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FAQ - Soft synths

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Garritan Personal Orchestra

A lot of composers also use the Garritan personal orchestra. The GPO instruments use key switches - so you have to tell FTS about those, to let them through unchanged, otherwise it will try to retune them. There's a special page in the help for FTS with help on using it with GPO written by the composer Rick McGowan.

Giga Studio

Giga is best if you want it to sound as much as possible like an acoustic instrument. It is better than any soundcard, and was the first in the field though now there are others available such as Kontakt etc.

It is able to achieve this because it uses multi megabyte and giga size samples - (at the time anyway) impossible when it all has to be held in the memory of a soundcard, but easily feasible when streamed from a modern disk.

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 may be able to get gigasampler for free with some soundcards if you shop around.

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.

Using FTS with GigaStudio

For the web site for them: Gigasampler / GigaStudio

This is a musician's sampler, and one uses custom instruments, depending on the piece one wants to play. So for instance, instead of having a single 'cello, one might have a choice between pizzicato 'cello and 'cello with vibrato, and various bowing styles. Giga doesn't come with a general midi type patch set, so you can't expect the fractal tunes in the drop lists to sound the same as they do with a GM soundcard. Instead, you need to choose appropriate voices for each part. Also though Giga does come with a few instruments for free, if you get into this you will probably want to buy a cd or two of Giga instruments, which can cost a fair amount - from the $100s all the way up to $1000s for some of the collections that Giga enthusiasts use

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 default 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-tet - click the Play Scale button in FTS. If you hear repeated notes, then the pitch bend range is locked to 0 in Giga .

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 .

Here are a few mp3s of tunes made using FTS and Giga:

For other tips, see FTS | Help | Using FTS with Giga .

The FM7

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 FTS retunes it using MTS sysexes, which are disabled in the demo version of the FM7.

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 midi cable.

How do I use FTS with CSound?

CSound is a sound synthesis programming language, with many instruments developed for it. See the wikipedia entry on CSound.

It has generally been regarded as rather techy. But FTS has incorporated automated orchestra and score building. This makes using CSound instruments in your recordings as easy as selecting them from a drop list. You can use them to render your midi recordings or fractal tunes directly to audio.

CSound instruments can also be designed to respond to midi in real time. So using this, you can also play the Csound instruments in real time with the help of CSoundAV.

FTS comes with a number of pre-defined CSound instruments, and techy users can easily add more to the list.

See the CSound page of this site for more information.

How do I use FTS with Quicktime?

You can select Quicktime from the Out menu in Fractal Tune Smithy (new feature). Quicktime is not normally accessible in this way in Windows. I added it in as a way to let you preview what the tunes would sound like, and to give an alternative (free) way of playing the Quicktime instruments for those who wish to use them in real time.

Quicktime selected in the Out menu in FTS is best used to preview fractal tunes as the timing can be a bit irregular. You can use Record to File options | Play as Html to hear your finished piece. See Using FTS with Quicktime

A nice thing about Quicktime is that it lets you have more than 15 melodic channels, which gives a way to get more "pitch polyphony". 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.

You don't normally see Quicktime on the out menu of programs. The Roland however does add itself. If you want to use it on programs like Media Player that don't have an Out menu you can change what you want to use as the standard midi output device via Start | Settings | Control Panel | Multimedia | Midi

However, on Windows anyway, it seems that Quicktime works best when playing the tunes as midi clips - the timing can sometimes be a little erratic when it is used to play notes in real time "as they come". It has to be done in real time in FTS even for the fractal tunes, because the user can change the notes and the speed while the tune is playing. How well it plays in real time may depend on your setup.

To help Quicktime users, there's an option to save your current tune and show it in a web page and so you can play it that way, after previewing it in FTS. You do it via Files | Midi File Options | Save and Show as Html . This option can also be useful as a way to preview midi clilps in QT if you have it only in use on your system as a web page plug in (and haven't associated it with midi files).

When you play the notes from the music or PC keyboard QT seems to work reasonably well - with a small amount of latency of course.

Quicktime also makes pitch bend glides when you use it in real; time. It happens if you apply an "instant" pitch bend immediately before a note.

This is quite common with soft synths, but can be dealt with. See pitch glides (below) in the section on Limitations of some soft synths The first time you use FTS with QuickTimeyou will get a message about this. It offers to set a delay of 250 ms. You can change this from Out | Options | Out (menu) | Midi Out Timing - but need to set a delay there to avoid the message - you can set it to 0 ms if you don't need one.

I hear pitch bend glides and other pitch glitches - what can I do about them?

Many synths play pitch bend glides when you use them in real time with a program like FTS that uses pitch bends to achieve pitch polyphony. It happens if you apply an "instant" pitch bend immediately before a note.

This is quite common with soft synths, but can be dealt with. The solution that works best is to apply pitch bends to all the channels well in advance as soon as the scale changes. This works excellently for single instruments with up to 15 note octave repeating scales as you never need more than 15 pitch bends.

In large scales and non octave scales, or if several instruments are played simultaneously with varied pan position (left / right) or other effects, then the pitch bends need to be varied - for instance if there are more than 15 pitch bends required for a scale, then as the music goes on, from time to time one of the existing channels will need to be retuned.

When this happens, delays may sometimes be needed before the new pitch bends from time to time. There's an opton to add these delays - see Out | Options | Out (menu) | Midi Out / Save Timing (Ctrl + 58) in FTS. If you need this for just Quicktime there is an opton to just switch on the option for QT in FTS.

With this option in place, then you will hear occasional pauses as you play in the more demanding tunings - also when you play some of the more demanding fractal tunes. But that may be preferrable to the pitch glides.

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