Aeolus questions

• May 19, 2013 - 11:10

A couple of questions about current implementation or theorical possiblities of Aeolus in MuseScore:

1) Is it possible -- at least in theory -- to have several instruments played back through Aeolus? I tried with 2 pipe organs and only one came through (but I might have missed something in the Staff Text Properties stuff).

2) Is it possible -- again at least in theory -- to have Aeolus attached to anything else than a pipe organ? Is it 'just' a matter of messing with instruments.xml and/or hacking the channel definitions in the score .mscx?

The use case I have in mind is to use Aeolus for 4- or 5- part polyphony while keeping each part as a separate instrument.

Thanks,

M.


Comments

No I'm afraid it's not Miwarre

Aeolus is a pipe organ synth with 4 divisions

Manuals I II and II and Pedal

It is actually possible to configure more divisions on the Linux installation of the Aeolus Pipe Organ Synth

But Werner has crystallised the MuseScore implementation into the above format

If you wanted to have more than one pipe organ playing you would need to incarnations of the Aeolus synth

Which would be theoretically possible given enough processing power, but probably not at present with the current synth architecture in MuseScore

HTH
MIchael

In reply to by ChurchOrganist

Let me see if I have understood:

As you says and as I grasped from the interface, in the MuseScore implementation, there are at most 4 divisions (possibly, there are always exactly 4 divisions).

This is rather clear and is a structural limitation, which probably makes sense, and I am not pleading to extend it.

The jump to the next sentence is not entirely clear to me:
"If you wanted to have more than one pipe organ playing you would need to incarnations of the Aeolus synth"

Is this because organs (or at least organ scores) commonly have two manuals and a pedal which, times 2, makes 6 divisions?

Or because it is not possible to split those division across different instruments? Could I have 2 organs which just two divisions each? Or a 4-voice madrigal, in 4 'instruments' with one division each? (let us ignore for the moment that this would require strange registrations).

Is this splitting STRUCTURALLY impossible or would it be possible at least in theory? (the UI does not allow it now, but hacking the .mscx file may a way, at least as an experiment).

Thanks,

M.

In reply to by Miwarre

You have to think of Aeolus in the same terms as a real pipe organ with the same limitations.

It is a virtual pipe organ not a multitimbral synth.

Just as you couldn't pick up one keyboard from a church organ, carry it across the room and start playing it with other instruments you cannot split one division off from Aeolus.

This is why you would need two incarnations of the synth for two organs.

What might be possible is to add a staff to the standard pipe organ setup and then assign each staff to a division. The polyphony of Aeolus is well able to cope with 4 independent voices.

HTH
Michael

In reply to by ChurchOrganist

Ok, thanks for the explanation.

I understand and it makes sense, from one point of view: if it 'is' an organ, it should behave like an organ.

I tried to apply Aeolus to my scores, because its sound quality is superior to any sound found I could test (and it seems to be rather sober, in term of resources); it is 'only' organ, but this suits well to my scores (which are Renaissance for the most part), much better than the post-Romantic string sounds usually present in sound fonts.

Yes, I could use a 4-staff organ, but I like to keep voices (in the polyphony sense, not in MuseScore sense) as separate instruments, for instance to be able to create separate parts; also all the scores I already have use separate instruments and rewriting them as a single 4-staff instrument would be a non-trivial task.

But, if it is not possible, well, I'll do wthout...

Thanks again,

M.

Probably slightly OT, but nevertheless...

Which is the current status of the Aeolus projects, as far as we know? It seems no development took place since many years; the official site and the wiki site are no longer maintained (both have changed URL and neither notified the other), ...

Is Aeolus an endangered species? Did anybody subscribe to its mailing lists and had some sign of life?

M.

In reply to by Miwarre

Indeed I subscribed to the mailing lists around 12 months ago, but the only activity since then has been someone asking a question which nobody answered.

This is a pity - I suspect that it has been overtaken by the Hauptwerk and J-Organ projects

I did manage to find Fons Adrianssen's new page, which still has Aeolus on it.

I am planning to email him direct to ask about the sounds editor which is mentioned in some of the documentation but seems to be conspicuous by its absence in the build present in my Ubuntu Studio installation. But I need to have a time window where I'm not caught up with other things.

