midi software and microtonal music
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Have you ever wondered why we use the tuning that we do?
Have you ever wondered what other tunings there are?
Have you ever wondered what effect other tunings would have on your music?
Alt-tuner is a DAW plug-in that retunes your midi keyboard or softsynth. It runs on PCs, macs and Linux machines.
Alt-tuner combines ease of use with powerful capabilities:
Recreate historical tunings like pythagorean, meantone and well-temperaments.
Stretch your piano tuning -- create your own Railsback curves.
Explore ethnic tunings like Arabic, Persian, Indian and Indonesian.
Investigate experimental tunings like 22 notes to the octave.
Or just use the adaptive just intonation feature to make "normal" music sound smoother!
You don't need to know tuning theory to get started. Well-chosen defaults get you playing right away. Alt-tuner is novice-friendly and encourages "stumbling onto" new tunings. Alt-tuner uses a graphical point-and-click interface. You're moving sliders and clicking on things, not typing in commands and numbers. Alt-tuner is to other tuning software like Windows is to MS-DOS. However as you explore alt-tuner, many advanced mathematical concepts are demonstrated in a way that can be immediately seen and heard. The manual even includes a 100-page primer on tuning theory (read the outline here). Alt-tuner is so easy to use that it doubles as an educational tool!
You control alt-tuner not only with mouse clicks but also with foot pedals, keyswitches, or almost any midi message your gear can send. This lets you retune as you play, allowing for extreme modulations, adaptive tuning, multiple EDOs in one piece, etc. You can program your pedals and keyswitches so that you can switch to an entirely different tuning instantly with a single foot press, allowing you to concentrate on the playing, not the tuning process. You can even retune notes you've already played via the retroactive retuning window.
Alt-tuner gives immediate visual feedback on your tuning with an interval display and with lattice, graph and table views (see the screenshots gallery). For non-octave and/or non-12 tunings, you have full control over the keyboard layout, with automatic naming of every key by letter & accidental (e.g. F#) and of every interval by quality & degree (e.g. minor 3rd). You can even create your own symbols for both note names and accidentals.
Because alt-tuner is a DAW plug-in, it's completely integrated with the recording process. You can fully control tuning changes over the course of your recording using envelope automation. No composition is too complex to record.
Alt-tuner can retune multiple synths at once, with each player retuning their own synth, or one player retuning everyone. Start a band!
traditional 5-limit just intonation
7-limit just intonation, 11-limit just intonation, etc.
historical temperaments like meantone and well temperament
stretched piano tunings -- create your own Railsback curves
tempering of any comma or group of commas
adaptive just intonation (just chords, but tempered modulating intervals)
EDOs (equal division of an octave) like 5-EDO, 19-EDO, 22-EDO, etc.
bending of individual notes while playing via pitchbend wheel or aftertouch
fine tuning of individual notes via pitchbend wheel or mouse clicks
stretched/compressed tunings (all intervals are widened or narrowed proportionally)
remapped tunings (in which the keys run out of order)
non-octave tunings (tunings that repeat at intervals other than an octave)
non-12 tunings (tunings that repeat after more or less than 12 keys)
non-octave AND non-12 tunings like Bohlen-Pierce (tempered or just)
alt-tuner manual and tuning theory primer (pdf, the primer is a work in progress, last updated 8/20/13)
alt-tuner screenshots (jpegs, from the manual)
alt-tuner demo videos and mp3s (embedded youtube videos and soundcloud mp3s)
alt-tester (text file, "Save as..." to your computer, free utility to test your midi setup's "tune-ability", requires Reaper or ReaJS)
tester.RPP (Reaper project file for use with alt-tester, "Save as..." to your computer, requires Reaper)
alt-tester manual (2 page pdf file)
alt-tester ReWire wrapper (OS X).RPP (Reaper project file for use with alt-tester, "Save as..." to your computer, requires Reaper)
ReWire wrapper (Windows & loopMIDI).RPP (Reaper project file
for use with alt-tester, "Save as..." to your computer,
requires Reaper and loopMIDI)
rechanneler (text file, "Save as..." to your computer, free utility to control midi channels, requires Reaper or ReaJS)
Alt-tuner is a Jesusonic plug-in that runs inside Reaper, a great free-to-try cheap-to-buy DAW. Reaper is easy to install, uses only 42M of disk space, and isn't copy-protected. Reaper is only $60, and the free demo version is completely uncrippled. You can use Reaper alongside your preferred DAW via ReWire and a virtual midi cable, both of which are free. Think of Reaper as a "wrapper" for alt-tuner. OS X users already have a virtual midi cable, IAC. Windows users should download loopMIDI from here: www.tobias-erichsen.de/software/loopmidi.html. GarageBand users: see chapter 6.10 in the manual for a disclaimer.
