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A Microtuning Playground with MS XP


I’ve done some work with Charles Lucy (click Charles about his model of micro tuning) on his Scalesdatabase. It was a lot of fun to do all the scale scores snd midifiles, but was a little bit frustrating that I always have to send the material to Charles with his fine Apple equipment to get out some real sound examples of microtuned tunes. I think Charles is still shaking his head about me, because I don’t change to Apple (which I know is the music enviroment) but I’m still not willing to manage a third OS (besides Linux und MS, which I both need for other reasons). So I did a search on Software Synthesizers for my platforms and found ZynAddSubFX.

I downloaded it for MS cause my soundsystem is conected to this platform and yes this programm can do microtuning. I did some experiments with Midifiles of Bachs Art of Fuge and Werkmeister III tuning and it worked quite well. If you want to listen to, here are two mp3 examples:

Art of Fuge I Movement Equal Temp

Art of Fuge I Movement Werkmeister III

What follows is my hard way to get a MS XP Computer to do micro tuned sound with a USB/Midi Keyboard. This is not a tutorial! But may be there some hints that will give you enough hope, that it could work, before you jump out of the window.

Warning: Microsoft and Midi sucks! (but if you are maso enough it could be done ;-)

My experiences with Microsoft and Midi are awful. I own an POD XT from Line 6, which should be controleable via usb/midi. But even the computer gods don’t know when it works. It’s a miracle. Sometimes it works and sometimes not. There seems to be something strange in the ms midi drivers. (and the recommended alternatives do not really help) So I think may be I’m a complete idiot, cause I tried my next midi experiment with MS.

The Equipment

Install the last 3. Read at the sites what you can do. I think they are to some degree selfexplaining.

Plug and Play :-))) (What does this mean?)

My GarageKey arrived and I pluged it. (May be I didn’t do the right midi patches but nothing worked) So warning! Don’t do it like me and play around with drivers and so on. Allthough I still do not know how it works, for me it works now, with a ’’only if you plug it when your computer is up it plays’’. This means I have to unplug it before I turn the computer on and plug it then. (miracle, but may be this is a hint! But may be not cause I spent 6 houres with playing around with the drivers before this miracle happend ;-)

MidiOX an YOKE

If YOKE is installed and the OS knows the Midsiources (in MidiOx Options/Midi devices) you can patch input to output.

You see 4 windows in MidiOX: 2 monitors (input and output), the port routing and activity.


ZynAddSubFX should be configured to accept on MIDI Yoke Channels (1 to what you configured in Midi Yoke standard is 8 but I did 16)

And if MidiOX shows activity in the Midi Input monitor (Time Sync signal from GarageKey!) You can now use the Keyboard and play.


I wrote a ruby programm that could (ok will in future) generate nearly every tuning model. Because that’s the spot of my interesst I do this experiments with copy and paste. So I open the ZynAddSubFX File/Show Scale.. Window, enable microtuning and map to keys see:

then let the ruby program generate the tunings in cent, mark the one I want and copy and paste the tuning list into the scales window. Then click retune and you can play around with micro tuning.

Here an example of a tunng system for shrutis (classical indian music) see 22-Shruti-Harmonium, Dr. Vidyadhar Gopal Oke for more information on shrutis. Go there it’s great stuff!

"1.    Adana (R:P) :" 
["c", "d", "dis", "f", "g", "gis", "ais"]

You should copy from 2. to last cent value from the list and leave the last value 1200 or 2/1 in the ZynAddSubFX scales window so only overwrite the first 11 values. Then retune and play with the Raga. The notes to play (that are the changed shrutis (= tones) are shown in the second line. Raga name is the first line.

Here is a text file with 81 Ragas

... will be continued (will add text files with all Lucy tunings and with the historical path from natural overtone tuning over pythagoranian over welltempered to equal tempered)