Other percussion instruments

• Apr 17, 2021 - 05:37

I need an ocean drum/geophone, wind machine/aeoliphone, tin cans, tuned cowbells to make my or other's pieces? Is there any way to do that?


If you wanted a text document with characters that were very rounded or that looked like a cat had chewed them, you would seek out a font. Same with music - if you want a particular sound, seek out a soundfont. I don know it what you want exists, however, as it entirely depends if someone has created such soundfonts or not.

In reply to by underquark

If there's already a soundfont with the sounds you require, then use that. Though I still don't know how to mix in sounds which are in different soundfonts - that might be a problem. I hear it's doable, but I've not figured it out yet.

You can also record your own sounds, and use tools such as Polyphone to create a soundfont.

Lastly, I'll mention this archive of sounds - https://sound-effects.bbcrewind.co.uk/
There might be something there which will help you.

In reply to by dave2020X

Quick follow up - firstly there might be some copyright - or other rights issues if you use the BBC sound effects archive for commercial purposes. I guess that may not be a problem for work in progress, or non-commercial work, or "fair use" justified situations.

On this page - https://sound-effects.bbcrewind.co.uk/search?q=tin%20cans there is a sound "Waste Disposal - Cans being dropped onto conveyor belt to bailing machine". As it stands it's perhaps not great - the machine noise is considerable. However if the clip is put into Audacity and the Effect -> Noise Reduction is applied, then parts of the clip could be very usable as sounds of tin cans clashing together. With 30dB reduction there will be some very odd artefacts produced and the sounds don't sound much like tin cans either. The sound gets better with 20 dB reduction, and better still with only 12dB reduction. Even with the default - which I think might be 6dB reduction most of the distracting machine noise becomes less obtrusive, and the sound of clashing tin cans emerges quite well.


In reply to by dave2020X

Combing sounds from different soundfonts is simple - just use the Mixer to select which sound you want for each instrument. The sounds will be presented in a list, with the sounds of the first loaded soudnfont presented first, followed by those of the second, etc. Just find the sound you want and select it, that easy.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I've been round that loop before, but didn't perservere. If each soundfont has a hundred or so different sounds, and one simply wants to replace a mandolin with a baroque guitar from a different soundfont one might have a list of hundreds of sounds - a hundred or so from each soundfont - not necessarily in a cohesive order - to search through.

It seems perfectly reasonable to me that one might want a few instruments from completely different, but large collections.

Anyway, I've not done it yet so when I've tried and hopefully succeeded I'll revisit this or similar threads. It may be easy - but I'm not convinced yet.

In reply to by dave2020X

True, if you have multiple large soundfonts, it can take a few extra seconds to scroll to find the one you want. And as mentioned, presumably MsueScore 4 will introduce improvements here.

Still, the process itself is straightforward currently. There is nothing complicated to "figure out" - you already know everything you need to know. It's just a matter of having the patience to find the particular sound you want in those cases where you happen to have many to choose from. As mentioned elsewhere, you can also use the standard type-to-search facility of dropdown lists to speed the search.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

It helps if one understands the interface "thoroughly" - which you obviously do, and I'm still struggling!

I attach a several files - a copy of Beethoven's Op 87 used for testing, and a screen shot of MS as it's being played, plus a copy of a soundfont list added some while after I started writing this.

For simplicity only two soundfonts are shown - these are visible in the Synthesiser panel. The top one is the Musica Barroca soundfont, the next one is the Piano Everard soundfont. Both are fairly small and clearly have different instruments. So now I can figure out that the drop down sounds list as shown in this layout puts the piano sounds at the bottom, and if I change the order in the Synthesiser panel the sounds from the Everard go at the top.

There is no indication in the drop down list of which soundfont any sound comes from - one is expected to know from the order in the Synthesiser. Colour would help or a text annotation. Horizontal lines could be put in the menu to indicate where one soundfont ends and the next one begins.

