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Microtonal/Alternate tunings - what is your workflow?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next [all]
Author Microtonal/Alternate tunings - what is your workflow?
Villarceau
justintonation wrote:
The dsi pro 2 uses the midi tuning standard and also has cv out. A good microtonal technique would be to use the pro 2 to tune eurorack or other format modular oscillators. Tuning on the dsi pro 2 could be controlled dynamically via the alt tuner program on a laptop.


Great info. Thanks.
I went to the website and found that apparently alt-tuner should work with Yarns too but is untested...
Using the DSI Pro 2 of course would allow to use it as a controller as well, so quite a great option (if expensive).


From http://www.tallkite.com/alt-tuner.html

Quote:

Mutable Instruments' Yarns midi-to-CV converter works with alt-tuner in either pitch bend mode or sysex88 mode, allowing real-time microtuning of CV synths (untested, but the Mutable Instruments people say it should work). Another possibility is using Native Instruments' Reaktor, which is confirmed to work with alt-tuner, and which can function as a midi-to-CV converter. Reaktor can send CV out your laptop's ADAT audio port to Expert Sleepers' ES-3 interface, which can convert the digital CV to analog CV. A third possibility is Sequentix's Cirklon sequencer, which has 8 tuning tables that respond to alt-tuner's sysex82 mode.
sizone
I know the op is looking for a modular solution, but experimentation is so much more practical with whole synths.
An ensoniq MR whatever can be had for less than 200$ (ZR-76s were routinely selling around here for less than 100$ because no one wanted to fix the encoders) and will provide a ton of polyphony and a full 16 channels of timbrelity. It's also has enough modulation and routing options that you can make interesting patches with it, especially if you drop an urban dance card into it.
I recently picked up a DSI Prophet-12, it can only do two different voices at once, but man are those voices something else.
Sadly, that's about it for practical hardware, nothing else has enough resolution, full keyboard scales or MIDI tuning standard support. The Marion MSR-2 is great, but good luck finding one, a Korg Oasys PCI sounds really nice and is a lot of fun but requires keeping an old mac around to host it.

As far as gear agnostic stuff. Pick your scale first and then build your patches within it, timbrel content sounds better or worse depending on the tuning, different timbres fit different tunings and vice versa. If you start with the tuning you have a baseline to work from. If you have a chance to read Sethares' Tuning Timbre Spectrum and Scale, do so because the relation between tuning and instrument is explained there much better than I can explain it.
Get a keyboard controller that works with the tuning you're playing in. A generalized harmonic tablet, or any general controller with impede you a lot less than a 12tet piano keyboard. I use a pair of iPads because they can be made into tuning specific controllers with a minimum of hassle and time.
https://ridlabs.wordpress.com/2016/07/03/tablet-remappable-midi-keyboa rd-interface/

So, like, my specific workflow is to pick a tuning. I'm not terribly scientific about that, I mostly used Partch's 43 tone scale because I'd heard examples of it (Partch's) and liked it, also Harry Partch was the man. I've used a few tunings chosen from the scala archives based on which ones had the most metal sounding names. Right now I'm using 19tet because it's practical and easy to adapt to playing in because of its similarity to 12 tet.
Then I dump that tuning to mah synthamasizers.
Then I make some patches in that tuning for those synthamsizers.
Then I play, do some light sequencing, maybe get a few bars or patterns sequenced and then relegate everything to the enormous pile of unfinished stuff that defines my life.

Maybe don't try and emulate the last step.
Villarceau
I am definitely going to read that book you recommend. The relationship between timbre and scale is exactly why I would like a modular workflow.
What is the point of investing in a modular to build special soundpatches if you can not play them? And I mean this almost litteraly. Sometimes I feel that some of the reasons that got me to be interested in synths - and modulars in particular - were simply spurious, on the other hand, I have not have that much fun making music in 20 years....
bobbylandry
My Akai S6000 does alternate scale is you work out the note deviation from 12-tone and use the custom scale setup.
Yeggman
sizone wrote:
If you have a chance to read Sethares' Tuning Timbre Spectrum and Scale, do so because the relation between tuning and instrument is explained there much better than I can explain it.


Just a +1 vote of confidence for the Sethares book, it is THE book for tuning and related information, at least for me.

