[Feature Request] Obsidian - microtonal scale import

Now that there are a handful of Auv3's that can handle microtonal scales*, I'm becoming confident that I might soon be moving to iOS as a workplace for doing microtonal composition. Of course, Obsidian is number one on my wishlist of synths to receive such treatment.

Thought it might be a good time to post an official feature request :)

I would truly love to see Obsidian eventually get scala/tun import functionality. I realize that it's a fairly fringe request and most people are content with 12tet, but I imagine it couldn't hurt to have the functionality hanging out in a logical-yet-out-of-the-way location (maybe the "all oscs" hamburger menu?) for the harmonically adventurous types.

*sunrizer, synthmaster one, quanta, synth one, D1, geoshred, iceworks synths, zeeon (eventually) and hopefully drambo, possibly others that I can't think of at the moment..

Comments

  • Have you met Tom?

  • Informally, yes. I think we crossed paths on an earlier thread. Seems we're both looking forward to the possibility of microtonality in NS2.

    He suggested that the piano roll and keyboard would need to be addressed whereas I really don't think any of that needs to be messed with. Simply adding the ability to import scala and/or tun files will be perfectly adequate for the needs of most microtonalists out there.

    (don't get me wrong, it would be very cool to see a microtonal piano roll - just seems excessive for a function that the majority of people won't use)

  • Count me in on this. Tun. file import would be the best way for me.
    I do not care about the piano roll, just would like to import tunings into Obsidian (per preset) and could always load a tuning in any preset. Microtonal tunings can be getting complicated to represent and play also if you like to use kind of hexagonal, pyramid or whatever obscure things as midi input (see Wilsonic here....maybe the best app ever to really understand that a normal keyboard sometimes isn´t the right thing to really use these microtunings the right way).
    The AudioKit One app and Wilsonic are good examples that iOS could be much better here.
    Sunrizer offers (crippled) tuning support and some others. But a hybrid synth on iOS with microtuning is hard missing here.

  • @palm

    What @Cinebient said essentially. But I disagree strongly with Cine in terms of not caring about the piano-roll, simply because we'll then be in the same situation that we are now in regards to both audio tracks as well as a sustain pedal input- ie NS2 will attract a good crowd from say the Xenharmonic Alliance, who will then complain that NS2 isn't up to scratch because it doesn't have the piano-roll customisation that Cuckos Reaper has (THE definitive microtonal/xenharmonic music-making DAW for desktop)

    It will come I'm certain, but not until Matt sorts out the more pressing requests of AUv3 compatibility, some IAA and Audiobus hiccups as well as the all important audio tracks and TS. So for a timescale, I think at least for another year or even two before we get a whiff of this happening.

    What will have to be discussed next is just how it will be implemented within the piano-roll page, but I'm certain it's no biggie.

    In the meantime and like Cinebient rightly says, Sunrizer works okay as an AUv3 despite some sample rate hiccups which lie with Beepstreet- email Giku! He's very responsive/friendly! And very soon Synth One will also be made an AUv3. I think if we make the case for NS2 to recognise that these plugins are using imported scales as opposed to Obsidian having to import tun and scala (it would be even better if Obsidian one day incorporated a really good scale editor, and/or to talk with something like ScaleGen or Wilsonic), and then lay this out appropriately in the piano-roll, it may come quicker as a feature. But I'm only hypothesising- because ultimately Blip has control over the product pathway.

  • BTW, have you seen Henry Lowengrad's new xenharmonic offering? It's really quite something. And there is also one of my xenharmonic favourites too, Shoom.

