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Tune Smithy
Version 3.0

Intro - FAQ, trouble shooting etc - Search the help - Getting started - Saving your work - Making seeds - Choose voices and add extra parts - Relaying to a soft synth - Playing in any of the scales and arpeggios yourself - Function key shortcuts - Tasks menu - Main help sections - Updates - Accessibility - Sound quality tips - Using FTS with Giga - Accessibility - Purchase Now - Contact and Supportl


tasks - help


There are many ways to use Fractal Tune Smithy (FTS). You will want to choose an appropriate main window task from the Tasks menu depending on your interests. When I refer to the main window in this help I mean the window you see when the program starts, the one with File | Exit that you also use to close the program.

This page covers basic introductory material first, then goes into the use of the fractal tune tasks. Other pages in the help cover the other tasks such as the midi relaying, and scale exploration tasks.

See Tasks menu for a list of them all and links to the appropriate pages in the help. Or show one of the tasks from the Tasks menu in FTS and then use F1 to get to its help.

The newest task Mouse and PC Keyboard Music has no help here yet but you can find a web page on-line here that explains a bit about it with pictures: Mouse and PC keyboard Music.

Be sure to press the Standard Settings button for each task before you use it for the first time. That is because when you first run FTS then it is set up with the presets for playing fractal tunes, which aren't always the most appropriate presets for other task. In the case of the first four tasks you find the standard settings in the file menu rather than as a separate button in the main window.

Look out also for the purple Tune Smithy Tasks folder on your desktop which has shortcuts for all the tasks (unless you unselected that option when you ran the setup program). This includes the polyrhythm metronome, chord progression player, and various other things.

The shortcuts in your Tune Smithy Tasks folder run FTS with it already set up with the appropriate presets so you don't need to click the standard settings when you do those - though it does no harm of course, and you can use the standard settings to reset after playing around and changing some of the settings for the task. To reset all your settings for one of the shortcuts, well nearly all of them (apart from a few things like memory of window placement and the location of SCALA if you have set that), use File | Reset Nearly Everything followed by the standard settings for that task.

This is version 3.0 of FTS, but most of this help was written for FTS 2.4 and earlier. Version 3.0 keeps fairly close to the original 2.4 layout, but some things have changed position and some windows split into two new windows. So some sections of this help may need to be updated, though most of it should still apply. It will be released before the help is updated as I've had many favourable reports on the improved ease of use of the interface, and feel it will be beneficial to have it in its present form, even with the help not quite up to date yet, while the help will take a while to update. The next few months or so after the first release will be occupied mainly with updating the help (depending on how quickly it goes) . In the interim, contact with questions.

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Many controls now have tool tips. Hover the mouse over a button or field, and a tip will pop up to say what it does (same thing happens if you tab to it, for keyboard users). Some end with a three dot ellipsis ... which menas that there is extra help available. To show the extra help, use Shift + F1 or go to Help | Tool Tip Extra help. This is a fairly new feature and more will be added presently. Blind users may be interested in the option in the help window to change the extra help indicator from an ellipsis to something that your screen reader will read out.

Many of the windows in FTS have window specific help. Look out for a blue question mark in the top right corner

: Help icon - blue question mark

(title "Help = F1" for blind users),

Click on this icon to see it. As an alternative, the F1 shortcut also takes you to the help for the current window (i.e. the one with its title bar highlighted). For a list of links to the help for all the windows: Help for Windows.

As you explore this help you will also find a few tutorials (not many of those yet but more are planned), trouble shooting, faq, tips, background material and overviews. FTS is being developed all the time, and some of the newer options may be so new that they have little in the way of help yet, maybe none at all if they are very new. For these, check out the What's New page on-line - these will eventually get integrated into this help. I'm delighted to hear from anyone with comments or suggestions for these.

Although this help is in the format of web pages, and so one might think one needs to be on-line to view it. That is true of many web pages, but in this case, the Fractal Tune Smithy installer installs it on your hard disk, which means that you can view it without any internet connection, in the same way that a web site designer can view a site before uploading it.

The choice of a web pages format for the help makes it particularly easy to include midi sound clips, animated gifs, and links to tune smithy files in the help. Some users may have several web browsers installed (IE, Netscape, Opera etc) and you can choose which one you like to see for the FTS help from File | File Associations | More Options | Browser to use to show the html files. The preset is to use whatever browser you normally use for web pages.

The help opens in a new browser window. The standard setting is to have one window open at a time - previously existing windows with the title bar "Tune Smithy Help..." get closed. If you want to leave the old ones in place, use Shift + click on the icon or Shift + F1 when you show the new help. To change this setting permanently unselect File | File Associations | More Options | Only show help in one window at a time .

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FAQ, trouble shooting, etc.

The FAQ has answers to many commonly asked questions. For those who are interested in making music yourself, e.g. by playing from the PC keyboard or a music keyboard, start out with the the Music making FAQ, and especially, How do I play in these tunings myself?

To find out how to save your work in various formats, see the FAQ How do I save my work

For trouble shooting, see the Trouble shooting page. This answers the most common problems that users have with FTS. Some problems that I get asked about most often are answered in the FAQs Why do I get no sound at all? Why is everything so quiet? and Why is no sound recorded in the audio formats (.WAV, .MP3 etc)? (well except that I now get asked these questions much less often since doing the FAQ for them).

To get an idea of some of the things you can do with FTS see the Fractal Tune Features and Features for Musicians, Composers and Musical Scale Designers , and also have a look through the Tip of the day

For help on some of the buttons or fields in the tune smithy main windows, see: Main window controls. This is based on a screen shot of the Tasks | Many Controls window, as that one includes most of the controls for the fractal tune tasks. It also has the links in list format for blind users.

Those who use keyboard extensively may be interested in the Keyboard Shortcuts , and Window shortcuts. You can choose to show the shortcuts in the window title bars in FTS from Help | Show keyboard shortcuts in window title bars . With that selected, whenever you show a window just look at its title bar to see what the shortcut is. I know that many of these shortcuts aren't too memorable - there are just too many windows now in FTS to make all the shortcuts memorable, so you have ones involving various combinations of Alt, Shift, Ctrl etc. But if you use a window frequently and show the shortcut in its title bar it isn't too hard to learn its shortcut.

Note also that if you want to always show particular windows when FTS starts up, just set FTS up with all the windows shown that you want to have, and press F4. From then on it will always start like that. You can do this separately for each of the shortcuts in the FTS extra shortcuts folder too. If you have too many windows and want to clear them all out of the way to get back to the main window, use Ctrl + F6. Or F6 on its own to simply show the main window without closing the others.

Any questions not answered here,


Search the help

So far there is no search facility for this help off-line - there are plans to add one presently. Meanwhile you can search it on-line, which searches an on-line mirror of the help.

Search the FTS Help documentation on-line, Advanced search


Getting started

Intro to the tunes, Commercial Use, Preliminaries , Tunes , Parameters , Scales and Arpeggios , make a new tune , Saving your work

Intro to the tunes

Tasks | Player

Tasks | Composer

Tune Smithy plays tunes. You can make a new tune from scratch, or select one of the demo tunes in the drop lists and transform the parameters to make them into your own tunes.

