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Author Topic: Do you use Microtuning / Microtonal Scales, like Aphex Twin and others?  (Read 698 times)

VAU

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i must confess, i never bothered with microtonality that much.

I always loved microtonal music without really taking too much care of it:
Terry Reily's "Shri Camel" might be my all time  favorite record and  i preferred the Baroque tuning for Bach,
i listened to World music all my life.

But myself?
I often detuned sounds a lot and thought that is much more interesting (which is "some kind" of microtuning)
but never took a bigger look at this subject, only to find out that

... that microtunings make a night and day difference:

the same patch may sound not that exciting to you and you play it in another scale
and it completely changes the emotions you get from it.

This means, that scales are at least as important as the sound itself.

Now i understand much better, why a cheap CASIO keyboard sounded so much more intereesting to me
when a Balkan player used it then when standart Western music is played on it.

If you want to play world music, then you have to play it in the right tunings to make it sound right.

So I downloaded the scales archive from the SCALA page (thousends of scales !) and enjoy so much just flipping through scales
with some SERUM, OMNISPHERE, REPRO 5/1, DIVA, REASON, AALTO or FALCON patch.

These synths CAN load those scales, FALCON let's you even create your own.

Unfortunately two of my favorite synths do not allow this at the moement:
PIGMENT  and MATRIXBRUTE and both would benefit so much from it. *

When i saw the new NOVATION video today about their next update in colaboration with AFX,
i thought i ask you:

How important are microtonal scales to you? **




* Microtonal scales can not be send via MIDI - They have to be a function in the synth itself. (if i got this right...)

** in case you never did something with it, here is the scales archive from the scala page: http://www.huygens-fokker.org/docs/scales.zip

take any synth that can load scl tunings and try some of the scales, if you want just with a simple init patch
some of the scales might sound very weird to you, some sound almost the same as standard western. hear & feel for yourself ;)
« Last Edit: April 16, 2019, 03:15:17 am by VAU »

DrJustice

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i must confess, i never bothered with microtonality that much.

I always loved microtonal music without really taking too much care of it:
Terry Reily's "Shri Camel" might be my all time  favorite record and  i preferred the Baroque tuning for Bach,
i listened to World music all my life.

But myself?
I often detuned sounds a lot and thought that is much more interesting (which is "some kind" of microtuning)
but never took a bigger look at this subject, only to find out that

... that microtunings make a night and day difference:

the same patch may sound not that exciting to you and you play it in another scale
and it completely changes the emotions you get from it.

This means, that scales are at least as important as the sound itself.

Now i understand much better, why a cheap CASIO keyboard sounded so much more intereesting to me
when a Balkan player used it then when standart Western music is played on it.

So I downloaded the scales archive from the SCALA page (thousends of scales !) and enjoy so much just flipping through scales
with some SERUM or AALTO or FALCON patch.

These synths CAN load those scales, FALCON let's you even create your own.

Unfortunately two of my favorite synths do not allow this at the moement:
PIGMENT  and MATRIXBRUTE and both would benefit so much from it. *

When i saw the new NOVATION video today about their next update in colaboration with AFX,
i thought i ask you:

How important are microtonal scales to you? **




* Microtonal scales can not be send via MIDI - They have to be a function in the synth itself. (if i got this right...)

** in case you never did something with it, here is the scales archive from the scala page: http://www.huygens-fokker.org/docs/scales.zip

take any synth that can load scl tunings and try some of the scales, if you want just with a simple init patch
some of the scales might sound very weird to you, some sound almost the same as standard western. hear & feel for yourself ;)
While SCALA compatibility, or a good selection of built in scales, would be good, in the meantime let's look at the alternatives:

It is possible to use MIDI for microtonal scales, independent of the synths capabilities, at least for monophonic synths. This is achieved by using some software, or a dedicated device, between a keyboard and the synth (could even use the keyboard on the synth with local off, and loop back through the microtonal software/device). This is done by converting the desired pitch to the nearest MIDI note and using pitch bend (preset to, say, one semitone range) to reach the precise pitch. You lose the ability to use pitch bend with this method, although that could at actually be worked around in the software involved (set a greater bend range, use biasing for pitch bend messages).

There are both software and hardware solutions available for this. Example of a hardware device here and here, and even a CV/gate one here. A little googling on the subject will reveal some software solutions, I think some are using Max

There are also alternative keyboards that supports microtonality, you'll find an overview here. I don't know if there are any traditional 12TET/diatonic keyboards that support alternative scales through the note+pitchbend method - it might become very confusing when scales doesn't match it's layout.

