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1 <html>
2 <head>
3 <meta name="author" content="Christian Schoenebeck">
4 <title>Instrument Scripts</title>
5 <meta name="description" content="Introduction to real-time instrument scripts.">
6 <link rel="stylesheet" href="http://doc.linuxsampler.org/css/preview.css">
7 <script type="text/javascript" src="http://doc.linuxsampler.org/js/preview.js"></script>
8 </head>
9 <body>
10 <h1>Real-Time Instrument Scripts</h1>
11 <p>
12 The sampler technology is constantly evolving to satisfy new feature
13 requirements of sound designer in order to allow them creating more and
14 more realistic sounds. As an example you might look at state of the art
15 orchestra libraries. They not only allow you pick one of the individual
16 instrument sounds of an orchestra, they also allow you to control the
17 articulation of the respective orchestra instrument while playing them
18 live with your keyboard. So you might start playing an interesting intro
19 with a string ensemble in
20 <i title="Technique that uses a bowing style that leaves the string clearly to produce a light 'bouncing' sound.">spiccato</i>
21 playing style, then you might go over into a slow bridge part where the
22 string ensemble is resembling a
23 <i title="Of successive notes in performance, connected without any intervening silence of articulation.">legato</i>
24 articulation or even
25 <i title="Portamento is a continous pitch sliding from one note to another.">portamento</i>
26 in between, which makes that part of the song very calm and
27 relaxed, and then you shock your audience all of a sudden with a loud
28 <i title="Staccato signifies a note of shortened duration, separated from the note that may follow by silence.">staccato</i>,
29 automatically supported by kettledrum and brass sounds, that wakes up even
30 the last one in the back row. And the best thing: you did not switch to
31 another instrument during that entire song.
32 </p>
33
34 <h3>Technical Challenge</h3>
35 <p>
36 Adding these kinds of features to a sampler had long been a challenge for
37 software developers. On one hand you need to provide the musician
38 additional controls to let him switch between such kind of orchestra
39 articulations. Sound designers came up with various ideas to let the
40 keyboard player do this. For example by
41 <ul>
42 <li>using continous controllers like the keyboard's modulation wheel</li>
43 <li>using a dedicated keys section on the keyboard where each key selects another playing style</li>
44 <li>utilizing aftertouch support of keyboards</li>
45 </ul>
46 and some more. And on the other hand developers needed to extend the
47 sampler software and the instrument file format to deal with all those
48 extensions. Thinking about <i>portamento</i> for example, the sampler not
49 only has to pick the right sample for the first key the keyboard player
50 hits, the sampler also has to detect the next note and needs to pick a
51 special dedicated portamento sample that goes specifically from that one
52 note to that other note. If the sampler would do that synthetically
53 instead, then it would sound synthetically.
54 </p>
55 <p>
56 And if that was not enough, sound designers started even to ask for very
57 exotic features, specifically for just a bunch of sounds or even for just
58 one single sound of
59 theirs, for example
60 a specific note pattern that shall automatically be added by the sampler
61 to each note being played by the keyboard player.
62 The requested feature set became such large, that sampler developers
63 failed to put all this into their stock sampler software package.
64 A completely new solution was required.
65 </p>
66
67 <h3>Scripts as Solution</h3>
68 <p>
69 Instead of bloating the sampler engine with more and more suboptimal
70 features that not really suited anybody, the sampler developers turned the
71 way around and opened the sampler engine for sound designers, so that they
72 could add their own custom software components and bundle them with their
73 sounds. These kinds of software plugins that are directly glued and
74 shipped with sounds are called <i>Instrument Scripts</i>, they extend
75 the sampler software with new software features required by the
76 respective sound.
77 </p>
78 <p>
79 Sound designers were finally free to add their own features to the sampler
80 and used <i>Instrument Scripts</i> extensively to create stunning new
81 sounds. For example they came up with a feature called
82 <i title="Sympathetic resonance is a harmonic phenomenon wherein a formerly passive string responds to external vibrations to which it has a harmonic likeness.">
83 symphatetic resonance
84 </i> for their piano sound libraries, which brought piano sounds another
85 great leap forward to match their real, physical counter parts.
86 </p>
87
88 <h2>Using Scripts with LinuxSampler</h2>
89 <p>
90 LinuxSampler allows you to write and use such <i>Instrument Scripts</i>
91 as well. At the moment support for instrument scripts is provided by
92 the GigaStudio format engine, as well as now also by the SFZ format engine of
93 LinuxSampler. The script engine was developed in a very modular design,
94 where most of the script engine's software is independent from the
95 actual sampler format and the respective sampler format engine is just
96 adding its format specific extensions to the script language. For example
97 the GigaStudio format engine adds scripting functions to allow the sound
98 designer to control the dimension region by scripts.
99 </p>
100
101 <h3 id="gig">Bundling Scripts with GigaStudio (.gig) Files</h3>
102 <p>
103 Our graphical instrument editor for the GigaStudio format - <i>gigedit</i> -
104 includes an instrument script editor and allows you to attach
105 instrument scripts to individual GigaStudio format sounds. Refer to the
106 gigedit manual for <a href="gigedit_scripts.html">how to manage instrument scripts with gigedit.</a>
107 </p>
108
109 <h3 id="sfz">Bundling Scripts with SFZ (.sfz) Files</h3>
110 <p>
111 LinuxSampler adds a new opcode <code lang="sfz">script</code> as an
112 extension to the offical SFZ format. Similar to the <code lang="sfz">sample</code>
113 opcode, a file system path needs to be assigned to the actual script file that should
114 be loaded by the sampler. The <code lang="sfz">script</code> opcode should be placed
115 in the SFZ file's <code lang="sfz">&lt;global&gt;</code> section. However at the moment
116 the precise location of the opcode will simply be ignored by LinuxSampler. A simple example
117 SFZ file may look like this:
118 </p>
119 <code lang="sfz">
120 // real-time instrument scripts should be loaded in global section
121 &lt;global&gt;
122 script=path/to/my_nksp_script.txt
123
124 // just load one audio file and assign in to entire key range
125 &lt;group&gt;
126 sample=some_sound.wav
127 </code>
128 <p>
129 At the moment LinuxSampler supports only one script file per instrument.
130 Accordingly there should only be one <code lang="sfz">script</code> opcode
131 occurrence in your SFZ file. If you place more than one
132 <code lang="sfz">script</code> opcode to a SFZ file, then only the first
133 script will be loaded and the sampler will print a warning. In future this will
134 change, and the sampler will support running multiple scripts, and will run
135 the scripts subsequently on events according to the order the scripts appeared
136 in the SFZ file.
137 </p>
138
139 <h3>Learning the Script Language</h3>
140 <p>
141 You certainly find some instrument scripts ready to be used on the
142 Internet. So you can simply download and attach them to your sounds with
143 <i>gigedit</i>. In order to write your own custom instrument scripts though, you
144 need to get in touch with the scripting language. Refer to the
145 <a href="nksp.html">NKSP Language Tour</a>
146 for learning how to write your own scripts.
147 </p>
148
149 <h3>Script Language Reference</h3>
150 <p>
151 If you are already familiar with the instrument script language basics,
152 and just need details and examples to the individual built-in functions
153 and built-in variables, then refer to the
154 <a href="nksp_reference.html">NKSP Reference Manual</a>.
155 </p>
156
157 </body>
158 </html>

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