Support for custom soundfonts, with automatic sound map creation

Suggestions and feature requests.
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Philip Goddard
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Support for custom soundfonts, with automatic sound map creation

Post by Philip Goddard »

I'm trialling Overture 5 just now, and I'm getting a great frustration from it. My primary interest in it is for its excellent ergonomic-looking MIDI editing and sequencing features and its in many ways superlative display of MIDI data, but I depend on my own custom soundfonts to get the sounds I want, and it appears that I cannot use them - at least in a workable fashion - in Overture.

I've made the soundfonts available to Overture via VirtualMIDISynth, but only for some tracks do I get any sounds from them, and even then some tracks have the wrong sounds. And that's despite the MIDI file I'm using for my current tests having all the requisite bank and program changes embedded. Thus, theoretically, if the particular tracks are connected to the relevant VirtualMIDISync device, they should each play with the right sounds, all of the time - but this isn't happening.

Presumably I'd be able quickly to fix that if Overture had a facility to read the soundfonts and produce the requisite sound maps, which would then appear in the menus, alongside the native GM and other device sound map menus. Even just being able to see and edit each track's initial bank and program number would be greatly helpful, at least as a debugging facility, but those too appear not to be displayed anywhere in Ov5.

There appears to be no means by which I can get this fixed. I've looked at an example sound map file among those in this trial Ov5 installation, and I see that it has a complex XML structure, which makes it unworkable for me to attempt manual conversion into Overture sound maps of the long but simple listings I got Viena Soundfont Editor to save to disk for me.

I originally composed all my compositions (1995 to 2005) on a sequencer called Digital Orchestrator Pro, which was not developed beyond Windows XP compatibility, which allowed me to have full control with remarkable ease - and have been stymied ever since by lack of a sequencer that I could use without great stress and frustration. Overture looks as though potentially it could be at least a match for Digital Orchestrator Pro - BUT it would need to make the use of custom soundfonts, and creation of sound maps from them, almost as simple and straightforward as using the natively supported devices and GM soundfont.

For the time being, therefore, I'll have to dismiss Overture, despite its many very, very, appealing features. I'll check back once in a while to see if there's been any move on proper support for custom soundfonts.
Bill Reed
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Re: Support for custom soundfonts, with automatic sound map creation

Post by Bill Reed »

There are many free VST SoundFont players out there, like this: https://www.plogue.com/products/sforzando.html

There are other ways to setup instrument without creating a SoundMap
Overture 5, Sibelius, Finale 25, Notion 6, Cubase
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Kontakt, VSL VI Pro, VE Pro, EWQL Orch, Choirs and Pianos
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TenorAlan
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Re: Support for custom soundfonts, with automatic sound map creation

Post by TenorAlan »

Hi, Philip,

Here we see Inspector>Track>Playback:Output device, with what I call the Voice Table scrolled so we can see its rightermost columns.
Voice_window-102.jpg
Voice_window-102.jpg (26.94 KiB) Viewed 2071 times
The Bank column allows us to set the initial bank selection for the track (actually, each MIDI channel of the track, if the different voices are assigned different channels, but unfortunately it only allows choice among the banks defined by the sound map file in effect.

The Patch column allows us to set the initial program number for the track (actually each MIDI channel of the track, if the different voices are assigned different channels). Click on a cell in it to get a big table of all values. The program numbers have patch names with them, either as defined in the sound map file or, if that does not obtain, from the standard General Midi patch repertoire (some liberties having been taken with some of the names, as for the one shown here).

Best regards,

Alan
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Re: Support for custom soundfonts, with automatic sound map creation

Post by PeteFine »

Excuse me if I don't understand completely, but there are reasonably priced sound libraries (including Sonic Score's Amadeus) that integrate easily with Overture, have superb orchestral samples. Setting up a template (or a few as needed for your orchestrations) is easy and a one time effort. Why not just use those, assigned to your midi tracks? No custom sound fonts needed.
Philip Goddard
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Re: Support for custom soundfonts, with automatic sound map creation

Post by Philip Goddard »

Thank you Bill, Alan and Pete.

Actually I don't appear to be any further forward. I immediately installed Sforzando, got it to convert my main and my pipe organ soundfont into sfz format, into the folder I specified in Sforzando (standalone version), and then got all tracks on my test Overture file configured in Tracks Inspector to use Sforzando, and so far have got nowhere:

(a) No sound at all, and
(b) No relevant sound map. Still the only sound map choice is GM or None. And, on that account, unsurprisingly the only choice of bank is 0 or none! :-)

I tried searching through the Ov5 manual for all occurences of 'plugin', but couldn't find any additional measure(s) I need to take in order for the Sforzando plugin to work. I note that Sforzando isn't showing in the list of MIDI output devices, but there's no facility there to add any devices. Indeed I can't find anywhere in Ov5 to configure the Sforzando plugin.

Any ideas as to some vital step I've missed?

As regards prestige sound libraries such as Amadeus, I'm what people laughably call an 'old-age pensioner' (and a picky old b*gg*r to boot!), and have to watch my outgoings carefully - and it's out of the question for me to pay such a price for something that I can't try out extensively before buying. The fact that such libraries are widely praised means little to me, because it's unlikely I'd like all the sounds in the pack, and so I'd still want some of the sounds from other sources. Yes, Amadeus could possibly serve many (but not all) of my purposes (and its controls, if they really do produce their effects in a way that I myself would regard as 'lifelike', would be an advance over my own relatively crude efforts), but I'm not one to follow the flock on such matters.