Alternatively, PC and Linux users can run alt-tuner inside ReaJS, a free Jesusonic-to-VST wrapper. If your DAW doesn't load VSTs, you may have to use an additional VST-to-something-else wrapper. You can use the free alt-tester utility to test ReaJS in your DAW. ReaJS is part of ReaPlugs, which can be downloaded here: www.reaper.fm/reaplugs/
Alt-tuner runs on any system Reaper runs on: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7/8, OSX 10.4/10.5/10.6/10.7/10.8, Linux/WINE, and even Windows 98/ME (limited). ReaPlugs runs on all of these systems except OS X. Linux users: see How_to_run_Reaper_in_Wine_on_Linux for a performance disclaimer. Alt-tuner on Linux is untested, but because midi is so much more efficient than audio, this disclaimer probably won't apply to alt-tuner.
Alt-tuner will retune almost everything out there EXCEPT keyboards with limited timbrality, like the Nord. Before you buy alt-tuner for use with a specific hardware synth, read chapter 6.10 in the manual and check the "specs" section of your synth's manual for its timbrality. (This is not an issue with softsynths.) You can test the "tune-ability" of your midi setup (hardsynths, softsynths, and DAW rewire connections) with the free download alt-tester. See chapters 6.1 & 6.10 in the manual for instructions. If your setup works with alt-tester, it'll almost certainly work with alt-tuner. See also the alt-tuner user's forum. For pre-purchase assistance with rewiring Reaper or using alt-tester, please e-mail me directly. See below for my e-address.
Alt-tuner pricing is two-tiered, like Reaper pricing. Full commercial license: USD $150. Discounted license: USD $99. You qualify for the discounted price if any of the following is true:
You are an individual, using alt-tuner only for personal use.
You are an individual or business, using alt-tuner for commercial use, and the yearly gross revenue does not exceed USD $20,000.
You are an educational or non-profit organization.
Alt-tuner has a 30-day money-back guarantee. After purchasing, e-mail me at and I'll send you the alt-tuner files in my reply. The files you get will run on Windows or OS X or Linux. One license allows one person to use alt-tuner on several computers, or several people to use alt-tuner on one computer. For multiple people on multiple computers, please buy multiple licenses by increasing the quantity on the paypal page.
paypal account required. If you don't want to use paypal, e-mail me
for other options.
Paypal now offers interest-free financing for 6 months via the Bill Me Later option (US customers only).
Alt-tuner can retune midi two ways, via pitch bends or via sysex. All synths (except hardsynths with insufficient timbrality) can be retuned with pitch bends; sysex retuning merely provides another option. Sysex retuning has the advantage of less set-up and more polyphony, but may limit the size of the octave, the number of keys per octave, etc. Alt-tuner currently uses either MTS Universal Sysex #82 (real-time single-note tuning change) or Sysex #88 (non-real-time scale/octave dump). Most synths don't respond to any sysexes and must be retuned via pitch bends. Some synths can be retuned via sysex #82 or sysex #88. Some synths don't respond to either sysex but can be retuned by a custom sysex written especially for that specific synth. Such custom sysexes will soon be available as add-ons to alt-tuner, sold separately. If your synth lets you fine-tune each key individually, it probably can be retuned by sysex. Check the forum for the latest information.