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Topic: Voice Leading Software for samples?

  1. #1

    Voice Leading Software for samples?

    OK, here's an idea for a piece of software that AFAIK doesn't exist. Yet it would seem to me very easy to implement, and I'm surprised it hasn't been done already.

    What I want is to be able to play a series of chords on the keyboard, of an equal number of voices, and have a particular sample loaded that is always assigned to the top voice, another one assigned to the next voice down, and so on and son. So for example, I could play a series of chords for wind quintet and the top note would always be played by the flute, the next note down by the oboe, etc etc down to the bassoon, regardless of where the chords were on the keyboard (within the restrictions of the instruments' ranges, of course).

    Setting up keyboard splits doesn't really work for this because they don't adapt to the changing ranges. For example I could split my keyboard at middle C, and tell the bass to trigger a bassoon and the treble to trigger a clarinet, then play a two-part piece, but what happens when the lower part crosses higher than middle C? Then a few bars later the upper part crosses lower than middle C. Even more of a problem with more parts.

    No, what is needed is RELATIVE voice-assignment, so a note is assigned to a particular sample according to its position in the chord. The reason I say this would be easy is because all you'd need to do is measure the MIDI positions of the notes of each chord, assign them each a relative value, and then use that value to determine the sample they go to. This would seem like very lightweight processing for modern computer DAW systems, wouldn't it? I mean, compared to massive polyphonic disk streaming in Giga, Kontakt etc.

    What made me think of this is the live brass parts I play in my soul band. I set up various layerings of brass and sax sounds, for example, but the only way to combine them is to have them playing in unison all the time, which sounds artificial. What I really want is to be able to play chordal parts with a trumpet on top, a couple of saxes in the middle, then a bone, then a bari sax honkin' away at the bottom, like a real funk section.

    Of course the voice leading would never be perfect, like that of a really imaginative and sensitive arranger, but it would be a hell of an improvement. With a bit of work, the concept could even be made more subtle. For example, you could have rules for what happens when the chords thin out by a voice or two.

    This would surely speed up the entering of parts in a studio environment too, and make it more musical and flowing.

    Could something like this be done in the new Kontakt scripting? Or with Giga 3's iMIDI? If so, COULD SOMEBODY DO IT PLEASE??? PRETTY PLEASE!

    Or if it's already been done, somebody point me there.

  2. #2

    Re: Voice Leading Software for samples?

    You know, this should be doable. the 3.1 update for Giga has introduced some new features in instrument stacking (don't ask me what, I haven't looked into it yet )... I'm not sure if this can be programmed with things as is (though maybe it can), but it is certainly something that could be added on if someone let the folks at Giga know about the idea. I can certainly see how this would be a real boon for a variety of situations in live performance.

  3. #3

    Re: Voice Leading Software for samples?

    Seems reasonable, doesn't it? I suppose all it comes down to is assigning the note's MIDI CHANNEL according to its position in the chord. Not much of a calculation for a modern PC to make at low latency.

    I forsee a problem though: we never play chords exactly together. So when the first note of the chord is played, the software would have no way of knowing where it belongs in the chord until the last note is played. Thus it couldn't BEGIN to process the MIDI as required until that point. Which might make latency unworkable.

    It would also have to have a certain amount of intelligence in gauging what is intended to BE a chord, when things are not played exactly together.

    Hmm, gotta be a way around this?

  4. #4
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Dallas, Texas

    Re: Voice Leading Software for samples?

    You could do this in SONAR with a CAL script, I'm pretty sure. You'd have some situations where it wouldn't work exactly right, but if it came out 90% right, you've saved 90% of the labor.

    I generally just do this manually. Play the part on a single voice, copy it multiple times, then sculpt out each part.

  5. #5

    Re: Voice Leading Software for samples?

    There is a feature in BAND IN A BOX that might work for you. You play a melody and then can pick different "harmonies" which assign the harmony notes to different instruments for the "Glen Miller sound" for instance.


  6. #6

    Re: Voice Leading Software for samples?

    You can do it with Max (cycling74.com).

    Its a graphical programming enviroment for audio and midi

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    New York, NY

    Re: Voice Leading Software for samples?

    Jerry mentioned band in a box, and that generates the most practical and usable harmony that you can use in real life circumstances ... You input a melody, select the chord for your harmony and it will generate 3, 4, 5 part harmony... You can then generate a midi file, which will have the harmony on each separate track, and you can assign this to different instruments in a sequencer or notation program...

  8. #8

    Re: Voice Leading Software for samples?

    This could be done with an MFX plugin. Actually, I believe someone already has, but I forgot who (Frank's, perhaps?).

    If you can't find it after some searching, I'll take a crack at it myself when I find some time.

    - m
    Free MFX and other plugins: http://www.TenCrazy.com/
    Markleford's music: http://www.markleford.com/music/

  9. #9

    Re: Voice Leading Software for samples?

    Thanks for the tips, but you guys missed the main reason I want to do this - for live playing. So it has to be in realtime - there's no use in playing the melody first and then assigning something to it afterwards to generate the harmony (though I can see how this would be useful in some studio situations).

    Also, I want personal control of the voice leading, I don't want it auto-generated. It's just the assignment of voices to MIDI channels, and from there to samples, that I need the computer to take care of.

    Don't ask for much, do I?

  10. #10

    Re: Voice Leading Software for samples?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nuno Fonseca
    You can do it with Max (cycling74.com).

    Its a graphical programming enviroment for audio and midi

    That looks very interesting indeed - I'd never heard of it before!

    I'm downloading the demo now.

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