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Developing Software Synthesizers By: Dan Bogucki.

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1 Developing Software Synthesizers By: Dan Bogucki

2 Overview  What is Sound?  What is a Sound Synthesizer?  History of the Synthesizer  Hardware vs. Software  Why turn to Software Synthesizer?  Types of Synthesizers Methodology  The Makeup of a Synthesizer  Developing a Software Synthesizer

3 What is Sound?  Sound is moving energy that travels as a pattern of changing pressure  Sound is the perceived vibration (oscillation) of air resulting from the vibration of a sound source  Sound source can be anything  Guitar sound board, speaker cone, hair dryer, vocal cord, etc

4 Sound Waves  As your sound source expands and contracts a pattern of changing air pressure energy moves away from the source Ottewill, Matt. "What Is Sound?" Planet Of Tunes. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar

5 Sound Waves  Four Types of basic waveforms  Sine  Square  Sawtooth  Triangle

6 Sound Waves

7 What is a Sound Synthesizer?  An electronic instrument capable of producing sound  Generate electric signals (waveforms) which are converted to sound through speakers or headphones

8 History of the Synthesizer  1860 – Hermann von Helmholtz built an electro-mechanical oscillator  1906 – Lee de Forest invented a vacuum- triode amplifier valve  1950s – Transistors became available  1961 – Harald Bode invented the Melochord, the first voltage controlled synthesizer  1964 – Robert Moog constructed a transistor voltage-controlled oscillator and amplifier  1966 – Moog launched the first commercial version of the Moog Synthesizer

9 History Continued  1950s – Max Mathews of Bell Telephone Lab began exploring the use of using digital computers as a means to generate sounds.  Mathews produced MUSIC III  1962 – MUSIC IV  1968 – MUSIC V  1968 – Barry Vercoe developed MUSIC 360  1973 – Vercoe developed MUSIC11  1979 – Australian Fairlight CMI synthesizer was introduced

10 Hardware vs. Software  Software synthesizers use digital processors  Hardware synthesizers use analog circuitry  Computer technology is advancing faster than hardware synthesizer technology  For example, wavetable and additive synthesis is not feasible with hardware synthesizers  Musicians preference between hardware sounds and character vs. software sounds

11 Why Turn to Software Synthesizers?  Popularity of personal computers  More flexibility and invention for both the end user as well as the software itself  Cost

12 Software Synthesizer Example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FgKeGUZKiE

13 Synthesizer Methodology  Additive Synthesis  Subtractive Synthesis  FM Synthesis  Wavetable Synthesis

14 Additive Synthesis  Most fundamental method of sound synthesis  Based on the Fourier Theory  Produces sound by adding different sine waveforms together  This technique can potentially generate sounds similar to acoustic musical instruments

15 Subtractive Synthesis  Basically the reverse of additive synthesis  Produces sounds by generating a waveform that contains more harmonic content than a sine wave  The waveform is passed through filters which subtract harmonics

16 FM Synthesis  Uses FM sidebands as harmonics for synthesized waveforms.  Applied digitally through FM operators  Digital sine waveform and an envelope  Output is then used to modulate the frequency of another operator  Modulation of one sine wave by another produces more complex sounds  Used widely in radio transmission

17 Wavetable Synthesis  Also known as sampling  Most widespread and popular method  Recorded or synthesized musical events are stored in the internal memory and are played back on demand  Provides a set of playback tools  Pitch Shifting  Looping  Enveloping

18 General Makeup of a Synthesizer Today  Oscillators  Envelopes  Filters  Frequency Modulators  Samplers (in some synthesizers)  Functionality and options are endless

19 Oscillators  Control to repeat a waveform with a fundamental frequency and peak amplitude

20 Envelopes  The synthesizer’s time varying gain function  Simple analogy: A sequence of events that occurs every time you press a key  Attack  Decay  Sustain  Release

21 Filters  Subtract frequency content  Behave like an equalizer  Four basic types  Low-pass  High-pass  Band-pass  Band-reject

22 Developing a Software Synthesizer  To create sound we need to move an object. In this case a speaker or headphones  Formula for generating a sine wave is  Y = sin(x) Simple right?

