Obsidian Microtuning

Ok, so I brought this up on the Audiobus forum, but it seems it was quickly buried in that megathread.

I found a mention of the possible addition of microtuning (on the old forum - of which I wasn't a member, just scouring for info there).

Now, I'm fully aware that this is a relatively fringe request, as most users are satisfied with sticking to the equal tempered scale. But if you look at some of the the revered synths over the years, hardware and software (Yamaha, DSI, Korg, Roland, Waldorf, Access, Fairlight, E-mu, Ensoniq, Spectrasonics, Native Instruments, Uhe, Togu Audio, Madrona Labs, LinPlug, Celemony, Applied Acoustics, Audiothingies, BeepStreet, Xfer... the list goes on), they are all microtunable.

Consider that many of the heaviest hitters and pioneers of electronic music (Don Buchla, Richard D. James, Wendy Carlos, Terry Riley, to name just a few) have pushed for the integration of more flexible tuning systems in new technologies. And for good reason: There is so much that simply cannot be expressed without access to a wider spectrum of intervals.

Scala or TUN import in Obsidian would be a very welcome addition to this powerhouse of an instrument :3

Comments

  • edited December 2018

    i'm pretty sure in some moment matt will do it.. i think he told, when we discussed it in dev forums (one beta team member was strongly pushing this feature), thst this is relative small task

    only problem is tha the list with "small tasks" is literally gigantic :-)

    but if more people will ask it i believe that it will fight it's psth to top of that list

    i'm more and more interested about this, so regarding me +1 for such feature... it would be nice advantage copmared to competition

  • but if more people will ask it i believe that it will fight it's path to top of that list

    exactly my reason for bringing it up here ;)

    If anyone else here would like to see this feature added at some point, please let it be known.
    I know there are some synths that have little tuning sliders for each of the 12 notes, but I find these are really insufficient for most microtonalists needs (most obviously that you're still stuck with 12 notes, but also that it's incredibly clunky way to produce a coherent tuning structure). I find scala import to be the simplest to work with, not to mention that there's a free database of thousands of scales to work with.

    http://www.huygens-fokker.org/scala/downloads.html#scales

  • I’m interested also. I just started experimenting with microtonal scales in Reaper so to be able to have them here would be a bonus.

  • Microtonality is a really difficult bugger to implement simply because 12TET (ie your standard 12-tone octave) flies straight out of the window. It would mean that the piano roll would have to be completely reengineered because you would have the option of 'any' one amount of notes in a given octave (1000 tones per octave anyone?). Not to say Matt isn't capable of doing this though - he's probably flown off to a far far away island away from any computer screen and that'll stay that way for a couple of weeks or so...

    Sunrizer for what I know is one of the few iOS apps that'll also work as an AUv3's that has microtuning capability. You can even import Scala files into it. If you use it with NS2, you just have to remember that if you are working with say 13TET your octave carries on for one more note meaning that the beginning of the second octave will start at where the 'B' key is rather than 'A'... And so on. This as you can see would then become a complete headfuck when working in the piano roll page. It's doable, but you probably have to be microdosing on some illicit class A just to stay with the plot.

    So if Nanostudio 2 could implement the custom piano roll feature that Reaper has, then this would be completely ideal. Here's hoping. :)

  • Also, and just reading in the manual, PPG Infinite should in theory also support microtuning, but again, NS2 would have to be able to treat one instrument track sending MIDI data on all 16 channels. This would then mean that NS2 per track voice would have to be tuned individually note by note, instead of relying on the usual chromatic scale of A,B,C,D etc. It could do this by implementing polyphonic pitchbend (I did say one needed to be microdosing here..) to send to Infinite while infinite is in VPC mode. From the manual:

    "VPC - this stands for Voice per Channel, and is quite special but very versatile.
    In this mode each voice may use a different MIDI channel and reacts only on this channel after the trigger. Some hardware controllers use this mode."

    'Some hardware controllers' probably referring to Haken's Continuum controller etc.

  • From the blurb on iTunes about Sunrizer:

    'Support for microtuning - load scl and tun files. Create fascinating microtonal music which uses intervals not found in the Western system of 12 equal intervals to the octave.'

    :)

  • edited December 2018

    Microtuning is great to have. I don‘t care about the pianoroll but if Obsidian would allow .scl or .tun (better) files for tuning it would be awesome. Each midi number is just another frequency.
    You even can have different tunings/scales within one file etc.
    There are some kind of sounds, moods and harmonics you can‘t achieve with the western equal temperament.
    Synth One for iOS has a great tuning system.

  • Yeap, I agree with @Cinebient on this one.

    I think the piano roll thing gets far too complicated trying to accommodate every tuning system under the sun. It's too tall an order.

