A bare-bones UI belies a powerful engine - and a tool that could finally jump-start sound designers embracing an open format. Proprietary lock-in, no more.

Software Instruments, Freed From Sampler Formats: SFZ, Free Sounds, Free Sample Player

“Free As In Free Me From Proprietary Formats.” If you’re ready to explore sounds – as a novice sampler user or as an advanced sound developer – SFZ brings tidings of great joy. When they move from defining mere sounds or samples to describing whole instruments, sound designers need file formats. The problem has been that those formats tend to be particular to one sampler or another – just Kontakt, or just Logic’s EXS24, or just Gigastudio. Yes, there are converters, but because these samplers have different capabilities, converters cause problems. Being able to create instruments for these samplers is …

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Snow Leopard Watch: Changes, Compatibility, Caution, Native Instruments, Plogue

Rawr! A real snow leopard at age eight weeks at the Eichberg Zoo. Now, should you let the (operating system) snow leopard mature a little before you try to play with it? Photo (CC) Tamby Tamboko. Updated: See http://createdigitalmusic.com/snowleopard for a running report. Apple’s “Snow Leopard” 10.6 ships Friday, which means it’s time to start compiling information about the new OS flavor. Just don’t upgrade too fast, as always. Want to push an operating system to the breaking point? Ask a musician. Between the demands of real-time performance and the complex ecosystem of mix-and-match hardware, software, and plug-ins, odds are …

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Garritan Rescues Giga Sampling Technology, Talks Open Standards

Should sounds be part of a closed format that may not last? What happens if the format and platform that once were trusted by musicians and sound designers ceased to be? That’s the hard lesson learned by users of a popular sampling “standard” – but for once, the news is good. GigaSampler has been a huge part of the sampling landscape since its introduction a decade ago, and users have massive investments in Giga sound libraries. As I noted over the summer, however, Tascam ceased development on the aging Giga platform, leaving users without an important tool – and some …

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Fight the Microsoft Songsmith Cheese with Samples, Styles

Okay, so you’ve seen the painful demo video for Microsoft Research’s Songsmith software – it was intended to me tongue-in-cheek, I think, but the self-parody didn’t quite work. But the idea of auto-accompaniment software that interprets your recorded singing remains impressive. And I’ve gotten some tips that it is possible to make Songsmith sound good. Naturally, the biggest variable will be the quality of your own singing. But to make the software side of the equation more interesting, it is possible to extend the tool. Garritan, maker of the samples in the tool, has two add-ons. There’s an orchestral pack …

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Microsoft Research’s Songsmith Will Sell for $30, Match Accompaniment to Your Singing

In a surprise announcement (well, surprising me, at least), the experimental MySong shown by Microsoft Research earlier this year will be available for sale. US$29.95 will buy you a downloadable auto-accompaniment tool. Windows-only, but it sounds as though a Mac release is in store (seriously). It’s a bit like Band-in-a-Box for singers: sing in a line, and the software will generate accompaniment to your singing with styles of your own choosing. There are thirty styles included, and apparently Microsoft focused on the content end in bringing this product to market: there’s a 1 GB space requirement and partnerships announced with …

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Recession Specials: From Tenori-On to Little Phatty, Costco Blue Mic Deal to Soft Steinway

Illustration (CC) Dani Armengol, who just became my hero. Black Friday? Cyber Monday? Who need them? The entire month of December seems to be on sale when it comes to music tech. Christmas (and Hanukkah, for that matter) are nearly here. Whether it’s economic pressure or just some aggressive holiday pricing, there are some big deals out there that could make excellent gifts – or might just give you a nice list for shopping for yourself before or after the holidays. (Yes, it’s true: most of what readers suggested in our “gift guide” for the CDM Winter 08 special wasn’t …

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Free Christmas Tunes: Garritan Community Christmas Album, DJ Riko Mad Mix

Ready to get in the holiday mood, but feeling Scrooge-like with your money? Here are some free tunes to get your Yuletide festivities underway: The Garritan Personal Orchestra forum has become more than a place for users of this sampled orchestra library to troubleshoot and ask questions — it really is a community in its own right. From sharing new compositions to assembling an orchestration guide, the GPO users are busy. Their latest creation is an 18-track album of (mostly traditional) holiday music, arranged for the sampled virtual orchestra of GPO. Download the music, or Garritan will even send you …

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Orchestration Course Goes “Open Source”: Free Online Course, Driven by Community

Whether you’re composing for real orchestrations, scoring films or games, teaching, or just learning more about how the orchestra works, there’s never a time when you stop learning about orchestration. That’s why a new free, online version of a classic Russian orchestration guide, complete with new interactive examples, is good news. Sample designers Garritan Library, the folks behind the popular orchestral library Garritan Personal Orchestra (GPO), have begun releasing portions of their free guide to orchestration (see my previous story). The full text and examples are straight out of the classic Rimsky-Korsakov orchestration text, the landmark guide to orchestration that …

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