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Topic: OT: Bruce Q in New Thread

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  1. #1

    Question TUNE AH FISH

    You stated: Tuning a sample is not a processing step. It is a simple resampling, which creates no artificiality, "synthiness," or any other negative attribute. So, do not make a "processed" sound a red herring in the subject of tuning. It is inconsequential.

    But to what degree, Bruce?

    Example: Let's take an 8 second sustained vocal sample. Let's force this sample to always sound at perfect 0. Now do the same for an octave and a fifth of the same patch. What are we left with? A truly processed and unnatural performance.

    I will quote my conductor: "No choir can sing at perfect 0. If they did, A. Give me there number and B. You could not afford to sample them. It's just not how it works"

    Does the same not apply to any instrument? Take a Bass. My open A is not the same tuning scheme as my 12th fret.

    Should we force it to be? Hell no!

    Your turn

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: OT: Bruce Q in New Thread

    Frank, I think we're speaking of slightly different things.

    You're speaking of a singing ensemble.

    Within a given note of that ensemble, there will be individual voices and life within the note. This is both natural and musical.

    However, I stated at length the way a professional ensemble approaches tuning in that other thread. It is dependent upon harmonic context, i.e., in a vocal ensemble the altos could be singing two C4's in a row, and need to sing a different pitch on each one to be in tune with the chord at hand. High-level performers, whether singers or instrumentalists, do this as automatically as breathing. It is part and parcel of their training.

    What I am saying is that a sample library is NOT a choir, or an orchestra. It is a means of placing those timbres into a composition, which is a very different thing. A sample library cannot analyze a chord containing that C4 and decide whether the context is Ab-C-Eb, or C-E-G. So, it cannot know "where" to sing the C. It just knows that a "C" goes in this spot.

    All of this has been worked out for more than a century by Equal Temperament. By tuning to equal temperament, we create a condition where each key center will have as nearly a perfect consonance as is possible while maintaining the ability to modulate freely.

    SO...

    What I am saying is that it is the best policy to create sample libraries whose individual notes are tuned as exactly as possible to an equally tempered scale. This allows the end user the most freedom, the best overall intonation, and has absolutely nothing to do with issues of sounding sterile at all.

    Your example of your bass is perhaps a false analogy. I'd say there are a couple of conditions which come into play.

    First, any good guitar tech would try to set up the 12th fret to be as close to the second harmonic partial as possible. People pay guitar techs good money every day to make this happen, and shell out money for nice adjustable bridges which hold their tuning.

    Second, it has nothing to do with highest practice in library design for large ensembles. The idea is to create a tool which will most transparently express the musical context at hand. A live performance certainly features less than ideal tuning. However, it is within the contexts we discussed very fully in the other thread--there is an intelligence to it, and it is fleeting.

    A sample library, on the other hand, is not intelligently determining what pitch it will express per context. So, to make the library work best, we have to hold it to a tighter tuning tolerance than we would hold a performing ensemble. The ensemble will be out of tune differently at every juncture. A sample library that deviates from tuning will simply devitate exactly the same way every time, and by doing so, it becomes more accentuated as we listen.

    So, the final result is actually LESS realism by virtue of hearing the same tuning deviation repeated, not more realism.

    You are speaking of tuning over time as well. The same idea holds. Yes, a choir drifts over time. But it drifts differently on every note it sings. A sample drifts the same way every time. This, too, should be held to a little tighter tolerance, so that the drift does not become a signature.

    I would say that people, in general, want things to sound very well in tune. It is much easier to deviate from tight tuning when one wants to introduce a little serendipity than to create tight tuning every time a drifting note comes around.

    Also, we come back around to the very important issue of harmonic context. Say your eight second sample drifts sharp, and that sample happens to land on the third of a triad where it is expressing the fifth-partial in the harmonic scheme. That drift towards sharpness is going to exacerbate the situation and cause dissonance on a chord that should be highly consonant...and the end user will actually have to force a gradation of pitch correction if he's going for the "hero chord" at that particular moment.

    The best design choice in that case would be to do some judicious correction of the pitch center. This would not remove any of the life or realism from the performance, since it is still a group of people singing with a lot of "vibration" naturally present. It would just keep the CENTER of the pitch on target, so that there was a dependable intonation.

    I am trying to be more than thorough here, because I think we're not really disagreeing on the need for basic "life" in the samples. Nothing I'm proposing as best practice here would reduce life or realism at all. In fact, overall, I think lively samples whose pitch centers hold tight to equal temperament give the best overall realism.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: OT: Bruce Q in New Thread

    By the way, I definitely think that there is a factor of degree. I don't disagree with that at all. That said, if a major chord in C sounds great, and a major chord in A sounds really strained (just as a single example), then the tuning should probably be tighter, whether this is overall, or over time throughout a sample.

  4. #4

    Re: OT: Bruce Q in New Thread

    You wrote too much for me to deal with at the moment (Too many calls coming in today)

    I'll just say that I agree with you on many counts and not on some. What I was speaking off works the same with a solo voice or instrument. We are just big on the natural. If you can't get an in-tune sample... do another take. We will never take any sample we create and force it to perfect 0. Believe me... they are out there. (Sample sets)

    As far as a bass is concerned, If my bass tech of 25 years made my open A and 12th fret perfect 0, I would fire him! My point was... I own bass samples that sustain perfect 0 on every note. They make great coasters!

