Have you ever wondered why we use the tuning that we do? Have you ever wondered what other tunings there are? Have you ever wondered what effect other tunings would have on your music?
Alt-tuner is a Jesusonic plug-in that retunes your MIDI keyboard or softsynth microtonally. Alt-tuner combines ease of use with powerful capabilities:
- Recreate historical tunings like Pythagorean, meantone and well-temperaments.
- Stretch your piano tuning -- create your own Railsback curves.
- Explore ethnic tunings like Turkish, Arabic, Persian, Indian and Indonesian.
- Investigate experimental tunings like 22 notes to the octave, etc.
- Or just use the adaptive just intonation feature to make "normal" music sound smoother.
You don't need to know tuning theory to get started. Well-chosen defaults get you playing right away. Alt-tuner is novice-friendly and encourages "stumbling onto" new tunings. Alt-tuner uses a graphical point-and-click interface. You're moving sliders and clicking on things, not typing in commands and numbers. However, as you explore Alt-tuner, many advanced mathematical concepts are demonstrated in a way that can be immediately seen and heard. The manual even includes a 120-page primer on tuning theory. Alt-tuner is so easy to use that it doubles as an educational tool.
You control Alt-tuner not only with mouse clicks but also with foot pedals, keyswitches, or almost any MIDI message your gear can send. This lets you retune as you play, allowing for extreme modulations, adaptive tuning, multiple EDOs in one piece, etc. You can program your pedals and keyswitches so that you can switch to an entirely different tuning instantly with a single foot press, allowing you to concentrate on the playing, not the tuning process. You can even retune notes you've already played via the retroactive retuning window.
Alt-tuner gives immediate visual feedback on your tuning with an interval display and with lattice, graph and table views (see the screenshots gallery). For non-octave and/or non-12 tunings, you have full control over the keyboard layout, with automatic naming of every key by letter & accidental (e.g. F#) and of every interval by quality & degree (e.g. minor 3rd). You can even create your own symbols for both note names and accidentals.
Because Alt-tuner is a DAW plug-in, it's completely integrated with the recording process. You can fully control tuning changes over the course of your recording using envelope automation. No composition is too complex to record.
Alt-tuner can retune multiple synths at once, with each player retuning their own synth, or one player retuning everyone. Start a band.
Guitarists, bassists and violinists: While Alt-tuner can't retune your instrument directly, you can use JamOrigin's software to convert your analog audio to midi, Alt-tuner can tune this midi, and the tuned MIDI can play a synth or a sampler.
- Traditional 5-limit just intonation.
- 7-limit just intonation, 11-limit just intonation, etc.
- Historical temperaments like meantone and well temperament.
- Stretched piano tunings -- create your own Railsback curves.
- Tempering of any comma or group of commas.
- Adaptive just intonation (just chords, but tempered modulating intervals).
- Adaptive tuning (tempered chords, and differently-tempered modulating intervals).
- EDOs (equal division of an octave) like 5-EDO, 19-EDO, 22-EDO, etc.
- Bending of individual notes while playing via pitchbend wheel or aftertouch.
- Fine tuning of individual notes via pitchbend wheel or mouse clicks.
- Stretched/compressed tunings (all intervals are widened or narrowed proportionally).
- Remapped tunings (in which the keys run out of order).
- Non-octave tunings (tunings that repeat at intervals other than an octave).
- Non-12 tunings (tunings that repeat after more or less than 12 keys).
- Non-octave AND non-12 tunings like Bohlen-Pierce (tempered or just).
About 7-limit: This is an extended form of just intonation that includes more intervals and more possibilities. A somewhat simplified explanation: Traditional 5-limit just intonation has as its basic chord the triad, built out of thirds, fourths, fifths and sixths. 7-limit just intonation has as its basic chord the tetrad, using the minor 7th and the tritone as well. The dominant 7th chord, the minor 6th chord and the half-diminished chord all become highly consonant and tension-free. Because these new chords and intervals are in tune with the harmonic series, they sound unusual but weirdly natural (to my ears anyway). 11-limit just intonation adds neutral intervals as well, an even more distinctive sound.
About adaptive just intonation: On a fixed-pitch instrument like a piano, it's a mathematical impossibility to get all the intervals in tune. That's why keyboards use equal temperament, well temperament or meantone, because just intonation causes "wolf" intervals in even a simple diatonic or pentatonic scale. Classical string quartets, barbershop singers, etc. solve this problem by imperceptibly shifting each note's pitch to get each chord in tune (or only imperceptibly off). Alt-tuner applies this same technique of adaptive intonation to keyboards in real time as you play. Alt-tuner does this not only with 5-limit but also with 7-limit and higher just intonation. No other software on the market can make this claim.
How it works: Alt-tuner is a midi-only effect. It alters your MIDI before it reaches your synth and is converted to audio. Because alt-tuner is midi-only, it doesn't interfere with your ability to shape your sounds; it simply adds the ability to control your tuning as well. Depending on the MIDI output mode chosen, alt-tuner adds either pitch bends or sysex messages or keyswitches. It may also transpose notes or redirect them to different MIDI channels.
Alt-tuner is a Jesusonic plug-in that runs inside Reaper. You can use Reaper alongside your preferred DAW via either Rewire or a virtual MIDI cable, both of which are free. Think of Reaper as a $60 "wrapper" for alt-tuner.
Alternatively, PC and Linux/WINE users can run alt-tuner inside ReaJS, a free Jesusonic-to-VST wrapper. ReaJS is part of ReaPlugs, which can be downloaded here. If your DAW doesn't load VSTs, you may be able to use an additional VST-to-your-format wrapper. If not, you can run Alt-tuner/ReaJS inside a free standalone VST host like Cantabile Lite. By itself, this will suffice for playing live, but not for recording or editing. For that, use a virtual MIDI cable to connect Cantabile Lite to your DAW.
A few VSTi's and keyboards just aren't retunable by any means. See the alt-tuner webpage and manual and forum for more info. To test your synth, use our free Jesusonic utility alt-tester, perhaps with Rewire or ReaJS as well.
Alt-tuner pricing is two-tiered, like Reaper pricing. Full commercial license: USD $150. Discounted license: USD $99. You qualify for the discounted price if any of the following is true:
- You are an individual, using Alt-tuner only for personal use.
- You are an individual or business, using Alt-tuner for commercial use, and the yearly gross revenue does not exceed USD $20,000.
- You are an educational or non-profit organization.
Alt-tuner has a 30-day money-back guarantee. Six months interest-free financing is available through Paypal (US customers only). Alt-tuner can be purchased here.