23 Developing a Software Synthesizer  Many programming languages have standard mathematics libraries with many of the trigonometric functions represented  Most basic computer synthesis methods follow this same general scheme: a formula or function is defined that accepts a sequence of values as input

24 Developing a Software Synthesizer  Computer soundcards have digital-to- analog converters  They are able to generate an electrical signal from a digital number that is given to it

25 Producing a Simple Sine Wave  A cycle of a sine wave is 2π radians long  Sine waves have a peak amplitude of +/- 1  A sample rate would be cycles per second – range of the entire human ear

26 Producing a Simple Sine Wave  Input: Peak amplitude (A), Frequency (f) Output: Amplitude value (y) y = A * sin(phase) phase = phase + ((2 * pi * f) / samplerate) if phase > (2 * pi) then phase = phase - (2 * pi)

27 Producing a Square Wave  Input: Peak amplitude (A), Frequency (f) Output: Amplitude value (y) if phase < pi then y = A else y = -A phase = phase + ((2 * pi * f) / samplerate) if phase > (2 * pi) then phase = phase - (2 * pi)

28 Virtual Studio Technology (VST)  Interface for integrating software audio synthesizer and effect plugins with audio editors  Use digital signal processing  VST is supported by a large number of audio applications

29 Virtual Studio Technology (VST)  Run within your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)  Classified as instruments or effects  VST instruments include synthesizers and samplers  VST effects include effects like reverb and phaser  First released in 1996

30 Virtual Studio Technology (VST)  VST is the plugin standard for DAWs  Allows any third party developer to create a VST plugin for use within DAWs  Steinberg’s VST SDK is a set of C++ classes based around an underlying C API.  You can download the SDK from their website  Steinberg also developed the VST GUI (another set of C++ classes) which is also available to add graphical interface to your VST

31 Virtual Studio Technology (VST)  There are several third party ports available  jVSTwRapper – Java version  Python ctypes-based VST wrapper  Noise and VST.NET – two.NET versions  LADSPA – Linux Audio Developers Simple Plugin API  JRUBY  And many more!

32 Virtual Studio Technology (VST)  LADSPA Header File  h.txt h.txt

33 Questions / Comments?

34 References  Alles, Harold G. "Music Synthesis Using Real Time Digital Techniques." Proceedings of the IEEE 68.4 (1980): Web. 10 Mar  Crombie, D.; Lenoir, R.; McKenzie, N., "Producing accessible multimedia music," Web Delivering of Music, WEDELMUSIC. Proceedings. Third International Conference on, vol., no., pp.45,48, Sept  Echeverria, U.G.; Castro, F.E.G.; Lopez, J.M.D.B., "Comparison between a Hardware and a software synthesizer," Electronics, Communications and Computer (CONIELECOMP), th International Conference on, vol., no., pp.311,314, Feb doi: /CONIELECOMP  "electronic music." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., Web. 10 Mar  Gibbons, J. A.; Howard, D.M.; Tyrrell, A.M., "FPGA implementation of 1D wave equation for real-time audio synthesis," Computers and Digital Techniques, IEE Proceedings -, vol.152, no.5, pp.619,631, 9 Sept doi: /ip-cdt:

35 References  Horner, A., "Low peak amplitudes for wavetable synthesis," Speech and Audio Processing, IEEE Transactions on, vol.8, no.4, pp.467,470, Jul 2000 doi: /  Lindemann, E., "Music Synthesis with Reconstructive Phrase Modeling," Signal Processing Magazine, IEEE, vol.24, no.2, pp.80,91, March 2007 doi: /MSP  Ottewill, Matt. "Synthesis Types." Planet Of Tunes. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar  Phelan, Cormac; Bleakley, Chris J.; Cummins, Fred, "Adapting and parameterising auditory icons for use in a synthetic musical instrument," Signals and Systems Conference (ISSC 2009), IET Irish, vol., no., pp.1,6, June 2009 doi: /cp  "Principles of Sound Synthesis." Sound Synthesis Tutorial. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar  Rabenstein, R.; Trautmann, L., "Digital sound synthesis by physical modelling," Image and Signal Processing and Analysis, ISPA Proceedings of the 2nd International Symposium on, vol., no., pp.12,23, 2001 doi: /ISPA  Seum-Lim, Gan. "Digital Synthesis of Musical Sounds." Digital Synthesis of Musical Sounds. National University of Singapore, n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2013

36  "DrPetter's Homepage - Basic Sound Theory and Synthesis." DrPetter's Homepage - Basic Sound Theory and Synthesis. N.p., 25 Mar Web. 13 Mar  Burk, Phil, Larry Polansky, Douglas Repetto, Mary Roberts, and Dan Rockmore. "Music and Computers." Music and Computers. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar


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