    And midi pitch bends gets too messy. I know because I've tried nearly every microtonal software out there. I'm currently wrestling with an H-pi TBX2 tuning box (little hardware tuner) which can handle all sorts of tuning methods. And while it's a great little device, I can attest that pitch bend is indeed messy.

    Imo, expecting NS2 to retune external instruments, while a nice dream, is asking too much. It's much easier said than done since every synth reacts differently, and there are too few multitimbral synths in ios for it to be practical. I should add that I've heard mention of an app in development that does just this. Sadly Scalegen never panned out to be a usable solution :'(

    Scala would more than suffice, and if there was an attempt at a piano roll solution ala reaper, well that would certainly be icing on the cake.

  • @Cinebient said:
    Microtuning is great to have. I don‘t care about the pianoroll but if Obsidian would allow .scl or .tun (better) files for tuning it would be awesome. Each midi number is just another frequency.
    You even can have different tunings/scales within one file etc.
    There are some kind of sounds, moods and harmonics you can‘t achieve with the western equal temperament.
    Synth One for iOS has a great tuning system.

    just curious - why would .tun be preferable? I haven't noticed much of a difference myself, but then I haven't read the literature to understand the difference. I do know that scala has been around a long time, and is the most widely used. But a lot of the big guns (omnisphere etc) use .tun. I'll look into it, but if you have more info, please share.

  • and yes, Synth One has a killer tuning system. Too bad that it's not able to import scales (although I believe it's on the horizon).

    If you haven't checked out Wilsonic, you might want to! Developed by the same person who did the tuning panel for Synth One. A truly wonderful app that explores the tuning theory of Erv Wilson through interactive touch interface (and all scales can be exported as scala files!)

  • edited December 2018

    @palm said:

    @Cinebient said:
    Microtuning is great to have. I don‘t care about the pianoroll but if Obsidian would allow .scl or .tun (better) files for tuning it would be awesome. Each midi number is just another frequency.
    You even can have different tunings/scales within one file etc.
    There are some kind of sounds, moods and harmonics you can‘t achieve with the western equal temperament.
    Synth One for iOS has a great tuning system.

    just curious - why would .tun be preferable? I haven't noticed much of a difference myself, but then I haven't read the literature to understand the difference. I do know that scala has been around a long time, and is the most widely used. But a lot of the big guns (omnisphere etc) use .tun. I'll look into it, but if you have more info, please share.

    Normally both is good (and the only way to proper microtune instruments...forget pitchbending and other obscure stuff here). But i experienced some problems with some tools when using the same .scl files. Here you need .scl plus .kbm (keyboard mapping) or some tools can react not exactly like you would expected. With all instrument i use which supports .tun files it works perfectly and they are all in sync/tune.
    The only app i know which use this on iOS is Sunrizer but the import is a mess and only on iPad as well (even the VST/AU doesn´t support it).
    So for me personally .tun file import would be a feature i like to see in all my instruments on mac and iOS.
    I saw a video about coming .tun file import for Synth One. Synth One also has a superb GUI to show the microtuning and it would be even more awesome to just create own tunings this way within the app.
    The wilsonic app is brilliant and one thing where a multi-touch screen screams for.
    As great as a normal keyboard layout is and the tactile feedback but if you need pyramid or hexagonal and whatever layouts they fall off of course.

  • Since Obsidian's envelopes can respond to MIDI Notes (similar to "traditional" filter tracking), I wonder if some limited-in-scope microtunings would be possible via a few thoughtful ENV panel presets. Possibly associated with heavily quantized, key triggered LFOs?

    ^ @dendy, fresh OBS challenge for you?

  • edited December 2018

    @Will said:
    Since Obsidian's envelopes can respond to MIDI Notes (similar to "traditional" filter tracking), I wonder if some limited-in-scope microtunings would be possible via a few thoughtful ENV panel presets. Possibly associated with heavily quantized, key triggered LFOs?

    ^ @dendy, fresh OBS challenge for you?

    wow, now you booted my curiosity engine .. sounds doable, although it will be pretty much rocket science ... i need first read something about microtuning to grasp the concept..

    any link where it is examplaing in simple, easy to understand way ? preferrably with images and sound examples :-D

    Anyway, challenge accepted, will be back with some microtuning maddness presets later , latest in next decade ..

    :mrgreen:

  • @Cinebient said:
    The wilsonic app is brilliant and one thing where a multi-touch screen screams for.

    Don't forget Shoom! Amazing Xenharmonic tool.

    As great as a normal keyboard layout is and the tactile feedback but if you need pyramid or hexagonal and whatever layouts they fall off of course.

    ^^^^ This! A hexagonal keyboard would be the icing on the cake!

