Synfire 2.0 Preview

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Hangdog Cat
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Andre:

Is there any chance we'll see a mute figure function in 2.0? I mentioned this a while back, and you seemed receptive. 

It would be handy to be able to mute one or more figures and then have the option to unmute some or all of them later when the arrangement has gelled a bit more.

Never do more in the morning than you can undo in the afternoon.

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Hangdog Cat
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A further refinement of that idea would be to have the ability to mute (or delete) all figures of a specific type (for example, bass figures) within a specified range on the timeline, on a per-instrument and/or per-container basis. That would speed up the editing process.

EDIT 1: I've been writing "figures," but I actually meant "symbols."  Sometimes I'm still shaky as to the exact terminology. Also, I see that in the Transform menu it's possible to select all symbols of a certain type. I haven't tried this yet, but I assume this will allow one to delete multiple symbols (all of the same type) at once. Pretty cool. Even cooler if one could do likewise with a mute function.

EDIT 2: Hmmm...although the manual states that the Transform menu allows one to select all segments of the same type, there appears to be no such function actually on the Transform menu. Dang. Is it perhaps hiding elsewhere?

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andre
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Select the symbol type on the toolbar and hold down the mouse button (as the tooltip suggests). A menu appears offering the option to select all symbols of that type.

Regarding your feature suggestion: Tagging individual symbols with a "mute" property is very hard to do. Symbols are just not prepared to carry additional properties. Segments are. Muting a segment will work easily. So you could have single-symbol segments and mute those. Muting symbols in the middle of a melodic run would probably not ne useful anyway, unless I missed the point.

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Hangdog Cat
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"Select the symbol type on the toolbar and hold down the mouse button (as the tooltip suggests). A menu appears offering the option to select all symbols of that type."

Yes, that works, and it's very useful.

"Tagging individual symbols with a "mute" property is very hard to do."

You would know that better than I. 

"Muting symbols in the middle of a melodic run would probably not ne useful anyway, unless I missed the point."

Actually, for me (and no doubt others) it would be quite useful. For example, I'm currently working on a dramedy project. I imported some MIDI from a piano library, and changed the sound to pizzicato strings. It's amazing how often this gets me really close to something I can work with. But typically I want to sculpt out various symbols or segments in the earlier parts of the timeline, so later the track will gather energy due to the fact that it becomes busier. But I'm often not sure which symbols or segments I should delete. The project hasn't gelled enough for me to make final decisions of that nature. I like to audition various scenarios, but would like to keep my options open. So I might delete a symbol or a segment only to later wish I hadn't done so. Having them still visible on the timeline, but muted, would make this process far easier. It seems to me a symbol mute function would be very much in keeping with the spirit of "music prototyping software."

As it is, my clumsy workaround is to make a duplicate of the instrument before I delete anything, so I can refer to it later. But I find this method a distant second. Anway, if it can't be done or would demand too much of your time then I will just have to accept that.

In Cubase, and probably in any DAW, it's trivially easy to mute an individual MIDI note, or a series of MIDI notes, so maybe I should delay such decisions until I transfer the project to Cubase. Again, this would not be my preference, but is doable. But if I don't want to use the clumsy "duplicate instrument" method, it seems my options are to make the decisions earlier than I would prefer in Synfire, or later than I would prefer in Cubase.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

Never do more in the morning than you can undo in the afternoon.

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smr
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Hi Andre,

Any update on SYNFIRE 2.0?

Thanks

 

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andre
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(Find links to larger images below)

Things are making great progress. Here's a brief update.

The arrange view features a new Overview perspective spanning the entire song. It breaks down rendered output into regions on a track, one per instrument. Actually that's how it would look like in a DAW.

arrange-overview1.png

This perspective rolls out everything flat, labeling spans on the timeline with container names, so you can see where the output came from. Zooming in reveals rendered MIDI notes. Clicking on a label jumps you to the Container perspective for editing.

arrange-overview2.png

The output display updates while you make changes, so you are no longer in the dark concerning the effects of a change.

The picture also demonstrates how a hierachical structure, in being a higher-level abstraction of the musical narrative, is more concise and flexible for editing purposes than flat tracks with isolated regions. For example, if you move the red "C" part in the middle, it'll move all associated regions in the overview, too.

What's also new: Headers and phrases in the arrange view are now separate, i.e. headers no longer scroll out of view.

arrange-layout.png
 

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Tanerongunyzb
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ıt is awesome improvement. I Think Synfire development worth to waiting for. Thanks Andre. We are so excited to use new version.

   
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Jiangxitong
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But don't let us waiting too long :-)

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janamdo
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Can take more then a year  from now till it is finished ..who knows ?  EEA is unknown 
Looks great Synfire, i am curious whta is under the hood

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smr
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Thanks for the update Andre. Looking good! Can't wait to try.

