MadSci Network: Computer Science

Re: How does Creative Music Synth work?

Date: Mon Apr 7 13:39:26 2003
Posted By: Aurelio Ramos, Grad student, Computer Engineering
Area of science: Computer Science
ID: 1047175223.Cs

There exist two items under the name Creative Music Synth. One of them is 
the driver to access the FM on chip synthesizer of early models of Sound 
Blaster cards. The other is a Sample based General MIDI software 
synthesizer that allows a user to play Standard MIDI Files without the 
need for an On Chip synthesizer or a MIDI interface, by just using the 
audio playback capabilities of the sound card and the CPU for 
synthesizing sounds.

The FM synthesizer in the early sound blaster cards consists of a special 
chip originally made by Yamaha which allows synthesis of simple 2 or 3 
operator FM sounds and has limited number of simultaneous voices.

FM synthesis is a way to generate sounds by using oscillators whose base 
frequency can be modulated by other oscillators. An oscillator in FM 
synthesis is also known as an Operator. The frequencies of those 
oscillators are expressed as multiples of the fundamental pitch of the 
tone being played, and can sometimes be fractional numbers for enharmonic 
sounds. Although FM synthesis is far from intuitive or easy to 
understand, a common attribute tends to be that the amount of modulation 
being applied to the carrier operator tends to vary the amount 
of "brightness" of a sound. The gain level for each operator is 
controlled by an envelope so that the brightness and loudness of a sound 
can be independently controlled over time.

The Creative Music Synth that appears in modern operating systems (i.e. 
Windows 2000) is a sample playback synthesizer. Like all other sample 
playback synthesizers, it uses a collection of sound recordings from 
actual musical instruments at various pitches, and its able to play those 
recordings at different speeds in order to achieve the entire tonal range 
of a keyboard. This collection of sounds is normally reffered to as a 
wavetable, and many sample playback based synthesizers are also called 
wavetable synthesizers.

Hope this answers your question!

Your mad scientist,

-Aurelio R. Ramos

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