ODDSound + Aphex Twin Intro New Microtuning Tool, MTS-ESP, That “Challenges The Dominance Of Western Tuning”

UK-based ODDSound, in collaboration with Aphex Twin (Richard D. James) have introduced MTS-ESP, a new plugin designed to make it easier to work with microtuning.

They say that MTS-ESP sets notes completely free and “challenges the dominance of western tuning, giving global cultures tools to compose in traditional local tunings, whilst extending the possibilities for all.”

MTS-ESP builds on the work of Robert Rich and Carter Scholz in creating the MIDI Tuning Standard (MTS). While MTS has been around since 1992, it’s never been ubiquitously supported, and is only now becoming more common in synthesizers.

The MTS-ESP Suite provides an intuitive toolkit for creating microtonal music, letting you create new tunings and control the tuning of all of your synths.

Features:

  • Import and export .scl, .kbm and .tun tuning and mapping files
  • Create new tuning systems, manually and algorithmically
  • Control the tuning of your whole studio from within a single plugin
  • Retune any plugin or MIDI device with either MTS-ESP, MPE, MTS SysEx or MIDI pitch bend
  • Automate tuning changes across all plugins and MIDI devices
  • Visualize and compare tuning systems
  • Convert compositions from one tuning system to another
  • Create subset scales by analysing MIDI to only include used notes
  • Use a Novation Launchpad as a microtonal keyboard and chord player
  • Create tunings by ear and tune instruments with the built in synth
  • Zero-latency, low CPU use
  • Simple, ergonomic resizable interface
  • Mac Retina and Windows HiDPI support
  • Free, completely functional 30-day demo

Pricing and Availability

MTS-ESP is available now for Mac & Windows for $110.19. A free 30-day demo version is also available.

25 thoughts on “ODDSound + Aphex Twin Intro New Microtuning Tool, MTS-ESP, That “Challenges The Dominance Of Western Tuning”

      1. How so? You can set any number of tones per octave that you like and then adjust each note individually. It doesn’t get any more “full microtuning” than that

        1. Besides this looks far more complex and time consuming to learn for anyone to assert that it might “Challenge The Dominance Of Western Tuning”. How absurd. Most musicians don’t give a toss for anything else and just wouldn’t be bothered. Or they wouldn’t want to part with the money. However if you have Bitwig, it’s a native plugin that is simple, effective and you could learn how to use in minutes

          1. I tried the Bitwig microtuning when they first implemented it and it’s limited to 12 semitones, which is anything but full.
            I contacted them at that time and they said everything would have to be re-worked to get anything better than that, unless they did update it?
            With this new MTS-ESP, it took me about 2 minutes after installing it to get it working, the tuning morphing is totally awesome !

            1. Ok, I just checked Bitwig again, its only 12 note tuning!
              That’s the lamest implementation of microtuning you can get, this MTS-ESP is ALL the notes, all 128 of them, each one can be any frequency Bitwig is only 12 notes, only 1 octave.

              1. Hey Simon, what sort of features have you found to be the most helpful to create scales when working on a physical instrument? Been working on a synth that’s fairly far along and wouldn’t even consider making it unless it had quick access to Full Microtonal editing, part of the point. We’re working with one tuning knob with access down to .0000 quick copy paste of note values (and multiple note values), tuning of multiple notes simultaneously in ratio to one another and of course save custom scale per patch. MTS-ESP is awesome!

    1. How so? You can set any number of tones per octave that you like and then adjust each note individually in cents. It doesn’t get any more “full microtuning” than that

  1. This reminds me how far behind most gear is today compared to what companies were trying 20-30 years ago.

    My Kurzweil is 20+ years old and has support for built-in and custom microtuning tables and tons of other features you don’t find on most modern synths.

    Were synths from those days just too complex for most people to understand?

    Synths like the Kurzweil and the Elektron Analog Four are time-consuming to really get into, but once you do, they spoil you for lesser synths.

    1. yeh the Korg Z1 has that as well.. some built in stuff like pythagorean and so forth but also you could just tune each key however you wanted

      it was my first big “pro” synth – great for all kinds of stuff

      even though the physical modeling was kinda iffy for actual simulations you could make some ultra bizarre patches with it

    2. allot of synth like some of elektron you mentioned and dave smith have x10 the feature of kurzweil
      I guess it’s just depend how you want to feel better about yourself for opening a manual 🙂

  2. The challenge is to find an audience for microtuning works. Unless you develop an ear for it, the results generally sound merely out of tune. You can’t buy it anymore, but “Beauty In The Beast” by Wendy Carlos is the best showing for different tunings I’ve ever heard. Once you hear that, you get it. The display is set to Carlos Super Just, if you need proof.

    She did a piece based on the brass overtone series and it’ll freak you out. It sounds alien, but its also fascinating. More people would take to it if they heard how well its strangeness can compliment more ‘normal’ songs.

    1. I don’t think aphex twin is challenged to find audience. he just getting more poplar now days.
      Most don’t even care it’s not always chromatic scale. some of is scale are so mathematically harmonic you don’t even notice this.

      I had the opposite reaction. I couldn’t understand why some things sounds so musical and realistic and why it doesn’t sound “right” with my keyboard, apparently it was some shorts of interesting scale.
      most of the sounds in our world are not chromatic.
      but even in music allot of nostalgic “sound effect” that sounds very musical are not based on the 12 notes scale, not to mention other culture scale.

    2. What Wendy did there is really outstanding.
      Never heard someone sail away with the pitch like that.
      But if I play it to my friends they think of sour milk

      I really don’t get the craze about microtuning lately
      Honky tonk for every body. Meh

      Some of the worlds scales are interesting but then you end in the weird situation that your chords don’t work anymore …
      And you need another controller for your sounds, as soon as you leave 12/octave. Piano keyboard really doesn’t work then anymore. I get knots in my brain if I try to play that on a piano keyboard.

      1. I don’t think it’s a craze yet. it’s the same guy who collaborate with different companies.
        Novation, Korg and now this.
        He does make a good use of it in his music.

    3. I don’t think there’s any trouble finding an audience for works in different tunings, even the third series of Stranger Things introduced a microtonal theme. It’s pretty hard to go through an evening of TV and not hear something with alternative tunings and it’s starting to creep into pop culture too.

      Of course, the other obvious point is that “microtuning works” can sound (and be) more in tune than 12 TET, and justified intervals have become completely normal in some forms of music.

  3. “Some of the worlds scales are interesting but then you end in the weird situation that your chords don’t work anymore …”

    That’s because most non-Western musical traditions aren’t rooted in Western functional harmony and the idea of chord progressions. Those scales were not meant to be stacked vertically.

    I love what RDJ is doing and I think it’s super cool. But I also think that as long as we’re all still attached to the idea of “applying” these scales to Western musical structures, we won’t fully appreciate them for how they’re musically used. Things like Arabic, Indian, Japanese, and even older Western scales/modes are used melodically. The beauty of their microtonality lies in how one note transitions into another using specific ornamentations and articulations and where they land, not just having them mapped onto a keyboard interface and you just plonk them out using MIDI on/off messages (or with a little wiggle on your note bend wheel). Most Westerners think monophonic/homophonic music is simplistic because there’s no harmony or chords, but the horizontal/melodic complexity is exactly where their sophistication lies.

  4. Yep, then go and use them to play 3 note chords with a banging 4/4. You certainly freed the shackles of western tuning there. Or is this more a trend in advertising dressed as musical xenophobia.

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