[linux-audio-dev] Common synthesizer interface -or- microtonal alternative to MIDI?

Jens M Andreasen jens.andreasen at chello.se
Tue May 3 04:37:16 UTC 2005

On Mon, 2005-05-02 at 23:01 +0200, Toby wrote:

> Please correct me if I'm wrong: MIDI doesn't allow for microtonal notes.
> The best next things MIDI has to offer are Custom Scales and Pitch Bend.
> Custom Scales is not a feature of MIDI, it's more like a reinterpreta-
> tion of the protocol.  It happens when both the sequencer and the
> synthesizer are still talking of C, C#, D, D#... but the synthesizer
> renders those notes with custom pitches, coming from a custom scale set
> by the user.  This approach is unsuitable to my project, mainly because
> there could be more than 12 notes (pitches) in an octave.

Midi generally can't hear the pitches nor see your 12 note keyboard
layout. The triggers are all numbers and can corespond to any layout
(like a drumkit.) Having more than 12 notes/octave is mostly an
inconvenience for the player, learning to navigate on a keyboard build
for other purposes.

To my awareness, the hardware synths that do microtuning can be set up
any twisted imaginable way. You might have to look one page further down
though, to get past the 12 note/octave convenience setup.

> Pitch Bend is not any better, because (to my knowledge) there is only
> one pitch bend setting per channel.  I could certainly use it to play
> microtonal notes, but the pitch bend applies simultaneously to ALL notes
> being played.  This limits the applicability of pitch bend to monophonic
> instruments, or at least to playing one voice per MIDI channel.
> Alternatives
> Is there a common protocol with the same scope as MIDI (transferring
> notes from a sequencer to a synthesizer) but which allows for microtonal
> notes?  I fear not.

This one perhaps?




  c[]  //  Jens M Andreasen

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