For the MatrixBrute, you can get equal temperament scales with any number of notes by using the method described in this thread.

For learning more about microtuning, check out the blog of Carlo Serafini, he's a microtonal guru. You'll find more of his microtonal  music here.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2019, 01:59:40 am by DrJustice »

VAU

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"For the MatrixBrute, you can get equal temperament scales with any number of notes by using the method described in this thread."

this link seems to be dead?

thanks for all your info (as always)
i know there are certain workarounds, still implementing it in the synths themselves shouldn't be any problem,
and not to do feels like being forced to talk in certain languages, while others are "forbidden"

(but as Matrixbrute owners know, Arturia are not the fastest with implementing features they regard as not that important ...)

i mean, even SERUM has it, you just can drag and drop scales into it and it opens up musical universes.

To bring out a "multicolored" softsynth like PIGMENTS and then n o t  allow microtuning is a bid of a contradiction, isn't it?
« Last Edit: April 15, 2019, 01:23:49 am by VAU »

DrJustice

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"For the MatrixBrute, you can get equal temperament scales with any number of notes by using the method described in this thread."

this link seems to be dead?
Ooops... forgot to copy in the actual URL...  :-[  The link should work now - please try again.

VAU

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thanks

LBH

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I guess the answer to your question depend on how much one use microtuning. I could use  microtuning a litlle.

I guess the applications could have microtuning in one way or another.
There are tunings with scales that in example use more than 12 notes, so yes perhaps a 12 note per octave layout may not be so easy to use in all cases, but it is possible.
Yes there are applications out there where you individually can tune each of the 128 notes that's availble for MIDI, and where tunings also can be set using a tuning map in a menu. That would give full control.

But using different tunings can also make harmonizing and such more difficult. That might require some knowleadge to use different tunings and scales, that not similar to what is common today.
Bach was thrilled about the possiblities the new tuning had. Suddenly you for example could do modulations between keys. The tuning is suited for Chromatic music.

I don't know how much a microtuning feature would cost. That may also be a factor in how to implement the feature.
 

Tuning and scales is not allways the same. In example is the scale Bach used the same as the scale we mostly use today in western music. But as we today mostly use a Equal tempered tuning and Bach used a Well tempered or Full tempered tuning, then things sounded different, even if the tuning is nearly the same. I actually think the tuning Bach used sound better that the modern Equal tuning, and would like to have the tuning Bach used (I think it's also called Werkmeister III.).
In cases where each individual note need to be tuned different to sound right is where we need microtonal tuning possibilities. That could be the case mentioned, or if in example to tune quarter note steps like used in none western music.
Yes you can use bender and such, but that's not the best solution.

I don't know if Arturia applications support tools like Cubases microtuner "Hermode Tuning" and similar. But if so, then perhaps it's allready possible to do microtuning for plugins using third party tools.


In Barok music a master tuning where A=415 Hz was common while we today use A=440 Hz. That's roughly a semitones difference. This difference just need a master tuning on all instrumnets. A little more info here: https://roelhollander.eu/en/tuning-frequency/415hz-baroque-pitch/ - There are lot's of info out there, but this article is very short and have links for more, and then it's possible to search more info about it.
DIfferent master tunings can affect the timbre of an instrument.


There are lots of scales that can be played on the current tuning. Like this: https://www.pianoscales.org/exotic.html
This scales can be used on the current fixed note tuning. I think many manage with using this. And i assume that's what was heard on the mentioned Casio, as i think a cheap toy keyboard like that only had one tuning.

But anyway - I'm for microtonal tuning and  for more scales to use for sequencers and quantize functions.  Especially if it does'nt cost much.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2019, 05:29:43 pm by LBH »

VAU

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At a closer look you are right, a scale is a certain choice of tones of a certain tuning (correct me please if i'm wrong)

But on the other hand, they seem to be used for the same thing: how a instrument is tuned. If you look at the scale archive here: http://www.huygens-fokker.org/scala/downloads.html,
then these are tunings. Hence the fact, that they can end on *.scl as well as *.tun and you can convert between scl and tun. Same thing.

But more important:

The most obvious use, IF a synth can load scales (or has enough) is, that you can play any ethnic or historic or classical music in a correct manner that you got the scale for.
Indian scales, arab scales, baroque scales, 12 tone music...whatever.

I am honest: i just throw in a scale and see if i like it or not. I'm not the type of guy who wants to learn all the theoretical background.
If it sounds good to me then i take it.