You set the overall speed of the tune from the Tempo field in the main window. This is in beats (quarter notes or crotchets) per minute, as musicians are used to. The number in this field shows the original tempo prior to all the transformations of rhythm that happen in some of the tunes - and sometimes indeed, it is the same as the tempo of the tune. More generally, it's best to think of it as a speed control - the faster the tempo the faster the tune and that's all, and maybe no beat in the tune particularly corresponds to it.

The tunes themselves are for the most part based on strict canons by augmentation - they are highly structured in a system of layers of melody. Sometimes the canon isn't so hard to pick out, but sometimes even the most keen listener may be hard set to hear it, with the various ways it can get transformed :-).

Sometimes instruments are selected to pick out the layers of the canon to make them easeir to hear, but in other cases each instrument takes up notes from one layer and then another - a technique related to the medieval notion of hocketting. Notes may also get shifted up or down by octaves or other intervals, and joined together to make new melody lines running across the canon. Others have various harmonic structures overlaid (e.g. chord progressions, and layering of one scale over another), and various transformations of the notes and the rhythms, after which indeed, there may surely be nothing at all left that is recognisable of the original canon to even the keenest ear.

Generally most find it takes a while to get into the way of making tunes from scratch in FTS, so newbies will probably want to start with the demo tunes and transform them first. That is what they are there for. Some of them indeed were made in this very fashion by transforming other demo tunes (though I can't remember which ones came from which now).

Indeed, you can start by simply randomising tunes in the Player task - the randomiser there is now fairly reasonable at making nice music; well maybe not all the time but it has its definite high spots :-). It does it by randomising various parameters of the demo tunes in fact. Save the randomly generated tunes that you like, and then tweak the ones that you like best of those experiments.

If you want to see what settings are in use for any fractal tune then click on the O Organise Windows button at top right of any window, then on the Tune Smithy file Overview, choose to show the edited windows only. Then to find out exactly what has changed, highlight a window and click on the -> Edited button.

BTW if you are using FTS as a freeware user, note that you can still hear the tunes continue endlessly, if you minimize the FTS main window before the time out. The tune will continue playing for as long as the window remains minimized though when you restore it then it will time out immediately of course. This was originally done in order to let FTS be used as background music for the Lissajous 3D screen saver in freeware mode, and has now been extended as a way for freeware usres to hear their tunes continue endlessly.

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Commercial Use

Since these are demo tunes particularly included to help users get started, then it is fine to use them for your own pieces. See Can I use FTS to make music to sell commercially?

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First, be sure to try the pitch bend test: Bs | Test Pitch Bend Range - if you hear two notes identically tuned then it is tuning the notes correctly. If not, then you need to try to fix it in order to hear the music tuned as intended. Either you need a new sound card, or external sound card, or often an easier solution is to download and install a suitable soft synth: Tips for better sound quality:

You can also check to see if the example midi clips in this help will be played correctly tuned (that isn't always the same thing as sometimes clips in web pages are played using special plug ins only accessible to web pages). See Test my Midi player and soundcard / synth . Quicktime users - be sure to also check the special note for Quicktime users, and the section under the sound quality tips: Using FTS with Quicktime,.

You may find the tunes are too quiet or too loud. Sound cards and synths vary tremendously in how they interpret the Midi volume parameter.

To change the volume in FTS in the main window click on the volume triangle at the bottom of the window. You can also change the overall volume for the whole of Windows from Bs | Play Control - Volume. This shows a series of faders depending on your sound card and equipment. Look for the Play Control fader, and possibly a separate Midi. fader.

You may also want to change the range of dynamics for playback. If you find the quietest notes are so quiet that they are nearly inaudible or the loudest notes are very loud, then you can change that by selecting Out | Options | Change Volume Range - the new range is preset to 20 - 100 . The quietest and loudest possible midi notes are 1 and 127 but on some sound cards or synths, 1 is very quiet indeed, or even not played at all. 127 may sometimes be rather loud.

For more details, see Tips for better sound quality, and Why is everything so quiet?


To randomise the tune use the F5 shortcut key.

The tunes are based on musical Seeds . If you want to know a bit more about how this works, see How the seeds build up to make tunes , Basic concepts. .

Use File | New at any time to get back to a tune played on a single flute in a pentatonic scale in twelve equal temperament (the modern piano tuning), with all the extra seeds options switched off, and the three note seed 0 1 0 - this is useful if you want to make a new tune from scratch.

To get started with tune smithying, choose any tune from the Fractal Tunes drop list, and click the Play button to hear it. Then try changing things, to transform it into your own tune. To find out what you can change, see the next section Parameters. For a tutorial, try How do I make a fractal tune (tutorial)? in the FAQ which can also be used as a basic introduction to orchestration and other considerations for musical newbies to composing.

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Parameters - some of the things you can change

Musical Seed drop list - select another seed from the drop list. Or make a new seed - see Making seeds. The seed you choose generates all the melodic material in the piece, though some of the transformations may make it almost unrecognisable :-).

Time for one note : Use this to speed the tune up or slow it down - the smaller the note, the faster the tune.

Pitch... (menu option) - use to raise / lower the pitch of the entire tune. Click anywhere on the light blue bar to change the pitch of the first note of the scale (the 1/1 as it is called), or use the arrows to move it up or down by octaves, notes, semitones, Hertz, or to fine tune the pitch.

Parts window - use this to choose the instruments (voices) for your tune. The fastest moving part is often the first one in the list. Select it with a click to highlight it, and then select the voice from the Voice Menu . Then select the other parts in turn until you have the instruments set out for your piece as you wish. You can transform a tune quite a bit simply by changing which instruments play the various parts.

The fastest moving part depends on the settings in the Order of Play menu, so it isn't always the first one. Sometimes the tune may move about from one part to another, with each part getting its moment when it plays the tune, or a flourish of fast notes. With other tunes, the notes may get spread throughout all the parts in a fairly even texture. Some of the more complex tunes use Order of Play | Other. For more about these options see the Order of play menu.

For more on voice selection in the Parts window, see the section Choose voices and add extra parts.

Bs | Tempo, note time and volume for tune - see this for the option to vary the speed and volume of the tune as it progresses, used by many of the example fractal tunes. Note particularly the new options to vary the volume and time depending on the position in the bar - this can give a more natural "lively" kind of a rhythm and feel for the tune, and is used often in the more recent demo tunes. Try doing the same with the older 1.0x ones and see what happens :-). For details of some of the options: Note time and volume

There are many other things you can change - see the Seeds Options page for some of them

Particularly, the option for the Seed Pos Increment is a fun one to change - use that with any of the fractal tunes to make it a bit more intricate with the parts coming together and moving on in the middle of a seed as well as at the end. Again this is a new option so have a go at it with the older tunes.

Then I'd like to mention the new option in the Seeds Options window to use chord progressions - try some of the example tunes in the 2.4 section. Just start with one of the example tunes that use chord progressions, then visit one of those many sites which list chord progressions and try pasting one of them into that chord progression list to hear it played - then you can set about transforming it as you like. Or indeed you can use this window simply as a chord progression player - paste a chord progression into the text field, then press the play button to hear it.

