midi software and microtonal music

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I Hear Numbers:

"I Hear Numbers" is a microtonal anthem, part of the Split Notes label's compilation Next Xen.
Download the track here: IHearNumbers.mp3 or IHearNumbers.flac
Liner notes in PDF form: IHearNumbers.pdf

"Minus one" mixes: create your own solo and/or lead vocal! Send me an mp3 of it and I'll post it here!
Minus the lead synth: IHearNumbersMinusSynth.mp3 or IHearNumbersMinusSynth.wav
Minus the lead vocal: IHearNumbersMinusVocal.mp3 or IHearNumbersMinusVocal.wav
Minus both: IHearNumbersMinusSynthAndVocal.mp3 or IHearNumbersMinusSynthAndVocal.wav

Tuning: 7-limit adaptive just intonation
Tonic: C at 0¢ from A-440 12-ET
Notation is explained at xenharmonic.wikispaces.com/Kite's+color+notation
All instrumental sounds are from the Yamaha s90es and the PLG-150-PC, tuned with alt-tuner
Backing vocals by Hope Taylor
Mixed by Mark Frethem, aka "Doctor Digital"
Published under the Creative Commons license CC BY-SA 4.0


Lyrics:

Is this a stroke of genius or a total waste of time?
Am I the coolest guy on earth or have I lost my mind?
I'm obsessed with numbers, I can hear them in my head,
I can see the colors and they're green and blue and red!
I got to stop, I'm gonna stop real soon
I promise honey, I'm gonna feed the cat and clean the room
I promise that I'll get some sleep, I know I'm acting strange,
But I can't stop thinking 'bout the numbers in my brain!
I hear numbers, I hear numbers, I hear numbers, I hear numbers

Gonna fiddle with the midi, gonna twiddle it a little bit
And pan it to the middle with a little bit of sizzle
And compress the mids a little less and it'll be impressive
'Cause the midi is the message and the message is a riddle
I hear numbers (The midi is the message) I hear numbers (The message is a riddle)
I hear numbers (The midi is the message) I hear numbers (The message is a riddle)
I hear numbers (The midi is the message and the message is a riddle)

I hear numbers, I hear numbers, I hear numbers, I hear numbers

I hear numbers, I hear numbers, I hear numbers, I hear numbers
All the time, all the time, all the time, all the time
Obsessed with numbers, I can hear them all the time
I can see the music, the colors are divine!
Obsessed with numbers, I can hear them in my mind
Seven six, seven five, and fourteen over nine
Obsessed with numbers, now I hear them all the time


Midi files:

When I was first learning music, I taught myself how to put chords together, how to write melodies and harmonies, how to arrange, etc. by studying my favorite songs. Sometimes I did it entirely by ear, but it was faster and easier with sheet music, especially when I was starting out.

So I wanted to offer "I Hear Numbers" to others for study. But even for a notation freak like me, writing out all the instrumental parts was too much. So I decided to simply post the midi files. You can see every single note played, and you can even play the midi and hear each part individually. For example, here's the keyboard part played through Kontakt's nylon guitar sound: IHearNumbersKeyboardOnGuitar.mp3. Detailed instructions for using the midi files are at the bottom of this page.

The opening keyboard riff, untuned (notes are colored by midi channel):



Untuned midi file (205 bpm): IHearNumbersUntuned.mid
channel 1 & 2: keyboard (left & right hand)
channel 3: guitar
channel 4: bass guitar
channel 5: synth lead in 41-note scale, middle-C = note #53, CC #22 is for bending, not tuning
channel 6-7: congas (6 = high, 7 = low)
channel 8-12: drums (chan 8 = kick, ch9 = snares, ch10 = hihat, ch11 = cymbals, ch12 = bell and toms)
channel 13-15: backing vocals (demo)
channel 16: CC messages for tuning switches, CCs 21-29 for tunings 1-9:
1: wC, bgD, wD, bE, yE, wF, bgG, wG, bA, yA, bB, yB (solo)
2: wC, bD, yD, bE, yE, wF, bgG, wG, bA, yA, wB, yB (solo)
3: wC, bgD, wD, bE, yE, bF, bgG, wG, bgA, wA, bB, yB (intro, solo, verse, breakdown, coda)
4: wC, ryC, wD, bE, yE, bF, ryF, wG, ryG, yA, bB, yB (chorus)
5: bbggD♭♭, bgD, bbgE♭♭, bE, bbgF, bF, bgG, bbggA♭♭, bgA, bbgB♭♭, bB, bgC (breakdown)
6: rryyB, ryC, rryyCx, rryD, rE, rryE, ryF, rryyFx, rryG, rA, rryA, ryB (breakdown)
7: wC, ryC, rD, gE, rE, wF, ryF, wG, ryG, rA, gB, rB (breakdown)
8: bC, bgD, wD, bgE, yE, bF, yF, wG, bgA, wA, bB, yB (bridge, coda)
9: bC, yC, bD, bgE, wE, bgF, yF, bG, yG, wA, bgB, wB (bridge)