 

 

 

 

 

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Fent
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Finallly, this is what Synfire has been missing and why people have been turned off by it in the past imo. Now it looks easier to use and more inviting (despite being an absolute beast under the hood lol) and I think this will draw a lot more people to it. If you add MIDI triggering to the chords you'll have a winner on your hands.

I'd just like to add a few simple suggestions to make it easier for people like me, a producer who has a great ear for chords and melody but cannot play them well myself.

Since Synfire's purpose is to help write songs, having simple functions like the following (mouse clickable) would be a (pardon the cliche) game changer for Synfire.

1. Randomizer algo for both chords/progressions and melody (beats too if possible) based on key and scale and time signatures and swing/shuffle chosen from a list. I know Synfore offers essentiallly this already but literally adding sections Chords, Melodyand Beat buttons would give a user a great starting point that isn't drenched in science or music theory. A lot of producers play by ear only and this would help them considerably. Including a 'humanize' option for both MIDI note delay, length and velocity would be icing on the cake:).

I know there is a 'Harmonizer' function in Synfire but using it in the past has produced undesirable results. The randomizer I'm thinking of will for instance, recognize the chord progression produced, then produce editable melodies based on that chord progression- regardless of whether it conforms to traditional music theory or not- as long as the melody notes produced are from the chords played (offering +/- octaves) that is all one needs. The figures graphic approach has always been confusing, so keep that under the hood and displaying a simple keyboard to the left- MIDI notes to the right is the best way to present this imo.

I of course appreciate the master composers from years gone, but honestly I am not at all inspired by over-used MIDI compositions, so simply using 'free MIDI' has never been an option for me personally, and as someone who composes a few styles of music, including some scoring I want to use original motifs in everything I do.

Imagine someone completely new to Synfire...After connecting MIDI channels to their favorite software and or hardware, now they want to sit down and start to get inspired. What could be easier than clicking on a 'Chords' button and just trying out some chord progressions to get the 'fire' started?

Having a 'demo' beat button would be cool too- whereas a simple 4/4 beat (or any time sig you choose) of 4-8 bars just starts playing...

This simple chords, beat, melody approach would give beginners (and advanced users) a simple way to get something started that they'll want to finish, rather than struggle with the myriad of concepts and functions Synfire has under the hood.

2. MIDI triggering of Chord palette for real time recording input. Randomizers are great, but we all like to pick our own chords/melodies too, so beinbg able to trigger them from a MIDI controller with a 'Learn' function would be invaluable.

I'm not knocking Synfire for what it is now, and I truly appreciate the amazing software you have created Andre, but it has always been difficult and very time consuming to learn what I really need to know to make songs using it. I'll draw a comparison to Cubase here, which I use extensively, but honestly I only use about 50% of what's it's capable of, and I haven't updated it since version 8.5 because I have exactly what I need to make and produce finished songs.

Same with Synfire, it has so many functions that it becomes confusing; simplfying the path to finishing songs is the key to making it a big success. All of the bells and whistles under the hood mean little if the user can't get inspired to even start, much less finish a song.

I'm not suggesting that you remove the advanced features of Synfire, but making it easier to make actual songs is key to it being successful in the future imo.

If people don't want advanced features they can use Harmony Navigator of course.

I've owned Synfire for 10 years now and have never been able to use it in a song that I've finished, but I'm hoping that will change once this new version gets released. Andre, if you need a beta tester on a Windows 7 machine, I'd be happy to give it a go with the new block/DAW interface.

 

Keep up the great work!:)

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duderanch
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I have been using syfnire  since '09 and finished tons of music.  Most recently this  fictional soundtrack to a Mars Mission. https://groversfernhead.bandcamp.com/album/the-winds-of-mars

I have many of the same issues  with SFP as you.   From the very start I have used vsts like  Sugar bytes thesys to record midi  into SFP. The game changer for me recently has been Scaler 2.  With scaler you find the chords and  then use SFP live detection to get  the chord or near and then use scaler  with the  note binding to record melody.  I am using ableton  push and sometimes a standard midi keyboard to do this.  The Ultimate would be scaler functionality inside of SFP. Hope  this helps. Big thanks Andre looks amazing!

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Fent
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My problem is I'm a much better creative thinker than I am a logical thinker, so what might be easy for some to grasp technically, I find much more difficult- as is the case with Synfire. While I lack a natural ability to understand music theory, I never run out of ideas of how to accomplish a musical task with any instrument and I have a finely tuned ear whereas I can hear something and play it back note for note without having to see any notation, but of course that doesn't help me much with Synfire.

I'm never out of tune or off key when writing chord progressions or melodies, and that's where Synfire for me personally becomes uninspiring as the results it has produced for me always needed extensive editing to get the desired result. I determined that I could come up with something useable myself on piano keys faster than Synfire so why use it? That is definitely not to say it isn't useful- the chord palette is invaluable to pick out chords, but I wish they were triggerable via MIDI, as I had mentioned in my previous post.