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Scales and Arpeggios

Scales drop list - the current scale. This changes the tuning system used for your piece.

Arpeggios drop list - Selection of notes from the scale.

Some Scales have (Arp.) shown in brackets after the name. This means that when you change the scale, the arpeggios list shows ones appropriate for your new scale (if this doesn't happen, check you have Sync Arp. selected). Just try them out to hear what they sound like.

For the others, the Arpeggios list shows Follow scale , and a few other selections such as 0 -1 2 . One will most often choose Follow scale for these, and use the scale in its entirety. However, the 0 -1 2 type selections also give interesting effects in fractal tunes as with these the seed changes shape radically as it moves up and down in the "Arpeggio" - use these if feeling adventurous, or indeed try out new ones of the same type. You can think of them as a kind of "figuration template"

It is easy to make your own arpeggios - just type the numbers for the scale degrees into the box, or use the Arpeggio window.

To find the major, minor, harmonic minor or other scales of twelve tone systems, choose one of the twelve tone systems such as, say, Equal temperament (which is the modern piano tuning), or Well Tempered (one of the commonly used tunings from Bach's time), and look in the Arpeggios list. You will see the major scale listed as "diatonic (major)".

Arpeggios such as diatonic (major) get tuned in a variety of ways depending on which twelve tone scale you choose. You can also play diatonic music in some of the scales with more than twelve notes, as these also sometimes have major and minor arpeggios too - see the lists for the 19 tone and 31 tone equal temperaments for instance. Arpeggio here is used as a general term - it may be a chord, which is the way one most normally thinks of arpeggios I suppose, or it may be a sequence of notes more normally thought of as a scale or a mode. It can also ascend one way and descend another way as is normal in the melodic minor scale in Western music, or in Indian or Arabic music. Even more generally - it doesn't need to ascend steadily but can change direction in the middle then start rising again - which is useful for fractal tunes as it can sometimes give interesting interactions between the arpeggio and the seed.

As for the key for your piece - it is preset to C - so it will be C major for the major arpeggio, and will otherwise be C minor, C Hungarian Major, or whatever, depending on your choice of scale (tuning) and arpeggio. You use the scale and arpeggio window to change the tuning of your scale, but not the key - well not normally anyway.

When you want to change the key, go to the Pitch window. This sets the pitch of the 1/1 of the scale - the 1/1 is the root note of the scale. You can set that to concert pitch C, or to A using the buttons, or use the scroll bars to change it to any other note, or use the fine tuning option to miro-adjust the tuning, e.g. to match some other instrument..

There's a possible confusion here as musicians often talk about playing a piece in, say, the scale of D minor, meaning, the key of D minor. But, in this field of the study of tuning systems, it is usual to use the word Scale to refer to the precise tuning used such as Equal temperament, or Werckmeister III or quarter comma meantone etc, as it is here. So it's good to get used to this other meaning of the word - all the discussion, literature and other programs in this field use it too. It is the only way the word is used in this help. It seems that once one understands the meaning the possibility for confusion seems pretty minimal in practice.

As for the Arpeggios - these are usually referred to as Modes in this field. Indeed they were called Modes in FTS too at one point. However, the FTS Arpeggios are used as chords as well as scales, also as sequences, and need not ascend steadily as modes do. Also there is some possibility of confusion with the more usual use of Mode (outside this field of tuning theory that is) as in Dorian mode, Lydian mode etc - one of the seven modes of the seven tone diatonic scale. Depending on how one understands those, they may not convey quite the intended meaning here. So in FTS I use Arpeggio as a more general term which any musician from any background will understand with the intended meaning immediately.

See Terminology - Arpeggios and Scales

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Make a new tune

The easiest way to make a tune for newbies is to start with one of the demos and modify it. However, if you want to start from scratch and make a new tune, here is an introduction to help get one started.

To build up a new fractal tune from scratch, use: File | New , select a voice for your tune. and make your choice of scale and arpeggio. Then either just make a seed by typing in some numbers (beginning with 0 as the first one usually) or improvise a seed in the Seed window. See make a seed.

So far your tune has only one part. Increase the number of Parts in Play , select another voice, and keep going adding new parts in this way.

At this point, you will hear each voice play in turn, as in the oboe_and_friends.ts fractal tune. To play tunes with simultaneous notes, choose Parts | Order of play | By layer, with simultaneous voices . There are various other options you can use in this menu - for details see Order of play.

Voice | Auto sel. last - is a shortcut that helps when building up a tune from scratch in this way. Each time you increase the number of parts for the fractal tune, the last voice automatically gets highlighted, ready for you to select a new voice into it (this is often the slowest moving one in the fractal tune).

Tip: You can use Shift + click on Parts when you show the window if you wish to keep the Parts window always in front of the main window. The same method works for any of the windows - hold down the shift key when you press the button or click on the menu option to show the window.

If you want all your FTS windows to show in front of the main window like this, select File | New Windows on top - see New windows always on top for details.

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Saving your work

You can save your work using File | Save As | Files of type | Tune Smithy files.

To find it again, use File | Open | Files of type | Tune Smithy files.

I recommend saving your work into a folder within your Fractal Tune Smithy folder, such as the one called New Tunes . That is useful because then later you can add all your new tunes to the main window drop lists of fractal tunes using Seed Options | Add sub-folders to the drop list of fractal tunes. By way of an example, if you have saved anything into the New Tunes folder, you will see New Tunes listed as one of the entries in the fractal tunes drop list, and when you select it you can see a drop list of all the tunes you have saved.

The Tune Smithy files include all the information needed to reconstruct the fractal tune, such as the seed, scale and arpeggio, instrumentation and so forth - but it leaves out parameters for the midi relaying set up, or things that only affect the appearance of Fractal Tune Smithy.

For a summary of some of the types of file you can save in FTS see Open and Save

You can send your tune as a musical e-card from the Player task.


Making seeds

To make your own seeds, enter the numbers into the Musical seed box. These seed numbers specify how far up or down to go in the arpeggio from the note that starts the seed.

Leave spaces between the numbers: 0 1 2 0 rather than 0120 (- actually if you use 0120, this will work too as it will be interpreted as an Alphabet seed. because of the leading 0, but better to do it with the spaces, and leaving out the spaces won't work if you start with any other number than 0)

Try small numbers to start with. It is an idea to use 0, 1, or maybe -1 for the first number (for first experiments anyway). High numbers will normally start the tune extremely high. If numbers later on in the seed are high then it will go high eventually but maybe not for a while. When the tune goes higher than a certain point, it will rebound back to lower notes again. Alternatively, you can set it to go silent when too high, or too low, and other settings available too. You can also change the range for each part individually. For all these options, see Parts | Ranges.

Note : the new feature to ground the first note deals with this issue. When you have that option selected then you can start your seed wherever you like, e.g. 4 3 2 0 1 or whatever - and it won't start particularly high or low, though it may go high or low later on. You can also use the option to repeatedly ground the seed which deals with this altogether. See Bs | Seed Options | Auto ground seed at layer. Select that and set a low-ish layer to ground it at, say four or something depending on the tune, and it will never go very high or low.

