NOTE: The link below was to an older version of the Salamander, so the link now goes to a download page that lists the latest version. Also, LinuxSampler isn’t as temperamental as it once was when it comes to loading SFZ files, so you don’t have to follow the instructions below to the letter any more — just add a sampler channel, set it to SFZ mode, and load the SFZ file, and you should be good to go.
After a bit of a wait, what’s perhaps the ultimate free piano sample library, the Salamander Grand Piano is available! One of the guys on the linux-audio-user spent I’d-hate-to-think-how-long recording every note on a Yamaha C5 grand at 16 different volume levels with a pair of stereo mics, and the result — all 1.9GB of it — sounds lovely.
Getting it running, however, is a bit fiddly right now. Due partly to its heft, it’s distributed in SFZ format, instead of the more common GigaSample “.GIG” format. Linuxsampler supports SFZ in CVS, but it’s buggy, and the instrument needs to be set up just right to load without crashing Linuxsampler. Once you’ve installed Linuxsampler from CVS — a bit of effort, but fairly straightforward, especially since it comes with Debian package scripts — follow these steps, in order, to get the Salamander up and running:
- Launch Linuxsampler and the Fantasia GUI as usual — so far, so good!
- Create a new sampler channel in the middle of the window. Click the “GIG engine” text in your new channel, and select the “SFZ engine” option
- Set up your MIDI and audio devices on the right — I use ALSA for MIDI and JACK for audio, but you can use whatever you prefer here.
- Click on the “OPTIONS” button on your sampler channel, and select your newly-created MIDI input and audio output. Your window should now look like this:
- Click the “Load Instrument…” link on your sampler channel and load the “SalamanderGrandPiano.sfz” file
If you follow those steps in order, and cross your fingers, you should have a working Salamander Grand Piano setup! Once you have a working setup, make sure you export it to a file (Actions/Export/Sampler Configuration…); you’ll then be able to fire up your new piano next time by using that export (with the Actions/Run Script…) option.