But WHAT i can say for sure is: loading a different scale can be much more satisfying to me than loading another plugin.
Music is based on certain vibrations, and the same preset can be quite boring or really exciting, depending on the scale used.


So that would be 2 VERY GOOD reasons to implement the possibility to load scales:

1. people can play any music with it, from any world music to any historical or experimental period

2. scales have a huge huge impact on how exciting your music is.



i do not think it is big thing to implement it and would LOVE to see it in PIGMENTS, even more than in the Matrixbrute (i know there is for example a TUBBUTEC module for this)

VAU

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ps here you find some APHEX TWIN  tunings to download and more information:

https://www.reddit.com/r/edmproduction/comments/6zqawj/aphex_twins_custom_tuning_files_extracted_from/



ps i just found out, not only OMNISPHERE, SERUM, AALTO, FALCON or U-He Synths like DIVA and REPRO allow microtuning, even REASON has it: https://www.propellerheads.com/shop/rack-extension/microtune/

so please ARTURIA make it possible for PIGMENTS. thank you !
« Last Edit: April 16, 2019, 02:09:07 am by VAU »

LBH

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- Yes there can be different scales using the same tuning.
The piano scales i link for show lots of scales to use for a 12 note western tuning. Those scales can simulate other countries scales, but without the tuning if the scales uses another tuning. This is used a lot. I also added it to show what's possible allready.

- But there can also be different tunnings for the same scale.
I gave the Bach example to show 2 different 12 note western tunings for the same scale. I said i prefere the old tuning for the scale. It has more pure notes than the Equal tunning.

- And some scales can't be played using standard western tuning or the other way around - and so on.
I gave the quarter note tuning example to show that some music use scales that use intervals with quarter notes. That's notes with a smaller interval in a standard western tuning.

- The way i look at scales and tunings, then scales and tunings can only be the same if there excist a precise tuning in Hz for each note and the tuning only consist of notes that only can be used for a certain precise scale.
I think perhaps this is only possible for a scale of one note that has to be tuned in a certain Hz to be correct, if that even can be called a scale.


I think all the Scala files you post is all or mostly about tuning. .Tun is just another file format for the same. Perhaps there are some files where the tuning and the scale is the same, Or perhaps they use the word scale in a confusing manor where scaling (pitch) would be better. But it look like the files contain a tuning for a number of keys. Perhaps some of the files also contain some key restrictions to certain notes, and that could be a scale. But that's not the same as the tuning and the scale is the excact same thing.


A chord that sound good in one tuning might sound horrible in another tuning. So if one wan't to work with harmonics in different tunings, then it can take some studying to do so, unless you allready have the knowleadge.

A certain scale and/ or tuning does'nt in it self create the music. It can perhaps set a mood, and you can perhaps create random music, if the notes can't sound wrong together.
But if one wan't to compose and use melodies and chords that can be repeated, then one somehow need to find a way to do this, as one perhaps can't use the music knowleadge one might allready have for standard western tunings and for different scales.


I think it would be good if any keyboard could be set to use at least common tunings used in the world music. It's something that is suggested in the user forums before.
I also think it would be good to have sync option for everything in any timing/ beat and rythm.
I'm just saying there can be some considerations to take about any function. Is'nt that what a question about importance of a function like you ask is about? I can in example say micro tuning is important for a fully versataile usage, and scales can be important in some functions too.


BTW: I think the Reason extension for micro tuning only can be used for plugins that can use it, just like the cubase tool i mentioned.
Can Arturias applications use tools like this? If so, then you allready have micro tuning possibilities. But i still would like some possibilities in Arturias own applications, just like there are other things i would like.


Cheers

VAU

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i am aware of all that, thank you, but despite i appreciate all your information, you should not dis-encourage people here but make them curious to try out different things,
because

- what might sound horrible to you might sound very exciting and interesting for somebody else.
people who want to try out different scales can just load them and play around with them and discover new sounds.
you DO NOT NEED ANY theoretical background to do that so please don't talk about horrible sounds here IN GENERAL.
there are absolute LOVELY things to discover and (this has to do with number of notes and keymaps etc) your patches can behave quite different using another tuning,
so there is even more to discover. 