Maybe a job for August :)

In reply to by ChurchOrganist

J-Organ and other similar apps are little more than 'switchboards', hardly comparable with Aeolus. Hauptwerk (which I have not tried) is a large programme, probably of high quality, but it can easily cost more than 1,000€ if one does not stick to the built-in instrument.

However, if I understand correctly, all of them are sample based, none uses synthesis; so I believe there is still room for Aeolus.

I have spent a little time looking at the Aeolus sources and trying to fork it into a Qt based application, for wider portability and better 'look and feel'; I'm not even at the stage of compiling the source correctly, so it might take some time.

The idea is not to touch at the synthesis part (about which Andriaesen knows much more than I do!) and improve the UI, also trying to make configurability more user-friendly. It might also be the occasion to go on with the stop editor -- and perhaps an instrument editor -- if develoment on it is effectively stopped: it is conspicuously absent also from the Aeolus package available for my distro (Mint 14) and from the sources themselves!.

Incidentally, about Andriaesen: I gather that he moved to Italy some years ago and he still has a job or tenure at a musical institution in Parma: occasions could come to meet him...

Thanks,

M.

The current integration of Aeolus tries to minimize changes to the original structure. Its is of course possible to reduce Aeolus to a "normal" multitimbral Synthesizer. This would simplify the setup but would also allow for settings which could not be played on a real instrument.

In reply to by werner

I really think that the Aeolus virtual pipe organ should be left as it is, a virtual pipe organ.

To have a virtual pipe organ at all is a brilliant plus to organists using the software, and may well persuade many of them to use MuseScore in preference to one of the commercial score engraving programs.

It would be better to change the MuseScore sound architecture so it could have more than one instance.

What I would really like to see is some implementation of the sound editor that is mentioned in the documentation but seems to have vanished from the later implementations of the software. That would enable us to produce different Aeolus organs for different kinds of music - a very useful didactic tool, given that the different schools of organ building produce very different sounds.

All the organ definitions were generated with Aeolus 0.6.6 which presumably must have been the last version to have this.

In reply to by werner

(I am not sure this is the proper place to carry on this discussion; if it is not, please tell me.)

It is not my intention to alter either the Aeolus currently integrated within MuseScore, or the concept of Aeolus (stand-alone or in MuseScore) as a virtual pipe organ.

About the current MuseScore implementation, I do not have any real complain; rather, some wishes:

1) I would welcome the possibility to play an organ part through Aeolus at the same time of other parts through 'normal' internal synth of some type; this does not seem currently possible. However, it is not a high priority item.

2) Also the possibility to start multiple instances of Aeolus could be useful, but probably applies to a rather limited literature.

3) The possibility to have something like the MIDI matrix of the stand-alone Aeolus would be probably more useful, but I understand that it could be cumbersome for the user to understand and manage.

About the stand-alone Aeolus programme:

1) As I said, I have no intention to alter its basic concept: it is a virtual pipe organ and it should remain so. But perhaps, the project might gain from some sign of life.

2) So, after playing two or three days with the source code, my idea now is to split the app in two: a console / demon app which does the actual sound generation (the 'real' Aeolus, most of it made by the current code) and an app acting as a front end to it (Qt), more appealing graphically. They would communicate via OSC. Then, the 'real' Aeolus would support OSC, in addition to MIDI. The front end could easily be replaced by other, if enough interest will pop up.

3) This would make easier to add some flexibility; for instance the possibility to switch instrument definition without stopping and re-starting the visible UI and/or without remembering cli parameters.

4) I found the code for the editor in the sources; it is still there, but it has been unlinked from the UI. At the moment I don't know why, if because of code problems or for a design choice. More to follow, I hope...

Thanks,

Maurizio

In reply to by Miwarre

Thank you for taking this on Miwarre.

I think this is as good a place as any to hold this discussion, although it could equally well go in the SoundFonts forum.

What would be particularly useful for you I would think is to have a single division continuo organ incarnation of Aeolus, with just 8',4' and 2' flutes. That would complement your early music transcription work exceedingly well.

To discuss your points:-
MuseScore
1) In theory now that the Musescore sound engine is capable of using sounds from different sources simultaneously, using Aelous at the same time as another synth engine simultaneously ought to be possible, although I am not quite sure how far the audio engine has got in relation to this.

2) Indeed of limited usefulness, although there is an organ duet repertoire which would benefit from this.