In my case I've spent the last ten years becoming a better keys player and have worked on understanding articulations of various instruments and just being able to create realistic human-soundng performances. Any music interpreting software at this point has been used to inspire me. I don't think I've ever used a software-generated chord progression or melody without editing it to my liking.

Synfire's weakness imo has been the reliance on importing over-used classical MIDI libraries as a starting points, which to me personally are not at all inspiring in context to making modern music. I understand Synfire was originally aimed at a classical composers but that has changed and now I think we need modern, simplified composition tools to reflect the new musical styles that are relevent now. In my previous post I mentioned suggestions that I hope will at least be considered as I feel they will allow Synfire to reach a broader user-base.

Andre is now presenting the data from chord prgressions and melodies in the classic DAW structure which is exactly what I need personally to move forward in using Synfire when making songs and I'm sure others feel the same way. I don't think I will ever use just one piece of software to structure a song, but Synfire may soon be my main go-to software for creating chords and melodies.

I've heard of Scaler and other music interpreting software such as Liquid Notes, Captain Chords, and most recently Melody Sauce and none of them are doing anything much different from each other, besides using a different GUI, but what they all have in common is that they are simple to understand and use- even for novices.

The next version of Synfire Pro may be all of those programs rolled into one, which would be great...only Andre knows what his vision is at this point but I am optimistic that it will be a big improvement and make it more user-friendly for play-by-ear users such as myself.

 

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blacksun
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Fent, can't you play the chords/progression into synfire using your midi keyboard and synfire's chord detection, and record phrases via midi direct into synfire? It isn't limited to just loading them from existing midi files.

 

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Fent
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Hey boss, when I first got Synfire 10 years ago (damn, time flies) I used a mouse with it and Synfire is perfect for that.

I orginally had it synced up to a Kurzweil keyboard and I could get simple ditty's started but I could never structure any real, useable motifs, much less a song- and it's definitely my fault for not being consistent and learning it. That being said, I found other ways to compensate for my lack of understanding Synfire and music theory and have produced many songs without it.

Now, I find myself producing scoring-type projects and I'm using mostly orchestral instruments and I realize this is where Synfire was meant to shine, hence my return to it as a source of inspiration.

I have never thought of it as an all-in-one as I like to use many different tools to make songs so I don't get bored and abandon a project. The whole 'figures' system never made sense to me coming from DAWs like Cubase and Logic and even after completing instrument setups and I still didn't understand most of what the functions were and why they were there. To put it bluntly, trying to use Synfire took the fun out of making music and that's the main reason why I do it- because I love it of course.

The upcoming linear DAW sequencer look will definitely help me because that's what I've been using for over 2 decades. As it is right now, I just can't wrap my head around the concepts or the functions- I tried again earlier today (without reading the manual) and I couldn't do anything- literally. I had a Montage keyboard set up as a MIDI controller and although I could see MIDI was being transmitted I couldn't hear anything in Synfire using Sprike or Windows MIDI. I even tried loopback to Montage and all I got was silence. I could see the Synfire's piano key layout being triggered- as well as groups of chords, but no sound, so again, I gave up and went to what works.

As it is right now Synfire doesn't even have a simple MIDI learn function for the chord palette. I've asked Andre about implementing it for as long as I've had Synfire and I can't understand why it isn't there- right click on a chord from the palette left click MIDI Learn and tap a key or pad on an external controller to trigger the chord- that right there would make it so much easier to enter chords in a more performance oriented way as the user could create nice chord progressions and 'play' them in using a row of 4 or 5 keys, or pads from any external controller. This would help prevent boring, static, point/click/drag structures as the user could play in the progressions with human feel, then adjust velocities of chord notes if needed. This is something that Synfire should have had from the get-go imo as it's an easy way to pick out chord progressions and let the user actually play them in rather than mouse clicking and dragging things in the GUI, which gets boring quick to me, and I'm sure others too. Being able to play and perform a sequence or a motif using your fingers is key to giving music made on a computer some soul, imo. Sure, you can drag notes around in a GUI but you'll never achieve the same emotional performances you can get when actually 'playing' in the chords and notes using something you can touch and apply pressure with(aftertouch, for instance) using your fingers.

Anyway, sorry about the subtle rant...I'm hoping Synfire 2 will be something that I can use in the future, but if not that's ok too.

 

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smr
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Hi Andre,

As you may already be aware, East West Communications just released the Hollywood Orchestra Opus Edition with a new feature called Hollywood Orchestrator. I think Hollywood Orchestrator is a great feature, especially for a novice like me. No setup time at all, I just load a factory preset and I am running a full orchestra. Feed the chords and it drives the whole orchestra, in real time! Amazing! Can something like this be done with Synfire 2?

