Free Musical Instrument Samples


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The University of Iowa Musical Instrument Samples were created by Lawrence Fritts, Director of the Electronic Music Studios and Associate Professor of Composition at the University of Iowa in 1997.

The instruments were recorded in the Anechoic Chamber in the Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Center at The University of Iowa on the following equipment:

Neumann KM 84 Cardioid Condensor Microphone
• Mackie 1402-VLZ Mixer
• Panasonic SV-3800 DAT Recorder

The recordings were digitally transferred to Macintosh Power PC 8500 though a Digidesign Audiomedia III interface (1997-1999) or to a Macintosh G4 through a Digidesign Digi-001 digital interface (2000-present).

The recordings were edited into soundfiles in Digidesign Sound Designer II (1997-1999) or Bias Peak (2000-present) consisting chromatic scales at three non-normalized dynamic levels, pp, mf, ff.

Each note is approximately 2 seconds long and is immediately preceded and followed by ambient silence.

Some instruments are recorded with and without vibrato. String instrument recordings include arco (bowed) and pizzicato (plucked). The only non-anechoic instrument is the piano, which was recorded in a small faculty teaching studio.

All samples are in mono, 16 bit, 44.1 kHz, AIFF format. The exception is the piano, which is recorded in stereo.

The Anechoic Chamber in the Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Center is housed in a 27,000 cubic foot space (30′ x 30′ x 30′) 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.

Please feel free to use these samples in your research or music projects without restriction. You may also cite as a reference, link to our page from another web page, or provide a link in a publication using the following URL:


Please let us know how these samples are being used in your research, creative work, or recreation by contacting Lawrence Fritts at the University of Iowa.