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How to get microtones from a chromatic midi controller?

Posted: Thu Mar 28, 2019 4:48 pm
by EdvinW
(This is not technically a question about a recorders or sequences, but I find no better place for it. Please suggest a better place if you find it!)

I recently bought my first midi controller, a Lekholm DM48 harmonica which contains 12 pressure sensors and has the form of a chromatic harmonica. As for the midi, I thought "I'm a long time Linux user, how hard can it be?", and 15+ hours later when I finally got it working i knew that "pretty darn hard" is a highly accurate answer.

At last, I've got Jack running, configured all the details (where I now know that the Devil indeed is!), sound card, pulseaudio, pulseaudio --kill, options in jack, idiosyncrasies of alsamixer, the colours of my socks, and other tiny thigs that apparently must be set just right, and it finally works fine both together with Qsynth and Synaddsubfx. I've been using this setup for a few weeks, and I'm comfortable and very happy with it. With comfort comes luxury problems though, and those wouldn't-it-be-neat-if-s I assume most of us go through.

My current problem concerns microtonality: (if this isn't a luxury problem I don't know what is)
How do I go about if I want to play a chromatic scale, but with added micro-tones?

My controller only seems to output chromatic notes. I've found the tuning option in Zyn, where I can take chromatic notes I don't use and retune them to the microtones I do use, but ideally I would like at least 11 of the chromatic notes and at least 2 additional ones, which sums to 13; more than the number of chromatic notes my controller cares to acknowledge. One idea I've had is to program my controller so that the positions where I want micro-tones sound a few octaves lower than the rest, and somehow make the synth understand that low notes should be transposed up by say 5 octaves and a quarter note, but I have no idea how to do this.

Does anyone know a softsynth that lets me do this, and if so how do I get it to do so?

Is there some other solution?

Re: How to get microtones from a chromatic midi controller?

Posted: Thu Mar 28, 2019 7:41 pm
by Michael Willis
I don't know if this will help, but this is the only open source microtonal project that I'm aware of:

http://huygens-fokker.org/scala/

Re: How to get microtones from a chromatic midi controller?

Posted: Thu Mar 28, 2019 7:43 pm
by bluebell
There are no microtonal features in the current MIDI implementation. I think it will change with MIDI 2.0.

In the meantime you have to accept that there are only MIDI note numbers and you have to do your microtonal stuff in the synth.
AFAIK Yoshimi can use microtonal scales. It's worth a try.

Re: How to get microtones from a chromatic midi controller?

Posted: Thu Mar 28, 2019 7:54 pm
by tavasti
bluebell wrote:There are no microtonal features in the current MIDI implementation. I think it will change with MIDI 2.0.

In the meantime you have to accept that there are only MIDI note numbers and you have to do your microtonal stuff in the synth.
AFAIK Yoshimi can use microtonal scales. It's worth a try.

Most likely, because in ZynAddSubFx there is.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdPPPeq82hw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bkwzM1Mlzw

Re: How to get microtones from a chromatic midi controller?

Posted: Fri Mar 29, 2019 11:02 am
by EdvinW
tavasti wrote:
bluebell wrote:There are no microtonal features in the current MIDI implementation. I think it will change with MIDI 2.0.

In the meantime you have to accept that there are only MIDI note numbers and you have to do your microtonal stuff in the synth.
AFAIK Yoshimi can use microtonal scales. It's worth a try.

Most likely, because in ZynAddSubFx there is.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdPPPeq82hw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bkwzM1Mlzw

Thank you!

The first video demonstrates that one could let the scale have any number of notes. If I input a 13 note scale the middle 'c' this will be where it should, but the next 'c' is played when I send a signal for the next 'c#'. It simply shifts the keyboard! This will be somewhat of a project, to retune the 48 slots of my controller to a tuning that only makes sense with a certain setup in Zyn, but I'm thrilled to see how it works so I'll see if I find the time this weekend.
Michael Willis wrote:I don't know if this will help, but this is the only open source microtonal project that I'm aware of:

http://huygens-fokker.org/scala/

The scales I'm after are rather specific, but I checked the site out and it seems useful. I think my girlfriend might find it interesting though, and it might be useful in my propaganda campaign to make her a linux user ;)
bluebell wrote:There are no microtonal features in the current MIDI implementation. I think it will change with MIDI 2.0.

In the meantime you have to accept that there are only MIDI note numbers and you have to do your microtonal stuff in the synth.
AFAIK Yoshimi can use microtonal scales. It's worth a try.

There's one I missed, but I'll look into it. Thanks!

Re: How to get microtones from a chromatic midi controller?

Posted: Fri Mar 29, 2019 11:31 am
by tavasti
EdvinW wrote:
bluebell wrote:AFAIK Yoshimi can use microtonal scales. It's worth a try.

There's one I missed, but I'll look into it. Thanks!

Yoshimi and ZynAddSubFX are essentially same. Yoshimi if fork.

Re: How to get microtones from a chromatic midi controller?

Posted: Fri Mar 29, 2019 1:38 pm
by rncbc
Also, all of the Vee-One Suite (obviously drumkv1 is quite limited a nuisanse on this subject, but there anyway) have support to microtonal mappings as specified through Scala files.

Cheers

Re: How to get microtones from a chromatic midi controller?

Posted: Fri Mar 29, 2019 2:22 pm
by sysrqer
There are VCV Rack modules that can quantise to microtonal scales and load scala files.