2 cents worth on sound fonts

• Jul 18, 2012 - 01:21

I'd like to add my 2 cents worth on this discussion about sound fonts. I only have experience with piano sound fonts and I have experimented with several dozen of them. I (reluctantly) came to the conclusion a few months ago that the only way to satisfaction was to create my own font. Here is an example using my latest sound font: http://ormusic.home.comcast.net/Balmoral.mp3

The font is large; it has four velocity layers and practically every note has individual samples. You need a fairly hefty computer to export a large tune out of Musescore in wav format. (The example takes about 4 minutes to export on an i7-2600 cpu.) I believe that a variety of fonts should be available to Musescore users: some will be satisfied with the default TimGM6mb font; others will demand as realistic a sound as can be obtained. It shouldn't be that one or the other of these extremes should be relegated.


It would be great if somebody would do this also for a proper classical Guitar sound.
I myself do not have the foggiest idea how to implement such a task.

In reply to by [DELETED] 5

I have tried the protrax_classical_guitar soundfont and was not very impressed. As I mentioned on another thread I have been using a commercial soundfont from jensen samples for classical guitar and to me, it sounds very good (but far from perfect!).

I would be interested in creating (or helping to create) a high-quality classical guitar soundfont, but am not sure the best way to proceed. I have seen links on how to edit soundfonts, but I have yet to see a step-by-step guide that would illuminate how to create one from scratch; for example how to record a single instrument, note by note, how to normalize the samples, etc.

In reply to by mtherieau

Creating a soundfont involves a pretty steep learning curve. For a musician it's nothing like the rest of the what you've been involved with. And it takes a boatload of patience. The way I started was learning how to manipulate an existing soundfont using Viena. I had to first learn all about how to adjust and replace individual samples and how to temper the sounds so they all fit together. I don't think it's possible for a beginner to decide to "create" a new font without first having acquired a firm grasp of how the machinery works with an existing font.

In reply to by EdwardsRG

I hear you. Maybe I should take your advice and try to edit the classical guitar soundfont I have from jensen samples. I've used Viena to fix one issue I had with the preset numbering, maybe I'll see if I can fix some other issues (e.g. MS's default velocity maps to "hard" notes, and high-G seems to be mapped to a special "string noise" sound)

In reply to by EdwardsRG

Part of the reason for this group is so that those with the expertise in soundfont editing and sample manipulation can team up with the musicians expert in their instrument, so that we can have access to sets of samples of the right sort for turning into a truly expressive soundfont for use in MuseScore or other programs.

Access to a studio is not necessary if you have access to a neutral recording space without echo.

This can be achieved by constructing a tent-like structure from curtains or duvets.

A good microphone is a must, but need not be expensive - I have personally had good results with the Samson Go USB mike - you know, the one which is incompatible with MuseScore :)


In reply to by ChurchOrganist

Michael, I am using the Samson C01U USB mike and after a lot of MuseScore crashes
when I was trying to install MuseScore for the first time, I discovered that removing the
extra Samson Driver Software those crashes disappeared. In fact you do not need that extra driver software because Windows XP provides enough recording gain.
Supposing that your O.S. is Windows of course.

In reply to by mtherieau

The first step in the creation of a soundfont is the recording of samples to use in it.

This is the real hard work.

There will need to be several sets of notes for use in different velocity layers, as the guitar string sounds different depending on how hard you strike it, and also how much nail you are including in the sound.

Open strings sound quite different to stopped strings, and in fact each of the six guitar strings has its own unique timbre.

So you would need several sets of samples, preferably recorded in a dry acoustic.

If you would like to contribute some to the project, then please feel free to submit recordings - as a starting point I would try a full set of mf samples of each fret of each string, recorded for the full duration of the sound (ie until it has died away).

Once we have managed to normalise and process that as a base velocity layer, we can add more.


In reply to by ChurchOrganist

I would like to contribute to add harmonicas soundfont. We are a band using 4 types of harmonica, bass, chord, chordette and diatonic. I tried to create a soundfont for my bass a few months ago and the results were disastrous.

What we can do is provide the group with sounds, as you suggested. We can provide you with a set of recordings, I assume you prefer wav and see if the sound samples are correct.

A parallel question, is how easy will it be to include this soundfont with version 2.0? There was no room in the instrument definition used in Musescore 1.2, because it is limited to 127, without having to edit the instrument definition file. The limit is not with Musescore but with the definition file. Was this addressed in Musescore V2?

In reply to by Beaver

That sounds an excellent idea Snowman.

If you send me a private message via my account here I will email you back details of how to upload to the project's space at FlieFactory.com.

Regarding the instrument definition files - the main instruments.xml file is currently undergoing a complete revamp at the moment to make it compatible with MusicXML 3.0. There are definitely more than 127 instruments in that spec, so I can't see that being a problem.

If you want to help with this process and add harmonica instrument definitions, start off by reading the discussion here: http://musescore.org/en/node/17630

MuseScore 2.0 will support the use of multiple soundsfonts, so producing one for harmonicas would greatly enhance the program.


I am a guitar man myself, but that is a pretty good sound font and that was a great composition and if the performance was actually live I'm doubly impress.


wow! It was great to hear a JamesP.Johnson piece. I neglect this period warily but today was happily reminded what fun this music can be!!! I dont know if the piano sound here was anybetter than the usual one at muse but i would like to download it.How can i do this ?

In reply to by 21st ccentury boy

There are more examples of James P. Johnson music done with the new sound font at http://ormusic.home.comcast.net. And I have redone the Frost piece Hot Kumquots with the new font at http://ormusic.home.comcast.net/HotKumquotsSP.mp3.

BTW, our gurus have been concerned that availability of a large sound font would swamp the Musescore servers with an unreasonable amount of traffic. My large sound font has been available on the "box" server for several months and has been downloaded less than 30 times.

Sounds really good. This is a great option for users looking for a nice realistic sound.

Thanks for the contribution, those are way more than two cents!

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