Don't overlook the audio examples, either - knowing that a "dissonant" interval might sound "consnant" because of how the timbre of the sound is built is a lot different than actually hearing what that sounds like, so the audio examples are key, too.

I believe Sethares's examples are all digitally-generated, and indeed it is much easier to accomplish a lot of these things with digital tools... but if there was ever a worthy challenge for a modular system, implementing a microtonal tuning system is it!
meursault
I've also heard ADDAC's VCO is powerful when it comes to these purposes ... microtonality, etc. Not 100% sure though, haven't digged much into it.
freq_divider
First, i'm amazed at how often questions and requests about microtonality pop up here, and how little module developers/manufacturers have done in - say - the last ten years to address the question. We now have 100 different multiples to choose from, but not one decent state of the art xen quantizer that accepts standards like scala.

Over this same period, a good friend of mine has developed a suite of exquisite VSTi's for any xenharmonic use imaginable, and all for free over here http://xen-arts.net/vsti/ and with excellent manuals. Meanwhile, in the modular community, we still only have second rate solutions so far, like the ADDAC Intuitive Quantizer, which is a superb quantizer, but in my humble opinion is pretty much a failure when it comes to xenharmonics.

Second. Bill Sethares' book is indeed The Holy Grail. Buy it and read it. You'll be amazed. Also check out the software developments that Sethares is involved in, mindboggling stuff like this http://www.dynamictonality.com/transformer.htm

3rd, i have come up with two cheap and lo-fi tricks myself which are of limited use. One is using hardsync http://www.dubbhism.org/2015/01/retuning-analog-oscillators-using-hard .html and one is hacking pitch slope, which won't answer the question of the OP but here's a link anyway because it might inspire others to try out funny things http://www.dubbhism.org/2015/03/play-edos-using-pitch-slope-or-pitch.h tml#more

4th, the best working method for me personally is to simply adjust the cv-output of regular quantizers, in order to be able to play 5-tet or 7-tet pieces. In my opinion, this 'attenuated' tuning method actually only works well for 5-tet and 7-tet, so if you don't like those, that's a pity. It just happens that i really like these two, and expanding the method with matching fm-timbres a la Bill Sethares, i get pieces like these

[s]https://soundcloud.com/ism-studio/bass-2[/s]

I also have a label that does some things in xenharmonic music. If you're interested, there's a Xenharmonic playlist, but keep in mind that most pieces on this list are not 100% modular, in fact some explicitly showcase the Xen-arts software https://soundcloud.com/ism-studio/sets/xenharmonic-showcase
BendingBus
Villarceau wrote:
I'm interested to know if there are any microtonal die-hards out there who like to try out different tuning systems and would like to learn what type of workflow/setup you have.

freq_divider wrote:
First, i'm amazed at how often questions and requests about microtonality pop up here, and how little module developers/manufacturers have done in - say - the last ten years to address the question.


I'm still using Paul's MOTM-650, which must be at least 10yrs old by now? It gets the job done.

Work flow - work out the song, decide on a temperament that enhances the feel, write a scala text file (just takes a minute), import that scale into the 650 via midi cable. Then record; the 650 takes a standard midi keyboard as input, and gives you 4 outputs of micro tuned voltage to your oscillators (modes: mono, poly, arpeggios). Easy.

Made this recording earlier this year, uses Ptolemy just major intonation, MOTM650 + 300 oscillators + 440 filters...

Phil999
BendingBus wrote:

Work flow - work out the song, decide on a temperament that enhances the feel, [...]

I think it is necessary to decide on the temperament/tuning first. Then work out melody and song. This is expecially true for tunings that deviate more from equal temperament.

BendingBus wrote:

the 650 takes a standard midi keyboard as input, and gives you 4 outputs of micro tuned voltage to your oscillators (modes: mono, poly, arpeggios).

this must be a very good module!
Dogma



Check this out
wsy
grantmoney wrote:
I've enjoyed running a quantised voltage through an attenuator for basslines, but it's tricky to setup (so don't do terribly often).

Would be nice to have a precision attenuator with set ratios - that way you could fit 24/48/etc notes to an octave. Does such a thing exist?


Pretty close.

