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  • Alternative Tuning Systems and Vienna Instruments

    Dear VSL Developers,

    May I ask some questions about 'micro-tuning' Vienna Instruments?

    I am 9 months away from completing a PhD in composition. Part of my work
    involves study of and composition with 'alternative tuning systems', such as
    quarter-tones (24 equal divisions of the octave '24-ET'), and sixth-tones (36-ET), even 41-ET, as well as systems of 'just intonation' (pure intervals). Most of this is done by ear.

    To demonstrate the value of this work to others (especially at the university) high quality simulations (using sequencer+sample library) would
    be extremely useful. Both Gigastudio and Kontakt, together with software
    such as 'Little Miss Scale Oven', 'Max Magic Microtuner' and others, enable
    the user to realise such 're-tunings'. I am about to purchase a system
    enabling me to complete the PhD by providing such demonstrations.

    Having seen the Video Tutorials of Vienna Instruments, I am keen to take
    advantage of the exciting potential improvements in realism and usability VI seems to offer.

    My questions are: to what extent will it be possible with Vienna Instruments
    to radically retune the available scale (in either 12 or more octave
    divisions)? Could this be done from within VI? Would the external
    programmes (as mentioned above) be able to effect retuning with Vienna
    Instruments as they can with Kontakt2 ? If so, what parameters would they
    operate on to achive this? What limitations might there be?

    Aside from the experimental interest of this work, I hope that VSL will bear
    in mind that the level of realism of musical simulations depends on
    intonational realism just as it does on so many other factors. I suspect this topic has been addressed before, so sorry to teach anyone to suck eggs. However, while I am impressed by many aspects of the existing VSL libraries, a number of the demos on the VSL website leave me disappointed because (leaving aside questions of 'sonic' realism), the demos seem to be in 'piano-12-ET' (or something similar) and thus remain unrealistic and unconvincing from this point of view.

    I therefore consider that the facility to 'intonate' (at least within 12 divisions, but preferably within more than 12) is indispensable to any software which truly aims at realism. I understand that intonation can also
    be triggered and configured within the sequencer (eg., 'Hermode Tuning' in
    Logic). Can you confirm Vienna Instruments will respond to this (in my case,
    though, restriction to 12 divisions is too limiting to be of much use for my

    Lastly, a quick question on the samples themselves. I am of the opinion
    that on the Horizon 'Solo Strings' disk, both the 'sheer sonic quality' and
    the 'qualities of realism' of the viola samples/patches, are considerably
    improved relative to the the violin and cello samples/patches. If I recall
    reading correctly, the viola samples were recorded and released some time
    after the violin and cello. (If I'm wrong about this, sorry...) Anyway, could you please tell me whether the violin and cello samples are basically the same samples (but now 24-bit) as the original Horizon library? To be honest, while I think that the Horizon Viola is the best sampled viola of any I've heard, I don't much care for the Horizon violin and cello samples.

    I have restricted access to the internet and may not be able to view this forum until next week - but I look forward very much to your reply.

    Thank you and best wishes.

    Patrick Ozzard-Low

  • Bump?

    Thanks in advance to anyone with thoughts on this.


  • I'm sure someone will answer your questions soon, but I think it will take a little bit more time as most VSL staff is currently busy either at NAMM or at getting the VIs shipped I guess.

  • I dont know if you know that Logic gives you the oportunity to define your unique microtunings; but you still have just 12 pitches per octave and it just works with logics own plug ins (whats simply stupid!)
    So, if you want more pitches, you have to realize them with pitch bendings.
    That works pretty good with the "simple" microtunings like in quarter- and sixth- tone tunings, because you simply have to divide 128 per 2 or per 3.
    It becomes naturally more confusing, if you want to work with more complex microtonal concepts, like the ekmelic- music does for example.


  • Thanks for your comments, PolarBear and HTF.

    If you look at my post again you'll see that I already mentioned the tuning facilities in Logic; also Little Miss Scale Oven, which I understand from reliable sources does a great job. Check it out:

    It may look 'wacky', but I believe it works very well.

    I look forward to a response to my initial questions from the VSL team when they've recovered from NAMM. And yes, I can understand they'll be busy, too, with getting the first VIs out into the real world...

    Thank you.


  • Hello VSL,

    I'd be very grateful for responses to the main questions in the original message of this thread.

    1. Intonational flexibility? How best to access this in the new VIs?
    2. Radical forms of alternative tuning? (like 19, 24, 31 steps per octave)? Might they be possible? How?
    3. Solo violin/viola/cello samples? Are they basically the same samples as in the Horizon library? (But 24bit, and with many additional samples).

    Apologies if these questions have been discussed in previous threads - I can't find them!

    Many thanks,


  • Wasn't there a post by Dietz some time ago, extolling the virtues of Hermode Tuning?

    Don't know if that will be of any use to you at all.

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    @Patrick Ozzard-Low2 said:

    2. Radical forms of alternative tuning? (like 19, 24, 31 steps per octave)? Might they be possible? How?

    That will work best with different instances, that are detuned to each other
    (lots of handwork...)

    I tried out some things with a 72 notes per octave scale some days ago which used 5 instances of an instrument.

    (BTW: the 72 note per octave approach is very nice, because it offers some partials in a very good manner:

    5., 7., 11., 13. etc.

    (if you're interested of ecmelic music)


  • Thanks jamriding and HTF.