The opening keyboard riff, tuned by channelizing and pitch bending:



Tuned midi file (205 bpm, assumes a 2-semitone pitch bend range): IHearNumbersTuned.mid
channels 1-5: keyboard (channel 1 = left hand)
channels 6-8: guitar
channels 9-10: bass guitar
channel 11: synth lead in 12-note scale, CC #22 is for bending up/down 1 octave, not for tuning
channels 12-14: backing vocals (demo)
channel 15: congas
channel 16: drums

The synth uses a fixed 41-note scale:
wC, rC, bD, bgD, gD, aD, yD, wD, rD,
bE, wE, gE, jE, yE, ryE, rE,
bF, wF, gF, jF, bgG, ryF, aG, yG, wG, rG,
bA, bgA, gA, eA, yA, wA, rA,
bB, wB, gB, jB, yB, ryB, rB, bC, wC


Chords:

section

tuning

chords

intro

3

Gyb

yEgg,bg5

Gyb

yEgg,bg5

3

Gyb

yEgg,bg5

Gyb

/

solo 1

1

Cyb

bEgr

Fyb

/

1

Cyb

bEgr

Fyb

/

2

wByb

/

bEgr

/

1 & 3

bArg

/

Gyb

/

verse 1

3

Cyb

bBgr

Cyb

bBgr

"

Cyb

bBgr

Cyb

bBgr

"

Cyb

bBgr

Cyb

bBgr

"

Cyb

bBgr

Cyb

/

chorus

4

yAgg

/

yBgr,bg5

/

"

/

/

yAgg

/

"

/

/

yBgr,bg5

/

"

yArg

yAgr,bg5

Gyb

/

solo 2


like solo 1

breakdown

3 & 5

Cyb

bBgr

bgGyb

bbgB♭♭gr
= rryGgr

6, 7 & 3

rryDyb

ryFgr

rAyb

Gyb

verse 2

3

Cyb

bBgr

Cyb

bBgr

3 & 8

Cyb

bBgr

Cyb

wDyb

bridge

8

Gyb

Gbb,bg5

wDyb

/

8 & 9

/

wDbb,bg5

Gyb

wAbb

9

wEyb

wEbb,bg5

wAyb,bg9

wAyy

9 & 8

/

wAbb,bg5

wDyb

Gyb

solo 3


like solo 2

coda

3

Cyb

/

bBgg

/

"

bErg

/

Gyb

/


In the breakdown, bbgB♭♭ and rryG differ by only b4gg3 = 2401/2400 = 0.7¢.
In other words, the breakdown pumps the 2401/2400 comma.


How to use the midi files:

The untuned file will only work with alt-tuner, so use the tuned file. Unless you want to hear the song in standard tuning, for comparison. You *must* send each midi channel to its own synth. If you send multiple channels to one synth, each note's pitch bend will throw all the earlier notes out of tune. BE SURE TO SET THE PITCH BEND RANGE OF EACH SYNTH TO 2 SEMITONES! In your DAW, set the tempo to 205 bpm and put the midi file on a track. If you have a multi-timbral softsynth like Kontakt or SampleTank, it's pretty easy: just put your softsynth in the effects chain, and load up all 16 voices with the appropriate sounds (channels 1-5 = keyboard, 6-8 = guitar, etc.). To hear individual tracks, solo and/or mute the sounds in the softsynth. To see the notes, use your midi editor. The microtuning may or may not "linger" in your softsynths after playback is stopped.

If you're using a mono-timbral softsynth, it's more complicated. In your DAW, set up 16 additional tracks, one for each softsynth. Then set up sends to route each midi channel to one of these tracks. For example:
   Track 1: contains the midi file, sends midi to tracks 2-17
   Track 2: receives midi channel 1 from track 1, contains a keyboard synth
   Track 3: receives midi channel 2 from track 1, contains a keyboard synth
   etc.
To hear individual tracks, solo and/or mute tracks 2-17.

If you're using both mono-timbral and multi-timbral softsynths, mix and match:
   Track 1: contains the midi file, sends midi to the other tracks
   Track 2: receives midi channels 1-5 from track 1, contains a multi-timbral keyboard synth
   Track 3: receives midi channel 6 from track 1, contains a mono-timbral guitar synth
   Track 4: receives midi channel 7 from track 1, contains a mono-timbral guitar synth
   Track 5: receives midi channel 8 from track 1, contains a mono-timbral guitar synth
   etc.

You may be able to avoid creating separate tracks for mono-timbral synths if you can set the midi channel it receives on. You only need one instance of PianoTeq per sound, because pitch bends in Pianoteq are midi-channel-specific.

If you have a keyboard with built-in sounds: put it in multi-timbral mode, set each channel to the appropriate sound, and route the midi out of your DAW into your keyboard. Remember to set the pitch bend range! To hear individual tracks, set the volume of your keyboard's 16 channels.

For further information, see chapter 6.1 and 6.10 in the alt-tuner manual for a general explanation of how microtonal midi works.



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