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Alternative tunings, pitch bend ranges etc
Last post Tue, Sep 30 2008 by the_visitor, 4 replies.
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Posted on Wed, Sep 24 2008 19:37
by the_visitor
Joined on Tue, Sep 07 2004, London, Posts 8
I'd like the VSL team to consider including some kind of customizable tuning table in the next version of the Vienna Instrument. I want to be able to play in various temperaments, including just intonation in any key, and any of the historical temperaments used in Baroque music (Mean Tone, Valotti, Kirnberger, Werckmeister etc. This (plus the ability to switch instantly between A 415 and A 440) seems absolutely essential for the Vienna harpsichord and organ. Maybe you should also consider implementing hermode tuning on all polyphonic patches.

Some of the exotic percussion instruments (lithophones, verrophones and such) might benefit from being able to play them in quarter tone and even eighth tone chromatic tuning. Playing a fast chromatic run up an instrument tuned in eighth tone increments always sounds really exciting. Pelog and other non-Western tuned scales would also be useful.

I really think you have to give people more options than just +/- 2 semitones for pitch bend. Pitch bending a string section up or down two octaves may not sound "natural" - in the sense of being a believable facsimile of a live orchestra. But that doesn't mean you should censor us from trying it, just for fun! Allow us to break the rules, and get creative with these wonderful samples!

Tags: Suggestions
Posted on Fri, Sep 26 2008 02:50
by Brian
Joined on Mon, Apr 23 2007, Posts 185


There is a free piece of software called Scala that will send pitch wheel data along with note data to create alternate tunings.  The program is pretty cool and quite extensive in its possibilities!


Anyway you can use it with VSL, though only monophonically.  I've used it by having it send over the IAC bus and then have VSL pickup the midi data from the IAC bus (with the pitch wheel engaged of course)...and viola!...instant alternate tunings with VSL sounds!  Check it out!

Brian Smile

Posted on Tue, Sep 30 2008 05:06
by Mark Schmieder
Joined on Mon, May 07 2007, Concord CA, Posts 207

I'm having a devil of a time getting remotely satisfying pitch bend at the moment, when using the Yamaha WX5 wind controller, which is my preferred way of working with woodwind and brass sounds. But some of this may have to do with some "surprises" where results (in MIDI) do not seem to match the WX5 specs. That is, having changed some of the dip switch settings recently, it seems that some of them interact in undocumented or only partially documented ways.

For instance, setting up saxophone fingering on the WX5 seems to turn "+8192" into the "unbent" note. This effectively doubles the pitch bend impact, which is rather difficult to scale well after the fact (for performance reasons on my G4 iMac, it is not really a possibility to use Vienna Instruments during the initial MIDI tracking phase -- I hope this changes once I upgrade to a new computer -- so I have to do considerable MIDI editing afterwards before re-tracking using Vienna Instruments, as it seems MUCH less wind controller friendly than most hardware or even some of the more innovative new software such as Sample Modeling's and Bela D's fare). I have tried different curves, to no avail. It seems best to be able to set different ranges for up-bend and down-bend, as Yamaha wisely did with the WX5.

It's really important though to be able to program Vienna Instruments to match one's preferred input device behaviour. It's hard enough to learn all the intracacies and ins and outs of a slew of products, but one can mitigate that if one takes up-front time to program different sound sources to react in a similarly musical fashion to a limited number of input devices that one "masters". Unfortunately, few products are this flexible.

The Scala reference is welcome, because I was used to being able to set up different intonations for exotic instruments with the Yamaha VL70m, and hate having to give that up. I don't mind learning one outside utility if it works consistently and intuitively, and can be run quickly as an off-line process or even integrated as a plug-in within a DAW.

Anyway, as I can no longer see the original post while responding, I want to make sure I don't get this posting too off-topic by discussing all of my failings after close to 100 or more hours working with different controllers and settings in Vienna Instruments these past few weeks. I am at least thankful that some of the existing articulations can mitigate some of the need for this flexibility, and that the Speed-controlled Matrix setups allow a phrase-contextual sample-switching that as far as I know is unavailable in most hardware and software.

We just need more parameters and sample switches available for assigning via controllers and MIDI messages in the programming section of the interface. It's probably too much to ask for much sophistication in the pitch bend sensitivity section, along the lines of non-lnear scaling to alternate temperaments and intonations, but I'm wondering if it would be possible to add more than one control point to the sensitivity graph?

Posted on Tue, Sep 30 2008 14:22
by the_visitor
Joined on Tue, Sep 07 2004, London, Posts 8
Thanks for the Scala reference.

In general, we need virtual instruments like the Vienna Instrument to allow us more freedom to "misbehave" creatively. I used to own a couple of Akai S3000 samplers, with limited ram and no possibility of anything like the VSL Legato Tool. Of course I don't want to go back to that. But with an Akai, once I got the samples into the machine, I figure I had far more easy possibilities to mis-use the samples than I do now. Pitching samples up or down by eight octaves, creating extravagant pitch wheel glissandos, filtering, reversing and generally manhandling the audio was easy and fun. Now it feels as if we're being forced into obedience, forced into correctness by the interface.
I don't think what I want would take a terrifying amount of work to implement. Loads of free VST soft synths have these sorts of thing as standard.
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