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Topic: Can we use other tunings?

  1. #1

    Lightbulb Can we use other tunings?

    I would like to be able to adjust the pitches of individual notes accurately so that I can get GPO to play in temperings other than equal-temperament, especially to be able to play "pure" intervals and chords. So I need to be able to adjust the pitches with an accuracy better than what the ear can hear -- say to within a cent (a hundredth of a semitone) either way.

    I am thinking so far of inserting a pitch-bend (pb) event at the beginning of each note. The resolution of pb data is quite good enough, but it would need to be entered by hand into an event list because graphical methods or a pitch wheel would not be precise enough. A slow process, but that's OK.

    I have a few questions I hope someone can help me with. Indeed any comments or advice would be welcome.

    * The manual is a little vague on the subject of pitch-bend. I think it says +/- 2 semitones for most instruments and +/- 6 for the trombone. But is this exact? My initial experiments, based on listening only, suggest to me that pb=+8191 is exactly 2 semitones for the instruments I tried, except for the trombone which sounded off to me. Is it possible to get proper data on this?

    * Is the range linear? That is, if pb=8192 does correspond to 2 semitones, does pb=4096 correspond to one, pb=2048 to a quarter tone, pb=410 to one cent and so on?

    Perhaps I should modify that a little, since I would guess that is extremely unlikely that the relationship is absolutely linear. So: is it linear enough, that is, linear to within say a couple of cents either way over the necessary range of a semitone either way?

    * What about the intonation of the instruments in the GPO library as it stands? Is it just my ears or are some of the samples a bit off? (Flute Plr1's A3 for instance.)

    What's on my mind here (in case it isn't obvious already) is that with an instrument like GPO we can have our cake and eat it too -- we can have the ability to modulate freely and at the same time have pure intervals and chords, that is, just intonation relative to whatever the temporary tonal centre is. I find that very exciting.
    Canberra, Australia

  2. #2

    Re: Can we use other tunings?

    Just an extra idea:

    If the detunnings are in seperate notes, why not export/bounce them and pitch shift them with 100 cents per semitone? in audio form?

    Other than that don't know about the rest...

  3. #3

    Re: Can we use other tunings?

    If you have the full version of Kontakt, you can select other tunings for each instrument.
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  4. #4

    Re: Can we use other tunings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Skysaw
    If you have the full version of Kontakt, you can select other tunings for each instrument.
    Hi again Jamie.

    Unfortunately I don't have the full version of Kontakt (that's 2.0 isn't it?). I'm working with the player version that came with GPO. I had a look at the NI site to see what I could find out, but if there's information there on how microtuning is done, I couldn't find it.

    I have a couple of old synths here that I can retune, but the trouble is that they expect you to retune once and leave it that way for a whole piece, whereas for what I want to do I need to retune notes on the fly every bar or so. (Simple example in the key of C: with C as tonic, play I - IV - V - I. Now use II to pass to the dominant. There's an A note in both the IV and the II, but for pure chords they should be quite different pitches. The same sort of thing happens all the time for freer modulations.) If I try and retune on the fly (using sysexes for my machines) I get pops and wobbles. So I'm wondering if perhaps Kontakt works the same way.

    In the meantime, I think I'll persevere with pitch bend. I've been experimenting with the solo flute, and it seems quite accurate to my ear.

    I've got a software version of one of those guitar tuning gizmos, so I'll see if I can feed the output of GPO into the input of the tuner. If that works I should be able to measure pitches properly.

    Nikolas: I think I run into the same problem with your suggestion, if I understand you rightly. If the same note has several different tunings at different places in the same piece, I don't see how I could export them all, retune and re-import. Perhaps make several different versions of the same instrument with different tunings and swap back and forth as required?
    Canberra, Australia

  5. #5

    Re: Can we use other tunings?


    The only way I see is soloing everything but the 1 take where 1 note is detuned (or at least the phrase if surrouned by rests, somewhere anywhere, so that you won't have to export everytime the whole track), and exproting. Detuning the track, cuting doing the next and when you have all of these a 10 milisec crossfade is enough to leave no marks from cuttings (hopefully).

    About the crossfading, I've done it in a piece of mine, but it was a solo piano (and thus no sync issues with other instruments) and also it was done 4 times, not mirriads...

    Either way depends on what microtunning you're taking about. Timing can be dealt with with the mod wheel, and pitch accuracy... well good violonists can tell between 1/4 of a tone, or something... More accurate things the human ear is rather difficult to tell... (or play actually). There have been tracks with lots of microtones but still (unless an Indian where they have something like that in their trditional music), it was done by pure computers (or magnetic tapes brrrrrr....) and not really the human ear.

  6. #6

    Re: Can we use other tunings?

    For what it's worth, I've done some work with GPO and alternative tunings. I put up a page describing how I work with pitchbends here...


    "This document describes how to play Garritan Personal Orchestra in alternative tunings with the MIDI relay technique utilizing Fractal Tune Smithy as the relay and tuning engine."

    Contains a sample MP3 file as well.

    Yes, the manual is vague on pitchbends, and there are some problems that you'll encounter. I wouldn't advise messing with your scores by hand, but using an external program to do the tuning for you. I use Fractal Tune Smithy. It's cheap, and it works pretty well for this purpose.

  7. #7

    Re: Can we use other tunings?

    Thanks Rick for the suggestion.

    I've had a look at your web page and also followed the link to FTS. I think I need to study both with some care (and I will!), so if I don't immediately reply further about this, please don't think that I'm not following it up.

    I'm using GPO as a plug-in to DP5, so I'll want to figure out how to incorporate FTS into this set-up with the least complications. I expect I'll be able to work that out from the info on your page and what comes with FTS, so that wasn't a request for help. (Or at least not yet.)

    One quick question you might be able to answer for me: I notice that there are various versions of FTP. It looks to me like the "Midi Relaying" version is what I need. Is that what you used?
    Canberra, Australia

  8. #8

    Re: Can we use other tunings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Ward
    I'm using GPO as a plug-in to DP5
    Probably just put FTS in place so that DP5/GPO takes MIDI input from FTS.
    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Ward
    One quick question you might be able to answer for me: I notice that there are various versions of FTP. It looks to me like the "Midi Relaying" version is what I need. Is that what you used?
    I use the full version. But I think the MIDI Relaying version would probably work for you. My suggestion would be actually to contact Robert (the author) and ask him to make sure you're getting the latest possible version with full microtonal support. (And you can tell him that I suggested you contact him.)

    And, by the way, I'm glad to see someone else interested in alternative tunings with GPO! Cheers.

  9. #9

    Re: Can we use other tunings?

    Hmm... in real life, many instruments change to pure intervals on a key-by-key and chord-by-chord basis. Tedious to enter manually... years ago I heard about a gizmo that would analyze your midi file and write a bunch of pitch bend messages in automatically. I forget what it was called.

    I think K2 comes with a script that repitches chords in real time as you play them... I don't know how practical or effective it is. Might be a good area to explore for the K2 scripting champs.

    Kinda off topic, but take a listen to all the auto-tuned vocal harmonies on corporate radio these days... nothing uglier than whiney vocals robotically forced into impossible equal temperment.

  10. #10

    Re: Can we use other tunings?

    Hmm, it might have been this company:


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