A Kurzweil Sampler Reader

April 16, 2010

Kurzweil FAQ’s


Q: How can I download the Kurzweil patches/samples for a John Adams work?

A: Once you have set up a score and parts rental with Boosey & Hawkes you will be directed to a download server which contains our custom Kurzweil banks, Native Instruments Kontakt multis/instruments, and soundfiles. Boosey will supply Kurzweil-ready floppy and/or ZIP cartridge media (flavor of media depends on the composition) with the musicians’ parts being shipped, regardless of which format (Kurzweil or Kontakt) you plan to  use.

Note, at the time of this posting, there are more Adams works formatted in the Kurzweil format than in the Kontakt format. This is due to the general time it takes to migrate over to software sampler technology. Please visit the individual tech spec pages on this site to get the most up to date information regarding a specific work.


Q: What is a sampler, and why even use it?

A: In short, a sampler allows a musician to store and playback recorded sounds, and attach them to specific keys on a keyboard register. The composer can then write standard keyboard notation in a score where the sonic result might not be a piano or organ sounding. In some cases they might be bowed glasses, ballpark organs, trash can lids, cow moos, and whatever the composer’s mind can imagine. Yes, there is a little technical legwork involved to get these compositions up and running, but the pay off is worth it.


Q: What are the different Kurzweil sampler models?

A: There are two kinds of Kurzweil sampler, a keyboard version and a rackmount version. We suggest using the keyboard version because everything is self-contained within one unit – sampler brain and keyboard register all together. Models include (chronologically) K2000, K2500, K2600, K2661. In John’s music, there are various sampler configurations and amounts for his various works. Please see the tech specs on this site for individual works.


Q: What about the Kurzweil PC2X and PC3X?

A: These are MIDI master controllers with internal factory sounds. Yes, the K2000 series houses internal factory sounds too, but the PCxxx series does not accept user samples, e.g. our custom samples, where the K2000 series does.

To read more about Kurzweil products please visit their website.



Q: But, there are no K2000 series products on Kurzweil’s website. Why?

A: Due to the ever changing music technology market, we are seeing hardware samplers (like the K2000 series) being replaced by software samplers, such as Native Instruments Kontakt. Kurzweil seems to be in the “performance controller” phase of their marketing strategy. We’re not sure if the K2000 series will make a come back. To be one step ahead of the game, we are porting all of our custom Kurzweil sampler banks over to the Kontakt software sampler. This does take time and we thank you for your patience while these transfers happen.


Q: Then where do we find Kurzweil samplers?

A: Most local backline rental companies in major cities (worldwide) seem to have Kurzweil samplers still in stock. If you are striking out, we suggest checking out the “Dealer” page on the above Kurzweil website. The website will return local Kurzweil dealers in your area. If the dealer does not have these products in stock they should know where to look.



Q: Which Kurzweil sampler should be used for which Adams work?

A: Please see the tech specs on this site for each specific work. In short, we originally programmed on the earliest version of K2000, which is upward compatible into the K2500, K2600, and K2661 series. If you have a K2000 (or higher) with the required (again see specific specs) amount of sample RAM, then you should be okay.

Important note, there are three works in John’s catalog which are programmed on the K2500 and will not load properly on the K2000 – Dharma, El Niño, and Klinghoffer (full opera version). This is because of tuning tables and onboard effects which were used to create these works.


Q: Why is this all so confusing and difficult? Shouldn’t they just create one product that works for everybody, in every situation?

A: Ah, Utopia. Music technology is run and defined by corporations. In some cases, smaller companies have held their ground and done quite well over the years. The larger firms have divisions in their company which specifically plan “obsolescence.” So, we are seeing a new phase of music going “paperless.”


Q: Then why use the ever changing major manufacturer’s product and not a more grassroots firm, who’s product might be available and stable for many years?

A: If we were to program on instruments exclusively from a small, and minimally distributed, manufacturer in the U.S., then the possibility of finding the same product in say Greece or South Africa would be very difficult and frustrating for all parties involved, especially the presenter putting on the performance. So, we watch where the music technology market flows and of which products will best suit our needs – ultimately to help make this music accessible and performable anywhere in the world.


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