Monday, March 13, 2017

"Bare Plate" by Ontario Emperor now available on Bandcamp

If you've been reading the Empoprise-MU music blog recently, you've probably gotten an idea that something's up.

It started by my February 27 post about the temporary (or perhaps permanent) demise of last.fm's Music Manager, which once allowed me to host the entire "Brevity Is" music collection. The post concluded with the words

Of course, there are other music hosting services...

Then I wrote something a little over a week ago, along with a picture.


Then last Friday, I posted some instructions on how to replace the Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth in Windows 10.

Then yesterday (Sunday) I noted that Bandcamp songs scrobble to last.fm if you're using the last.fm Chrome extension, and I even embedded a song in the Sunday post - "Ringed by Lovers" by Helen Sventitsky, a long-time favorite song of mine that can be found on Bandcamp.

Well, tonight I'm going to embed another song that you can find on Bandcamp.



Yup. Tonight I can formally announce that for the first time in almost eight years, an Ontario Emperor song is now available on the tubes.

And, as you can probably figure out, it's on Bandcamp. This means that (at least for now) it's not available on Spotify, but (as noted above) I can still scrobble it to my heart's content.

And so can you.


"But wait a minute," you might be saying. The picture that you shared previously was in color, but the picture for 'Bare Plate' is in black and white. What gives?"

To be continued...

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Bandcamp plays scrobble to last.fm

Well, at least when using last.fm's Chrome extension (which also supports scrobbles from YouTube, but the tags are sometimes messed up).

Good to know.



P.S. Apparently you have to go to the Bandcamp site for the scrobbler to work; it won't scrobble from an embedded player. But you should play this song anyway because I like the chords.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Replacing the Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth in Windows 10

I guess it's fairly obvious that I'm working on something in regards to my old Ontario Emperor music project. But as I got deeper into the project, I decided that I needed to address something.

You see, the very first Ontario Emperor mp3 files - i.e. most of the ones that I uploaded to mp3.com - were all created on a Macintosh. But the final ones - "Non Sequitur 15" and the entire "Brevity Is" collection - were created after I got rid of my Mac, and therefore were composed and assembled on various Windows computers.

And they were...lacking.

Finally, after a decade and a half of putting up with this, I thought that maybe I ought to explore the issue and understand why MIDI files on Windows (I convert MIDI to audio) didn't sound all that great.

On Windows, the system used to generate MIDI sounds is called the Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth. It was a good solution (back in 1991).

Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth is the MIDI Synth that is bundled with Windows releases. It is licensed by Roland and based off of the first release version of Virtual Sound Canvas, at the time a commercial product. It contains its SC-55-based sound set which, while more compact and downsampled, was considered to be high quality at the time. Though its limitations have caused it to age poorly, it is still used as a standard for MIDI composers.

It turns out that it's really easy to upgrade to a better MIDI synth on Windows 10 - so easy that I could do it. To do so, you need a different MIDI synth, as well as a different (i.e. bigger) soundfont.

For the MIDI synth, I followed Anvil Studio's recommendation and installed the VirtualMIDISynth from CoolSoft - although there are others available.

For the soundfont, I chose Timbres of Heaven from Don Allen - primarily because it had step-by-step instructions on how to use Timbres of Heaven with VirtualMIDISynth. Again, there are a number of soundfonts out there.

After that, the only thing that I had to do was to go into Anvil Studio and set my MIDI Out Device to be CoolSoft (in the View menu, I chose the "Synthesizers, MIDI + Audio Devices" menu item).


So after that was set up, I played one of my MIDI files through Anvil Studio - and noticed a significant improvement.

Time to redo some audio files...

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Ontario Emperor music project is set to announce...something

Back in 2009, I wrote a post about my Ontario Emperor six-song collection "Brevity Is" and how wonderful Anvil Studio was (although the free version limited songs to less than a minute) and how wonderful last.fm was as a host.

Then last month, I discovered that access to my last.fm uploaded files was disabled - for all I know, permanently. (Yes, I know that last.fm is supposedly working on something new and wonderful, but I've been down this road before.)

But what if I were to find another music file host, and if I were to start uploading stuff - perhaps an audio file, perhaps some artwork?


And what if (before uploading any audio files to that host) I were to finally get around to ordering Anvil Studio's Multi-Audio 1/8 accessory that would allow me to create audio files of more than a minute in length?

Yeah, that would be nice.