ECMC sflib and sflib96 Directories

The digitized acoustic soundfiles within the sflib ("SoundFile LIBrary") directories (folders) on the ECMC Linux and Macintosh systems are available to all users. Currently the sflib directory is divided into the following subdirectories:

  • africa: sounds from Africa
  • america: sounds from native North and South American cultures
  • anal: spectral analysis files (not playable) in subdirectories pv, lpc and sms
  • australia: sounds from indigenous (non-European) Australian cultures
  • brassloop: short orchestral brass samples with loop points; designed for looping in synthesis algorithms to produce longer sounds; unlike most other sflib soundfiles these are not very usable in their raw form
  • chinaperc: ancient and modern Chinese percussion instruments
  • choir: choral samples from an SATB (soprano-alto-tenor-bass) Western chorus
  • csutil: not playable soundfiles; attack portion of some idiophones designed for use with certain Csound opcodes (Linux systems only)
  • env: environmental sounds
  • gamelan: gamelan sounds
  • japan: sounds from Japan
  • kb: piano and harpsichord samples, many of which are designed for looping
  • perc: idiophone and membranophone (percussive) soundfiles
  • prosonus: a small group of additional samples
  • string: chordophone (string) soundfiles, exclusing keyboard instruments
  • voice: solo soprano, alto and bass vocal multisamples
  • wind: aerophone (wind instrument) soundfiles
  • world: miscellaneous world and ethnic music samples
  • worldstring: world and ethnic music chordophone samples
  • x: example soundfiles illustrating resources of the ECMC Linux systems (not installed on the ECMC Macintosh system)

Listening and Playing sflib Soundfiles

The commands to list and play sflib soundfiles are summarized within section 4 of ECMC System Users' Guide handbook.

To list the current contents of one of the sflib sound directories, type: lsflib directoryname or else: lsfl directorynamelsfl string will list all soundfiles in the string directory.

To find soundfiles from any sflib directories that match a character string, use the: findsflib command. Type man findsflib to display a manual page for this program.findsflib drum.a4 will display the names of all sflib soundfiles whose names include the character strings drum or .a4.

To play one or more soundfiles from any sflib directories type: playsflib soundfilename(s) or else: psfl soundfilename(s).psfl cb.c1 cym1 will play soundfile cb.c1 from the string directory, followed by soundfile cym1 from the perc directory.

To read the header of one or more sflib soundfiles, type: sflibinfo directory/soundfilename or else: sflib directory/soundfilename.sflib env/fishfarm will give you information about soundfile sflib/env/fishfarm

The sflib soundfiles also can be opened for use by ("imported" into) almost all other applications that can read .wav files, such as Reaktor and Cubase SX.

Additional Information

Formats: WAVE, Mono and Stereo, Sampling Rates

On the ECMC Linux system all of the sflib soundfiles are in WAVE format, and the soundfile names include a .wav filename extension. Currently, a majority of the sflib soundfiles have a sampling rate of 44100 and 16 bit resolution. However, several directories containing new soundfiles we have recorded at a 96 kHz with 24 bit resolution also are available in the sflib96 collection. Most sflib soundfiles are monophonic, and most have been normalized to a peak amplitude of between 95 and 99 % of maxamp (a raw amplitude value of approximately 30000 to 32000).

Stereo Soundfiles

There are a stereo versions of some soundfiles in which the source recording included aurally significant localization of sound sources between the left and right stereo channels. All stereo sflib soundfiles begin with the character string ST. In most cases, a mono version of the stereo soundfile also exists: for example, the env directory includes a soundfile called STwind.high and a mono mixdown version of the same soundfile called wind.high. However, for a few stereo soundfiles, such as env/SThorses, no mono version exists.


for most soundfiles with a well defined pitch or percussive strike tone, the pitch and octave are indicated in the soundfile name. The pitch class and octave abbreviations employed here are identical to those used with the score11) keyword notes. The lowest three notes (a, a# and b) on the piano keyboard are octave 0. The next 12 chromatic tones, from the lowest c on the piano keyboard through b a major seventh higher, comprise octave 1. Middle c is c4, the highest c on the piano keyboard is c8. cs stands for the pitch class C sharp, df for the pitch class D flat. Generally, sharps rather than flats are used to identify "black keys" on the piano.