  • edited February 9

    I just prefer "simple" tuning within the instruments itself and i also use several different tunings sometimes which is not possible to proper enter in any way i could imagine in a global piano roll anyway. Also all instruments have to support microtuning anyway in one or the other way since tuning per midi messages is totally crap and useless (for me) mostly.
    Actually i see just 2 ways (again for my personal usage) and that it .scl plus .kmb files or better .tun files.
    For global i would be quite happy already if NS2 just could include something like custom tuning within the 12 note scale and include also hermode tunings f.e.
    However, it is anyway a small niche inside a niche. So it might never come and i could understand why.
    Of course if i could just enter a custom frequency per midi note number (so that also a C3 could have a lower frequency as a C2) you can do all tunings possible.
    I love the concept of other things like Kaleidoscope (short said something like 512 tunable resonators) f.e. which might have the most advanced tuning system ever, where you can even use waveforms as tuning source or tuning per bpm and some other more unusual things because it does not stop here. These things might be impossible to present in a piano roll (maybe?) or even in any GUI which would not look like a alien technic from the year 4000.
    But yeah, microtuning in any way offers really so much more. Even subtle things can add really to a certain mood impossible to create within the ET.

  • I just thought about if a modmapper could not do similar things if you use them for the OSC frequency.
    But of course maybe a hell to set up. But once you save and can recall it.

  • @tom_tm said:
    BTW, have you seen Henry Lowengrad's new xenharmonic offering? It's really quite something. And there is also one of my xenharmonic favourites too, Shoom.

    yeah, it's really nice!

  • @tom_tm said:
    But I'm only hypothesising- because ultimately Blip has control over the product pathway.

    Exactly.
    And while I agree it would be extremely useful to have a customizable piano roll, I'm not holding my breath. I'm simply hoping for an uncomplicated way to retune Obsidian to harmonic tunings. I'm playing in via standard midi keyboard, so for my purposes the piano roll is fine as it is. I can see how a customizable one would certainly draw more xenharmonic users in, though. Would certainly help solve some of the problems of visualizing scales.

    I haven't used Reaper's piano roll but I've heard it's good.
    Just wondering, how do you set it up? Say you have a JI scale made of 77 pitches - would you have to label each interval manually, or does it auto-label with the correct ratios from the tuning table?

  • @Cinebient said:

    I love the concept of other things like Kaleidoscope (short said something like 512 tunable resonators) f.e. which might have the most advanced tuning system ever, where you can even use waveforms as tuning source or tuning per bpm and some other more unusual things because it does not stop here.

    what's this now?? :o

  • @palm said:

    @Cinebient said:

    I love the concept of other things like Kaleidoscope (short said something like 512 tunable resonators) f.e. which might have the most advanced tuning system ever, where you can even use waveforms as tuning source or tuning per bpm and some other more unusual things because it does not stop here.

    what's this now?? :o

    Lol, i still do not understand half of it and it is mainly just to tune the resonances and not the input sound source itself. Hard to explain. It is a niche inside a niche inside a niche maybe but one of my favorite plug-ins. It is more an effect but also can be a kind of synth.
    Maybe a bit too off topic so i stop it here. It just showed me that there is so much to explore about tuning in general. My life is way to short........

  • @palm said:
    Just wondering, how do you set it up? Say you have a JI scale made of 77 pitches - would you have to label each interval manually, or does it auto-label with the correct ratios from the tuning table?

    Sorry, I can't help you there, because I don't use Reaper. However if you join the FB Xenharmonic Alliance, they're mainly Reaper users, and they're all very friendly/willing to help out.

  • I never used Reaper but for $60 it is almost at iOS prices. Maybe worth to try.

  • I had a look but see no examples which really explains how microtunings are working with the pianoroll. I still wonder what benefits it has since i already just think in midi numbers when i use tunings which are far away from the western scale.
    Some of the links in the thread even do not exist anymore....

  • @tom_tm said:
    This thread is quite useful:

    https://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?t=172759

    Sorry, I can't help you there, because I don't use Reaper. However if you join the FB Xenharmonic Alliance, they're mainly Reaper users, and they're all very friendly/willing to help out.

    I didn't find any examples of the piano roll in the thread.. I quit facebook a while back, so that's not an option for me.

    I found a few images of the Reaper roll in a google image search, but not a lot of info regarding its application. perusing the manual, it seems that you need to create a text file to enter note names manually. this seems awfully tedious to me.

