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Predefined user instruments
and other digressions about instruments

In this chapter, we will learn the different ways for using and creating predefined user instruments.
You will also find here other useful information about standard or user-defined instruments.
First, here are some reminders about the way digital instruments are managed by the program.

What is a digital instrument ?

A digital instrument is, for Melody/Harmony, a set of digital sounds (samples), along with parameters.
Digital sounds are digitally recorded real instruments, playing a given note.
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 can vary significantly depending on the played note. The program, for playing another note, 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 at 5th octave will provide 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 not to be "too far" from the recorded note.

Above this, a set of parameters are related to these digital sounds, to explain the program how to play the sample.
For example, in the same way note velocity (power at which the note is played) have an influence upon the volume, it can also alter the sound timbre. The high-quality velocity enables to define frequency filters to be applied depending on the note velocity.

These miscellanous parameters will be detailed later.

Instrument bases a.k.a. sound bases

Many digital instruments are provided by default in the software.
In order to comply to current standard, these instruments are sorted according to the GM/GS specification, also followed by most of the MIDI synthesizers.
Instruments are grouped together into sound bases.
Several sound bases are available, in different quality. The best quality, the bigger 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 mainly the gain in size for the music files.
Thanks to the sound base, a music file only contains notes and other symbols. Digital data needed for playing the sounds are provided once and for all in the software.

User instruments

Nevertheless, it is possible to use other instrument than 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 stored into the music file, which will increase its size.
For example, a 10 second sound, sampled at 44 kHz, takes about 880 Kb. Music file size will therefore increase drastically.
It is possible to reduce this size by saving into .mu3 format instead of the standard format.
In the .mu3 file format, sounds are packed using the Vorbis Ogg encoding. Loss of quality is slight, but size is divided by 10.

Predefined user instruments

Available in Harmony Assistant from version 8.4, this concept enables to use user instruments exactly the same way we use default instruments.
To select a default instrument, we use two lists in the instrument edit box :
In the left list, instrument sections (Ensemble, Brass, Reed ...), in the right list, instruments that belong to this section (Violin, Cello, Contrabass...).
User instrument groups can be added to the list on the left. In front of these user instrument group names, a little red star that shows these instruments are user-defined.
Selecting one of these groups will show the group content in the list on the right, as it is already the case for standard instruments. Selecting an user instrument becomes as simple as selecting a standard instriment.
But be careful ! In order to enable your music file to be played on any computer other than yours, even those who do not own the user instruments you are using, data for these instruments will still be recorded into the music file. So, a bigger size...

How to install predefined user instruments

Usually, predefined user instruments are supplied as an archive which, once unpacked, provides a folder. You just have to drag and drop this folder into the "Sounds" subfolder of the "Myriad documents" folder.
Folder name will be the instrument group name. Each instrument included in the group is stored as an independent file of .mui extension (Myriad User Instrument)
Sounds these instruments are made of are packed using non-destructive packing scheme, enabling a packing ration of about 1:4.

If the file name (before the .mui extension) ends with "set", for example "Heavy drum set", it is considered as a percussive instrument set. This group will only appear in lists if  the instrument is in "drum" mode. In the same way, user drum sets do not appear in list if the instrument is in chromatic (non drum) mode.

Creating a user digital instrument

Here are some explanations about some important parameters for user instruments.

First, the general settings for all sounds of this instruments :
The following settings can be adjusted for each sound the instrument is made of.

How to create predefined user instruments

If you use some user instruments very often, it is interesting to make them available more easily by creating a user instrument group.
It is also an easy way to share instrument sets with other users. A special page offers to download for free a selection of the best instrument groups we receive. Do not hesitate to send us yours...

Here is how to proceed :

  1. Create a subfolder in the "Sounds" subfolder of the "Myriad Documents" folder. Give a clear and vivid  name to this subfolder : this name will appear in the instrument group list within the program. If the instrument group is a drum set, end its name by "set"

  2. In the software, edit you user instrument and select "Save predefined instrument" in the "Action" contextual menu.
  3. if needed, type in a comment to be related to this instrument. This comment will be displayed when user clicks the "?" icon in the instrument list.
  4. Select whether you want the instrument to be packed (Vorbis Ogg encoding) and the packing ratio.
  5.  Select the previously created folder as saving location, and give a name to your instrument
  6. That's all, your user instrument can now be selected from any of your document, as a standard instrument.

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