Samplers and synthesizers have been for decades the cornerstones of virtual music.
The virtues and drawbacks of each approach are well known. Simply put, samplers, while preserving the basic timbre of the real instrument, result in a static sound, which cannot properly morph across dynamics, vibrato, portamento etc. This is particularly true for solo instruments.
Synthesizers allow for greater expressiveness, but at the expense of the realism of sound.
Despite recent improvements, the situation has not substantially changed over the last two decades, and the difference between real and virtual instruments is still easily perceived at the very first listening.
The purpose of our research and development was to overcome these limitations, leading to virtual instruments which could not be distinguished from the real ones.
This has been achieved by our sample modeling approach.
Identification of the "fingerprints" of high quality instruments has been carried out by state-of-the art recordings of chromatically sampled notes, typical articulations, and expressive phrases, played by excellent professionals in an anechoic environment. An "adaptive model", based on the physical properties of the instrument, and exploiting the knowledge of the performance characteristics was then constructed. The purpose of the model was to minimize the differences between the real phrases and those played by the virtual instrument. Sophisticated technologies, including proprietary "harmonic alignment" (ref.1), de/reconvolution with modal resonances (ref.2), innovative techniques for sample modulation, along with advanced AI midi processing, are used for real time construction of all articulations and morphing across dynamics, vibrato, legato and portamento. The result is a user-friendly virtual instrument with few midi controllers, which can be played in real time or from a sequencer, in standalone mode or as a plugin, for PC or Mac.
The played phrases are now virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.
Besides, it's a great fun to play.
1) "Time alignment of the phase of a set of musical sounds to be used with samplers" . Patent-pending. Filed by Giorgio Tommasini, as of September 23th 2004.
2) "Determination of modal resonances and body impulse response of a musical instrument by
analysis of sounds performed with pitch changes. Application to the synthesis of vibrato & portamento with samplers". Patent-pending. Filed by Giorgio Tommasini and Stefano Lucato, as of December 20th 2004.