Even better would probably be a multi column panel like a spreadsheet with the sound font at the top. Some form of sorting could also be helpful. It would also be useful if the drop down menu could be a tear off window. i think there is quite a bit of improvement which could be done with the interface there. Martin Keary should be made aware of this - if he isn't already.

Some soundfonts are very similar - for example sf1 - Full Orchestra + Kalimba, sf2 - Full Orchestra + Shikuhachi.
Thus to get a substitute instrument one might have to scan down a long list just to find the one instrument which is different. Clearly things might be worse if the instruments are not listed in a "standard" order or different instrument names are used - such as mbira for kalimba.

When I suggested a sort on the interface I mean that it could include features like:
Previous layout
Most used instruments
Instruments actually used in the score (or set of scores if more than one is open in MS at a time)

On top of all this there are sometimes other quirks and the "wrong" sounds emerge particularly if a change to soundfont is made. This may well be because some soundfonts don't even loosely conform to the General Midi outline. I am still investigating some of those.

The example shown here would be much harder to understand if I included a few other soundfonts which I have available, and currently use, such as the ones shown in the additional file - Soundfont_list.jpg which I'm just attaching as well. I think managing large soundfonts with such an awkward interface can take a lot more time than just a few seconds to figure out specific configurations.

Oh - since I chose this example I checked the IMSLP library and Beethoven's Op 87 is most likely for Cor Anglais - not horn in F - as English Horn should refer to the Cor Anglais - a reed instrument, rather than a brass one. I think something got mangled in translation and is a result of one of those quirks where American English is not the same as the English variety.

In reply to by jeetee

OK - thanks. I look forward to the eventual improvements. At least I have now found out how I can use the system as it is - but it took a lot of investigation.

Whether MS should go in the direction of improving the mixer and sound system if that detracts from the engraving side of things I can't say. Hopefully both will improve, but there may be compromises and limitations on addressing both in the same system.

I would like to see more integration between the notation and the mixer, and possibly a two way interaction.

In reply to by dave2020X

Dave, It seems to me that as long as MuseScore allows the use of many large fonts at once, It will always be a......challenge. I have no use for most of the instruments in any font. I mostly use the General HQ font. But I have used Polyphone to extract a few Instruments from other fonts so I don't have to wade through a very long list. I know you switch between fonts. I suppose if you find you are favoring certain sounds, you could extract them and make your own collection.

Short of all that, what makes sense to me is if the list in the mixer were organized much like the list when you set up a score.

In reply to by bobjp

@bobjp I don't have a problem with using several large soundfonts as long as the speed and memory constraints on my computers permit that. I don't know what proportion of the total resources are used on my computers with a few soundfonts, and whether they do have a significant impact. I've not been really aware of problems with most of my machines, though I have definitely noticed problems with DAWs if I try to make complex scores with a lot of different sounds all working at once in real time.

This may be something that the MuseScore 4 developers find if they try to push the boundaries regarding other forms of sound libraries - such as VSTs. We have several computers. The older ones can process audio and video files, but are really challenged with complex video editing. The newest one is not the fastest on the market - a recent 27 inch Apple iMac which may be positioned at the lower end of professional users, but pretty much at the higher end for non-professionals. Eventually I was able to load up a score into a DAW (probably Logic) which had so many instruments and VSTs that it couldn't cope. Most users wouldn't do that, but users trying to produce high quality output - for example film music composers - might. People like Guy Michelmore - a UK based film composer - use computers with much more storage and overall power than ours, but I don't think MuseScore is targetted at users like that - though there is no reason why it should not be. Such users are probably already using tools such as Dorico and Sibelius, and would not necessarily want to switch to MuseScore, though if they use a variety of different tools they may add MuseScore to their tool kit.

The newer Apple processing chips might give a speed improvement if that were needed, but the generated code for applications has to be optimised. I don't know what kind of developments might speed up code for Windows based PCs, or if MuseScore works well on Linux.