In fact in any case even if I had Amadeus I'd still need to use my own soundfonts too for particular instruments and made-up sounds, so really my feature request for Overture properly supporting soundfonts still stands.
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Re: Support for custom soundfonts, with automatic sound map creation

Post by Merv »

Are you using the Aria engine for your sound fonts? With Sforzando this will probably be the case. Make sure you’re using a plugin version, not a standalone version.

Is your Aria Player VST in Overture’s ‘Plugin List’ (located in Overture’s Plugin Manager)? You should see two entries there…

ARIA Player Multi VST_x64
ARIA Player VST_x64

And did you scan your VST plugins from within Overture so that Overture knows they are there? They should all be located in a dedicated plugin directory that Overture can scan.

I’m not really knowledgeable on custom soundfonts so I may be just blowing hot air, but as a fellow ‘old-age pensioner’ I can safely attribute this to the fact that I’m not completely firing on all eight cylinders.
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Re: Support for custom soundfonts, with automatic sound map creation

Post by TenorAlan »

Hi, Philip,
Philip Goddard wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 3:39 pm
(b) No relevant sound map. Still the only sound map choice is GM or None.
The only sound maps that will be available with a certain MIDI Device (or "player")) in place are those for which the name attribute of the <Device> element has the name of that device. And there are probably none among those supplied with Overture that are "eligible", or "applicable" with respect to the "device" ("player") you are trying to use.

For example, the <Device> element in the sound map file for Amadeus Symphonic Orchestra reads:

Code: Select all

 <Device name="Kontakt" middleC="c3"/>
Thus, this soundmap file will only ba available for selection if you have the "Kontakt" player in force.

Best regards,

Alan
TenorAlan
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Re: Support for custom soundfonts, with automatic sound map creation

Post by TenorAlan »

TenorAlan wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 5:30 pm Hi, Philip,
Philip Goddard wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 3:39 pm
(b) No relevant sound map. Still the only sound map choice is GM or None.
The only sound maps that will be available with a certain MIDI Device (or "player")) in place are those for which the name attribute of the <Device> element has the name of that device. And there are probably none among those supplied with Overture that are "eligible", or "applicable" with respect to the "device" ("player") you are trying to use.

For example, the <Device> element in the sound map file for Amadeus Symphonic Orchestra reads:

Code: Select all

 <Device name="Kontakt" middleC="c3"/>
Thus, this soundmap file will only be available for selection if you have the "Kontakt" player in force.

Best regards,

Alan
Philip Goddard
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Re: Support for custom soundfonts, with automatic sound map creation

Post by Philip Goddard »

Well, all this underlines the validity of my feature request for direct support for custom soundfonts in Overture! :-)

I valiantly struggled with Sforzando, but that installed Sforzando VSTs, not Aria ones - and yes, those Sforzando ones are correctly installed in Overture (showing up in Plugin Manager and as a software instrument for each track, but, as I said, no sound nor relevant sound map. My online search makes it pretty clear that the Aria Player VST is available only packaged with commercial sample or music software products - apart from the odd download sources that I don't regard as trustworthy.

I've no doubt that with enough work and time or/and financial expenditure, I could arrive at some convoluted workaround to get my sounds workably operational in Overture, but I have limited time and financial resources, and it looks as though it's time for me to drop this whole line of inquiry, and for the time being to stay sort-of 'content' with the extant MIDI rendition recordings of my compositions I made in 1998 to 2005 (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-HzTrGvOCJBQbhAXEh41Hg ), and get on with other work.
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Don
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Re: Support for custom soundfonts, with automatic sound map creation

Post by Don »

I hate to say this but Overture will not support external SoundFonts in the future.
Believe it or not they can crash the program if not constructed properly.

There are many great sounding sample libraries, including Amadeus, that sound better that SoundFonts.
The biggest problem is the limitations of the SoundFont structure itself.
Don
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Philip Goddard
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Re: Support for custom soundfonts, with automatic sound map creation

Post by Philip Goddard »

Sure, I take the point that there's no intention to support soundfonts in Overture, but since I posted previously here I ended up getting Amadeus, Garritan Personal Orchestra 5 and Olympus Elements choir, and I can say that for my purposes they ALL have significant shortcomings and are quite a disappointment to me, ensuring that for some instruments / sounds the best **soundfont** examples I could find are still the best option open to me - and I haven't resources to go buying more expensive libraries. I was going to buy the Garritan Classic Organs, but my careful research revealed that that library omits some stops that are essential for many organ compositions, and the pipe organs offered in GPO and Amadeus are again too lacking in essential stops - particularly 'strings' and mutation stops. So my own custom cut-down version of the Jeux soundfont has to do for me - and, used with thought and sensitivity, including the right acoustics, it does a pretty good job for me, even though I'm also aware of its limitations.

One major issue I have with most Amadeus instruments I've checked out is that they have too narrow a playing range, and in at least most cases I've looked at, that range cannot be extended, even using the editing power of the full version of Kontakt. That goes for their choir too. Also (worst in Garritan), I found that many instruments haven't been properly tuned, and the available tuning facilities are inadequate for addressing that issue or simply refuse to function at all on my system. At least with soundfonts I can tune individual samples as well as a whole instrument - albeit that being a tiresomely time-consuming hassle. Indeed, it's quite a possibility that before long, when I get round to re-recording my orchestral works, I'll give up on the 'libraries' altogether because of the tuning issue, and simply use the best-quality soundfont versions I've unearthed, which I can ensure are all fully in tune.

So, it makes sense for people not be dismissive of soundfonts just because really worthwhile SF instruments take a bit of searching for, and because one wrongly assumes that instrument libraries are necessarily of better quality! :-)
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