    Tbh, I feel like as you're the one who's pushing for this, you should make a compelling case. If you want it to be like Reaper's then you should probably at the very least try Reaper's piano roll yourself (there's a free trial) so that you can explain what it is you're hoping to see implemented.
    How might this hypothetical roll deal with non-octave tunings containing 128 pitches for example?

  • @palm said:
    I didn't find any examples of the piano roll in the thread.. I quit facebook a while back, so that's not an option for me.

    Well that's a great shame because all those you need to talk with on this subject are all there.

    This is quite an interesting thread on the Audulus forum (If you own a copy of Audulus?):

    https://forum.audulus.com/t/alternate-tuning-techniques/1651/2

  • @palm said:
    Tbh, I feel like as you're the one who's pushing for this, you should make a compelling case. If you want it to be like Reaper's then you should probably at the very least try Reaper's piano roll yourself (there's a free trial) so that you can explain what it is you're hoping to see implemented.

    Why? I really dislike Reaper! I'm an iOS musician, and a Logic user. Not a Reaper user. I'm not the developer of NS either. The last thing on earth I want is for NS2 to end up looking like Reaper, which in my mind is a complete mess. Put simply NS2 should hopefully one day accept both TUN and SCL files, and depending which instance of Obsidian based on track by track is set up for said scale, the piano roll should reflect whatever scale has been imported (also meaning that multiple scales could be used within a single project). No fucking around with setting custom piano roll setups. It should be as simple as possible, so you end up making music rather than pissing one's life away figuring how it is all supposed to work.

    Many xenharmonic apps in iOS already work like this. Synth One. Sunrizer. Wilsonic, Shoom etc. However no DAW caters for this at present. Apart from perhaps JimAudio's Groove Rider GR-16 which supports microtuning- but you only get a set amount of scales to choose from. I've yet to discover how to import any others.

    Is that compelling enough?

  • @tom_tm said:

    @palm said:
    I didn't find any examples of the piano roll in the thread.. I quit facebook a while back, so that's not an option for me.

    Well that's a great shame because all those you need to talk with on this subject are all there.

    This is quite an interesting thread on the Audulus forum (If you own a copy of Audulus?):

    https://forum.audulus.com/t/alternate-tuning-techniques/1651/2

    thanks! yes, I've been following that thread. very interesting.

  • @tom_tm said:
    Why? I really dislike Reaper! I'm an iOS musician, and a Logic user. Not a Reaper user. I'm not the developer of NS either. The last thing on earth I want is for NS2 to end up looking like Reaper, which in my mind is a complete mess. Put simply NS2 should hopefully one day accept both TUN and SCL files, and depending which instance of Obsidian based on track by track is set up for said scale, the piano roll should reflect whatever scale has been imported (also meaning that multiple scales could be used within a single project). No fucking around with setting custom piano roll setups. It should be as simple as possible, so you end up making music rather than pissing one's life away figuring how it is all supposed to work.

    Many xenharmonic apps in iOS already work like this. Synth One. Sunrizer. Wilsonic, Shoom etc. However no DAW caters for this at present. Apart from perhaps JimAudio's Groove Rider GR-16 which supports microtuning- but you only get a set amount of scales to choose from. I've yet to discover how to import any others.

    Is that compelling enough?

    I'm truly not trying to be contentious. I'm simply trying to understand where you're coming from here.. In your post above, you make the claim that the piano roll needs to meet some xenharmonic facebook group's approval:

    But I disagree strongly with Cine in terms of not caring about the piano-roll, simply because we'll then be in the same situation that we are now in regards to both audio tracks as well as a sustain pedal input- ie NS2 will attract a good crowd from say the Xenharmonic Alliance, who will then complain that NS2 isn't up to scratch because it doesn't have the piano-roll customisation that Cuckos Reaper has (THE definitive microtonal/xenharmonic music-making DAW for desktop)

    I don't understand the reasoning tbh.