Where having multiple soundfonts (or sound libraries - VSTs etc.) gives advantages is in several areas.
1. Some virtual instruments (VIs) in some of these do sound better, or at least different. For example, the Everard piano vs a Steinway grand, or different styles of harpsichord.
2. Some VIs have a better range of articulations which can be exploited in a DAW or notation system.
3. Some instrument libraries have unusual instruments which are not in "standard" libraries. There is no reason that I can think of why musicians shouldn't have access to unusual sounds or instruments. Try producing a rendition of Malcolm Arnold's Padstow Lifeboat, Op 94 - without an unusual additional "instrument", and a representation of Rautavaara's Cantus Arcticus really does need extra soundbanks.

You are right that most users - indeed hardly any - will want to have scores which use all the available instruments in all the available soundfonts.

Now that I have struggled and found ways to get different sounds using MS my own immediate developments will be feasible, though the user interface is still something to be managed rather than enjoyed.

I have barely got into making or editing soundfonts yet. Many MS users might find making new soundfonts a challenge. A future MuseScore which allowed multiple soundfonts to be combined, and new sound libraries to be created - by a mix and match process - could well be of interest if it turns out that there might be technical difficulties in loading up many pre-existing libraries and trying to work with all of them loaded. Each user might prefer to have a pre-configured "custom user" soundfont/library which has all the basic sounds in acceptable quality, plus a set of special instruments. Manipulating such libraries even "just" to create a custom configuration would require a better User Interface than exists currently in MuseScore.

In reply to by dave2020X

Let's say I have three large fonts loaded in the synthesizer. I use French horn quite often. How do I find the horn I want? Each font has a different name for the horn. I don't always remember which is which. French Horn, Horn, Solo French horn. Tapping the first letter is a very long process. There is no solo horn in my chosen font so I extracted it from another font. I don't need the rest of that font, so I don't have it slowing loading down. I have an i5 with 16 GB ram. I know someone who uses DAWs a lot and has 96 GB ram so he can load everything at once.

In reply to by bobjp

@bobjp Do you find you can overload your i5 with soundfonts in MS? I'm slightly surprised - but maybe you can. With DAWs it's certainly possible.
There's more than one factor re overload - not just memory space. I have a couple of older iMacs which I reconfigured up to the max memory space - 16 Gbytes. However they are slow compared to the newer one (model from the last two years) which only has 8 Gbytes of main memory storage - though hopefully it's upgradable - but so far I've not felt the need to do that.
Also, depending on the software used - is it possible to run with the soundfonts on SSD backing store? This I don't know - but I suspect it might be - and it would depend on the software design. In that case the software would only have to load up the data for the instruments actually used in to main memory.

An additional feature which might work if there are performance problems is to use something like proxy files in video editing software - basically reduced data files with compressed and other compromised data which give reduced quality during the creation process, but can finally be replaced by much higher quality data in order to get a better output. That works on my computers for video - the slower ones can't handle video edits in real time, but can generate high quality output once all the edits are in place - though it takes a time to render the output.

I don't know whether any DAWs currently use that approach, but it is a viable one if hardware can't cope with real time operation. There has been a lot of emphasis on real time performance in the last few years though - so I suspect that many people just expect better and faster hardware to provide solutions, rather than software tricks.

In reply to by dave2020X

The point I am trying to make here is that while in practice, finding the sound you want from a long list can be painful, it doesn't require any special thorough understanding of the interface. it just requires you to select form a list, plain and simple.

So I just wanted to make sure you realize it there is nothing more to do it than what I am saying, because earlier you said "I've not figured it out yet", which is something very different "I can see how it works but find it painful in practice because I have such a long list of sounds".

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I think that long lists are almost always painful. Very painful. Yes - I have largely figured this out now.

At least believing that scanning down a long list will eventually find something is more hopeful than not being able to spot something at all because it's more or less completely buried amongst other items.

One outstanding thing now is whether .sf3 files work - and in any case is there any point. My understanding is that .sf3 files take up less space as they use ogg format compression rather than the audio formats used in .sf2 and perhaps .sfz. I've not managed to get .sf3 files to work yet, and I'm also not sure if .sfz files work - though they may only work with the alternative synthesiser Zerberus. I have made some progress with Polyphone now.

