cardioid condenser microphone at 16/44.1. They were edited into chromatic scales played note-by-note at pp, mf, and ff dynamic levels throughout the range of the instrument. Because the recordings represent the complete dynamic structure of the instrument, input volume levels were not changed during the recording session. Some instruments were played with more than one technique, including arco, pizzicato, vibrato, and non-vibrato.

Beginning in 2011, recordings have been made at 24/96 with three Earthworks QTC-40 wide-frequency high resolution microphones arranged in a Decca Tree formation of left, center, and right placements 12 inches apart and 5 feet in front of the performer. The left and right mics were edited into single-note stereo 24/96 files archived into downloadable zipped folders. The center mic was downsampled to 16/44.1 mono chromatic scales which may be played online and downloaded in the same manner as the pre-2011 files.

With the exception of the piano, all of the instruments were recorded in an anechoic chamber in the Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Center at the University of Iowa. The room is a 27,000 cubic foot space (30'x30'x30') that is isolated from the rest of the building. The chamber is further isolated within the "vault" in that its contact with the floor, walls, and ceiling is through a series of springs. The 36" baffles which fill the floor, walls, and ceiling contribute to sound absorption properties that extend down to 60 Hz.

The next phase of the project will be to expand the number of instruments, to systematically capture a broad range of playing techniques, and record small groups of instruments. Please let me know of other instruments and formats that would be useful to have in this collection. It is very exacting work to maintain a rigorous standard for recording, editing, and hosting a large collection as this. In the past, I have paid for personnel with internal grants and out of pocket. I have worked with the University of Iowa Foundation to create a webpage for donations. I hope you will consider making a tax-deductible donation to fund the next phase of this project. When making a donation, please write "Electronic Music Studios" in the comments field.

The following University of Iowa Electronic Music Studios staff made important contributions to the recording, editing, and management of this database:

Matt Hallaron
Scott Adamson
Eric Durian
John Ritz
Joss Nichols
Michael Cash
Nik Francis
Andrew-Struck Marcell
Tohm Judson
Jean-Paul Perrotte
Shane Hoose
Brian Penkrot
Zach Zubow
Will Huff
Daniel Frantz
Jonathan Wilson

Click here to make a donation. Please keep me posted about your projects and let me know of ways this project can be further developed.

Lawrence Fritts
Professor of Composition and Theory
Director, Electronic Music Studios
University of Iowa



University of Iowa Electronic Music Studios | 306 Voxman Music Building | University of Iowa | Iowa City, IA 52242