The QAO alternate software for the EON in quantizer mode has quantize levels of powers of two from 2^0 (= 1) to 2^10 (= 1024) levels.
Also can emit a gate on the internal LFO or whenever the quantize value should change because the input CV moved out of the
closest-match window. The voltages are stable, but the spacing is uniform, which doesn't match some scales with unequal
note intervals. You can't have everything...

As to alternate tunings "on tap" - I have to recommend the Buchla 223e "thunderbird" controller. You dial in whatever voltage
you want for each touch pad to emit, save it, and Don's your uncle. And you can have up to four of the tunings active
at one time. I have mine set up for Chromatic, Cmajor, Pentatonic, and (I think) some microtonal scale I found on the
web, maybe Carlos alpha or gamma... I don't remember exactly.

- Bill
sizone
Would like to point out that the Korg Monologue handles microtunings amiably. You can import scala scales and keyboard maps straight into the Korg provided librarian and send them straight to the synth. It's got 6 storage spaces for user full keyboard tunings and an additional 6 for 12 note octave tunings.

The first piece of hardware I've found that beats the now ancient ensoniq mr engine stuff in terms of ease of microtonality.

Richard James also made some of the presets (and the alternate tunings). Maybe not as prestigious as Robert Rich, but not a bad name to have associated with it.
sizone
Unfortunately regarding getting tunings in, the way the monologue handles base frequency gets in the way. No amount of messing around with keyboard mappings has gotten around this. Basically, the more divisions of your octave, the lower the pitch of the resulting notes.

There's an easy way around this, the monologue also accepts midi tuning standard 3k dumps (tuning model 107 in scala). So if you open your tuning in scala, set the destination synth as a mts 3k bulk dump, export to a .mid file, convert the .mid to a .syx file then send that to the monologue via, say midiox, the tuning will play with the same register as it will in any other synth.

Still easy, still an amazing synth for 300$, just not -quite- as plug and play for alternative tunings as it could be (actually, it's exactly the same process as getting tunings to dsi synths). Hopefully the scala import on the librarian will be patched to allow you to set where the root note is on the keyboard.
Haterade
Can anybody say how difficult it is to get custom tunings into yarns? You just blast it in using sysex?
notmiserlouagain
I don´t go about it in a ´scientific´way and also no external computers for me, but I like using strange tuning systems, that I develop by hand tuning cv-adressable sequencers in parallel for different voices (I guess you can always use a frequency counter).
This gives me only ten notes per scale over the whole frequency range (I use 2 of Grant Richter´s Analog Tracking Generators), but this scarcety can help making the scale sound more defined (like string skipping/arpeggiating on a guitar).

There´s also the Barton Music user scaleabel quantizer(iirc), which I didn´t check out yet, but am planning to do, it is a digital (that atcually meaning software in a pic chip or something) solution...
phirewall
As a sound healing facilitator, I work with whole-number ratio frequency relationships based on principles of sacred geometry. Currently I use the Prophet 6 and Moog Sub 37 synths as they both support alternative tunings, but I've been looking into modular solutions as well.

In addition to Yarns, I've found two other helpful modules, although I haven't gotten my hands on them yet:
https://www.modulargrid.net/e/tubbutec-%C2%B5tune-
https://www.modulargrid.net/e/other-unknown-krm-100
GGW
I dabble in tunings and, as stated above, it's kind of frustrating that there is still such a lack of technical support for this, and that there are incompatible systems between different pieces of gear. If you work strictly from number theories, I guess it is easier, but to audition in real time as you develop a tuning is not as commonly available. I don't use scala as it seems to want to be based on conventional "C" and not all things support the base frequency standard in the same way. I note, as per references to the Ensoniq gear above, that there was a period in the glory days of romplers where tunings were accommodated by most hardware. I keep my Roland JV1080 just because of the way it handles tuning development. When switched to the tuning page, the curser jumps to the note being played and it can be adjusted with the data wheel. You can play single notes or polyphonically to audition a scale development in real time. The scale then needs to be transposed to other gear in their format.

In modular, I have been using the MengQi Voltage Memory to play a scale, but the notes are limited.
sizone
use scala. you can define the base frequency as what ever you want.
strangeowl
Orthogonal Devices ER-301 can function as a 4 part quantizer. The developer said that scala file support for alternate tunings "is also coming soon" (december 2017).

