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Old 03-16-2016, 06:37 PM   #630
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Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Posts: 479
Default Getting vocal about voices

Hey gang,

Granted, at the moment we have three-ish voices per channel, but I would say that the number of voices could/should be increased significantly, because this feature serves some very special purposes in a DAW context, not just from the angle of notation software. It's all about harnessing the hybrid nature of the beast.

I would suggest 16(!) voices per channel, for the simple reason that if you use something like a voice to bus router (and you're welcome to use mine), you instantly have 256* different potential sound sources available on a single track: 16 channels @ 16 voices per channel. 16 of everything for everyone!

This may seem a bit extreme at first glance, but here are my thoughts and rationale, in no particular order...
  • Don't we want our notation to be as compact, convenient and modular as possible? Unless it's a particularly dense bit of writing, we can have the full score accessible from a single track, so everything is in one place. Plus we can use the filters to show/hide individual channels/voices for parts and so on.
  • We can organise our material into layers that make the most sense for our workflow. Ask yourself: What constitutes a track? What constitutes a channel? What constitutes a voice? These answers will be different from person to person and (often) from project to project, instrument to instrument, etc. Here are some examples involving the use of voices:
    • Make a sketch of the overall woodwind texture with the default voice and a general, polyphonic "ensemble" sound. Gradually tease out the lines by transferring the notes to specific, monophonic, legato-enabled instrumental timbres living in the other voices.
    • If you need more detailed string parts for the next Metamorphosen or Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, split the parts across 3 channels: high, middle and low strings, or perhaps symphonic, chamber and solo strings. That's 48 individual string lines (equal to the current maximum for an entire track) on channels 1-3 and you still have 13 more channels to burn on this track alone!
    • For your next assignment, you don't have anything like the same number of strings but instead need a giant brass section. With access to so many extra voices, you can still use the same template layout without altering anything: just bring those different sets of sounds online and use your brass channels 11-14 for up to 64-part polyphony.
  • You certainly don't need to use all of the voices all of the time, but they're there if you do. Maybe one channel (your choir, say) needs 12 voices and another (your harpsichord) only needs one or two. That's obviously fine too.
  • From an implementation/display perspective, Reaper could populate the notation editor with more staves to make room as the number of active voices grows. Perhaps 2-4 per staff, depending on preference and/or density of notes, and choice of clefs, of course. You'd probably want to arrange the staves vertically in voice order, so the notation layout is most transparent.
Some of these features have certain pre-requisites. The last point I mentioned would be an extension of the staff-per-channel version of "page view", which I don't think exists yet; I'm trying not to get too disconcerted by this. Also, note off disambiguation per voice, as I mentioned elsewhere, would help when parts are frequently crossing and generally being a bit messy and confusing in the pitch department.

* or even more if you choose to implement mappings based on custom notehead appearance: split the voices off per bus (routing to destination bus 1 on each track) and then use noteheads as a secondary bus divider (routing to bus 2-16 from each of those tracks) for a nearly incalculable number of possibilities, limited only by your imagination, computing power... and sample library collection!

Last edited by ijijn; 03-17-2016 at 02:31 AM. Reason: slight rewording and clarification
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