Microtuning, Just Intonation and Project-Wide Master Tuning

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sound.audio.music
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Jan 20, 2014 8:10 pm

Microtuning, Just Intonation and Project-Wide Master Tuning

Post by sound.audio.music » Mon Jan 20, 2014 8:37 pm

Hello,

First off, before I say what I think should be *seriously* taken into consideration for an upcoming Live release, I just want to say I absolutely love Live and have been using it since v1 despite having just joined the forums specifically to request these features.

So bravo and many thanks for years of fun and amazing developments!

Now... in the past year or two I have become increasingly aware of microtuning, Just Intonation and alternate (to 440Hz standard) frequencies such as 432Hz, and started using them to a greater and greater degree (for example using Reason's master tune feature).

Over the years in the Ableton forums there have been quite a number of threads on these subjects, just search for them and dive in if you're not familiar.

I am not here to tell people one way is better than another, or any esoteric stuff, I am just here to point out two things:

1) That as the world's most versatile and flexible DAW, Ableton should seriously be working on implementing features for microtuning, alternate intonations/temperaments and master tuning a project to another Hz frequency (not in cent intervals, please, as they are not specific enough).

2) Having more (and easy!) options in this regard would put Ableton even further ahead of any other DAW out there.

Currently there is a nifty little Max4Live tool that scratches the surface of the microtuning topic:

http://www.maxforlive.com/library/devic ... microtuner

There are also a bunch of people talking about "workarounds" involving detuning the synths and samplers in Live. People have even made videos (thank you, good folks) showing how to achieve many related tasks. This is great but incredibly tedious and, while addressing the Hz levels to some degree (though imperfectly), it does not address the temperament/intonation topic.

People have put forth on the forum that you can create your own .ams files with the intonation you want, but this is quite time-consuming and tedious as well, not to mention it doesn't make the possibility of working with different temperaments available to anyone using Live.

Live currently uses Equal Temperament. In a perfect, woohoo! and yippee! to Ableton, world there would be a setting to adjust between Equal Temperament, Just Intonation and other temperaments* that would automagically change the entire project you're working with. (At least the internal synths, as the samplers would be a different ballgame, but then again Live has astounded us in the past over and over again.)

*Take a gander at http://www.huygens-fokker.org/scala/ to see an amazing piece of free software that allows you to use hundreds of different tunings via exporting an open source file format and importing into an impressive list of mainstream synth softwares... though Live's synths are notably absent from the list, with Native Instruments providing the lionshare of import capability.

I have to say I keep seeing more and more information about and interest in microtuning, alternative frequencies and temperaments/intonations and it would be a massive, I repeat MASSIVE, coup for you guys if you were the first of the major DAWs to make this a reality.

I am not the first person to desire this feature, and I ask as a long-time supporter and user to please, please take this into serious consideration as I am, despite my long-term love affair with Live, finding myself moving away from your lovely software because of the lack in this area, and embracing other synths and environments (Reason and NI, for example, although neither does all of what I am requesting here).

It's a learning curve to change and start using these non-standard frequencies and tunings, but for me it is absolutely essential now to have microtuning and alternative frequencies. The learning curve would be basically eliminated if Ableton created the world's first DAW that you could simply choose your base frequency, intonation and microtuning.

Finally, as perhaps a starting point for this, enabling native Live devices to import the Scala file format would be a heck of a leap ahead. This would address the intonation/temperance topic at least.

Ideally, all of these features would be possible on a project-wide basis, easily definable and changeable. I am neither a scientist, a coder nor an engineer, so I leave it in the good hands of Ableton to work out the details.

Thanks and much respect!

doghouse
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Re: Microtuning, Just Intonation and Project-Wide Master Tuning

Post by doghouse » Tue Jan 21, 2014 12:03 pm

What exactly does Live need to support?

I see plenty of microtonal support in third party softsynths (and some hardware...DX7 had it thirty years ago!), so beyond Ableton adding this to the built-in instruments what else are you looking for?

Curious because I have been playing around with Arabic tunings recently.

PS: attended a concert of Harry Partch compositions recently, a DX7 was in use alongside Partch's handmade instruments.

sound.audio.music
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Jan 20, 2014 8:10 pm

Re: Microtuning, Just Intonation and Project-Wide Master Tuning

Post by sound.audio.music » Tue Jan 21, 2014 2:56 pm

@doghouse that's a very good question, I am glad you asked!