There are various ways to make the seeds - just type in the numbers as described, or for another method, you can make new seeds by playing them directly, using the PC keyboard.

To do this, click Bs | Seed... to show a new Seed window.

Then select the Edit radio button. An asterisk will appear opposite the picture with blue dots to show that you are in edit mode.

Type the Escape key to erase the present seed.

Then play your new seed using the top row of the PC keyboard. Type the key to the left of 1 for the first note of the arpeggio, and keys 1, 2, 3 , etc for the higher notes. If you want to play higher notes, the arpeggio continues along the second, third and fourth rows of the keyboard.

Press Return to end your new seed.

To play your seed again, press the triangular play button or use Alt + A . The speed of playback depends on the Time for one note (secs) in the main window - to hear your seed at the same speed that you played it originally, set this to 1 .

To use your new seed in the fractal tune, press Main Win <- ( Alt + N ). Select With timings first if you want to use the notes in the same rhythm that you played them, and unselect this option if you would like your notes to be played all at the same length.

For more details, see Make new seed

You can also play it from a music keyboard. See New seed from Music Keyboard

You can also edit the seed using a bar chart view from Bs | Seed As Bar Charts . See Seed as bar charts.

You can also play or sing a seed to FTS, or analyse a recording of the seed, and make it that way. See Bs | Find Seed from Recording . This is a somewhat experimental feature, and works better for some voices than others - I find it works pretty well for descant recorder for instance. For other voices, you may be able to tweak the Find Seed Options until you find ones that particularly suit your voice or instrument.

You can edit the volumes and timings by entering the numbers for each by hand. Use Bs | Seed as text . One can also get to this window from Tasks | Composer using the A... button to the right of the Seed button.

You can also edit the times and volumes in the main window Musical seed box. Some of the seeds in the musical seeds drop list have a semicolon, followed by some extra numbers:

1 -1 0 ; 0.5 1 0.9

The numbers after the ; are the note timings. 0.5 means half of the time set for one note in the Time for one note box.

You may also see an * or v followed by a third list of numbers:

0 1 3 2 0 -1 ; 0.1 2 1 0.1 0.3 0.1 v 1 0.3 0.1 0.4 0.8 1

Try that seed out and compare it with the previous one, which is otherwise identical, but without the v .

These are volumes for the individual notes. The values range from 0 for no sound to 1 for the volume set for the part in the Parts window. Numbers higher than 1 will go louder still, up to the maximum value for a midi note, if the volume for the part, and the main window volume are set to less than their maximum values.

The musical seed drop lists can be edited to add new seeds to select. To do this, nacigate to the list you want to edit, and click the Ed. button to the right of the drop list. This will bring it up as a text file which you can edit in the usual way (e.g. in Notepad). Each line corresponds to an entry in the list so you may want to switch off word wrap (Edit | Word Wrap in Notepad). The list is automatically updated to show your changes when you close Notepad, or whatever program you are using to edit it. For details: Musical seed drop list format .



Choose voices and add extra parts

Choose Parts... from the main window menu. This shows all the voices for the parts in the current fractal tune. The number of parts in play is shown at the bottom of the window.

To change a voice, highlight one of the parts in play, then select a new voice from the Voices... menu, or type the new instrument name into the field below. To silence a part, select Silence into it or mute it.

Many of the fractal tunes have the fastest moving melody played in the first part. However there are other ways of selecting which notes to play on which part. See the Order of play menu.

This is a multiple-selection list, so you can highlight several parts at once. This is useful if you want to change the voice for several parts in one go. Click on the first part you want to change, which will highlight it, then use Shift + Click on the last part to highlight all the ones in between as well. Then use the menu to select the voice you want to use, and it will get selected it into them all at once. For detalis about how multi-selection works see Tip #4.

You can also select a non melodic percussion instrument from the Non M. Perc. menu. These are instruments such as drums, bells, cymbals etc that either have no definite pitch, or are played in only one pitch. You can select these into any of the parts, and so build up a fractal tune with multiple layers of percussion - as in Fibonacci rain shower (which also uses Fibonacci rhythms and a few melodic notes from ocarina and oboe).

It's possible to select a voice into a part from the main window, without showing the Parts window. Set the Highlighted Part in the main window to the number of the part you want to change, and then select the voice for it from the Voice menu .

Voice | Auto sel. last - is a shortcut that helps when building up a tune from scratch. Each time you increase the number of parts for the fractal tune, the last voice automatically gets highlighted, ready for you to select a new voice into it (this is often the slowest moving one in the fractal tune). This is the standard setting.

Click here to find out more about the Parts window.



Relaying to a soft synth

If you want to hear your tune played on a soft synth, or any other program you have in Windows, you can record the fractal tune to Midi and then play it.

You can also relay it directly to the soft synth using a virtual cable

When using FTS with a synth, or maybe Giga Studio / Sampler, it may sometime be more convenient to set up the instruments at the synth instead of doing it in FTS. Maybe you want to try the same tune on various instruments for instance, and do the selection in the synth, and don't want FTS to keep resetting to the same instrument in all the channels whenever it plays the tune.

To do this, select Voice | Skip Midi Out Voice Selections . This disables all MIDI voice selections (aka patches, program changes) in the FTS output.

You can also choose which parts of the fractal tune to relay to which midi out channels from Out | Options | Out Channs... and can set parts to play monophonic here. If you have a setup with several soundcards / synths / soft synths / samplers, you can also use multiple midi out ports and relay some parts on some midi out devices, and some on others - see Midi Out devices - Parts to play.



Playing in any of the scales and arpeggios yourself

You can also use FTS simply as a way to play in any of the scales or arpeggios yourself.

If you have a MIDI keyboard , you can use that - see Midi in. You can also use your PC keyboard.

To play from the PC keyboard enabled for sound, click on the PC keyboard layout - the icon shown with white squares for the keys. It has a hidden label of "Picture of PC Kbd" for blind users. Then to play, click on its title bar to activate it, and just play from the PC keyboard. Plays in the main window arpeggio, and with the left most key of the middle row (key 'A' in Querty layout) as the first note of the arpeggio if you use the standard settings - all this can be configured..

For options, see Pc Keyboard Notes.

To go into this further, see the Music making faq.

There are other ways too o play from the PC keyboard - when editing the seed - see Playing along from the New seed window, also from the Tune window

When you use the Tune.. . window, click on the picture to activate it to receive key presses. Then play along as before. With this method you don't have all the options to configure the PC keyboard that you have with the other methods - this one simply plays successive notes of the arpeggio whatever options you choose for the other windows.

You can save a recording of your playing to a MIDI file - a type of file which tends to be small, and so especially suitable for sending over the internet by e-mail or adding to web pages.

For details see: Record to MIDI as you play along.

The size of a MIDI file depends on the number of notes in it. It will be very small if it has just the notes you play yourself.

However if you record as you play along with the fractal tune, it may get quite large as some of the fractal tunes are exceedingly fast, so have many notes in them.

