I fail to get a tam-tam sound

• Jun 17, 2019 - 02:42

I´m trying to make an instrument change in the cymbal part to get a tam-tam (sort of a large cymbal or, rather, a gong) in an ochestral score. I find, in the Orchestra / Percussion - unpitched menu, a Tam-tam option. However, when a note is inserted it doesn't sound like a tam-tam, i.e., a low-pitch sound, but as a higher-pitch sound. The infomation that pops up in the mixer indicates bank 128 program 48 for the cymbal and bank 128 program 0 for the tam-tam.
How can I select something that approximates better a real tam-tam?


Comments

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thank you, I get it. However, I think that the soundfont used by MuseScore could have a bank that, even adhering formally to General MIDI, contained a patch whose sound were like a tam-tam, using any name of a generally unused patch. There are some patches such as "orchestral hit" or "applause" that very seldom will be used for any serious work, while the tam-tam is a basic part of the symphony orchestra percussion, and is indeed offered as an orchestral instrument.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

One more question: I don't grasp how the drumkit works or rather, how to fully access it. For instance, I select tam-tam or any other unpitched instrument. A single line staff is included. When going to the mixer the patch is Orchestra Kit, Bank is 128, Program is 0 but it seems that nowhere I can change the specific sound or the key number.

In reply to by mike320

But how do I edit the drumset without messing with sounfont editors? (I plan to do so some time in the future, but I cannot right now)
Anyway, in that document there are only names, and not always the names associated to the same key are coincident (particuarly true in electronic keyboards with several banks). I have also been able to locate this document, https://musescore.org/sites/musescore.org/files/General%20MIDI%20Standa…, which says that Ryde Cymbal 1 is key 51, Eb2, while the GM map indicates Eb3. But pobably the MuseScore map has been labelled according to an old or French octave numbering system in which the central C is C3 instead of the more standard C4.

In reply to by fmiyara

Editing the drumset in this context has nothing do with editing the soundfont, it just means choosing which MIDI pitch goes with which note - the dialog you get when you click the Edit Drumset button on the drum input palette. You'll see you have complete control over which staff line is used to represent any given MIDI pitch, so it has nothing to do with octave naming schemes. But for the record, while octave naming schemes have no relevance to drumset definitions, they are used elsewhere, and MuseScore uses the common standard where middle C is C4, as you can see if you enter a middle C on a pitched (as opposed to drumset) staff and then look at the status bar.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Sorry I'm revisiting this a couple of days late and probably a bit off topic.
I've been reviewing the instrument list of MuseScore soundfont, and I see other examples of instruments that don't belong to General MIDI but with good sense of practicity have been included and work reasonably well. One example is the Contrabasoon. It is assigned to program value 70, the same as the bassoon, but extending it to the lower octave with a timbre resembling that of the contrabassoon. In the middle range there is no difference (while the contrabassoon is indeed different over the overlapping region).
Unfortunately the cymbals belong to the MIDI drum kit so this solution is not possible, so there may be no solution that works fine outside MuseScore. But resorting to a different bank it is possible to have a tam-tam sound within the soundfont.

In reply to by fmiyara

For anyone following this, there is a big difference between adding a pitched instrument and percussion to a drum set. You can add a contrabassoon and it will be listed in the instruments and the user can see it. For a percussion instrument, the addition must be externally documented for users to know it is there because the list of instruments in a percussion set are defined by channels that the user must name themselves. If there is a tam-tam in one of the 30 or percussion banks without documentation, the only way to know is to listen to all 127 sounds in each percussion bank (about 3000 sounds) to find it. This is true of MuseScore. I'm not sure if there is some internal naming that MuseScore does not use in drumsets.

In reply to by mike320

I agree it should be documented, but I think it wouldn't be a big deal that the correct bank were automatically selected when announcing a tam-tam in the instrument list.
By the way, I cannot find the 30 percussion banks. I've found 13 banks in total (0, 1, 8, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 26, 31, 41, 51, 128), but most of them have very few sounds. But even if there were really a lot of banks with a lot of undocumented sounds, they could be ordered by affinity, so the tam-tam could be at the same key number than the cymbal or Chinese cymbal. Or they could be assigned key numbers outside the General MIDI range (< 35 or > 81)

In reply to by fmiyara

Tam-tam is not in the GM standard sound bank. I'm actually quite in favor of the Tam-tam being added to the default sound font, they would just need to document where they put it so users can find it. The problem with deciding that instruments.xml should assign a tam-tam bank is that most sound fonts will not have a sound assigned to it.

In reply to by mike320

I understand that, but it is the price to pay for using a non-GM sound. By providing its default soundfont with such patch, MuseScore would allow at least an out-of-the-box solution. The assignment of an alternative bank should be transparent to the user. If replacing the soundfont by a third-party one, it would be the responsibility of the user to find and install a replacement for a specific sound as the tam-tam. This is sort of an advanced use, so hopefully the user attempting it will know how to sort out the challenge.