    Yes I'm familiar with Hermode and stuff. I wrote a book about some of this back in 1998... If interested see:

    BUT... HTF, I see you are rather busy right now with something more important!!

    Anyhow, I'll be back next week and see if there is any more 'official' (?) response (won't have internet access again until then). I totally understand that alternative tunings are low on the priority right now...!



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    @Patrick Ozzard-Low2 said:

    Yes I'm familiar with Hermode and stuff. I wrote a book about some of this back in 1998...

    Hi Patrick,
    cool link!
    Even if hermode tuning is a great idea its rather limited... (i think you think the same way).
    Its useful for some tonal music, but its not really that what you call for.
    Normally it shouldn't be a problem to provide unusual, non 12 notes per octave scales.
    My Roland D-50 could that in 1988... [[;)]]

    I think the problem is that rather few people are in that stuff and so there's not a big general need for those features.

    Now there's one thing i want to mention, which could be maybe interesting for the VSL team:

    One reason, why i often like to use microtonality with real instruments, that the sound of some fingerings is very different to "regular" fingerings.
    The flute for example provides some amazing sound _colors_ by playing special fingerings (also by playing multiphonics).
    So maybe it would be senseful to really _sample_ those notes, not just to detune the Instrument in the computer.


    BTW: i'm having lots of fun with my new toy!


  • Hello HTF,

    Thanks again for your reply.

    As you may know, the Hermode tuning is just one implemenation of many possible forms of 'adaptive' tuning, each oif which attempt to simulate how real players intonate - ie., flexibly, and often nearer to pure fifths and thirds than is found in normal equal temperament. Hermode should be useful for string, brass and wind writing. However, this is (I think?) a global setting within Logic, therefore I hope that if you include percussion in your piece then the percussion (or piano) doesn't also respond to pitch bend??!!

    Going back to your suggestion, would it be possible to simulate '24' divisions by creating 2 versions of the same instrument, tuning one 50 cents lower than the other, and running Hermode tuning for both? Or three instruments, tuned 33 and 66 cents lower? etc?

    I assume that the Hermode function will not correlate (and mutually adjust) the intonation between the different MIDI tracks? even so, this might be an intersting way of approximating the best of both worlds -- large number multiple divisions and adaptive JI. Will that work? I think the Logic Hermode function will aoptionally align intervals approximating 3, 5 and 7 harmonics... Yes?

    As regards alterantive instrumental colours, I am in complete agreement. Virtual Instrument developers would benefit commercially (and we would benefit artistically) if the sounds available had more 'dirt' in them!


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    @Patrick Ozzard-Low2 said:

    [...] Going back to your suggestion, would it be possible to simulate '24' divisions by creating 2 versions of the same instrument, tuning one 50 cents lower than the other, and running Hermode tuning for both? Or three instruments, tuned 33 and 66 cents lower? etc?

    To keep things in a VSL-perspective: As much as alternative tunings _within_ the 12 notes per octave are interesting for us, as little is our interest in other scales (from a technical point of view only, of course; musically this can be very exciting).

    The reason for this is easy to explain: For authentic reproduction of e.g. a quarter-tone instrument, we would have to double the amount of sampled notes and to multiply the amount of Performance Elements; a simple re-tune and / or stretching of the range would lead to all those dreaded "old-school"-issues of sampled instruments, like the machine-gun effect, fake legatos, and so on - simply because there are not enough dedicated samples.

    Yes, my Roland D-50 could do this 20 years ago, but we ain't talking about synthesis here ... [:)]

    /Dietz - Vienna Symphonic Library
  • Dietz, thanks for the reply.

    Yes, I see that the performance and legato elements would need to multiply considerably, unless the retuning will automatically apply to those elements also. And probably that would require a great deal of programming, with no commercial benefit?

    In 1991/2 I recorded my own 'classical chamber music sample library' for my own use, sampling in semitones, and then remapping with keygroups for quartertones, sixthtones, etc, up to 41-equal temperament, with no chipmunk effects. I used two Roland S750 samplers, 32Mb RAM total! Nowadays, scripting between Kontakt2 & LMSO (Lil Miss Scale Oven) allows these configurations to be achieved in seonds.

    So... I am hoping to use Kontakt2 and VI (on a G5 Dual 2.7) at the same time, to try to get the best of both worlds. Is there any reason why this would not work? I can see, for example, that saving projects might be an issue -- unless BOTH Kontact 2 and VI are running and are saved within Logic. (?)

    Does that make sense? Many thanks.


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    @Dietz said:

    Yes, my Roland D-50 could do this 20 years ago, but we ain't talking about synthesis here ... [:)]

    Hi Dietz,
    i have to mention that i had _very_ a realistic oboe and clarinet on my D-50!!
    [:D] [:D] [:D]
    And some great arco strings!

    To be serious:

    As i've heard, it should be possible in Logic 7.2 that other PlugIns share the tuning
    of Logic.
    It would be really very useful if the VIs could benefit from that option!!
    (Because it makes absolutely sense even in very traditional/conventional music to use different tunings as the tempered. A Harpsichord e.g. sounds _much_ better with special tunings, not to mention the fact that _no_ orchestra ever played really tempered.
    ...other thing is the random detuning option which is simply a must for such a complexe software solution...
    Thats absolute basic, because a too exact tuning creates more "artificial" feeling in some passages as the best samples could compensate!

    But i know that you are full with work...and that patience is a very important thing!