If you want to record the fractal tune on its own to MIDI, you can use File | Save As , and save the file as type MIDI Files . If you do it that way, you don't need to listen to the tune as it is saved, and it will probably be saved much faster than it could be played. It is also saved with the desired times, while if you record it while it is playing, the times actually played can be delayed slightly, depending on what other programs you have running at the same time. See Save as Midi File.


Function key short cuts

F1 . Brings up help for the active window (the one with its title bar highlighted - click on its title bar to make a window active).

F2 . Organise Windows. Amongst other things, this window lets you save / open the parameters for a particular window only, choose from a drop list of all the windows you can show in FTS, and show an overview of all the values that you have changed away from their standard settings.

F4 . Remember the current layout of the windows, and start each session like this.

F5 . Randomise the fractal tune - chooses a tune at random from the drop list of tunes and a seed at random from the drop list of seeds.

F8 . Add notes to a window in .doc format

F9 . Add notes to a window in .txt format

F11 . Stop the tune.

F12 . All sound off - silences the tune but doesn't stop it - when you release the button it will sound once more. It doesn't pause either - just continues silently for as long as you hold down this key.


Tasks Menu

Select these from the Tasksmenu in FTS. If the task has a Standard Settings button, click on it when you first try out the task. In the Tune Smithying tasks, use File | New , or select one of the tunes from the drop list to use as a starting point to make your tunes.

Player - Play any of the tunes that come with the program, randomise them, make easy changes, try out a few fun things like the mouse theremin, Lissajou curves, and the musical e-cards. See Getting started.

Composer - Use this when you want to do more in the way of making new fractal tunes. See Getting started.

Many Controls - Also for making fractal tunes. Another layout - adds Sustain to the main window, and choice of whether to time each note by the previous note or from the start of the tune, and shows more info about the tune as it plays. The scale and arpeggio fields are smaller. See Getting started.

Midi Keyboard retuning - Intro - This is the one to choose if you want to play from a music keyboard retuned in FTS. Try out the presets for some examples of what you can do in FTS. See Midi In Info.

Midi Keyboard retuning - Also for music keyboard retuning, adds a few more buttons such as the Kbd Options , the Regions , the Scales for Parts... etc to make them more readily available - saves the need to go via the menu. See Midi In Info,

Midi Relaying - This is the task for midi relaying from another program such as notation software, for instance, rather than from a midi keyboard. See Midi Relaying.

Scales Work to use when constructing and inventing new scales and tunings.

Retuning Midi Player Intro - Use to play any midi clip you may have, retuned to any tuning - it has to be in Midi format 0 for this task. Format 0 is probably the most popular midi format - but many are in format 1 which FTS can't play yet without conversion first by another utility. You can also set this temporarily as your midi player by file association, e.g. to play format 0 midi clips from web pages retuned in FTS. See Retuning Midi player.

Retuning Midi Player - Ditto, with a few more features. See Retuning Midi player.

Analyse Midi Voice - Use to find out the frequency spectrum of any of your midi voices - and find all the partials - the component frequencies that make up the note. See Analyse sound .

Analyse Recording or Midi Voice - Use to find out the frequency spectrum of any of your midi voices or a recording - has a few more controls. See Analyse sound .

Menu only - useful if you want a rather minimal interface - just the menu showing and nothing else. Note that you can also resize any of the other windows so that only the menu shows, if desired.

Lambdoma - Explore the lambdoma matrix - a great way to find out about the complete range of pure ratios as every just intonation ratio is in there somewhere or other. This task was particularly developed for users of Barbara Hero's Lambdoma keyboard as used in music therapy. But you can also explore the lambdoma with the mouse or music keyboard. See Lambdoma.

Lambdoma - Small - Smaller version focussing on the essentials.

Polyrhythm Metronome - Use to explore polyrhythms - play several rhythms together simultaneously such as three and four beats both fitting to the same bar - or more exotic ones such as three and five, or seven beats in the same time as eight. See Polyrhythm Metronome.

Chord Progression Player - You can paste any chord progression here from those chord progression sites, or make your own, and click the play button to hear it. Then you can use these chord progressions in fractal tunes.. See Chord Progression Player.


Main help sections

Seeds etc More detailed overview and experiments to try. Describes how to use the New Seed, New Arpeggio and New Scale windows.

User guide Reference for any of the Windows not covered elsewhere. Also reference for topics such as how to play along following a score, and how to make a Gallery of sound clips.

Main Window Reference for the main window buttons, edit fields, etc.

Musical note intervals Background on musical note intervals, scales, on how the seeds are made, and so forth.

Scales Options for searching for scales in the vast SCALA archive, making new scales, sorting the lists of scales / arpeggios in various ways, and so forth.

Midi in Anything to do with options for the Midi In keyboard.

Index Lists all the other help pages. These are linked to elsewhere in the help, and grouped here together in one place for easy reference. Also includes an index to all the topics in all the pages, and a list of links to external web pages.



Sound quality tips

Speakers, Midi, Sound Card, Roland, Yamaha and Quicktime, Soft synth installers and Midi File Associations, Other Midi Soft synths - Using the soft synths with FTS - Using FTS with Quicktime, More details for Newbies


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Most speakers that come with modern pc's are not particularly high spec.However, if that is your situation, it may be possible to improve the sound by using your sound system instead. You can get a lead to connect the output of your soundcard to the input of your sound system (tip: if you have the type of microphone with a detachable lead you may be able to use that as your lead).

Use the Line level output in preference to the speaker output if you have one. The experts in this field recommend also that you switch off the computer first before making the connection, also disconnect it from the mains, then connect the leads, then switch it back on again. See the on-line e-Panorama page Sound card tips and facts - scroll down that page to Can I connect my soundcard to my home stereo system? and Connecting sound card to your HIFI system .

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FTS plays the music using Midi. This means that FTS plays the notes on your sound card's synth in much the same way that a keyboard player plays tunes on a synthesizer. It just switches a note on at a particular pitch and velocity, much as a keyboard player might press a key on the synth, and then at the end of the note it switches it off. Your computer has a small synthesizer, often on your soundcard, which plays the actual sounds you hear. This means that what you hear will be very dependent on the quality of your sound card's onboard synth. Here is a fine Midi Overview at

This only affects midi clips - other waveform audio formats such as mp3s record the waveform itself - every detail of the sound heard, and so sound pretty much the same on any sound card.

The midi synths that come with sound cards however vary considerably in quality. The sound quality of modern ones tend to be pretty good compared with the ones of a few years ago. However someitmes they can't retune the notes to anything other than twelve equal. You can check this using Bs | Test Pitch Bend Range in FTS, and to check to see whether you can play the midi clips in this help, see the Test your midi player

If your sound card can't retune the notes, or you aren't satisfied with the sounds it has, there are various things you can do about it.. The main options are to get a new soundcard (the middle range ones aren't so very expensive), or to install a softsynth.

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Sound card

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You may well be able to change the sound card, or to add a second one.

If you have a computer such as a laptop with on-board sound, this upgrade path may not be available, in which case another option to explore is to add an external sound card connected via a USB port. This has the advantage that it will also add Midi In and Out ports to your computer. For an example of such a card, see the Soundblaster Extigy

See the Soundblaster Extigy

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The Roland, Yamaha and Quicktime soft synthesizers

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You can install a soft synth, such as the the Yamaha software synthesizer.

