Synthesisers and Buzz
Sound generation and your Soundcard

MIDI files sound different on different sound cards. MIDI files call on voices that are stored on the soundcard - these sounds can be rather poor re-creations of the instruments they are meant to synthesise - often the cheaper the soundcard, the worse the MIDI file sounds.

Early sound cards used FM synthesis to create sounds. FM synthesis takes tones at varying frequencies and combines them to create an approximation of a particular sound, such as the blare of a trumpet. While FM synthesis has matured to the point where it can sound very realistic, it does not compare to wavetable synthesis.

Wavetable synthesis works by recording a tiny sample of the actual instrument (a voice). This sample is then played in a loop to re-create the original instrument with variable accuracy. Wavetable synthesis has become the standard for most sound cards, but some of the inexpensive brands still use FM synthesis. A few cards provide both types.

Buzz machines (generators) construct their own waveforms and send the completed sounds to the soundcard for conversion to analogue sound. Buzz also allows you to define your own wavetable - sampling sounds you capture and binding them into your own songs. As such, Buzz offers the same quality sound regardless of the soundcard. Buzz machines use robust methods of synthesis, but differ from many synthesisers by lacking most conventional instrument voices. This would be frustrating from the point of a conventional musician looking for a french horn or a guitar.

It is not all beer and skittles though - buzz music generation is processor and RAM intensive - some of the complicated machines can tie up your processor and the program crashes on occasions where system resources are exhausted. Such is life for living on the edge, and losses due to annoying crashes can obviated by regular saving your work.

Go on to learn about the Buzz Interface ....

Thanks to Marshall Brain's "How Stuff Works" for some of this information.
Buzz © Jeskola
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