Better Music for GM ScummVM (and DOSBox) games

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Seldon
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Post by Seldon » Fri Mar 23, 2018 7:07 pm

Indeed, I'm playing talkie version right now, but my memories come from text version. That's why harp seemed to quiet for me.

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cwadge
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Post by cwadge » Fri Mar 23, 2018 7:09 pm

Seldon wrote:Indeed, I'm playing talkie version right now, but my memories come from text version. That's why harp seemed to quiet for me.
If your ear is as good as your memory, I'm looking forward to more feedback. I want FatBoy to essentially be a better version of what we all remember, so that's fantastic.

Lebostein
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Post by Lebostein » Fri Mar 30, 2018 6:52 pm

Examples sounds bad. I like very abstract MIDI-Sound and real recorded Instrument-Sound or in some cases well sampled virtual instruments. But this synthetic instruments are horrible in my ears... it seems like the "Uncanny valley" of music. Sound fonts want to sound like real instruments, but they can not... then rather completely abstract sounds

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cwadge
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Post by cwadge » Fri Mar 30, 2018 6:59 pm

Lebostein wrote:Examples sounds bad. I like very abstract MIDI-Sound and real recorded Instrument-Sound or in some cases well sampled virtual instruments. But this synthetic instruments are horrible in my ears... it seems like the "Uncanny valley" of music. Sound fonts want to sound like real instruments, but they can not... then rather completely abstract sounds
Examples of which? This thread references two soundfonts, namely UHD and FatBoy. That said, if you prefer a more synthetic sound, you'll probably like SGM a lot. Or, you can always make your own based on older synthesizers. But as for me, I'm not going to go that route with either of my own projects.

Lebostein
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Post by Lebostein » Sat Mar 31, 2018 8:40 am

I mean the mp3 examples from the first post of this thread, I don't know which sound fonts are used for this.

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cwadge
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Post by cwadge » Sat Mar 31, 2018 5:39 pm

Lebostein wrote:I mean the mp3 examples from the first post of this thread, I don't know which sound fonts are used for this.
That'd be UHD.

FatBoy is the new project, and what the latter half of this thread refers to. Unlike UHD it has no design constraints, although it is still a work in progress.

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cwadge
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FatBoy BETA Soundfont updated to version 0.765

Post by cwadge » Sat Mar 31, 2018 8:36 pm

New minor FatBoy release today, version 0.765, a relatively trivial change overall that took a lot of detailed work to accomplish.

https://pub.dotbalm.org/misc/FatBoy-v0765.7z

And a sample to showcase the changes:

▶ Roland SC-88 Pro demo track 19: Strings

Changelog:
• 84 individual changes to sample start offsets of the GM solo violin instrument for more consistent and accurate attack thresholds

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almeath
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Post by almeath » Thu Apr 05, 2018 3:49 pm

Sorry, I was off the grid for a while there.

Thanks so much for your exceptional ongoing efforts to improve FatBoy.

I think it is going from strength to strength and in my opinion it now far surpasses SGM in Sierra games where the soundtracks were composed specifically for General MIDI rather than MT-32.

Using my previous reference point of Beauty's Theme from King's Quest VI, are you able to advise what is happening specifically between the 1:23 and 1:26 marks?

Is this perhaps the same issue I noticed in the Castle of the Crown theme, where certain instruments seem to blend notes? You mentioned it was because the instrument set in FatBoy relies less on synthesizers and more on real instrument samples?

If it were not for those two instances I would say it is already perfect.

SGM:

http://userweb.eftel.com/~almeath/mac/K ... ty_SGM.mp3

FatBoy:

http://userweb.eftel.com/~almeath/mac/KQ6_beauty_FB.mp3

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cwadge
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Post by cwadge » Thu Apr 05, 2018 4:52 pm

almeath wrote:[...]
Thanks so much for your exceptional ongoing efforts to improve FatBoy.
You're most welcome. I've still got some design goals I haven't met yet, but I'll continue to work on it whenever I have the time and availability.

almeath wrote:I think it is going from strength to strength and in my opinion it now far surpasses SGM in Sierra games where the soundtracks were composed specifically for General MIDI rather than MT-32.

Using my previous reference point of Beauty's Theme from King's Quest VI, are you able to advise what is happening specifically between the 1:23 and 1:26 marks?

Is this perhaps the same issue I noticed in the Castle of the Crown theme, where certain instruments seem to blend notes? You mentioned it was because the instrument set in FatBoy relies less on synthesizers and more on real instrument samples?

If it were not for those two instances I would say it is already perfect.

SGM:

http://userweb.eftel.com/~almeath/mac/K ... ty_SGM.mp3

FatBoy:

http://userweb.eftel.com/~almeath/mac/KQ6_beauty_FB.mp3
Yes, you're right. This is the natural staccato of the flute, which is "soft" compared to some other woodwinds. There is a slight breath "ramp-up" sound, which is part of the reason it may sound indistinct when played in short, rapid succession. In practice, many flutists overcome this in orchestral works by playing their staccatos slightly ahead of the written music, and/or by modifying their tonguing to make each additional note more defined.

That all said, you may see the conundrum. Do I ruin the natural staccato of the concert flute by removing the attack phase entirely, thus reducing its subtlety for some arrangements, or do I leave it and ruin the legato in others? There may be a middle ground, however. It might make sense to remove or reduce the relatively soft staccato of the higher flute registers (to emulate flutist tonguing), and leave the natural staccato in the middle and low registers. I'll experiment with this premise and see how it actually sounds in practice.