3) I think that probably the MIDI matrix of Aeolus is probably best left "under the hood" as it were, for users so inclined to tweak. It would, however be beneficial for the MuseScore Incarnation to read the definition file and generate the stop buttons from that, rather than to have it hard-coded as at present.

Whilst on this subject, there seems to be a problem with the current font and the display of unicode characters. The font being displayed in MuseScore is not the same font that is assigned in QT Creator. Consequently the ⅗ symbol is unreadable in the compiled version.

Stand-alone Aeolus
1) Perhaps mentioning that you are doing some work on the Aeolus synth in the maikling list(s) might be useful here?

2) That sounds good Maurizio

3) I'm not sure there would be a need to switch instrument definition on the fly like that - I see a definition as a specific organ implementation - it's not normal to get up from a Father Willis and go and play a Cavaille-Coll mid-performance :)

4) Having the editor working would be great - if I understand the somewhat sketchy documentation, it would provide the facility to provide more stops using the existing sound sources.

I wonder whether we should set up a new MuseScore fork for this? Development could then be undisturbed by interruptions form the main fork, and linked back into it once we have something working. I would be quite happy to do that if you didn't want to.

Regards
Michael

In reply to by ChurchOrganist

Hi Michael, I'm back to "riveder le stelle" after delving into Aeolus for a week. Now I have a working prototype of an OSC-enabled Aeolus 'server' with a Qt client; a screen shot is posted here ; it is very preliminary and only the most basic functions are implemented (in practice only retrieving the model data, displaying groups and stops and turning stops on and off).

I could also take some screen shots of the original stop editor, and it mostly defies me, but sooner or later... (First , second , third and fourth screen shots).

"I wonder whether we should set up a new MuseScore fork for this?"

Well, there is no need at the moment, as the Aeolus built-in into MS is not going to change any soon. If I arrive at something worth (and the MS Jack MIDI output will work), we will see...

"1) Perhaps mentioning that you are doing some work on the Aeolus synth in the maikling list(s) might be useful here?"

Indeed. However, I tried to subscribe to the Aeolus lists on Muse and both mails bounced back: they seem not to exist any more.

"3) I'm not sure there would be a need to switch instrument definition on the fly [...] it's not normal to get up from a Father Willis and go and play a Cavaille-Coll mid-performance :)"

Well, you can't in real life, but this is software, let's dream! Also, it is easier to load an instrument by selecting in a list than by remembering CLI options and directory names...

"4) Having the editor working would be great - if I understand the somewhat sketchy documentation, it would provide the facility to provide more stops using the existing sound sources."

More than that! It actually allows to create new sound sources from scratch; as far as I can see however, you need a post-doc degree in acoustic engineering...

Thanks,

M.

In reply to by Miwarre

More than that! It actually allows to create new sound sources from scratch; as far as I can see however, you need a post-doc degree in acoustic engineering...

From the screenshots that looks perfectly understandable to me.

It would seem that Aeolus is a highly sophisticated additive synthesis synthesiser, the four screens give you the means to edit the various parameters of an additive synth, trying to create a sound from scratch, however, would be extremely difficult.

How I think it works is from the analysis of a real sampled pipe into it's harmonic components, probably using FFT (Fast Fourier Transform) data. This data is then fed into the editor for tweaking manually.

Seems half a lifetime of fiddling with synths has paid off :)

In reply to by ChurchOrganist

For those of you following this saga, I am delighted to inform you that between Maurizio and myself we have cracked new stop design, and I have just spent a very happy afternoon making new stops for Aeolus.

Sadly, my ears aren't up to it these days - age-related hearing loss means I can no longer hear the highest frequencies - the top octave of a 1' stop is now silent for me :(

It would therefore be very good to have someone with younger ears to work with me on this.

Any takers?

In reply to by Nicolas

I shall be documenting this at some point Nicolas, but I am still currently finding my way around the software.

One caveat - you will need to be experienced in additive synthesis to know how to operate the editor. It is not something that the casual user will be able to have much success with.

In reply to by Nicolas

@lasconic: I am indeed gathering documentation on what I am learning about the software, currently mostly about file formats. Everything will be available soon.

@Michael: I'm sad to report that my ears are in not much better conditions than yours (same reason + a diving accident when I was young...)

M.

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