  • ha, I agree! I'd love to see a hexagonal keyboard, but let's be realistic here..
    Hopefully someone will come along and create an excellent Hex keyboard Auv3. I think we need to keep expectations and feature requests simple if they are to be taken seriously. My aim in starting this thread was to find out what other microtonalists are looking for so that we can present a coherent request and hopefully find some consensus as to what we'd like to see.

    As someone who's been attempting to microtune instruments for about a decade, I can say that Scala and TUN are clearly the gold standards in the software domain.

    I absolutely respect Matt's vision of keeping things as streamlined as possible (and I mean, wow.. talk about streamlined! Constantly blown away by NS2) and if he decides to implement microtonality, it should be as unobtrusive as possible.

    Yeah, as someone who loves Just Intonation, I wish that all synths and sequencers put tuning options front and center. But I'm a realist and and a pragmatist. And I'm fully aware that most users will not touch the microtonal stuff with a ten foot pole as it can seem intimidating and esoteric*. So all I'm hoping for is an option to import a bunch of Scala or TUN files tucked away somewhere out of the way so as not to scare people :)

    *I do think it's interesting that people seem to crave esoteric scales to some degree: so many apps offer a selection of world or ethnic scales, but rarely consider that they are literally not the scales they purport to be if they are stuffed into the straight jacket of equal temerament. Playing a "pelog" or "hindustani" scale is really stripped of its meaning when quantised to 12edo tuning. It's a crude approximation.

  • Normally both is good (and the only way to proper microtune instruments...forget pitchbending and other obscure stuff here). But i experienced some problems with some tools when using the same .scl files. Here you need .scl plus .kbm (keyboard mapping) or some tools can react not exactly like you would expected. With all instrument i use which supports .tun files it works perfectly and they are all in sync/tune.

    thanks for the info! I've never really run into problems myself with Scala files not mapping right, but if that's the case, maybe tun would be better. (or both! I just checked, and Sunrizer loads both .scl and .tun.)

    The only app i know which use this on iOS is Sunrizer but the import is a mess and only on iPad as well (even the VST/AU doesn´t support it).

    yes, import in Sunrizer is a bit of a mess, but I'm just happy it can be done at all. I've contacted Jarek over at Beepstreet about this and he is going to tackle it once Drambo's out :p ) The main problem is that once imported, scales cannot be managed in any way (organized, deleted, selected via midi, etc).

    I saw a video about coming .tun file import for Synth One. Synth One also has a superb GUI to show the microtuning and it would be even more awesome to just create own tunings this way within the app.

    A visual tool for creating and exploring tuning on ios would be killer! Something like the Hayward Tuning Vine or an expanded Auv3 of the microtonal panel from Synth One would be welcome tools. Microtonal concepts can be really hard for people to wrap their heads around and visual aids are really helpful.

  • @Will said:
    Since Obsidian's envelopes can respond to MIDI Notes (similar to "traditional" filter tracking), I wonder if some limited-in-scope microtunings would be possible via a few thoughtful ENV panel presets. Possibly associated with heavily quantized, key triggered LFOs?

    I'm not sure I understand how this would work. Can you elaborate?

    No offense, but from the description, it sounds like it would be a fairly convoluted way to achieve a tuning across instruments. The biggest hurdle in making microtonal music with several instruments, is getting them all tuned to the same scale. And in live performance, to do this quickly presents its own problem.

    I use many different hardware and software synths, and I find that the simplest solution is nearly always the best solution.

  • @palm said:

    @Will said:
    Since Obsidian's envelopes can respond to MIDI Notes (similar to "traditional" filter tracking), I wonder if some limited-in-scope microtunings would be possible via a few thoughtful ENV panel presets. Possibly associated with heavily quantized, key triggered LFOs?

    I'm not sure I understand how this would work. Can you elaborate?

    No offense, but from the description, it sounds like it would be a fairly convoluted way to achieve a tuning across instruments. The biggest hurdle in making microtonal music with several instruments, is getting them all tuned to the same scale. And in live performance, to do this quickly presents its own problem.

    I use many different hardware and software synths, and I find that the simplest solution is nearly always the best solution.

    It would absolutely be convoluted. :) Much more a tech challenge than a "solution" to microtuning.

  • +1 for MPE, which is different but related probably in terms of coding. I think it would be nice to eventually offer a MIDI IAP that contains things like MPE, Micro-tuning, SYSEX, etc. This way it won’t be in the way of people who don’t want it, and those people who really do want it can show their support for the features.

  • Actually it should be possible to use Obsidian with MPE....just use one instance per midi channel.

  • That's an interesting theory, but I think I'll wait for it get implemented before I go for a Roli keyboard. Looks super fun. Also I would want a performance to be able to be recorded to the sequencer. A single performance over 16 sequencer tracks would be a challenge to deal with for me.

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