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cwadge
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FatBoy BETA Soundfont updated to version 0.766

Post by cwadge » Sat Apr 07, 2018 4:17 am

Thanks to a report from almeath, I've been looking closely into the GM flute preset to try to resolve a bit of a catch-22. To improve the legato or wreck the staccato, that is the question.

Well, I did experiment with reducing the initial pressure build-up of the sound chamber in the flute samples, but really that just made it sound lobotomized. In the end I was able to improve the attack somewhat without reducing quality, but it will never be quite as well-defined in fast legato as a purely synthetic flute sample (as in the case of SGM's flute).

Re-examining the flute also uncovered multiple fairly ridiculous mistakes I'd apparently made while constructing the preset, namely in the bottom register of the softer velocity instrument and in the very top register of the harder velocity instrument. Both issues are corrected, as they should have been the first time I put the damned thing together. :? Oh well, at least I caught it eventually.

https://pub.dotbalm.org/misc/FatBoy-v0766.7z

Here's a sample of that rebuilt concert flute in action:

▶ Bjorn Lynne: Two Kings In Hadinland

This piece emphasizes how well the flute sounds in subtle arrangements, which is really lost with more synthetic woodwinds. It also demonstrates FatBoy's shiny new steel string acoustic, the samples for which came from a pickup'd Taylor from what I'm told. It certainly sounds better than the ratty Yamaha campfire acoustic I mic'd for UHD's steel string (it also found its way into many other popular soundfonts -- sorry everyone, that guitar was a POS).

Changelog:
• Corrected GM concert flute's soft velocity in low registers
• Corrected GM concert flute's hard velocity in high registers
• Slight adjustment to GM concert flute's volume envelope release
• Added just a touch of reverb to the nylon string guitar

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cwadge
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FatBoy BETA Soundfont updated to version 0.768

Post by cwadge » Sat Apr 07, 2018 8:46 pm

Had some more free time today, and used some of it to work on FatBoy. One of the bigger changes was a flute revamp per a bug report by almeath, wherein the attack on the flute didn't sound quite punchy enough in quick legato arrangements.

https://pub.dotbalm.org/misc/FatBoy-v0768.7z

And the obligatory flute showcase sample:

▶ Duke Nukem 3D - Track 32

I wound up having to replace the flute with some of my older samples which, while not quite the quality of the newer ones (the latter being recorded with a somewhat higher-quality instrument), it does work well for both staccato and legato. I also cleaned up some other presets in the process.

Changelog:
• Reworked GM concert flute using older samples for better versatility
• Major cleanup and slight tuning adjustment of oboe
• Attenuation adjustment of "Bass & Lead" preset to coincide with other bass levels

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cwadge
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FatBoy BETA Soundfont updated to version 0.77

Post by cwadge » Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:22 pm

More minor improvements to the FatBoy SoundFont (v0.77), namely to the flute and choral "aahs".

https://pub.dotbalm.org/misc/FatBoy-v077.7z

Here's a quickie to showcase the new, crisper mixed "aah chorus" samples:

▶ Quest For Glory IV - Graveyard

Changelog:
• Concert flute reworked yet again for a best-of-both-worlds approach. Short-attack concert flute samples were used for higher-velocity ranges, natural attack samples utilized in lower-velocity range.
• Found and made use of better quality recordings of the same choral samples in previous versions of FatBoy (and UHD). This version's samples are both crisper and longer (for more natural-sounding looping).

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almeath
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Post by almeath » Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:50 pm

I thought this track from King's Quest VII would be good to test the "aahs":

SGM:

http://userweb.eftel.com/~almeath/mac/SGM_KQ7_VU.mp3

FatBoy:

http://userweb.eftel.com/~almeath/mac/FB_KQ7_VU.mp3

The "aahs" start at about 17 seconds in.

Is it just me, or does something sound slightly out of tune at the start of the track .. possibly the flute?

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almeath
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Post by almeath » Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:53 pm

I also wanted to mention that the change of flute and subsequent adjustments are very good, especially in the previous tracks I mentioned from King's Quest VI that were affected by the staccato and legato issues.

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cwadge
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Post by cwadge » Wed Apr 18, 2018 2:37 pm

almeath wrote:I thought this track from King's Quest VII would be good to test the "aahs":

SGM:

http://userweb.eftel.com/~almeath/mac/SGM_KQ7_VU.mp3

FatBoy:

http://userweb.eftel.com/~almeath/mac/FB_KQ7_VU.mp3

The "aahs" start at about 17 seconds in.

Is it just me, or does something sound slightly out of tune at the start of the track .. possibly the flute?
It does sound kind of "off"; I'm not sure whether something is out of tune, or if it just happens to be at a particular pitch where the some of the resonance from the vibrato on a couple of instruments are dissonant. As soon as I get a chance I'll isolate the instruments in that arrangement and try to figure out what's going on. Thanks for bringing it up!
almeath wrote:I also wanted to mention that the change of flute and subsequent adjustments are very good, especially in the previous tracks I mentioned from King's Quest VI that were affected by the staccato and legato issues.
Thank you for the feedback. I think it's worked out fairly well too, though the new chorus samples are now so well defined they really cut through a mix and sound subjectively louder to me. Though I'm pretty sure they are mixed to exactly the same relative attenuation as the previous aah chorus preset, I'm going to have to double-check that just to put my mind at ease. Maybe I'm just not used to the chorus sounding so distinct in a mix.

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