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Frequency values (as opposed to MIDI values) as input to control synth pitches

June 30, 2014 | 1:44 pm

Hi

Does anyone know if there exists a max for live synthesiser that can receive as input numeric frequency values directly as opposed to midi values – thus allowing accurate microtonal input.
I am experimenting with designing my own scales and pitch proportions, but would like to avoid spending time at this moment on building a decent sounding synthesiser. Instead I’d like to make use of an existing synth that already sounds great.

If not in Max4live, perhaps the same thing in Max/MSP 6?

Thanks


June 30, 2014 | 1:58 pm

well u can hack note values with ftom object , for requency mtof . u need to be sure where and how note or frequency values are used to drive oscillators etc .
sometimes there are already some sort of translation [note to frequency] or [note to ratio] provided for oscillators , u just need to spot it , remove it or hack it .


June 30, 2014 | 3:38 pm

What do you mean exactly with ‘hack note values’ with ftom or mtof? i have a set of frequencies for example, but i definitely do not want to round them off to the closest midi note. that’s the whole point – they fall inbetween semitones. i’ve looked into using pitch-bend messages which is the way more traditional composers would use it – but i find this process tedious and not accurate enough.

as for the translation [note to frequency] or [note to ratio] – again this means an extra layer of calculations and i’m afraid math is not my strongest point – i really prefer to focus creating (and completing) the piece of music and not building or hacking a synth – thus the question whether there exist any synths that accept direct frequency input as opposed to midi values

Thanks!


June 30, 2014 | 4:56 pm

Ive used word "hack" with consideration that u want to use existing devices . U can hack any device in order to change things . But if u want to use midi note input for different purpose than for midi note then i dont see any solution for this particular case . Midi note input its just a midi note input . U can use CC message
to translate it into readable format , but its resolution wont be desired for such case i dare to believe .
If by any chance i missunderstood your case , please describe your scenario in more details . Starting from what do u mean with input .


June 30, 2014 | 5:12 pm

If u want to use keyboard anyway , u can just scale or even map midi notes into required frequency , on top of it u are free to change its scale of values dynamicaly . Dont affraid of math , in max weve got tons of helpul objects that do the job for us . There are always bunch of layers introduced after midi input when u look at synth design , dont affraid that too


June 30, 2014 | 8:28 pm

Thanks for the suggestions. I think you understand correctly – what I meant with input is for example a list of frequencies like the following:

97.99885 195.99773 294.00424 391.99542 489.90555 588.0084 685.6648 783.99085 882.0356 979.811 1078.4122 1176.0169 1273.5969 1371.3296 1469.7546 1567.9818 1665.0614 1764.0712 1862.5023 1959.622 2057.0479 2156.8245 2253.6165 2352.0337

It’s quite a complex piece, exploring division of scales and overtone series in various proportions, meaning that in the end there will be a huge number of very specific frequencies used. (This part I’ve already figured out thanks to the help of a friend). This means that I would have to ‘remap’ the midi note to frequency every few bars for quite a long piece (round 48 re-mappings). That’s why it would be better if I don’t need to remap anything and really work directly with the frequency values.

I don’t need to be able to ‘play’ in realtime any of these notes, I could easily create a patch that triggers one series of freq numbers after the other as the piece progresses. Stepping through ‘collect’ or ‘table’ objects.

I started to listen to the tones with a simple cycle object in MSP but as I say, I’d prefer to work with a nice sounding synth that someone else already made! Do you have any suggestions for cool sounding synths that can take freq input?


June 30, 2014 | 9:10 pm

Even if a synthesizer doesn’t provide the capability to program microtonal scales into it, you can nevertheless make it play microtonal scales by bending the pitch of each note by the appropriate amount. The catch is that pitchbend applies to all notes on a given MIDI channel, so you have to play each note on a separate MIDI channel so that you can ‘bend’ the pitch of each one independently. But you can play up to 16 notes at a time that way. Something along these lines (I haven’t tested it, but it should work):

– Pasted Max Patch, click to expand. –

July 2, 2014 | 6:59 pm

I just found out about these freeware synths made by Xen-Arts, I haven’t checked them out myself yet but they might work for you:

http://xen-arts.net/vsti/


July 2, 2014 | 10:09 pm

1. take existing synyth
2. remove mtof(~) object(s)
3. done


July 4, 2014 | 8:08 am

Don’t forget: most objects taking MIDI note numbers will accept floats. If you want microtonal, there’s nothing stopping you from sending 65.5 or something. (The example would be F-quarter-tone-sharp above middle C.)

Or go Hawaiian with things like 31.4159265. (Converting to freq left as exercise for the thus-inclined reader.)


July 4, 2014 | 4:20 pm

31.4159265 = 5 times pipi!


July 4, 2014 | 4:25 pm

btw.

for closed devices, given that they actually use the default [mtof] object, you can also temporarily replace the mtof object of the max4live runtime with a custom patch called mtof, which contains any table or formula you wish.

-110


July 5, 2014 | 2:16 am

Thanks for all the useful comments!

@Roman can you please point me to where I can find the max4live runtime – i have only just started using max4live and can’t find where to edit this – pbly missing the obvious


July 5, 2014 | 9:06 am

@Roman – do u mean I need to edit the max4live pack – what kinda programming skills do i need or is it like opening another max patch?

what i like about this approach is it potentially implies one edit to use with many synths as opposed to editing each one infividually


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