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Microtones and sequencers
Last post Wed, Apr 15 2020 by PaoloT, 8 replies.
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Posted on Sat, Dec 09 2017 20:15
by Gppp
Joined on Wed, Dec 28 2016, Posts 2

Good evening,

I am new of VSL and I am still understanding how it works. I am mainly interested in using VSL to experiment with microtones, modifying the pitch of a quarter tone or an octave tone. As sequencer I'm using Cubase LE 8.

The first issue I found was to record a microtonal phrase in Cubase. Of course when I play it I can hear the microtuning and everything works perfectly, but when I playback what I have recorded I just hear well tempered notes, of course because I play with a master midi keyboard. So, which is the trick?

Thank you

Tags: microtuning
Posted on Sat, Dec 09 2017 22:01
by bbelius
Joined on Sat, Mar 14 2015, Posts 883

You have to record / manually set pitchbend information in Cubase. Vienna Instruments then will play these back.

Vienna Symphonic Library
Posted on Sun, Dec 10 2017 10:17
by Paul
Joined on Sat, Aug 03 2002, Vienna, Posts 12791

Welcome GPPP,

Are you using the scale tuning in Vienna Instruments PRO?


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Paul Kopf
Product Manager - Vienna Symphonic Library
Posted on Mon, Dec 18 2017 16:52
by Gppp
Joined on Wed, Dec 28 2016, Posts 2


I am also using the scale tuning in VSL. Unfortunately Cubase Elements "plays" in real time each microtonal note in the correct way, but if I "record" the same phrase and play it back Cubase interprets the same micronotal notes rounding them to the closest tempered notes.

I would be happy to know how you solved this issue.

In the Steinberg forum they told me that the version I have - Cubase Elements - doesn't have a function called "Micro Tuning" that the more advanced versions of Cubase do have. So I am going to upgrade to a highest version of Cubase. But before purchaising it I would really be happy to know how do you manage with this issue in your sequencer.

Thank you

Posted on Fri, Apr 10 2020 22:43
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 1125

Originally Posted by: Paul Go to Quoted Post

Are you using the scale tuning in Vienna Instruments PRO?

I'll revive this thread, beacause I'm too trying to let VSL instruments play microtones.

It is not a matter of using a particular scale, but of playing microtonal accidentals on individual notes, for example ina space of 24 EDOs.

The lack of this features is particular apparent with Dorico, where writing microtones is very easy. NotePerformer can react to these intervals. Unfortunately, VIPRO can't, and a contemporary score based on microtones is very hard to render.

Any chance this can appear?


Posted on Mon, Apr 13 2020 12:08
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 1125


Back on this issue. First of all, a little of background, to understand where I come from with this matter. I mostly compose taking from the principles of spectralism. Microtones are very important, because partials approximation to a semitone is no longer satisfactory, as it was at the times of Messiean. Quarter and sixth of tone are necessary, to create the particularly rich sonority typical of this music.

Most composers have been using programs/languages like Max, jMax, PureData, SuperCollider, OpenModus to deal with this. Quarter-tone support in "commercial" apps, that can also be used without wearing a lab's white coat, has never been available. There was something in Sibelius. Until the appearance of Dorico, a scoring program that can be used both for hymns and more sophisticate writing alike. Microtonal accidentals are supported from the start as a standard feature.

Microtonal accidentals are not only needed in the niche type of music I was citing above. A niche that, for something like VSL, is maybe a bit less niche, since the users are very often specialists of classical and contemporary music. Microtones are however also useful for ethnomusicologists, or musicians from cultures different/exceeding the Western tuning system. Or even Western musicians including forlk elements in their music (starting from Bartók, whose violin sonata did include an early form of microtonal accidentals).

Then, I know Haas, the most notable Austrian spectralist, is from around Graz, so I guess Vienna tries to refuse him!

I have done several tests with Dorico these days. Microtonal support with NotePerformer is great. I couldn't test support with apps compatible with VST2's Detune and VST3 Note Expression parameters, like Halion or Pianoteq. What I could see is that VST players are not, alas, compatible with this system.

Steinberg is not interested in using pitch bend instead of native VST controls. If VSL can't implement the requested controls, we will still live in a world where great sound libraries can't fully communicate with great scoring programs. We have all we need, only living in two separate, non-communicant dimensions.

So, I'm here just to voice my dream of being able to write music, and have those odd symbols before the note performed correctly. Spectralism is 50 years old. Bartók/Kodály's ethnomusicological researches are more than a century's old. Parry and Lord are nearly as old. Still, computers can't be used to write down and play their music.


Posted on Tue, Apr 14 2020 22:43
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 1125


I've done a test with VSL Vienna Instruments (non-Pro), inserted in Dorico without using VEPRO. Dorico looks for VST3 plugins, and to VST2 ones only if whitelisted. VI (non-Pro) is VST3, so I was hoping that it could show the way for a Pro player coming in perspective.

Alas, no, even the VST3 plugin refuses to play quarter tones.

With all the experimentations of the latest decades, I was thinking that microtuning was of great interest for the music community composing for orchestra. May St. Ravi and St. Partch forbid us – it seems it isn't!


Posted on Wed, Apr 15 2020 08:53
by PaoloT
Joined on Tue, Dec 27 2016, Posts 1125

I don't know if there is room for a discussion on this matter, but I notice that many new opera commissions, during the latest years, have gone to composers more or less influenced by the spectral movement. With the pupils of Kaja Saarihao progressing in their career, it is to be expected that fine interval will be more and more used.

Traditionally, a score goes fast from the written page to the orchestra. However, we can agree, in this space, that prototyping is a precious tool that is common in film music, but is also spreading in classical contemporary music. And while it seems that the film industry is a much richer one, in reality there are very few successful composers in that area, than the (much poorer, but more) in the classical contemporary arena. And philantropy and public funding are still going. It is a niche, but the niche of sound developers like VSL.

Personally, I don't see the request for modern techniques to be fading away. The quick success of a VSL competitor, deeply involved in developing sound libraries based on techniques from the most extreme contemporary composers (like Ligeti or Penderecki), should show that this heritage is mutating and impregnating more styles of music. Some years ago microtones were a keyword, after the "pop" success of Partch. Now it can come back from sophisticate "pop" composers like Greenwood. The multiphonics in VSL Clarinet 2 can become a new source of inspiration.

I remain with the hope to see scoring programs like Dorico easily interface with great libraries like VSL's in any aspect. NotePerformer did an excellent work in integrating with Dorico and other programs. In the meantime, I continue to patiently manually program my pitch bends to detune each single notes of my Clarinet 2 library…


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