Discovery Sound brought out this collection of Ainu loops, songs and samples a while back and when I first heard mention of it in Computer Music Magazine I really couldn’t believe it. Ainu music is not the best known in the world and I wasn’t expecting anyone to bring out a loop collection. But happily they did and now that it’s on Loopmasters a lot more people may get to hear about it.

The Following comes from the site description:

This library comprises sounds from essential Ainu instruments and there (are) religious songs which have been passed down from generation to generation.

Hokkaido, the northern part of Japan is the settlement of the Ainu people. Opinion is divided on the time they settled and the details remain a mystery to this day.

The natural sounds produced in Hokkaido are rich, warm, and delicate, but they can evoke power and strength when combined. This new library contains the beautiful music and voices of Ms. Umeko Ando, an acclaimed Mukkuri (Jews harp) player among Ainu musicians. It consists of her slow and meditative Upopo (songs), plus the evocative sounds of the Ainu traditional stringed instrument Tonkori.

I’ve been interested in the Ainu ever since I first heard about them and it is a fine thing for elements of their musical tradition to be available like this. All too often the Ainu have been overlooked, unheard of and generally consigned to oblivion (often being labelled as ‘dying’ or ‘vanishing’), but they haven’t gone away and they are gradually getting the recognition and respect that their culture and people deserve.

I like Loopmasters. So far I’ve actually paid for one download collection: Nu-Tone and then I chose the KJ Sawka DVD when I won a runner-up prize in a customer questionnaire competition. At first I thought Nu-Tone felt a little sparse in terms of the number of loops but then when I realised that you get the sampled instruments and drum hits it started to seem better value. The quality is excellent, though, and I’m pretty happy overall.

If you sign up on the Loopmasters site, you can download a huge, superb and free collection of demo samples (including a set of the Ainu ones). So it’s quite possible to get a decent library to play around with without spending anything.

Thanks to the musicians, producers and to Discovery Sound and Loopmasters for making these sounds more widely available.

Now I’m saving up for the Ainu collection…