Tune Me Up

For microtonality freaks only — I gathered the information below for an article in Electronic Musician. It’s still available on their website, or was the last time I looked. But just to spread it around a little, I thought I’d include it here.

Scala is a terrific software resource for designing and analyzing any sort of microtonal scale you might dream up. But as a hybrid command line/GUI program, it’s a little twisty to use. Scala’s native file format has the .scl extension, but software synthesizers prefer to see microtonal scale files in .tun format. Scala can save a tuning in .tun format, but you have to know how to do it. Here’s how:

First, create a directory called tun in your Scala directory in which to store the new files. Load an .scl file or create a new tuning of your own using Scala’s features. Then, in the Scala command line, type the following commands:

cd tun
set synth 112
set map_freq 440.0 69
set middle 60
send/file filename.tun

The first line changes Scala’s output directory to the tun folder you’ve created. The 112 in the second line is a Scala code that sets it to output in the .tun file format, and the third line specifies the frequency in Hertz of a MIDI key (in this case, 440.0 Hz for MIDI note number 69, which is key A3); this key will be used as the reference or center of the tuning.

The fourth line sets the starting point for the range of frequencies defined in the .scl file. In this case, we’re telling Scala that we want 1/1 (the reference pitch of the scale) to be MIDI note 60, which is Middle C. In the last line, substitute whatever file name you like.

After the .tun file is saved, you can load it into your soft synth using whatever menu command the synth provides for that purpose.

Footnote: If you’re using Windows 7 and you’ve allowed the Scala installer to install the program in the default location (which is Program Files (x86)), you may not be able to save files to a directory within the Scala directory. For this reason, you may want to install Scala to the root of your C: drive.

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