I hope some more technical minds might be able to shed some light on what exactly needs to be done to add support for microtuning, alternate temperaments/intonations (of which there are loads) and Hz adjustments to internal synths and samplers.

The question of a project-wide Hz base tuning is debatable since a given project often has many different base tuning frequencies going on between samples, synths, imported recordings, etc. That said, Propellerhead Reason offers synths, samplers, effects, processing, etc, and does have the site-wide adjustment (though the values are in cents, unfortunately, not in Hz) it works really nicely and immediately changes all the rack modules to the desired cent offset. I don't think it adjusts audio that's been imported, just the MIDI-based tones that are generated.

I think that an end-goal concept will help illustrate...

The idea is that, if I want to start a new project and I want the whole thing to be in A4=432Hz, I could select this from a project-wide setting (or even better, just type in the C4 or A4 Hz frequency desired). This would immediately change the base frequency for all internal synths and samplers (external, too? hmmm...).

From there, I could decide I wanted to use Just Intonation as the temperance and I would choose this on a project-wide basis from another menu (preferably that had all the options available in the Scala software). This would adjust the MIDI signals so that when I played on a MIDI controller, the scales automatically play using this temperance.

Let me clarify that I can still play any note on the MIDI keyboard or pad or whatever, just that they would all be translated into Just Intonation instead of the (current default) Equal Temperance.

The result would be a composition made with the normal workflow that Live currently has, but with the sounds generated internally vibrating/oscillating in relation to the A4=432Hz frequency (instead of the "standard" 440Hz frequency) and the ratio between octaves tuned to Just Intonation.

Can anyone help out to further explain what might need to be done? Please, you are all most welcome to clarify and better define this.

sound.audio.music
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Re: Microtuning, Just Intonation and Project-Wide Master Tuning

Post by sound.audio.music » Tue Jan 21, 2014 3:14 pm

Ijust found another feature request from this month about the same topic:

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=200520

It's mentioned in the thread that it's hard to play with people who tune to alternate frequencies like 432Hz because Ableton is locked to 440Hz with no possible change.

Here are a couple of images posted on that thread from the Virus synth that show how it could look in Live.

Image

Image

doghouse
Posts: 1449
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2008 5:30 pm

Re: Microtuning, Just Intonation and Project-Wide Master Tuning

Post by doghouse » Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:43 am

While it might be possible to control the internal devices pitch center and intonation, I doubt there would be enough potential demand for Ableton to consider it.

As far as it being able to deal with third part instruments I'd bet it's impossible since communication with plugins is via MIDI and translating the necessary pitchbend data would be a PITA especially since the pitch bend ranges in each plugin must be set manually.

As far as intonation, there is already a microtuning mechanism supported by many softsynths by way of SCALA files. That's probably the only standard we can expect to be widely available in the immediate future.

Have you been to the Microtonal Synthesis website? It hasn't been updated for close to 2 years but has a fair amount of information about microtonal support. It's far from complete...a couple of hardware synths I've owned that allow microtonal scaling aren't listed for example.

Also check out this thread about M4L support from a few years ago.

sound.audio.music
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Jan 20, 2014 8:10 pm

Re: Microtuning, Just Intonation and Project-Wide Master Tuning

Post by sound.audio.music » Wed Jan 22, 2014 6:02 pm

Thanks for the info, doghouse : )

With your help, I think I've been able to wrap my mind around this and come up with two features which would really be helpful and not too tricky for Ableton:

1) Provide master tuning capability using Hz value. Many DAWs offer this, including some more old school ones as well as modern ones, too.

2) Allow internal Ableton synths to import microtuning files in the .tun format. This format is easy to export from the ubiquitous-among-microtuning-folks Scala software.

