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Surge XT is a software synth plugin. Version 1.2 is now released. This version improves upon its tuning functionality, accessibility and other things. An excerpt from the changelog reads:
Major Feature: Tuning Upgrades
- Surge can act as an OddSound MTS provider (‘master’) allowing the Surge tuning editor to provide tuning to an entire session.
- Remediate yet more edge cases in our internal tuning, including keyboard mapping larger than a scale.
The short explanation is, if you are using synths that support tuning via MTS-ESP, Surge XT can now act as the MTS-ESP master, which means that you specify your tuning within Surge XT and then the other synths will follow the same tuning. This is intended to be more convenient than loading the same tuning data into multiple instances of various synths.
Surge XT is free and available on Linux, Windows and macOS.
With the recent release of Scale Workshop 2, lead developer Lumi Pakkanen has started producing video tutorials to demonstrate what this tuning application can do. Learning some Scale Workshop basics will aid you in your study of musical tunings. The first two videos are below. For the rest, you’ll have to follow Lumi’s youtube channel.
This tutorial demonstrates the on screen keyboards where you can play microtonal scales in your browser.
This tutorial will answer a lot of questions about how you can enter your own scales from numerical values.
Since Bitwig Studio is a pretty good DAW for making microtonal music, you might find yourself working with a musical scale that contains more or less than 12 notes. Particularly if you’re working with a large scale, you will want the piano roll to visually reflect what you’re hearing. You might have thought this was not currently possible in Bitwig Studio but I have found the quick workaround for you. All you need is to watch the tutorial video below and then spend a few minutes setting up your custom piano roll.
The tutorial music is Yeah Groove from my very recent album Morphable, in 26 tone equal temperament.
Scale Workshop has been updated this weekend. Let’s take a look at what this useful microtonal web tool is capable of.
Launch Scale Workshop in a new tab
With a web MIDI compatible browser, you can use Scale Workshop to enable microtonality on your hardware synths and sound modules. This is achieved by 16 channel note output with pitch bend on each channel.
Rotate your scale so that a different interval becomes the new 1/1.
When using the mouse cursor, you can now play the virtual keyboard stylophone style, i.e. click and drag across the keyboard to hit a sequence of notes.
REAPER supports custom piano roll layouts. You can now export a txt file from Scale Workshop to import directly into REAPER.
Export your tuning to Korg Librarian format. This can be imported into the Korg Librarian software so you can write it to your synth.
Scale Workshop now has better handling of large numbers and ratios.
Issues with the synth audio dropout are resolved. Various new waveforms are added. The default waveform is changed to semisine which is more ideal for auditioning tunings than the previous triangle.
As this version is a major milestone for the app, we have made sure to update the documentation to cover all the new features.
Early development work has started for Scale Workshop 2. This involves a complete rewrite from scratch and a new UI. The project will remain on the permissive MIT License so that synth developers can re-use parts of Scale Workshop’s code to add microtonal functionality to their own projects. Scale Workshop 2 is intended to be released when it reaches feature parity with Scale Workshop 1.5. Scale URLs will remain backwards-compatible. Scale Workshop 1.x will receive no new features except for bug fixes.
It’s a bit oldschool, it’s a bit Web 1.0, but I think it could be quite helpful – I’ve started collecting a list of bookmark links! The links are on-topic for Sevish music: tuning practice, tuning theory, fractals, music playlists, etc.
Have a link to suggest? Send me a quick message on my contact form.
The Xenharmonic Wiki is an online knowledge base relating to microtonal music and tuning theory. For a few years a bunch of us from the community have used the Xen Wiki to maintain a list of software plugins that you can use to make microtonal music in the DAW.
This week the list has been updated because of wonderful developments happening in the music technology world that will allow composers to more easily make microtonal music with a wide variety of synths and virtual instruments. That development is the widespread adoption of MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE). Widespread MPE support means that new tuning tools can be developed which systematically manage the tunings of various instruments at the same time. And indeed, such tools are already coming out this year, for example Oddsound MTS-ESP Suite and Infinitone DMT. A new section of the list has been added to catalogue these tools. An additional section about MPE synths in general was also added.
Two new tools have just appeared that will interest people working with microtonal scales and tunings: Leimma and Apotome. These tools were launched as part of CTM Festival 2021 and were created by Khyam Allami and Counterpoint.
Leimma is a browser-based tool for exploring, creating, hearing, and playing microtonal tuning systems.
Apotome is a browser-based generative music environment based on octave-repeating microtonal tuning systems and their subsets (scales/modes).
I’ve added some presets you can use to make microtonal music in Bitwig Studio. The zip includes all edo tunings up to 55edo and a selection of other microtonal scales that might inspire your next melody.
Instructions: unzip the files in your
"~/Bitwig Studio/Library/Presets/" directory. Launch Bitwig. Load a preset into the Micro-Pitch device.
For Bitwig Studio 3.1 and up
If you are looking for a quick introduction to microtonal scales in computer music, then I invite you to watch my latest tutorial video.
Using Microtones in Electronic Music explains how to tune software synths to microtonal scales, for composition and production using a DAW-based workflow.
Microtonal music is a deep topic, and this tutorial video is just one possible starting point. If you know of alternative approaches then please do share your knowledge with others!
0:30 What software
2:00 Tuning up
4:37 Messing around with 19edo
14:40 19edo semaphore
18:19 A golden ratio inspired tuning
27:00 Some chords of 22edo
32:07 How a song like Gleam looks on piano roll