SoftStep Tutorial #11: Microtonal Scales with Tone Module

Compatibility note: This tutorial is for SoftStep Pro. If you have SoftStep Basic or SoftStep LE, then you can not create all the modules, but you can load the pre built tutorial file, and follow along with that.

Working with microtonal scales or tunings: just intonation, non-12 equal temperament, well temperament, xenharmonics, etc. in SoftStep is very easy because the Tone module handles the details and you use it more or less the same as you would use the Voice module. However there are a few differences to be aware of, and at least once you should test your synth to make sure it is setting the proper Pitch Bend range to accommodate the scale settings.

Testing the Pitch Bend Range:

This will test to be sure your synth or sound card supports MIDI Pitch Bend and can be set to Pitch Bend Range of +/- 1 semitone. Almost all can, but it is best to test at least once to be sure. Start by running SoftStep, then load the file "TestToneMod.ssp" from the examples directory. There is a large InfoBox in the center of the screen that explains how to use it. Just follow the directions given

If you are not sure how to judge if you are getting exactly 1 semitone pitch change when you click on the Button B-2, you might try downloading the G-tune high-performance musical instrument tuner and frequency measurement utility. This is a shareware program, with a 30 day free trial period. You can download G-tune at the JHC website:

Example Patches:

FractalToneBirds.ssp is the best example patch to start with because it is simply "FractalBirds.ssp" with Tone modules instead of Voice modules. It is the best documented of the example programs, with both Info buttons and with the Number buttons giving tool tip information on what they do.

FractalToneBird2 and FractalToneBird3 are the same patch, except that FTB3 has extra modules on the E page that cause a fade out after a set number of whole notes. FTB3 was used to make the example MIDI files. These patches have only 1 info button, but the Number modules all have tool tip labels that tell you what they do.

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