Microtuning With The Novation Peak & Bass Station II

In the last few years, microtonal tuning capabilities have evolved from a fairly niche interest into a fairly common feature on synthesizers.

This is driven by an increased interest in so-called ‘experimental’ tuning, in non-equal temperament and in tuning systems from around the world.

Many current synths support microtonal tuning – including synths from Moog, Novation, Sequential and others.

In this official Novation livestream video, product specialist Chris Calcutt (-Calc-) explores the world of microtuning in depth. He covers an introduction to microtonal music, how it can be used musically and even how to create custom tuning tables.

Calcutt focuses on the Novation Peak, which has deep microtonal support. He also takes a look at Leimma, a browser-based application for working with microtonal tuning and building custom tunings. Along the way, he demonstrates how to create a custom tuning system for the Bass Station II.

Are you using alternative tuning systems? If so, share your experiences in the comments!

22 thoughts on “Microtuning With The Novation Peak & Bass Station II

  1. Don’t waste your time with this. It takes him half an hour to come up with just intonation and he keeps noddeling on mono notes one after another, instead of showing of the harmonic relationships notes have when played together. Oh, we play notes together in music, what a surprise, huh? This is totally missing the point.
    This guy does not know what he is doing.

    1. Hey there, I don’t usual pop up and respond to chat in this kind of environment but in this instance I wanted to put a little context to the live stream so hopefully people don’t just write it off based your thoughts.

      I’m sorry you thought this was a waste of your time. My intention for this livestream was to really try to explain in basic terms how we get to the equal temperament that is presented to everybody on their keyboards, how we’re locked to it and hopefully encourage people to break from those constraints. Using the Novation synths and in particular Leimma software as tools to experiment with.

      Indeed as you say, harmony is one of the most important aspects of music but when you are starting out you don’t jump deep into Neapolitan 6ths, you learn a simple melody and start think about how scales work, this was the level I was trying to get to within an hour’s introduction.

      I am absolutely no expert in this, its fair to say I am really just starting my own journey with Microtunings but I hope that there are some folks out there that do get something from this basic introduction. There are many many many greater minds than mine on the subject but I wanted to give people who have no experience in Microtuning a context for them to explore it further.
      Having recently found Khyam Allami’s brilliant work on the Leimma software and with Microtuning features on Novation Bass Station, Peak and Summit already available I am personally excited to learn and explore more too.

      I get that this is not an advanced lesson, it was never meant to be and I’m not in a position to deliver one. But as a representative of a manufacturer making devices that people can use to explore this field, if I can get even just one or two people to experiment in a new area of music making using these tools, I am very happy with that.


      1. Don’t worry -CALC-, a thread is not a thread on this site until lala trolls it with some sort of negativity. If you want him to go away, just ask him for a link to any music he has created. You have done a good job of describing, from the very basics of well tempered traditional scales, up to how to create your own microtuning scales. I believe you have succeeded in what your original intention was for this video.

        1. Chris is as far i know a great synthesizer designer…Lala is a teletubbie.

          I gues Lala got lost and landed here… among the wrong audience :p

        2. This is literally theee most toxic online community I frequent. I have started to come for the news and stay for the inevitable drama. There is literally nothing anyone can do in the synth world that someone here will not criticize. It’s pretty comical, especially given how niche this field of interest is. I love you all, and also hate most of you 🙂

        3. @Jakelin
          he just blow off steam, it’s not a trolling,
          I’m not defending lala negativity but according to your logic if you are not a “chef” you can’t criticize a video about “molecular gastronomy”?

        1. There is no personal attack in my comment, I don’t do that.
          In fact it’s constructive for novation for further moves.
          What I did criticize is the misleading text synthhead wrote because it says:
          „ … explores the world of microtuning in depth“ 😉
          If it had said tec demo, I wouldn’t have bothered to watch.

          What I was asking for is someone who can give better demos with musical context.

          1. you’ve got a point there but your comment was full with negativity,
            if you really want to be constrictive you should try to sound constrictive and not dismissive

          2. Or you could take a hint and try and improve yourself as a human being a little.

            I’ve seen you make personal attacks on many an occasion. Regardless of the points you want to bring across, you rarely are able to do it without spewing hatred onto here. Always unwarranted & unnecessary.

      2. Thanks Chris, I think you did lower the threshold for many of us to go some more deeper into musical experimentation and thinking / listening out of the box (pun intended;-) ).
        Keep making videos like that!

  2. To cut to the chase:

    * Bass Station II added microtuning in firmware update 2.5.
    * The features are described in the document bsii2.5newfeaturesuserguide.pdf, not in the main manual.
    * It supports 9 tuning patches. Patch 0 is 12-equal ROM and the rest can be written to.
    * Tuning resolution is 0.006 cents and all 128 notes of the MIDI range can be arbitrarily tuned to any pitch.
    * It receives MIDI Tuning Standard type 2 messages, which are single note retuning messages, and you specify all 128 of them in one message to specify an entire tuning. The exact format is shown in the pdf file.
    * It has an extremely rare and useful feature where you can continuously morph in real time between any two scales.

      1. Thanks for all those technical details. That’s really interesting. I like when a tuning system lets you tune all notes and isn’t locked to a single octave that repeats.

  3. When I first played Bach’s 48 P&Fs with non-equal temperament, it all suddenly made a lot more sense. Pretty curious about trying this on something like the Peak now.

      1. For Bach works, try a Well Temperament like one of the Werkmeisters.

        For most other Baroque era keyboard works start with quarter comma meantone.

        Often you can figure out what temperament the composer likely used just by ear.

        The info I posted previously was for the BSII. No Well Temperaments or Meantones are included as presets but that’s no problem since you can just load them up yourself. For Peak it has 16 user specifiable tunings in firmware release 1.2, all of which are preset to 12 equal. And you can load any tuning you want there, including any of a variety of Baroque scales you can find or create yourself.

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