    Respectfully as always,
    FB

    EDIT: In retrospect, perhaps this boils down to two schools of thought?

  5. #5

    Re: OT: Bruce Q in New Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce A. Richardson
    What I am saying is that a sample library is NOT a choir, or an orchestra. It is a means of placing those timbres into a composition, which is a very different thing. A sample library cannot analyze a chord containing that C4 and decide whether the context is Ab-C-Eb, or C-E-G. So, it cannot know "where" to sing the C. It just knows that a "C" goes in this spot.
    This could not be truer. There is nothing quite like it when an ensemble of skilled musicians (whatever their instrument of choice) pull together harmonically, and instinctively 'tune' to the moment and the context - thus heightening the emotional experience.. This can occur subtly, or it can be blatant as in a a fortissimo tutti chordal resolution to what has been going on musically up until that point.

    My point in saying this - have we not reached a point where consideration for such realities of intonation can start to be accounted for by the software we use? All this talk about 'intelligent' software that knows what articulation to interject is one thing, but a system that is programmed to take these subtle variances in tuning into account could actually go a great deal further to breathing life into virtual performances.
    Clearly no simple sample can know its own context - whether it is Ab-C-Eb or C-E-G or whatnot - but the software triggering those samples certainly could have the potential to do so. Right now we have things like Finale's "human playback" that can do a surprisingly good job (sometimes) with things like dynamics and tempo - this would be the next level. If there is one thing a computer can do accurately in music, it is track and adjust tuning referencing a programmed 'library' of such data (with the ability for the user to modify and add to said library, of course). I'd say an automated system would be able to manipulate these parameters more reliably than articulations, tempo, or dynamics.

    Thus one could avoid the compromise involved in tempered tuning, but without the limitations. It could be an interesting avenue to explore.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: OT: Bruce Q in New Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Bela D Media
    We are just big on the natural. If you can't get an in-tune sample... do another take. We will never take any sample we create and force it to perfect 0. Believe me... they are out there. (Sample sets)
    I can understand that methodology. Still, I don't think you'd be creating an inherently unmusical sample if you tuned it, either overall or over time.

    I would never advocate pulling a sample into what you're calling "perfect 0" either. I would certainly pull one into **center** around zero, but not squish it to flatline. I agree 100% that this would be unnatural and undesirable. I wouldn't hesitate to center up a wonderful take, though, as long as all other factors were in line.

    I think we probably agree more than disagree, with any disagreements just being matters of preference, not of a good end result.

  7. #7

    Re: OT: Bruce Q in New Thread

    There is nothing quite like it when an ensemble of skilled musicians (whatever their instrument of choice) pull together harmonically, and instinctively 'tune' to the moment and the context - thus heightening the emotional experience.. This can occur subtly, or it can be blatant as in a a fortissimo tutti chordal resolution to what has been going on musically up until that point.


    I agree. However, if this occurred on every single sample, every single time you play them, how REAL would it all be? Can the orchestra do it on every every single passage? Again, I think this is 2 schools of thought that I am talking about when sampling. Not so much that math behind it all.

    BRUCE:
    We agree. I was talking about perfect 0. A nice ** center ** is the goal.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: OT: Bruce Q in New Thread

    I am not sure that this particular issue is two schools of thought. I want to be sure I'm both hearing and communicating my position clearly.

    If I have a choice between these two conditions:

    1) That samples are centered consistently at equal temperament

    or

    2) That samples contain whatever pitch deviation from center, over time, was performed

    I would choose #1 every time.

    Why?

    Because we are talking about a defect, whether it is a natural one or not.

    The choir aims to sing consistent pitch. When they deviate, it may be natural, but it is not intended.

    So, I would defer to musical intention, that notes sustain at the same pitch center throughout their length.

    It is more practical to knock a note or two off pitch here and there if one feels things are getting too tight, than to have a note that consistently drifts the same way every time.

    I'll give you a practical example.

    Gary Garritan's GigaHarp, A5, top velocity, has a peculiar attack. It is a natural attack, the one he played. But it is unlike those around it, and in fact, is unique to the whole library. It has a kind of "bark" to it, and it has a different pitch envelope over its length.

    If you hit that sample more than a couple of times, even a good musical distance apart, you recognize it, and it detracts from the illusion. Your brain catches it.

    So, in that case, what was "natural" doesn't necessarily translate into what comes off as most natural in the end user's application.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: OT: Bruce Q in New Thread

    And yes, Frank, we do agree on that issue. I am speaking exclusively of a good center that doesn't deviate in the long haul, not a flatline.

  10. #10

    Re: OT: Bruce Q in New Thread

    Here's what I mean:

    From the Giovani users guide:

    Vocal Tuning and Pitch

    Standard Pitch is an agreed reference frequency to which instruments can be tuned, enabling musicians to play in harmony. In the normal course of performance, most instruments exhibit a certain degree of deviation from this standard. The human voice is no exception to such deviation.

    In order to maintain standard tuning when dealing with the sampled human voice, itis occasionally necessary to make minor tuning adjustments to each performance, whilst at the same time avoiding forcing the moment-to-moment tuning of the sample to be 100% conformed to the standard reference.

    Continuous 'perfect' tuning sounds anything but natural and can result in a sterile, somewhat harsh and synthetic tone.The Giovani Edition has been tuned with great care, without resort to any form of auto tuning software for retuning or altering vocal performances.

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