Home » News » Orchestral Tools Announces Abacus by Richard Harvey

Evoke childlike creativity with a one-of-a-kind toy orchestra assembled from a century of ‘educational’ sounds


Berlin, Germany, June 7, 2023 — Sample library designers Orchestral Tools has announced Abacus by Richard Harvey, their latest collaboration with the celebrated English composer and musician. Abacus is an imaginative, one-of-kind orchestra comprised of the sounds of historic children’s instruments assembled from Harvey’s personal collection dating back to the Victorian era. Intuitive to play and immediately inspiring, the collection puts a broad emotional palette of evocative early childhood sounds at the fingertips of composers and sound designers and is ideal for nostalgic and historic scoring, as well as horror, fantasy, and much more.The collection is available now for an introductory price of 139 EUR (189 EUR regular) until June 21. For more information and to purchase, please click here.

An inspiring musical toy shop made for professionals

The genesis of Abacus comes from Harvey’s extensive interest in vintage children’s instruments and the unique sounds and musical ideas that he often found in playing them. Realizing that there was no single collection that brought together these sounds that he often used in his professional work, Harvey partnered with Orchestral Tools to bring his vision of a ‘children’s orchestra’ to life. “When I wanted unusual, magical, even childlike effects, I often couldn’t find the sounds I needed,” Harvey explained. “I’ve spent years sourcing the instruments to recreate those special, evocative, nostalgic echoes from my past or my imagination, and now I’m sharing this lovingly amassed collection, as high-quality samples, with my peers.”

Abacus brings together the sounds of a wide variety of vintage children’s instruments, many of which are available in a sample library for the first time, divided into six sections: Musical Boxes, Wind Instruments, Tuned Percussion, Plucked Instruments, Toy Pianos, and Toy Percussion. Each instrument was captured faithfully with the same attention to detail and range of playability as  Orchestral Tools’ flagship library collections — ensuring that these sounds are immediately usable within the context of traditional sounds and professional orchestration. Each instrument also includes five mixable mic positions making them easy to blend into any score or sound design composition.

Orchestral Tools Abacus screenshot

“Richard’s enthusiasm for bringing unusual or overlooked instruments into the context of the orchestra has always inspired us,” said Orchestral Tools CEO Hendrik Schwarzer. “With Abacus we’ve brought that context to a century’s worth of children’s instruments that made us fall in love with music to begin with, and brought to them a sound quality and usability that we can bring into professional scoring without losing that crucial sense of play.”

Richard Harvey


About Richard Harvey

Richard Harvey is a prolific composer and multi-instrumentalist who has collaborated with artists such as Hans Zimmer, Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello, and guitarist John Williams. He’s conducted, composed, orchestrated, and played on numerous film and television soundtracks, including The Lion King, The Little Prince, The Da Vinci Code, Prince Caspian, Disney’s live action Mulan, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Richard is an expert player and collector of unique musical instruments, with an unparalleled collection of more than 700 instruments—old and new—from around the world. His previous collaborations with Orchestral Tools, Andea and Phoenix Orchestra, drew on his deep expertise in traditional instruments. Now through Abacus, Richard is sharing his incredible instrument collection with the composer community.

For more information and to purchase Abacus, please click here.

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