Yes, I have been through the Microtonal Synthesis website and it is an impressive list, though not lately updated as you mentioned.
doghouse wrote:As far as intonation, there is already a microtuning mechanism supported by many softsynths by way of SCALA files. That's probably the only standard we can expect to be widely available in the immediate future.
Indeed, Scala is amazing and I agree that being able to import .tun files from Scala into the synths in Live would be awesome.
doghouse wrote:Also check out this thread about M4L support from a few years ago.
Indeed, this is the best I had come across though it is $50 currently (free demo available). Here are some more links for this:

http://cycling74.com/forums/topic/micro ... -for-live/
http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/16tone/info

Audiophillic
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Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2014 9:54 am

Re: Microtuning, Just Intonation and Project-Wide Master Tuning

Post by Audiophillic » Tue Feb 10, 2015 10:40 am

I am also for microtonal capabilities within Live. I love Live but this is putting me off and am thinking of switching DAWs to Logic or Cubase just because of this. Software gives great advantages in this realm and they are not being explored. Live should be in the forefront of innovation and possibility but in this field it is clearly lacking. To see what is possible if we venture beyond the 12-tone equal temperament see the book Tuning Timbre Spectrum Scale by Wiiliam Sethares or check his website. Spectrum analysers of sound and manipulators of those spectrums and of scales played should be a standard in music software by now! There is SO much more to discover still!

chapelier fou
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Re: Microtuning, Just Intonation and Project-Wide Master Tuning

Post by chapelier fou » Tue Feb 10, 2015 10:59 am

+1 for globale tuning
+1 for microtuning scales, PER TRACK !
MacBook Pro 13" Retina i7 2.8 GHz OS 10.13, L10.0.1, M4L.
iMac 27" Retina i5 3,2 GHz OS 10.11.3 L10.0.1 M4L.

re:dream
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Re: Microtuning, Just Intonation and Project-Wide Master Tuning

Post by re:dream » Tue Feb 10, 2015 12:01 pm

Agreed. Different global tuning would be great... I think these proposals on how it could be implemented are really useful.

cyclone975
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Re: Microtuning, Just Intonation and Project-Wide Master Tuning

Post by cyclone975 » Fri Jun 26, 2015 9:31 am

Hi everyone,

I got inspired by reading through this thread and have been working on a MIDI Retuning Device for MaxforLive.

Check it out at:
http://www.maxforlive.com/library/devic ... e-for-live

And here's a youtube tutorial to see how it works:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFdoiX-kBA8

Thanks a lot, and I'd love to hear your thoughts.

driven
Posts: 60
Joined: Wed Jun 19, 2013 7:08 pm

Re: Microtuning, Just Intonation and Project-Wide Master Tuning

Post by driven » Tue Jun 21, 2016 1:54 pm

Another request for microtuning. I'd be satisfied with importing Scala files + a global base frequency adjustment. Or you could add a drop-down to the Scale MIDI Effect and a knob to adjust base frequency.

Honestly, this lack of functionality is almost enough to make me abandon Live. There are VSTs that take Scala files, but the CPU burden is a big limitation, especially on older computers such as mine. And still it doesn't address all of Live's instruments, which I'm effectively locked out of when working in non-standard scales. And that's like 99% of my instrument library!

Max7 appears to have a retune tool, which may be a decent work-around, but really we've been asking for this for years.

I've used cyclone975's M4L tool now, and it works, but man what a hack. No offense to the author -- it's a neat hack -- but this should be built-in.

twistedblues
Posts: 30
Joined: Wed Feb 23, 2011 7:01 pm

Re: Microtuning, Just Intonation and Project-Wide Master Tuning

Post by twistedblues » Tue Jun 21, 2016 5:23 pm

chapelier fou wrote:+1 for globale tuning
+1 for microtuning scales, PER TRACK !
+1,000

Hunterwolf
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Joined: Fri Apr 28, 2017 3:11 pm

Re: Microtuning, Just Intonation and Project-Wide Master Tuning

Post by Hunterwolf » Fri Apr 28, 2017 3:40 pm

any update about this topic?

I'd really like a good way to adjust my scale to Just Intonation (or other temperaments) for a midi track, as you can do with "microtuner" in Cubase. (or the lovely Hermode tunic I have on Cubase and my Virus Ti).

Best solution I found for now is cyclone975's one (nice one, man!), that I'm trying right now, but it has some limitations: you have to go monophonic or use multiple instruments for a single midi track, and this makes very hard to control other instrument parameters such as filters and other CCs.

That's a pity Ableton has a lot of midi devices for randomness and such experimental stuff but anything about tuning!

bubbleandsquawk
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Re: Microtuning, Just Intonation and Project-Wide Master Tuning

Post by bubbleandsquawk » Tue May 09, 2017 4:28 am

Interesting to see that the new 'Learning Music' pages make reference to microtonality. Maybe it will be implemented finally!

https://learningmusic.ableton.com/advan ... -tone.html

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