-  tun and scl files are  the same . i do not say tunings and scales are the same, but we should not make it too complicated here: tun and scl files are the same and they mean, you
can play for example certain African Music or Arab Music or baroque music or xenharmonic music in the CORRECT way.



so to sum it up: i don't want to discuss theoretical things here with you or even argue.

i think it is completely obvious that it is a big big plus if synth let's you load tunings from other countries, periods or what ever - or even let you do your own tunings
(btw i am sure you heard about the KORG PE 1000 or the YAMAHA YC45D for example)

different tunings are not only for "the experts" but for EVERYBODY to play around with and for world music they are A MUST


cheers


LBH

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Re: Do you use Microtuning / Microtonal Scales, like Aphex Twin and others?
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2019, 04:36:19 am »
I strongly encourage to exsperiment. Also in learning an instruments possibilities. I have done that many times in the forums.
I can encourage you to exsperiment with Pigments many modulation possibilities for different parameters that affect pitch. You even have the KBD and Velo curve settings under the "KEYBOARD" tab for this. This can also add some microtuning.
No need for theoretically based scales and tunings for this, even though it sometimes can be nice to have. And as said, then a full 128 note user tuning with the possibility to load tunings and scales is the most fleksible if so.

Please don't be that hostile against music theory. Does'nt that matter at all? I look at it as a tool you can use when it can be useful. Sometimes you don't need it. But sometimes it can help a lot.


Cheers

VAU

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Re: Do you use Microtuning / Microtonal Scales, like Aphex Twin and others?
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2019, 08:51:22 am »
...
No need for theoretically based scales and tunings for this, even though it sometimes can be nice to have. ...


Honestly?

You are arguing like a company that does not give the opportunity to load tunings now?

So if somebody from a certain region in the world wants to play music in the tunings of his region , then she/he is told
"Well you know, there is no need for this, you can experiment with the modulations and velo curves, that is also interesting"
?

And if somebody wants to use tunings like Aphex Twin or Terry Riley then you tell him "Use the pitch bend instead please"
?

You seriously want to exclude great parts of the world and large parts of the music history by NOT regarding tunings as ESSENTIAL?


Again: those tunings can be used without having any theoretical background.

Check AALTO, DIVA, REPRO, SERUM, OMNISPHERE, FALCON, and others: it is just drag&drop or "load".
No theory needed.  You CAN dive into the theory behind it. But you also can just use those tunings and enjoy them.


ps thank god there are manufacturers like tubbutec:
https://tubbutec.de/΅tune/
https://tubbutec.de/blog/modypoly-hires-now-available/
so what is posible for modular hardware or old analogs should be possible for modern ones or softsynths too, shouldn't it?
« Last Edit: April 17, 2019, 03:32:09 pm by VAU »

MajorFubar

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Re: Do you use Microtuning / Microtonal Scales, like Aphex Twin and others?
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2019, 12:58:22 pm »
I think it would need a complete mindset-change by Arturia before we see microtuning / alternative tuning in Arturia products. Even their long-standing VSTs such as the V Collection synths and Analog Lab only have standard Western tuning. I don't think LBH was excusing Arturia, just observing that there are some (less than ideal) workarounds which circumvent the missing feature.

You can add Pianoteq to your list of VSTs which support alternative tuning and temperaments. You can even edit the tuning note by note if you want to. On top of that (and it grieves me to say this on the Arturia forum) but its authenticity blows the Arturia virtual acoustic pianos and electric pianos clean out the water.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2019, 02:35:38 pm by MajorFubar »
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VAU

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Re: Do you use Microtuning / Microtonal Scales, like Aphex Twin and others?
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2019, 01:06:48 pm »
Don't get me wrong, i appreciate a lot the input of experts like LBH or Dr Justice - who wouldn't.
I just thought to say "No need for theoretically based scales and tunings for this, even though it sometimes can be nice to have" is plain wrong,
because musically/globally seen, custom tunings are rather a must than a "sometimes nice to have".
It does not help you a lot if you want to play in "indian todi" or "bulgarian bagpipes" or if you want to load Aphex Twin's tunings,
but all you got is workarounds that don't bring too much but hours of trying instead of a simple drag&drop .

thanks for mentioning Pianoteq! - they have Organteq as a free try out at the moment as it looks  ;)
« Last Edit: April 17, 2019, 01:09:30 pm by VAU »

MajorFubar

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Re: Do you use Microtuning / Microtonal Scales, like Aphex Twin and others?
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2019, 02:08:06 pm »
thanks for mentioning Pianoteq! - they have Organteq as a free try out at the moment as it looks  ;)
Yeah i think Organteq is definitely a 'work in progress', it's nowhere near as polished as Pianoteq (yet), but it's good they are branching out to model different instruments. If I was a true pianist more than a general keyboardist, I would definitely invest in Pianoteq. I strongly believe the future is in modelled pianos rather than gigabytes upon gigabytes of samples. Sampled pianos just do not, and cannot, offer the same opportunities for customisation and flexibility.
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