    The main thing that isn't clear is what exactly you mean by "the piano roll should reflect whatever scale has been imported"

    could you please give a concrete example? would it be color coded as in Partch's system? You make it sound simple, but how does a non-octave scale look on a piano roll? and scales with no enharmonics, or only enharmonics? will the frequencies be mapped automatically and keys labeled with cents or ratios in place of C-2 - G8? how would this work exactly?

  • @palm I don't want to go too much into detail at this stage regarding NS and microtonal support (It's an enormous area, and I have work elsewhere to do). But, and it's a shame you don't have FB, because all this would make so much sense, using colours of the rainbow to present notes on a keyboard would also be my preferred direction however this completely ignores those who have colour blindness- which is often mentioned on the FB group. So if NS were to use colours, then potential users could be put off. That's what I meant.

    As for "The main thing that isn't clear is what exactly you mean by "the piano roll should reflect whatever scale has been imported""

    That's easy. The standard western 12tet scale is represented as a chromatic keyboard in conventional terms. This is what you need in a piano roll because if you need to change C3# to C3, you know exactly where on the keyboard that note is. With xenharmonic, things all go a bit weird where instead of 5 black notes, you may have 6 or more within an octave. As you can see it now gets complicated. So whatever is being imported must at least attempt to mirror from a file, this in a graphic representation of the keyboard. Ultimately this would be a far better system to use than rainbow colours, because then it is more democratic. But it's harder to implement. So a balance would have to be struck somewhere.

    Because you can't get access to the FB page, don't worry because there was a Wiki, which was although at the time about to close down, fans of the xenharmonic alliance have set it up again.. and it can be found here:

    https://en.xen.wiki/

  • @tom_tm said:

    That's easy. The standard western 12tet scale is represented as a chromatic keyboard in conventional terms. This is what you need in a piano roll because if you need to change C3# to C3, you know exactly where on the keyboard that note is. With xenharmonic, things all go a bit weird where instead of 5 black notes, you may have 6 or more within an octave. As you can see it now gets complicated. So whatever is being imported must at least attempt to mirror from a file, this in a graphic representation of the keyboard.

    I'm not sure what a black note is. if you're talking about the sharps and flats on a piano keyboard, well then I'm not sure how adding more black notes will help understand something like a bolen pierce tuning or partch's tonality diamonds (how exactly to graphically map 13 limit just intonation system using only sharps and flats?). I'm not at all attempting to disparage your idea here, I'm all for the idea. I don't think adding "black notes" simplifies anything. And further, I doubt that there is any simple way for a piano roll to automatically map data from a Tun file to some sensible system of notation, given the multitudes of scale types and tuning systems, some rational, some irrational.

    Because you can't get access to the FB page, don't worry because there was a Wiki, which was although at the time about to close down, fans of the xenharmonic alliance have set it up again.. and it can be found here:
    https://en.xen.wiki/

    yes, I'm familiar. To be clear, I was a frequenter of the FB page before I quit facebook altogether - A lot of good minds and great info there.

    I've been making music in just intonation for the last decade, and if one thing has become apparent over the years, it's that there is little consensus on how to implement tuning systems. The beauty of experimenting with tonality is the realization of how open it really is; How the tuning system governs the music (however subtle or drastic). So capturing this openness in a piano roll would be no easy thing. The only way I can see to solve it would be to have labels rather than piano keys, where one could input scale data (ratios, cents, etc), and perhaps an octave marker for scales that use them.

    My aim here was to submit a humble (and simple) request to add Tun/Scala import functionality. The number of microtonal music makers out there is tiny, so let's try to be realistic here. The sad truth is that the market for microtonal apps is nearly nonexistent. Thankfully there are a some iOS developers (like Marcus Hobbs of Wilsonic, audiokit, etc) that are doing wonderful work in spite of this reality.

    If NS2 gets microtonal support, I'll be over the moon. If at some point Matt decides he'd like to add the custom piano roll, that would be fantastic news. I'm going to stay optimistic, and keep my expectations to a minimum.

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