I had to go back and listen to one of my favorite midi tracks - the Ultima online Buccaneer's Den theme.
Using this sound font there are some really major improvements. Not that the original instrumentation that shipped with machines of the day didn't have its charm.
I love the fact that we used to literally ship midi files around for game music - it's such a technically elegant approach and because it could be thought of as just 'musical markup' it was even trivial to add compositions to websites - when we had severe bandwidth limitations.
While there's no question that the addition of a mastering step and the ability to ship perfectly 'rasterized' music (to mix metaphors) has meant we have a perfect rendition of the composer's intent and is vital for a lot of musical expression, there was always something fun about the idea that music directors were practically composing symphonies to be played by individual orchestras on each user's machine.
I like this way of looking at it. And with different sound fonts like the original vs the FatBoy sample posted on the site and ITT
it’s kind of like we get to listen to new interpretations of the music, where the sheet music remains the same but the conductor has told the orchestra to perform it different in terms of instruments used. I think.
Someone who knows about orchestra music and performance correct me if you think what I said was off base. I don’t know whether it is actually the role of the conductor to pick instruments. Wikipedia says:
> The primary duties of the conductor are to interpret the score in a way which reflects the specific indications in that score, set the tempo, ensure correct entries by ensemble members, and "shape" the phrasing where appropriate.
So I don’t know who actually picks the instruments that the orchestra will use.
We call it an ‘arrangement’ when a piece of music is reinterpreted with different instruments.
I've also found it hilarious to listen to the MIDI version of popular songs. They always sound like kids music.
There should be download button at the top bar.
And this is part of the problem - the latter part never developed. Sample playback is a lousy form of musical expression.
I want a pianist AI that plays Beethoven the way I like.
Unfortunately, there's little public R&D in this stuff - at one point I looked into the research for just synthesizing the sound from a MIDI recorded by a real pianist, and while some of the commercial actors have something that is okayish (Roland and Pianoteq), the public research just isn't there.
The main difficulty with a web-based MIDI player like BitMidi is that it's not feasible to force the user to wait for a 300+ MB SoundFont to download before starting in-browser playback. The current format I use ("patch" files) has a separate file for each instrument, so I can lazily load only the necessary instruments needed to play a single song. You can see the approach I use here: https://github.com/feross/timidity
Anyway, excellent work on this SoundFont!
For fun, I actually rebuilt <bgsound> for the modern web using a Web Component. https://github.com/feross/bg-sound
* Create some kind of soundfont variant that uses 32kbit Opus for each instrument - yes, 32kbit is enough for good quality sound
* Offer a paid tier that renders the midi through something for playback, and/or hit up some companies for hosting
You addressed all of my questions in order and in a compelling way. Very solid melding of marketing and education.
I'll be loading this into juicysfplugin (my free, cross-platform soundfont synth) for a play.
And if you scroll down, there's an email address:
So you could try contacting the author about this issue
My only complaint would be the too low snare volume.
I almost stopped making any music after I switched to a laptop and lost daily access to an old SoundBlaster card which only supported some obscure sound font format. One of the fonts supplied with the driver CD was named "eapci8m.ecw" and had some of the best sounding instruments I ever heard - and all that squeezed into an 8MB file!
Regarding the snare: here's a piece I did for my friend's acting-school-entry-exam-dance-routine back in 2007:
Original(caution: much louder):
It's good, but compare to a rendering from an actual SC-88: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqrvsy7AeGw (not my rendering, though I do own an SC-88)
There are definitely nuances missing; e.g. 40 s in, when there's just the bass vamp, the SC-88 rendering is far superior in my opinion. At 60 s in, the synth that enters is too loud in the FatBoy rendering.
It's possible – maybe even likely – that these differences are more due to FluidSynth not interpreting all controls and RPNs identically to the SC-88.
Same comparison, only for Descent 2: https://chris.pacejo.net/temp/descent/D2-Title.ogg (FatBoy/FluidSynth)
vs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9_uUCBCuUs (SC-55 II) I think the difference here is stark. Though clearly FluidSynth is partly to blame, as the beginning notes aren't even in tune with each other in that rendering.
Out of curiosity: could you elaborate on what those are? My first guess would be it's something like font hinting but for MIDI
(The difference between controls and RPNs is that RPNs are – in theory – extensible, registered with a centralized authority, so that new ones may be developed. In practice, there are a small fixed number, fewer even than controls.)
Further there are NRPNs, which are like RPNs but are not registered with any authority. So these completely vary by manufacturer. The SC-88 has a bunch of these, things like "Vibrato Rate", which, if ignored by another synthesizer, sometimes make no difference, or sometimes are very noticeable, depending on the degree to which the composer is relying on that functionality.
Often the bigger difference which I neglected to mention is banks. There are 128 MIDI "patches" – sounds – but of course there are many more than 128 instruments in the world. So there is also a system of patch variations called "banks". Usually these variations are true variations (e.g. concert grand vs. baby grand piano), but sometimes they are completely different (Moog synthesizer vs. square wave). And like controls, they are variably ill-defined or not standardized, and thus not implemented identically on all synthesizers.
(The reason for this mess is because MIDI is really an evolved creature. The original MIDI standard specified very little, so General MIDI (GM) was born, which is what most people know as "MIDI", but that was insufficient, so manufacturers authored their own extensions: Roland created GS; Yamaha created XG; and of course they are incompatible with each other.)
In the old days, the card was important of course (it's more to whether it's software or hardware, essentially jagged vs "smooth" picture), but having a good MIDI sound card is like heaven and earth for the ear. I literally spent hours just justening to MIDI files downloaded from the internet when I got a Sound Blaster (forgot the model).
Sounds pretty good!
That's the thing about these old games: they were totally made for how the MT32 and later the Sound Canvas sounded to the point where they would even chose an instrument that would otherwise not be fitting, but which sounded good on the original device.
Unfortunately for me, all of this happened way before I had money on my own or could convince my parents to shell out the considerable sum these devices would have cost, so I really don't know how these games were intended to sound.
Which makes me really sad as a huge video game music fan/nerd.
The "King's Quest V - Oasis Theme" was so immersive I couldn't help clicking on the static image to try and play it.
Side-note: It was really nice hearing the theme music when encountering the princess near the end of KQ5, as it was very clearly the progenitor of the "Girl in the Tower" song that was to be the main theme of KQ6, which is my favourite by a long way. It was an unexpected nostalgia hit, was quite well done and I'm glad they carried the tune between the games.
Duke3D and Bermuda Syndrome nostalgia time.
I used to love listening to midis back in the day, I think the soundfonts that came with my Sound blaster vibra 128 were top notch at the time.
They also borrowed very heavily from Pantera and Slayer, amongst others: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGQbLSLAK2o
Though I found that (fluidsynth, at least) is very slow at loading sf3. Takes a few seconds.
Edit: that was a fun rabbit hole
SF2.04, owned by Creative. http://freepats.zenvoid.org/sf2/sfspec24.pdf
SF3 is "just" Ogg compressed SF2, but there's no spec and it seems like it's only implemented in http://www.fluidsynth.org/
Edit edit: in the SF2.04 spec - "hydra - A. A nine-headed mythical beast. B. The nine “pdta” sub-chunks which make up the SoundFont articulation data."