Sets of samples of an instrument or voice usually pitched a third or fourth apart. These multisample sets enable one to employ the instrumental or vocal timbre throughout its normal pitch compass. With most of these multisamples sets, most pitches can be obtained with a transposition no greater than a major second.

Samples Designed for Looping

sflib soundfiles whose names include the character string loop (for example, the soundfile violegam.loop.af1.wav within the string directory) are designed for looping. All of the soundfiles within the brassloop directory, and the multisample sets within the kb, string and wind directories whose names include the string loop, can be looped with Csound, Reaktor and certain other audio applications in order to obtain output durations of arbitrary lengths. However, some of these will not sound well, or be musically usable, if looping or additional amplitude envelope controls are not employed. Some of these soundfiles do not include a decay, and will end very abruptly (possibly with a click) if amplitude decays are not added. A few looped soundfiles also require a fade-in on the attack. More information on using these soundfiles is included in the companion sflib file loops, also available as an ecmchelp file on ECMC Linux systems.

Notes on Some Individual sflib Directories

Separate ecmchelp files are available for several sflib directories, currently including:

  • africa, america, australia, brassloop, chinaperc, choir, gamelan, japan, kb, perc, prosonus, world and worldstring.

Below are some notes on the contents of individual sflib directories for which separate help files are not available:

String Directory (Western Stringed Instruments)

cb = contrabass, vc = violoncello, vla = viola, vln = violin, pn = piano , guit = guitar , violegam = viole da gamba, celharp = Celtic harp .p = pizzicato, .m = martele bowing, .h = harmonic

Voice Directory (Solo Voice Tones)

Soprano, alto and bass tones in group 1 (e.g. sop1.as4) are long tones sung loudly with vibrato
Tones in group 2 (e.g. sop2.a3) were sung softly, with minimal vibrato.
Tones in group 3 (e.g. sop3.as4) are short tones, less than a second in duration.

Wind Directory (Western Aerophones, Mostly Orchestral Woodwinds and Brass)

This directory includes multisampled sets for most orchestral woodwind and brass instruments, as well as a few non-orchestral instruments


  • fl = flute
  • bfl = bass flute
  • barfl = baroque (18th century) flute
  • picc = piccolo
  • oboe = oboe
  • clar = Bb clarinet
  • bclar = bass clarinet
  • cbclar = contrabass clarinet
  • bssn = bassoon
  • cbssn = contrabassoon
  • sax = saxophone (soprano, alto, tenor, baritone and bass)

Orchestral Brass

  • brass.short = multisamples of short brass tones, tuba through trumpet, g1 through d5
  • trp = trumpet
  • hn = (F) horn
  • trb = trombone
  • tuba = tuba

Non-Orchestral Instruments

  • irishwhist = Irish whistle
  • mexpicc = Mexican piccolo

Presonus Directory (Available Only on the SGI and Linux Systems)

The prosonus directory, which comes bundled with the SGI IRIX operating system, includes four subdirectories: ambience, instr, sfx and musictags. Most of the more frequently used Prosonus sounds have been linked to copies in other sflib directories, where they can be accessed somewhat more easily. On the ECMC Linux systems a smaller sampling has been consolidated within a single directory. For some information from Prosonus, see the help file sflibprosonus.


Some of the ECMC sflib samples (e.g. the solo vocal samples in the voice directory, most of the perc directory and most of the gamelan directory) were recorded by ECMC and Recording Arts staff members, and ECMC users are welcome to use these on their personal computer systems, but you cannot re-distribute (and you certainly cannot sell) these soundfiles. However, many of the sflib soundfiles have been taken from commercials cds. We have licensed these commercial recordings for use by ECMC users, but you cannot copy them or distribute them to other sites. If you have any questions about these policies please see a staff member.