The Virtual Sound Canvas (originally, Roland Sound Canvas) is another alternative. It requires a slightly higher powered machine than the Yamaha but that is hardly relevant these days unless you have quite an archaic machine.

To find it visit Edirol, then look for Downloads and go to the bottom of the page in the Demo section there and look for the Virtual Sound Canvas VSC-88. I found it raher hard to find a place to purchase it after the trial period - if you find yourself in the same situation, it may be useful to know that you can buy it at PG Music (have to purchase another program as well) and there it comes with a 30 day money back guarantee.

See the Other Midi Soft synths section of this help for some more information about soft synths and other synths you can use, also to find out about the distinction between GM synths and non GM synths - these ones here are all GM synths.

You can also get Quicktime. Quicktime is free.

Quicktime works pretty well with notes played from the PC or music keyboard. It uses the same method as the Roland soft synth to play midi clips, so will sound much the same as the Virtual Sound Canvas. However it has some limitations when used to play notes in real time, as explained in special note for Quicktime users. You can preview your tunes in FTS via the Out menu, then use Bs | Record to File options | Play as Html to hear your finished piece. See Using FTS with Quicktime

If you like the sound of Quicktime and are willing to pay for a version that will play from FTS, you can use the Virtual Sound Canvas as described above.

A couple of neat features about each of these two synths: the Roland will let you save midi files directly to audio format, which is neat. The Yamaha has true monophonic legato if you set the Portamento slide time to 0 and use Portamento as well as Legato - means that if you trill wind instrument style in this mode you only get the attack on the first note. The Roland doesn't have this feature. Of course, one can install both, and use voices on one for some things , and the other for other things. The Yamaha seems to have some background sound that one can hear on good quality equipment - a very quiet white noise "sss" sound.

A soft synth mightn't have quite the same fast response time as the on-board synth of your soundcard - though this isn't nearly so much an issue with a modern PC. For the fractal tunes all that happens is that it fractionally delays the start of playback of the entire tune. However, it is possible that you might notice a slow response time when playing a soft synth from the PC keyboard, or midi keyboard, on older machines especially. The Yamaha synth has a fairly fast response time if you have Direct Sound on your computer.

All that applies to rather archaic machines now. If you have a fairly new computer you mightn't notice any delay at all.

The Yamaha has one idiosyncracy that is worth mentioning. If you play a chord (rather than a single note) immediately after you open Midi Out, you can lose some of its notes. This often happen with the fractal tunes because FTS opens Midi Out just before the tune starts. The work around for this is to set an extra pause from Out | Options | Midi Out / Save Timing | Pause after opening Midi Out - a value of 1 second there should be fine. Once Midi Out is open, it's fine.

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Soft synth installers and Midi File Associations

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Often a soft synth installer will ask if you want to associate the soft synth with .mid files. You don't need this generally in FTS. Normally it is fine to answer No here.


The file association is used for playing clips for web page links, or if you double click to hear a midi file in your folder listing in your file Explorer.

It is used in only one place in FTS - in Bs | Record to File | Play by file association - if you press that button, FTS uses your file association for midi clips in order to play back your midi recordings in your midi player. If you have a midi player that works only when embedded in web pages, you can alternatively use the same method that you use for Quicktime to hear your midi clips played in it - Bs | Record to File options | Play as Html

Normally, however, FTS uses the soft synth via its Out menu. So, it's fine to answer No if you prefer to keep your present settings. You can make midi file associations yourself from Explorer | Tools | Folder Options | FileTypes.

If you want to use one of these soft synths with programs such as Media Player that don't have an Out menu you can set what you want to use as the standard midi output via Start | Settings | Control Panel | Multimedia | Midi.

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Other Midi Soft synths

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This site lists a few other soft synths which one could try: Soft Synths ( or for a very extensive list:: the synthzone list of Software synthesizers, samplers and renderers.

One main distinction is between GM and non GM synths. The GM ones will play standard midi clips on appropriate instruments - e.g. patch 0 will always be some form of grand piano.With non GM ones you load anything you like for the patches, and what you hear depends on what you have loaded for the various patch numbers.

If you want to play standard midi clips such as the ones that you find on the web pages, and use the intended instruments, you probably are best off with a GM synth. The Roland and Yamaha ones are both GM synths. GM synths are rather few and far between. Another one that many composers like is Timidity, and another you could try perhaps is Wingroove.

You can play GM clips on a non GM synth too, but you will need to load appropriate instruments yourself for each midi clip that you play. Also GM percussion parts may be a problem with a non GM synth as all the non melodic instruments in a GM clip get played on channel 10, with the note number used to select which instrument to play. The non GM synths may play those as melodic notes which isn't what you want.

The other important distinction is between FM and wave table synths. FM synths can have really good sounds - atmospheric, out of this world and somewhat way out or wild sounds are their particular speciality I suppose. They can be very accurate indeed pitch wise. The FM emulations of instrument sounds also have a special charm to them - you don't look out for ultra realist effects here particularly, rather, you look for creative and interesting sounds reminiscent of the original acoustic instruments, which go beyond their sounds too in one way or another. Making good FM synth sounds is a high art and skill.

FM synths have a bit of a poor reputation amongst older computer users who may remember the old FM sound cards which were indeed poor quality- but musicians used and continue to use fine quality FM synths (modern and vintage ones) and these are another matter altogether, so if you ask a musician who is into such things, you will get a different view on them. They get used on sound tracks and you have probably heard them without realising it.

Nowadays FM synths can be programmed in software too, since the computers are now fast enough to do all the calculations to genarate the waves as they play them.

Wave table synths are geared towards emulating acoustic instruments as much as possible and usually use wave samples from an actual recording of an acoustic instrument. Sometimes they use just a single wave, and sometimes a longer section looped. Giga sampler uses the entire recording of a note on an acoustic instrument all the way to the fade out, or for a certain number of seconds (for continuous notes) - and runs from the disk. More such samplers are appearing now.

Another point about soft synths is that since they are software, they won't normally have quite such as fast response time as the on-board synth of your soundcard. The only effect of this for the fractal tunes is that it adds a short extra pause at the start of playback. When playing from the PC keyboard, or midi keyboard however, you may notice a slow response time delay between pressing the key and hearing the note. This will happen for every note you play.

If your soft synth has a noticably slower response time than your sound card, you can switch over to your sound cards on-board synth when you need a fast response. Switching back and forth is easy, using the Out menu in FTS.

The Yamaha synth has an especially fast response time, if you have Direct Sound on your computer. This is also far less of an issue on modern fast computers as the response time has gone way down and is very small nowadays.

The other synths I mainly use are Gigasampler and the FM7. Both are great for playing tunes. Giga is best if you want it to sound as much as possible like an acoustic instrument - it is agreed by most musicians / composers to be the best there is available for that as of writing, better than any soundcard. That's because it uses multi megabyte and giga size samples - quite impossible when in the memory of a soundcard, but easily feasible when streamed from a modern disk. Then the FM7 is great for new, special and unusual sounds, and is a wonderful modern follow up from the early classic analog synths - can play the old sound libraries too.

