Jan 082017

Our longtime friend in all things Xen, Brian Ginsburg, has published his Hebdomad browser-based instrument, which enables playing a selection of heptatonic microtunings using the computer keyboard. Explore the project here:


Info about Hebdomad

Firefox and Chrome are suggested browsers for the program and I enjoyed exploring this fascinating instrument with the former. It works great and I look forward to more tools of this nature, and clearly this is a good concept for musicians who may be new to the field of alternative musical instrument intonation systems, and who are looking for a way to hear some basic microtunings without having to hassle with DAWs and plugins as a first step.

The potential and implications for browser-based instruments that feature microtuning functionality is huge; especially considering their utility and immediacy as educational tools. For these reasons, I look forward to more of this kind of creative coding for exploring and demonstrating the vast possibilities of alternative intonation systems.

Hebdomad also gets a mention in Web Audio Weekly newsletter:

Web Audio Weekly | Issue 73

 Posted by at 2:54 pm
Dec 302016

Xen-Arts presents…


A Stereo SF2 SoundFont VSTi Featuring AM, XFM, RM & Subtractive Synthesis Functionality With MTS Full Keyboard Microtuning

Xen-Arts is pleased to present to computer musicians, composers and alternative intonation enthusiasts (microtonal, xenharmonic, just intonation, temperaments), XenFont2, a significant evolution and refinement of the original XenFont SF2 SoundFont synthesizer design. New features in this version include:

Stereo SF2 Oscillators
Features two stereo SF2 oscillators and a stereo signal path through the instrument.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 7:26 pm
Nov 052016

It was thrilling to be in touch yesterday with xenharmonic composer and LinnStrument owner, Carlo Serafini, who made me aware that the issue of the row offset interval on the LinnStrument had already been addressed, then have Roger Linn himself drop by to comment and clarify about this new functionality in the recent Xen-Arts article on the topic. The row offset interval has now been greatly expanded (although it is not documented as of this writing), from 0 to 16 MIDI Notes.

A most impressive virtuoso performance by Jeremy Cubert on the LinnStrument

Obviously this is very good news for xen-micro musicians and composers who might wish to map some larger equal temperaments with 4ths and 5ths between the key rows. With this increased row offset interval range, a maximum row offset value of 16 would accommodate 4ths up to ED2-39 (39 tone equal temperament) and 5ths up to ED2-28 (28 tone equal temperament).

Thinking more deeply – with some diagonal logic – about how various equal temperaments would map onto the LinnStrument keys, I wanted to see what would be the optimal row offset intervals for a small selection of ED2 microtunings (equal divisions of harmonic 2) that would enable the most ergonomic fingering of the available varieties of 7th chords, with the strict criteria of being able to have access to all of these intervals when playing across four adjacent key rows.

Let’s take a look at some of the the results found with my handy LinnStrument ergonomic ED2 microtuning mapping calculator. I think they are a rather interesting and inspiring glimpse into the possibilities of how the LinnStrument would work for microtonal and xenharmonic music performance.

On the first four rows I’ve used colors to indicate where the intervals (given in cents) would fall under the fingers for ED2-13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 22 and 23:

1/1 and 2/1 = Orange

3rds = Blue

5ths = Yellow

7ths = Green

linnstrument-ed2-13 Continue reading »

 Posted by at 3:48 pm
Oct 222016

linnstrument-top-viewThe LinnStrument from Roger Linn Design

Always fascinated by the possibilities of alternative MIDI controllers with isomorphic key layouts, I’m increasingly interested in the LinnStrument from Roger Linn Design for use in xen-micro composition.

Nearly everything looks good about this controller and it’s really alluring considering the potential for expressive MIDI performance, and from what I’ve read, it would appear to be possible to make a few internal tweaks to the Xen-Arts VSTi, in order to make them responsive to the default MIDI CC pitch and timbre mappings that are a central feature of the LinnStrument.

Obviously, this is a controller that doesn’t have it’s own sound-generators, so to use it for playing microtunings, it must be connected to hardware sound-modules, or to a computer and virtual instruments which support full-keyboard microtuning; something in our world that is expected, understood and done as a matter of routine.

There are however some technical considerations in using this controller for serious xenharmonic and microtonal composition tasks…

Each row of keys plays an underlying chromatic scale of MIDI notes, and each of these eight rows can be offset by some interval, which, by default, appears to be limited to between 3 to 7 MIDI Notes.

Typically though, the LinStrument is mapped to have a 12-tone-equal-tempered 4th (an interval of 5 MIDI Notes) or 5th (7 MIDI Notes) between each of the 8 rows, essentially enabling playing pitches between the rows in a manner similar to guitars or bowed stringed instruments.

Let’s examine the implications of the default row offset interval range in the context of some of the lower numbered equal divisions of harmonic 2 (ED2), aka, equal-temperaments.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 6:35 pm