Thanks

 

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andre
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By its very design, Synfire definitely encourages a top-down workflow, i.e. you start with an idea ("what if ...") and have Synfire work it out. Bottom-up is the other way around, i.e. stuff begins to emerge from what your fingers are doing (knobs, faders, keys, pads, strings, etc). For that, Ableton Live is great, as it's centered around open ended performance and recording. 

The KIM Factories of 2.0 ("Infinite Libraries"") will change things a lot towards intuitive exploration of rhythm and melodies. The biggest obstacle IMO was a lack of fresh phrases when you needed them. You know, unexpected surprises that cost you zero effort. Recording and editing is fine, but it can be pretty distracting if you're in an urge do accomplish something quickly.

Playing a palette with MIDI keys (Learn) is not hard to do. Synfire can play and record that, but to what end? You'd still need to edit the progression to make it work for all instruments. I'll have another look.

As we are at it. Regarding live performance use, I've got a BIG surprise for you in petto. It's called Snippets and is not unlike the grid of live loops in your DAW. Only that these loops contain phrases and parameters (not audio) and re-compose everything in real-time! With the click of a button you can change harmonies, dynamics, and any parameter you can think of. Wild stuff. I jammed with it today for the first time and was blown away. So much fun! Might do a video this weekend.

Hollywood Orchestrator sounds nice. I'd say Snippets will beat it hands down. 

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smr
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Thank you Andre! You just put a smile on my face! Can't wait to try...

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Ruchir
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Great stuff Andre.

I've been taking a break from Synfire and midi, and getting into modular, which is the total inverse, getting away from mouseclicks and midi data, and picking up soldering irons and patch cables. Definitely bottom up compared to Synfire composing.

[6a5a06cd-fa33-4b00-a34b-44ccb168808a.jpeg]

 

 

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Fent
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To what end?? I don't understand how, as a musician yourself, you can't see the importance of being able to 'play' in a chord progression by using one key/pad presses/pressure rather than point, click and dragging them with a mouse...Why do you think almost every pad based controller with software have chords linked directly to the pads, or MIDI learn functions? Playing a performance whether it be using multiple key chords or single key/pad chords is a much better way to create soulful, realistic, emotionally-driven performances. And isn't that what everyone is trying to avoid -the robotic, point/click/drag method of making songs?

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blacksun
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Fent as i mentioned before you can play the chords in realtime and have synfire live detect the chords for the progression. What you currently cant to do is have those chords play with one key press, although its trivial to do that in many daws, so you press 1 key, the daw outputs the midi for the chord, synfire interprets the chord and adds it to the progression. Remember though, this is the chord progression, it doesnt play any notes unless you turn on the autochord function. Any expression is in the figure's parameters, the chord progression just influences the notes played by the figures.
You can also record the chord progression in real time clicking on the chords in the palette, no drag and drop needed.
Figures can be recorded real time too. Watch the tutorial videos for more details on how to do the real time stuff.

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janamdo
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Yes, Cubase has his "chord pads"  and recently got a "scale assistent" 

How to work with Chord Pads in Cubase (musictech.net)

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Snippets sounds like a massive workflow improvement.  If a little more love is shown Andre might just do the video he hinted at.

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andre
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Still fixing bugs. Promised, it will knock your socks off! One more game changer that keeps me grinning all day. It will be the milestone that makes Synfire 2.0 feature complete. There's still a lot to be done, but the frame is set now.

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andre
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Here's a first look. Enjoy ;-)

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duderanch
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"Improvise in real time"...... the stuff of dreams.   Thank  You!   Can you  trigger the snippets   with a midi controller like ableton live?

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andre
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No yet, maybe Touch OSC?

You can also drag & drop snippets to Live, Logic X, or any other DAW's loop grid. But that eliminates most of the fun, as the snippets will become static.

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duderanch
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Touch OSC would be great. Incredible work you are doing. thanks so much.

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andre
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By the way, other than DAW loops that essentially make you a DJ, Snippet's extreme dynamism is very useful for composing (including non-electronic music). I already use them on the fly to find phrases that go together. Hint: It's always those that still run in your head the next morning ;-)

If you have tons of generated phrase pools, you still need to decide how to combine them. The general rule of thumb is to contrast dense phrases with sparse ones, but that doesn't always work. Snippets make A/B testing easy.

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andre
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I don't understand how, as a musician yourself, you can't see the importance of being able to 'play' in a chord progression by using one key/pad presses/pressure rather than point, click and dragging them with a mouse.

Yes, absolutely. Only playing chords with rhythm and dynamics gives you a Figure, not Harmony (Harmony is the road vs. Figure are the cars). It is possible to untangle and reduce that to a progression, albeit not in real-time (analysis requires the whole take).

As said, I need to play with this a little more to see if it is workable.

Thanks for bringing it up.

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