Then a new one is the Midicode Synthesizer, an FM synth which has a great selection of voices that are particularly good for hearing just intonation tunings. I've just started using this one recently.

There are many others and I can't speak for those - composers all have their favourites that they champion - well these are mine as of writing, and anyway, I've only tried a few of the ones available. Go and check out the others and see which ones you like. So, just drawing your attention to a couple that I know of and consider to be good.

You can't download Giga - just have to buy it. However, you can get a preview of what it sounds like played microtonally from some tunes I've got up here:

One can also get Giga Studio which costs more and has more features (or one can upgrade to it later)

Also may be worth knowing that you get gigasampler for free with some soundcards such as the Audiophile 2496 - this has had good reviews as an excellent soundcard - has no on-board synth of its own and has gigasampler bundled with it (though I haven't yet tried it out myself).

You need to buy extra sounds for giga only a few ones come with it. These can be quite costly, generally $100s right up to $1000s. I use Dan Dean's solo strings and I highly recommend that one for string instruments.

The FM7 is great for new sounds, and extremely accurate pitch wise. The demo version, which will only play in twelve equal as it will only accept one pitch bend at a time. Try out the demo to see if you like the sounds, then when you buy it you will be able to play it in any of the tunings from FTS by selecting Out | Use MTS Tuning programs . This doesn't work with the demo because it uses sysexes, which are disabled in the demo version.

It has some really wild sounds - try out and

The FM7 is monotimbral - only plays one voice at a time (I know it sounds as if it is multi-timbral from the Navigating the Pacific - but that is just a single really wild patch - all the notes are played on the same instrument).

To play several instruments at once, you can start up several copies of it and then set FTS to relay to each of those separately - easiest done using a virtual cable.

Many other soft synths are monotimbral too. Often the monotimbral synth can play its instrument polyphonically, but with only one pitch bend in play at a time (this is the case for the FM7 too if you don't use MTS tuning programs with it). You could deal with this in the same way - by setting the synth so that it only recieves on one channel, and start up an extra copy of it for each channel in play - in FTS you can limit the total number of channels for output from Out | Options | Midi Output Channels . - or to set it independently for each part, use Out | Options | Out Channs .

Unfortunately some won't let you start up several copies at all - they can only be used in monophonic micrtonal music in that case. You can limit the polyphony for a part in FTS from Out | Options | Out Channs | Max Polyphony . Or indeed, just set the number of channels to play in to a single channel for the part - then you will get polyphony for twelve equal chords, but not for any other types of chords.

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Using the soft synths in FTS

Some of these synths will add a new entry in the Out menu in FTS. The Virtual Sound Canvas does this and so does the Yamaha soft synth. So to use those you can just select the synth from your Out menu.

Others though will require you to redirect the notes from FTS to the soft synth using a loopback. You can do it by hardware, by connecting the Midi out of your computer (if you have one) back round to its midi In. Or - usually better because it is faster and easier to do as well - use a virtual cable

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Using FTS with Quicktime

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You can play in Quicktime from the Out menu in Fractal Tune Smithy (new feature). For advice on how to install Quicktime if you don't see it listed there, see special note for Quicktime users.

There are two issues you need to be aware of when using FTS with Quicktime - a timing one and a pitch related one.

First of all, it may have irregular timings when the tunes are played in real time from FTS.

To test this try the File | New tune for the fractal tune Player and Composer - the notes should all be the same length. If not then you are getting this irregular timings effect.

QT works fine if you send it the notes in advance as you do when you play a midi clip. So the best work around here is to use FTS for previewing your tunes, but be aware that the timings may be erratic.Then you can play the tunes in QT properly using Bs | Record to File Options | Play as Web page .

If anyone knows a solution to this then be sure to drop me an e-mail. I'm not too hopeful about it though, as I got the same effect in the demo program included in the developers source kit from QuickTime - it happened when it was set to play the notes in real time rather than queued in advance a little before they needed to be played. It may well be a possible work around to get FTS to play them a little in advance too, maaybe a half second or so or something. But I haven't tried that yet.

FTS needs to play them in real time so that you can change the settings and hear the result immediately.

Then there is another issue about pitch bends (possibly they may be related).

When you use QT, pitch bends usually need to be applied well in advance of the notes - rather a long time in advance too as these things go - a quarter of a second or so before, though that may depend on your setup too. If you apply them immediately before the note on you may get pitch bend glides,

To test this, try an ascending scale in a fairly large equal temperaemnt such as 31 equal - click on the play button next to the Scale box. This scale will need pitch bends in the middle as it has more than 15 notes, and so this test will show up any pitch bend glides. So again if you hear all the notes steady with no glides in pitch at the start of the note then all is well.

If you hear them, then set Out | Options | Midi Out / Save Timings | Delay for note on after pitch bends to a suitable figure - start with 250 milliseconds say, then reduce this gradually until you start to hear pitch bend glides again, then increase it a bit to leave a margin.

So far that is not a very satisfactory one so far - you would get lots of delayed notes in most tunes. But we can do rather better than that.

You need to also select Out | Options | Resets | Send pitch bends in advance for all the notes of the main window Arpeggio. Actually this is the standard setting now - try unchecking that and you will see why it is needed with Quicktime.

What this does is to set up the tuning well in advance. So if you are playing in a twelve ntoe scale for instance, it would set appropriate tunigns to the first twelve channels, one for each note. Then from then on your notes will get played in the appropriate channel with no need for any more pitch bend messages. So no glides or delays.

This works fine if you are doing something relataively straightforward such as playing in a fixed tuning of no more than 15 notes to an octave and with no special effects such as the left or right pan position of the instrument - in this case you can have as much polyphony as you like - as much as in twelve equal. It will also work if you have a few pan positions or effects and rather limited polyphony. But stretch it a bit and you will start to get delays - things like non octave scales, or the Fibonacci tone scapes, or options that need dynamic retuning, or the more complex fractal tunes may have many of these delayed notes in them.

A nice thing about Quicktime is that it lets you have more than 15 melodic channels. FTS exploits that by adding up to two "Quicktime" devices to the Out menu. You can play some of your parts on one of them and some on another by using the Out | Multiple Out Devices - Selected parts window. So you may also be able to work around some of the limitations using those.

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More details, for Newbies

Modern high quality soundcards use recorded samples of musical notes played by a musician on the real instrument. The samples start with the attack of the note, then are looped after that, with decay added in. This gives realistic sounding notes to most ears, though in truth, a professional player of the instrument would never confuse them with the real thing.

Older soundcards and low quality soundcards approximate the sound of instruments, as best they can. They may use FM synthesis which makes interesting sounds, indeed some FM synths are much valued by professional musicians as instruments in their own right, but when it coms to imitation of real instruments, the result is not so like the "real thing".