In reply to by fmiyara

Special casing a single sound like the tam-tam in a specific sound font is a slippery slope that I wouldn't want to go down if I were responsible for maintaining the program. That's essentially what you are asking for.

Like I said, I'd prefer S. Chris Collins to decide on a an unused spot for the sound in MuseScore sound fonts, tell us where it is and from then on we know that if the sound exists in the sound font, we can set the sound when we edit the drum set. I have a lot of scores that use the Tam-tam and I do want it to sound like a Tam-tam, not a cymbal as it currently does.

I'm quite capable of changing the sound for a specific instrument, especially since Tam-tams are almost always stand alone instruments so you can use a different sound font or bank just for it if you don't like the sounds of the other drums that come with it.

In reply to by mike320

A thought worth considering:

Maybe at this point MuseScore is "big" / "important" enough that we can essentially define our own extensions to the General MIDI standard and other soundfonts that are still actively developed may follow suit. This is an obvious candidate, also a few orchestral / wind ensemble instruments like bass clarinet, euphonium, more muted brass, etc. Although I gather there is an effort underway to update the MIDI standard itself, not sure if that will also include instrument definitions?

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I completely agree. General MIDI was designed during the first times of MIDI and I think emphasis was in electronic music and popular music. There are many sounds that aren't that useful, such as GM bird, helicopter, rain drop or seashore. These are effects that are only a tiny part of a myriad of possible effects which, if considered interesting to be controlled by a MIDI keyboard, would merit a custom set. But fortunatelly they also provided banks, which would allow thos extensions easily.
Regarding your question, I've found this from the General MIDI Working Group:
https://www.iasig.org/index.php/projects/projects-menu/26-general-midi-…
I quote: "The GMWG has expressed concerns about the sound set of GM1. For example, there were differing opinions whether the French horn in most GM devices was suitable. The reasonable solution seemed to be to have various French horn sounds for different applications. The GMWG would like a larger sound set than in GM1, expanding somewhat on the basic 128 sound set by providing variation sounds."

I have found a solution that works.
1) Download the Sonatina soundfont, which even if it is a very large zip file, it is actually a number of small files, one of which is Percussion - Cymbals & Tamtam.sf2.
2) Unzip just this file and move it into the Sound folder from the program folder (in my case, c:\Program Files\MuseScore 3\sound\, this is the default if you didn't change it when installing --on Windows--). I added "Sonatina" as a prefix to keep track.
3) Open the Synthesizer from the menu View and select Add. Look for the name of the file and select it. Unfortunately it goes to the first place, move it to the bottom (it takes several minutes, don't know why, may be it has to do with the large size of the Musescore HQ soundfont).
4) Usually the Tam-tam shares staff with cymbals, so place an instrument change where appropriate , label it Tam-tam and select Tam-tam from the orchestral percussion
5) Then go to the mixer, select the second channel of the Cymbals track, uncheck Drumset because it is not in the official drumset, and look for the name Percussion-Cymbal, which should be the last one if you did as indicated in 3).
6) Write a note and play it. Don't be apalled for its short duration. Make the note last at least three or four seconds, since the note-off is too harsh and unnatural . Build-up requires about 1,5 s.
7) If the sound has to be short, to get a more natural dampening tie a half note at the end of the desired duration and use single note dynamics on the half note with a hairpin to pp. It is impossible to dampen a real tam-tam very quickly. But it is unnecessary anyway, when the tam-tam speaks its voice is most often meant to die away at its own pace

In reply to by fmiyara

2) Use the recommended and default folder of C:\Users\Documents\MuseScore3\SoundFonts if you don't want to lose your soundfonts during a software update.
Never place your files inside the MuseScore program files directory if a user directory for it exists.

In reply to by Howard_C.

No, unfortunately I have no other link that I know is working. This one, at least in my case, did work (I have just tried again without problem). I suggest to try again later or see if there is some antivirus issue or an excess of security settings in your system, or limitations of size or bandwidth. Just in case, the exact location of the file is

https://archive.org/download/SonatinaSymphonicOrchestraSF2/Sonatina%20S…

But it is in the same server.

In reply to by fmiyara

I installed the soundfont but after I selected it in the mixer the tam-tam only provided an extremely quiet eerie noise, definitely not tam-tam. Did that happen to you?

EDIT: I get it, it's because I used the tam-tam instrument, not cymbal. Tam-tam has "Chinese Cymbal" element in the edit mode, not the same as "Cymbal", the soundfont only applies to "Cymbal", so I got the sound wrong.

In reply to by fmiyara

EDIT to my post of Jun 20, 2019 - 05:55.
Do not use the same staff, it messes things a bit up because seemingly a staff cannot have patches that use the drumset and patches that don't use it, even if it is the result of an instrument change (I had repeated crashes because of this).
Instead, create an invisible tam-tam staff and paste the notes with play unchecked to the cymbal staff after a fake instrument change.

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