I am thinking about the challenge of recording one of our pianos - and producing an electronic version which doesn't have the out of tune note which currently needs attention! I don't know how much control over articulation there is with soundfonts, compared with other music/audio forms. Is there control over attack, decay etc. which companies such as Spitfire audio exploit when making their sound archives? It looks as though most sound libraries for sound creation are compatible with Kontakt player which seems to be considered a de facto standard - and I don't know how many bells and whistles such libraries have to get a good sound. It would be great if MS could work with something like the Spitfire audio BBC SO based library, or even the freebie Labs ones, but it would also make sense to anticipate whether there might be any changes to the "standards" which such systems currently use in the future. Probably not - though some libraries also record mechanical noise - such as key presses - and those are also somehow put in to the reproduction mix - maybe that requires more control data.

I can only test out MacOS software right now - but I see there are a couple of other tools which might just work with soundfonts for MacOS - swami - which is free - and a couple of others which aren't - https://musescore.org/en/node/13734

In reply to by dave2020X

> "One outstanding thing now is whether .sf3 files work - and in any case is there any point. My understanding is that .sf3 files take up less space as they use ogg format compression rather than the audio formats used in .sf2"
Yes they work, the default soundfont even is an sf3. The sf3 format was developed by MuseScore, so it very much does work with it. It is indeed sf2 with compression (by default ogg).
It trades a smaller installer package and disk storage for longer load times of the soundfont as it gets decompressed when being loaded (for example at program startup).

> "I'm also not sure if .sfz files work - though they may only work with the alternative synthesiser Zerberus."
Exactly as the handbook says indeed; sfz's are handled by Zerberus.
Although there I believe that Zerberus supports most sfz opcodes, but not all of them; so some features might not be available. I'm not familiar with the detailed level of what part is and isn't supported.

In reply to by jeetee

I've now succeeded in checking out one .sf3 file. This traded a 102 MB (approx) file for a 22 Mbyte (approx) file.
Is this generally worth doing?

Perhaps it depends on the quality of the original sound files, and also the available spare memory/storage capacity.
I can't really comment on the kind of trade-offs - some people might still be trying to use machines with limited processor speed, or limited memory capacity, while others may have very powerful machines with plenty of memory and storage space.

Users who have a requirement for many different sounds might find .sf3 compressed files helpful.

In reply to by jeetee

@dave2020x. No, MuseScore does not overload any of my computers. no matter how many fonts I have loaded. It's just not worth it to me to have to wade through the list to get what I want. So I guess that it is me that gets overloaded. I have Adobe Essentials. It will not render properly on my laptop, so I have to use my desktop for that program because it has a proper GPU. Sfz fonts work but slow down startup and loading into a score.

In reply to by bobjp

@bobjp "It's just not worth it to me to have to wade through the list to get what I want."
That's exactly the point I've made repeatedly. That also assumes that you know what is in the list anyway, and that it actually contains the sound you're looking for. The interface does need considerable improvement, but hopefully version 4 will be a lot better.

In reply to by latonyahutchi

What doesn't show, where? The soudnfont doesn't appear in the list when you try to add it in the Synthesizer window? That would mean you either put it in the wrong folder or it is in the wrong format (often they come compressed and you need to uncomprerss them). If you you mean you have added it but now you want to use its sounds in the Mixer, you need to scroll past the default sounds first to get to any additional soundfonts.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

I don't know much about the history of MS - but is it possible to load up more synths? What is special about Fluid and Zerberus - is it to do with open source software, or some other reason that they were chosen?

FluidSynth seems to be open source - but doesn't have a GUI - https://www.fluidsynth.org/
Is it embedded (frozen) within MS versions, or does MS update when there are changes and updates to FluidSynth?

Maybe all synths are really the same (one view) - but others say that there are differences between synths.
In MS I guess that synths are largely a means to an end - playing the sounds from MS files, but in some systems it is also possible to play synths in real time, so a whole bunch of different aspects of sound design come into play.