However, you don't have to use the soundcard's own on-board synth. A modern PC is easily fast enough to generate the waveform itself in real time as you play, whether of the sound sample or FM synthesis variety. The quality of your soundcard isn't of any great significance either for most of the soft synths (except possibly Giga), as a low quality soundcard is going to be pretty good at playing waveform audio. There is far less variation in that than there is for midi - at least, unless you are a recording engineer or the like.

Nowadays with the amount of memory and disk space available on a modern computer, it is also possible to use recordings of a complete note all the way to the decay - then the note actually is a complete recording, say, of that note played on a Stradivarius violin. So far this is all done by streaming from hard-disk as the amount of memory needed if one did it in Ram is just too large (gigabytes). The pioneer in this field is Giga Studio. See Using FTS with Gigasampler / Giga Studio.

Musicians phrase notes and vary the way they play a note depending on the context - bowing techniques of a string player, and variation in vibrato or articulation of wind instruments. Variation of "touch" for keyboard instruments is another related matter. The sheer volume of data involved is just too great to implement this using separate recordings for each possibility - you could never do live recordings of all the possible nuances of bow angle / bow position / attack / release / vibrato (to take a string instrument by way of example). Indeed even if you had the disk space, it would take a performer years to record all possible variations for a single note!

As another issue here, players vary the way they play depending on the acoustics of the performance venue, so the note can only be recorded as it would be played in a particular room acoustic.

I expect complete duplication of the sound of a musical instrument by playing it from midi file / keyboard may be a never quite achievable goal.

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Using FTS with Gigasampler / GigaStudio

This is work in progress as I find out more about using Giga with FTS. See My site for examples of music made using FTS with Giga.

Pitch bend range, pitch artefacts, non melodic percussion, patches and channels

Pitch bend range

Many of the instruments you can get for Giga have the pitch bend range locked to 0 cents. So in order to play in any of the tunings, you want to change this to the GM standard setting of +-2 semitones.

It is easy to tell if this is so - just try playing, say, an ascending scale in FTS in some low ET, such as 31-et - click the Play Scale button in FTS. If you hear repeated notes, then the pitch bend range is locked to 0 in Giga . Or use the pitch bend test in FTS: Bs | Test Pitch Bend Range .

To unlock this, load your instrument in Giga , and go to Edit Instument . Then in the Instrument Editor , go to the Instrument Bank , right click on each instrument in turn, look for the Pitch bend (semitones) field, and set this to 2 .

Pitch artefacts

You may find that you get a portamento effect just before a sudden pitch change - if this happens, try Out | Midi Out Options | Resets | Do pitch bends for all the notes of the main window arpeggio before opening Midi out and whenever arp. or scale changes . That way, the pitch bends will get applied well in advance in most situations.

You may also notice that high pitched notes tend to go flat as they fade away at the very end of the note, and low pitched ones tend to go sharp. The reason for this is that we tend to hear high notes of constant frequency as sharper as they get louder, and flatter as they get quieter. Low notes work the other way. It happens as much for twelve equal as in any other tuning. Players compensate for it automatically by playnig notes a little sharp as they fade out, and low notes a little flat as they fade out.

I did an FFT analysis of the samples for the 'cello arco / vibrato in the Dan Dean's solo strings and found that the player compensates by raising the c6 by about 27 cents as it fades almost to silence, and by lowering the c2 by about 20 cents. That is for the fade out right at the end when the note is nearly silent.

Giga has to fade out the notes you play when they are switched off, as an abrupt cut off would sound strange, but it isn't able to raise the pitch to compensate as a player of the instrument would do. This is quite a subtle effect as the note gets very quiet - almost inaudible in fact - before players will bend the pitch by as much as 20 cents.

Non melodic percussion

On a GM synth channel 10 is reserved for non melodic percussion.

When using Giga, or any non GM synth for that matter, then it is okay to play melodic voices on channel 10. To tell FTS that it is okay to do this, go to Out | Options | More Options | Non Melodic Perc. channel . and set this to 0 to say that all the channels you relay to are melodic.

Patches and channels

You can only load one instrument into a channel at a time in Giga. So if you use patch change messages from FTS, unselect Out | Options | More Options | Multiple sim patches per channel .

In Giga one can save ones config for the channels using the Save Perf button.

When using FTS with Giga, one may want to do the instrument changes manually in Giga rather than to send the patch change messages from FTS. If so, select FTS | Out | Options | More Options | skip all patches . (Patches here = program changes = voice change messages)

In FTS one can use Out | Out Channs to assign Midi Out channels to each part individually. So for example, if you have one instrument loaded into the first eight channels in Giga, and another into the second eight channels, one could assign channels 1 - 8 to the first part in FTS, and channels 9 - 16 to the second part.

Then, one can save ones FTS settings as a file of type Midi Relay (*.rly) .

To quickly switch between multiple configurations in FTS, click on the O icon for any of the windows to get to the Organise windows window, and select All from the drop list. Then you'll see a drop list of all the Midi Relay files you have saved in the current folder - select from this list.




You can check for the most recent updates at the Fractal Tune Smithy download page :

You can also join a list to receive announcements of every update of the release.




For blind users:

The help meny has various extra options that may be useful

Help | Extra pause before tune Seed Etc - gives an extra pause for your screen reader to read out the text on the play button before the tune starts to play.

For main window keyboard short cuts, see Keyboard Shortcuts, also accessible from Help | M.w. keyboard shortcuts .

Each window in Fractal Tune Smithy has a keyboard shortcut you can use to show it. They aren't very memorable as there are so many, but you can show these in the title bars if you select Help | Show Keyboard shortcuts in Window title bars.

For the complete list see Window shortcuts, also accessible from Help | Window shortcuts .

The frames in this help may confuse your screen reader - though I gather this is no longer a problem with modern screen readers and browsers. Still, may as well explain how to navigate the contents without frames. Show the no frames contents listing. All links in that window bring up the help in a new browser window - so you have the original contents always to hand and can alt + tab back to it. What's more, it should bring all the help pages up in the same window - so you only ever have two windows in play at the time - the contents listing and the one that shows the help. It is like using frames, except that you Alt + tab between the two windows instead of tabbing between the frames in a single window - so possibly this may be a bit less confusing for some screen readers.

FTS also now has tool tips and an extra context sensitive help window within FTS itself, for some of the options.

For partially sighted users:

To change colours use Tasks | Colours .

When Tune Smithy detects that the background to the dialogs is black or white, it automatically switches off background textures and the gradient fill buttons - as usually this will indicate that the user has selected one of the options from:

Windows Start Menu | Settings | Accessibility | Display | Use High Contrast .

Menus may take more space than expected if youuse large easily legible fonts. So to deal with this, you may need to resize the main window and a few of the other windows with dialogs such as the Parts window. The thing here is that these are dialogs with menus, which are a little bit non standard in Windows. The dialogs are set to be large enough for the menus with the standard font size, but don't seem to vary in size if you vary the font to use for menus.

FTS also has a preset main window size for large fonts. To use this type


into the Tempo field. This also changes the menu structure to one with fewer top level menus, to give more screen space for the main window when using large fonts.

To go back to the preset window sizes for smaller fonts, type


into the Tempo field.


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Contact and support

Robert Walker -

Thanks - I enjoy hearing from you, Robert.