and other digressions about instruments
In this chapter, we will learn the different ways to use and create
predefined user instruments.
You will also find other useful information about standard or
user-defined instruments here.
First, here are some reminders about how digital instruments are
managed by the program.
For Melody/Harmony, a digital instrument is a set of digital sounds
(samples), along with parameters describing them. Digital sounds are
digitally recorded real instruments, playing a given
What is a digital instrument?
For some instruments, only one sound is necessary. But for many others,
it is necessary to record several sounds to define an complete
instrument: instrument timbre (tone) can vary significantly depending
note played. To play a different note, the program needs to distort
the recorded sound in order to match the required frequency (pitch).
This process is only possible within a given range.
For example, processing a note recorded from the 3rd octave of a piano
in order to make it play a note in the 5th octave will produce a strong
distortion, which leads to a noticeable corruption of the sound.
So, to define an instrument, several digital recordings of the same
instrument, made at different pitches, are necessary, in order to
be "not too far" from the recorded note.
In addition, a set of parameters are related to these digital sounds,
explain to the program how to play the sample. For
example, just as note velocity (power at which the note is
played) has an influence upon the volume, it can also alter the sound
timbre. The high-quality velocity parameter lets you define frequency
to be applied depending on the note velocity.
These various parameters will be explained in more detail later.
Many digital instruments are provided by default in the software.
Instrument bases, a.k.a. sound bases
In order to comply to current standards, these instruments are sorted
according to the GM/GS (General MIDI/General Standard) specification,
also followed by most MIDI
Instruments are grouped together into sound bases.
Several sound bases are available, in different qualities. The better
quality, the bigger the sound base. For example, the simplest
sound base, GMLTBASE, is about 500 Kb, while
the most elaborate, GOLD, is
about 300 Mb...
The main benefit of a sound base is a smaller size for the
music (song) files. Thanks to the sound base,
a music file only contains notes and other symbols. The digital data
needed to play the sounds are provided once and for all in the sound
it is possible to use other instruments besides the default ones. To do
this, it is necessary to define a user instrument.
In this case, of course, digital data for the instrument are saved in
the music file, which will increase its size.
For example, a 10-second sound, sampled at 44 kHz, takes about 880 Kb.
The music file size will therefore increase dramatically.
It is possible to reduce this size by saving your file in .mu3 format
of the standard .mus format. In the .mu3 file format, sounds are
packed using the Vorbis Ogg
encoding. Loss of quality is slight, but the file size is divided by
in Harmony Assistant starting in version 8.4, this feature lets us use
instruments exactly the same way we use default instruments.
Predefined user instruments
To select a default instrument, we use two lists in the instrument
In the left list are found instrument sections (Ensemble, Brass, Reed
the right list, instruments that belong to this section (Violin, Cello,
User instrument groups can be
added to the list on the left. A little red star in front of these user
names shows that the instruments are user-defined.
Selecting one of these groups will show the group content in the list
on the right, just as it does for standard instruments.
Selecting a user instrument becomes as simple as selecting a standard
But be careful! In order to
enable your music file to be played on any computer other than yours,
even computers that do not own the user instruments you are using, data
these instruments will still be saved into the music file. So, music
files that use user instruments will be much
predefined user instruments are supplied as an archive which, once
unpacked, produces a folder. Simply drag and drop this folder
into the "Sounds" subfolder of the "Myriad documents" folder.
How to install predefined user instruments
The folder name will be the instrument group name. Each instrument
in the group is stored as an independent file with the .mui extension
Sounds can be packed using a slightly lossy packing scheme, enabling a
packing ratio (size reduction) of about 1:10 while preserving a very
If the file name (before the .mui extension) ends with "set", for
example "Heavy drum set", it is considered a percussion instrument
set. This group will only appear in lists if the instrument is in
"drum" mode. User drum sets do not appear in list if
the instrument is in chromatic (non drum) mode.
Here are explanations of some important parameters for user
Creating a user digital instrument
First, the general settings for all of this instrument's sounds:
The following settings can be adjusted for each recorded sound the
- Relative volume:
the instrument master volume, from 1 (very faint) to 1000 (very
loud). This allows you to balance the instrument relative to others,
without having to alter the recorded sounds it is made of. For
reasons, 0 provides the same effect as1000.
- Velocity-volume link: the influence of note
velocity (power at which the note is
played) on its volume. This depends on how the real instrument is
constructed and played.
- High quality velocity: If this setting is active, you
can define a
set of filters that will be applied depending on the note velocity.
- Note range menu: this sound will be selected if the
note to be played belongs to this range.
- For this range, the pitch of the recorded note (for a
drum instrument, set 0)
When music is playing, only one note can be played from the same
group. If a second note in the group begins,
the new note cuts off the previous one. For example, this can be used
drums to enable the closed hi-hat to stop the sound of the open hi-hat.
• 0: no group, polyphonic instrument
• 1-9: system groups (used by standard instruments)
• 10-200: user groups
In case of doubt, use 0.
- Attack: Sound attack rate. Attack is the rate at
which the volume rises at the beginning of
the note. The larger the value, the faster the rise. 0 means "no
attack": the sound will reach its loudest volume immediately.
- Decay: Decay is the decreasing slope of the sound
while the note is
"depressed". It varies from 0 (no volume decrease, for example flute,
organ...) to 9999 (which will make the sound very brief).
- Release: Release is the decreasing slope of the sound
volume after the note has been
"released". It varies from 0 (no volume decrease) to 9999 (sound stops
immediately). Usually, this value is larger than the decay. NEVER USE A
RELEASE OF 0 AND AN INFINITE LOOP AT THE SAME TIME: THE SOUND WILL
fine adjustment: While note is "depressed", the sound loops on
(repeats) a portion of
the sample. Finding a good "loop point" is a fundamental component of
creating a nice sound. A poor loop will make the sound produce "ticks"
each time it loops. Tools in the "Effects" contextual menu can help you
to find a loop in the current selection range. But usually, loop points
are adjusted "by ear". For example, zoom in on the part you
consider the most interesting, ask the program to play the selection
range infinitely, and move the range until you are
satisfied with the result. Sometimes it is not possible to find a
good loop point. Then, you have to record the instrument again, and
be careful that the note is as flat as possible in terms of both volume
tremolo) and pitch (no vibrato). The loop fine adjustment lets
you define a "floating point" loop
point, in order to set it more precisely.
- Infinite loop: When the note will be released, the
after the loop point is played,
unless the loop is marked as infinite. In that case the loop will
continue to be played while the volume decreases (release).
you use certain user instruments often, it is useful to make
them easily available by creating a user instrument group. This
is also an easy way to share instrument sets with other users. A special
page allows you to download for free a selection of the best
instrument groups we receive. Do not hesitate to send us yours...
How to create predefined user instruments
Here is how to proceed:
- Create a subfolder in the "Sounds" subfolder of the
"Myriad Documents" folder. Give a clear and descriptive name
to this subfolder: this name will appear in the instrument group list
in the program. If the instrument group is a drum set, end its name
- In Harmony-Melody, edit your user instrument and
select "Save predefined
instrument" in the "Action" contextual menu.
needed, type in a comment for this instrument. This
comment will be displayed when user clicks the "?" icon in the
- Select whether you want the instrument to be packed
(Vorbis Ogg encoding) and the packing ratio.
- Select the previously
created folder as the save location, and enter a name for your
- That's all: your user instrument can now be selected
from any of your documents, just as a standard instrument can.