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.
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:
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.
Of potential interest to practicing xen-micro musicians and composers, as well as listeners exploring the deep sound realms of this vastly expressive field of artistic and theoretical endeavor, is this excellent and empathetic article that came through the network this week from the Heavy Blog Is Heavy site, which includes a well written overview about xenharmonic and microtonal music, including a who’s-who of various xen-artists actively working with this music: