Timbre, Intervals And Chords... Help! (=

so, i usually jam out chords and such on guitar or with a piano vst but then i usually want to go for a more electronic sound when i get around to program it.

the problem i have is that some stuff which sounds great on the piano (like big chords with slightly discordant intevals) is hard to get to sound good with basic waveforms or synths. saws sounds to thick and sines to thin etc.

so since i play the same notes i figured that the difference lies in the overtones. is that right? and if that’s the case how do i get more of the characteristics of a piano? (or a guitar which is even more forgiving regarding discordant chords/intervals to my ears)

is there some kind of filter presets available or something? or could one just filter away the overtones and hiphpass in overtones from another instrument? any input much appreciated! (=

Acoustically, a note perceived to have a single distinct pitch in fact contains a variety of additional overtones. Many percussion instruments, such as cymbals, tam-tams, and chimes, create complex and inharmonic sounds.However, in stringed instruments such as the piano, violin, and guitar, the overtones are close to—or in some cases, quite exactly—whole number multiples of the fundamental frequency. Any departure from this ideal harmonic series is known as inharmonicity. The less elastic the strings are (that is, the shorter, thicker, and stiffer they are), the more inharmonicity they exhibit.

I haven’t seen a special kind of chords as an issue when it comes to simple electronic instruments. Are you sure that’s it?

The main factors that i think makes a basic waveform sound more sweet like a piano is:

  1. A good ADSR
  2. Stereo - by detuning and/or reverb
  3. Slight pitch modulation (vibrato) or other modulations (like filters and panning)

The stereo brings instant sweetness, while modulations on a per note level sound most efficient when several notes are sounding that haven’t been triggered on the same time (also delays).

if the missing parts are indeed overtones (i don’t know if this is true), then you can either try to play them together with the main note/chord (at a bit lower volume), or maybe try your hand at building a DSP ‘overtone generator’ of sorts, my first thought would be through the ringmod or something. someone like dblue might be able to shed some more light on the possibilities of this i think?

I think the main problem is that the waveforms becomes too saturated compared to the dynamic sounds from your guitar/piano and Joel’s tips may solve that problem, especially tweaking the envelopes and LFO’s in the instrument editor.
In addition it may help to color your waveforms with distortion effects.

Synthesis types that lends itself well to string instruments:

  • Frequency Modulation and Phase Modulation
  • Modal Synthesis
  • Karplus Strong Synthesis

I’m quite sure you can do convincing electric guitars and exotic string instruments with Renoise’s new comb filter. I managed to convert dBlue’s tuned filter onto the comb filter and will experiment more on a series of comb filters with slight tuning differences in hopes of achieving something similar to Logic’s Scuplture synth.

Some supplementary random info…
Karplus and Modal examples
Analog Karplus on Vimeo

Trifonic has a great series on FM as well…

Always quite surprised with the Karplus Strong results, shame the technique is patented, although that hasn’t stopped it being used by qutie a few people. Such a simple system too! Was actually back on Andre Michelle’s site again just the other day playing with this, amongst his other bits and pieces.

Not been added to AudioTool yet due to patent issues mentioned above…

There’s this thing called sympathetic resonance. Basically, it’s the concept of a vibration which affect other (physical) parts of an instrument. So, the physical characteristics of the instrument and the frequencies and amplitude played work together to create the complex sounds we hear. Always knew that there was such a thing, but I first learned the actual term from yesterdays article on CDM

It’s pretty interesting!! Wikipedia article on the phenomenon

i do not know if anyone read the book, but in ‘Gödel, Escher and Bach’ by Douglas Hofstadter, i believe this idea is utilized to make a parallel of the Gödel theorem in a bunch of Lewis Carol stories about the turtle and the hare. basically, the hare keeps buying better turntables, and the turtle keeps designing records that will break the turntable when you play them on it (due to this sympathetic resonance). the parallel with the Gödel theorem is (if i understood everything correctly, cause i’m far from a mathematician!) that Gödel devised a technique that allowed him to insert a formula into itself, resulting in ‘breaking’ the formula (having it make a statement which is untrue, while claiming it to be true, or something along those lines).

really interesting read, can highly recommend it.

thanks for all your input all of you! ^^

it got me reading about it and i think that what danoise wrote about sympathic resonance is basically what makes a piano sound more musical than basic waveforms for some chords and intervals.

will experiment with mixing in an “attack-less” piano tone with the basic wave form and see if i get a richer sounding hybrid.

yeah, gödel’s incmopletness theorem is quite mind boggling!

If saw sounds to thick and sines to thin and you are trying to find something in the middle try to use EQ 5 - Renoise’s native equalizer. Set Hi Shelf filter frequency (last row of controls) to 1kHz, Q to 0.34. With this parameters equalizer modifies the slope of overtones. Play the saw waveform and adjust the amount of overtones to your taste using slider in the middle of the row. You may sometimes need two equalizers on one track to adjust the slope properly. Saw waveform’s overtones may also need to be cut in the range of few kHz to sound like a piano. And it’s also good to add some more middle range.

You can also try adjusting saw waveform overtones using spectrum analyzer to observe it’s amplitudes and parametric equalizer to change it.

If you want your sound to sound perfectly like a piano, you would have to modify also the frequency of the overtones, as piano’s overtones are moved a bit from harmonic positions but there’s no way to do this yet. However new spectral engineering VSTs are being developed, i.e. Image Line’s Harmore. It may be helpful in synthesizing perfect waveforms.

Not to mention using a key-tracking device, oh but wait a second, we can not automate Renoise’s EQ frequencies! Would have to use a Filter device and key-track the frequency of that. Somehow I don’t think an EQ5 with 1kHz high shelf is going to sound as good at A0 as at A9!

thanks! will have a go at it!

yes, i guess there’s no easy way to do this natively atm. the filter must be a function of the freq of the tone. i guess a number of band reject filters controlled by a key track device going into a hydra device could do it.

well, even if one manages to make a dampening of some frequencies i got a hunch that it’s actually the sympathetic resonance which makes it sound lush to my ears (= for example, i think that chords played softly on a piano sounds much more pleasing than when played with more attack. i guess there is less of the original tone there and more of the sympathetic resonance from the other strings.

You can prepare one sample with desired slope if you don’t mind playing with sample. If you want to use VST then Melda Spectral Dynamics would be helpful to adjust overtones to desired slope.