Source: https://forum.orthogonaldevices.com/t/scale-quantizer-unit/1010

I have a 301, and will wait for that update before I think about the tubbutec.

But I am guessing interface wise the tubbutec quantizer might be a bit more intuitive because it is built with limited functionality as opposed to the 301; it's meant just as a quantizer. Scala files can even be created on the module itself! The tubbutec site also says an expander is coming, which will expand it from a 2 channel to a 4 channel quantizer. (And another function: it can quantize midi to midi - you input normal notes over midi and it outputs notes + pitchbend over midi for alternate tuning of 12tet midi synths.)

Source: https://tubbutec.de/%C2%B5tune/
akrylik
strangeowl wrote:
Orthogonal Devices ER-301 can function as a 4 part quantizer. The developer said that scala file support for alternate tunings "is also coming soon" (december 2017).

Source: https://forum.orthogonaldevices.com/t/scale-quantizer-unit/1010

I have a 301, and will wait for that update before I think about the tubbutec.

But I am guessing interface wise the tubbutec quantizer might be a bit more intuitive because it is built with limited functionality as opposed to the 301; it's meant just as a quantizer. Scala files can even be created on the module itself! The tubbutec site also says an expander is coming, which will expand it from a 2 channel to a 4 channel quantizer. (And another function: it can quantize midi to midi - you input normal notes over midi and it outputs notes + pitchbend over midi for alternate tuning of 12tet midi synths.)

Source: https://tubbutec.de/%C2%B5tune/


The ER-301 has DC-coupled inputs but it does not have DC-coupled outputs. This means it can quantize for its own internal use but it cannot output those quantized voltages in a way that an external module can use.

So, no it cannot be used as a quantizer.
strangeowl
Oh shit that makes sense. That's disappointing :(

akrylik wrote:
strangeowl wrote:
Orthogonal Devices ER-301 can function as a 4 part quantizer. The developer said that scala file support for alternate tunings "is also coming soon" (december 2017).

Source: https://forum.orthogonaldevices.com/t/scale-quantizer-unit/1010

I have a 301, and will wait for that update before I think about the tubbutec.

But I am guessing interface wise the tubbutec quantizer might be a bit more intuitive because it is built with limited functionality as opposed to the 301; it's meant just as a quantizer. Scala files can even be created on the module itself! The tubbutec site also says an expander is coming, which will expand it from a 2 channel to a 4 channel quantizer. (And another function: it can quantize midi to midi - you input normal notes over midi and it outputs notes + pitchbend over midi for alternate tuning of 12tet midi synths.)

Source: https://tubbutec.de/%C2%B5tune/


The ER-301 has DC-coupled inputs but it does not have DC-coupled outputs. This means it can quantize for its own internal use but it cannot output those quantized voltages in a way that an external module can use.

So, no it cannot be used as a quantizer.
mrerdat
My workflow is to use Scala to find the scales I want to use on the computer first and then export them to an SD card to use them on the Eurorack via the Disting mk4.
strangeowl
freq_divider

hi from the microtonal thread I gather that you know a thing or two about working with microtuning: i'm just trying to figure out how to make my own .tun files.

Should I try to install scala? I found it a mess of dead links, unsupported sourceforge packages, just very confusing. There's also a programming language called scala that constantly gives my googling the wrong results, etc.

It seems very complicated to get this going, while on my tubbutec mtune I can do everything with just two buttons and one rotating knob.. It would seem like a simple browser app could easily make these files. Is there a shortcut to make these .tun files?
strangeowl
I'm trying to figure out how to make my own .tun files.

Should I try to install scala? I found it a mess of dead links, unsupported sourceforge packages, just very confusing. I needed another software package in which to put command lines to install another package, that can then maybe run scala? There's also a programming language called scala that constantly gives my googling the wrong results, so I'm struggling to find my way.

It seems very complicated to get this going, while on my tubbutec mtune I can do everything with just two buttons and one rotating knob.. It would seem like a simple browser app could easily make these files. Is there a shortcut to make these .tun files?
Phil999
you can find Scala at the Huygens-Fokker website, and a lot of other relevant information. Scala has a command-line tutorial built in, it is not difficult to build own scales.

http://www.huygens-fokker.org/links_en.html
http://www.huygens-fokker.org/scala/index.html
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