Are all the features of Fluid and Zerberus described in the MS handbook, or if these were originally brought in from other sources, are there detailed descriptions of each of these elsewhere?

In reply to by dave2020X

There are no features described for them within MS as they are not the users to drive. They are indeed merely software synths as a means to an end.
Some version of Fluid, with some integration changes for playback of sf2/sf3 and Zerberus for the playback of sfz's.

Studying them won't help you achieve anything specific within MuseScore though; and I believe they are being (partially) removed/changed for MS4 in favor of a new playback synthesis architecture.

In reply to by jeetee

Not sure if this helps for the development of MS - but in Logic (and also the related MainStage) program it is possible to assign a synthesiser, such as Surge to a Midi channel, then by playing a piece which only contains one note - or putting a loop in such a piece - then it's possible to dynamically change the synthesiser parameters - various oscillators, alter the tuning, different decays etc. and generally change the sounds produced. Since it is possible to do this in real time, it is possible to create a performance of electronic sounds.

Actually in MainStage there is a slight variation - one has to hold one note on the keyboard, and then use other inputs in order to change the synthesiser parameters. This should work with other synthesisers, such as Dexed, though I only checked it with Surge today. I have done this with othersoftware synths before.

Admittedly this wouldn't be a main purpose in MuseScore, but being able to import other synthesisers might help some people. Some synthesisers user more than two basic oscillators and several LFOs - though whether that really helps in sound production I can't say. Some would argue that some more complex synths give better results.

Of course MS isn't really intended as a means to play or create electronic music, so perhaps anyone who wants to try mixing in electronic synth sounds will have to look elsewhere, or generate "conventional" music tracks using tools such as MuseScore, but then augment them with other tracks in DAWs later on. Some DAWs such as Ableton Live might also allow live performance of electronic music using software synths.

There might be merits in using synthesisers dynamically for creating some special purpose virtual instruments - though this could be done in other software tools. Perhaps MuseScore will never go that way - but if it could ....

In reply to by dave2020X

Again, the synthesizers within MuseScore are internal things used by the program code to instruct them to load the correct sample from a the soundfont and "adjust" the sample in there (which usually indeed has loop points) to the correct duration. It is not a single instrument; it is just the software process of going from score information to sound.

When you're looking for a "knobs and effects" software synthesizer to be used as an instrument should become more easily available with the VST support of MS4; where you can then load your synthesizer instrument and use it however you are used to.

In reply to by latonyahutchi

What is wrong with mp3s? Maybe there's a quality issue, but that would only really be relevant for very high quality sound generation. Many sources in mp3 format can easily be converted to other formats. Also many may also be available in other forms - though might cost more if one has to pay to use them.

Is your problem within your work environment - in which case as noted it's not really a MuseScore issue?
If your work is preventing you from doing something which would violate some legal constraint, then you can hardly suggest that is a problem for MuseScore. For example, if you are using a site which checks the provenance of digital data sources and is not willing to authorise their storage or use (which might make the work organisation liable for accessing/using the data) then your only sensible option is to use another platform and take responsibility yourself.

If you are looking for sounds, then another site you might want to check is the Philharmonia Orchestra - but do look at the conditions that are imposed if you use those in a recording or software system - see https://philharmonia.co.uk/resources/sound-samples/

In reply to by latonyahutchi

I investigated some of the Philharmonia Orchestra sound samples. Some would be tricky to use in a virtual instrument - though with a considerable amount of effort they might be massaged into shape. Sounds such as brass instruments are probably OK, but some of the percussion samples are played with rhythms which might not fit in with the rhythms required for pieces. If the exact same rhythms are required then they could be patched in - and if the pitch or speed of the rhythmic passages need adapting that can also be done with a powerful enought DAW. Isolating single sounds to be controlled by a DAW or notation software could be rather difficult.

I'm glad you are enjoying the Philharmonia Orchestra.

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