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Image Line Software Morphine (Bonus)

12/21/2007

This online bonus material supplements the Quick Pick review of Image Line Software Morphine in the January 2008 issue of Electronic Musician.

I started delving into additive synthesis with a Kawai K5m, and one of my last few hardware synth holdouts is my Kawai K5000W. Although the basic tone-generation procedure started with the ability to set levels for up to 128 harmonics per oscillator, the synths never quite met all the requirements for a textbook definition of the technique. One of the most obvious shortfalls was the difficulty in achieving the inharmonic components that contribute to sounds in the real world; that and the ability to provide individualized envelopes for all the frequencies that comprise sounds were processor-intensive tasks beyond the synths'' design capabilities.

Still, their sounds were intriguing, producing timbres none of their hardware contemporaries could touch. Moreover, because of (or despite) the hardware instruments'' limitations, the manufacturers found ways to keep things more interesting than a simple aggregation of sine waves could offer. For example, the Kawai K5000W held sampled attacks in ROM to make up for the harmonics-only additive engine. Both instruments let you group sine waves and route them to one of four envelope generators, and further hedged their sound-design bets by including a subtractive-synthesis engine, as well as a variety of means to morph between oscillators. Although neither instrument could analyze acoustic sounds, third-party resynthesis software, such as Syntonyx Overtone or Emagic SoundDiver, could reverse engineer samples and interpret the spectra as MIDI System Exclusive data.

Once the spectra was interpreted, the program could generate a patch with an oscillator spectrum based on the sample. Many of these hybrid approaches—including resynthesis—show up in the Kawai instruments'' considerably more powerful software siblings.

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