Voices and Tones

Tiresome Tonal Terminology

Do cats eat bats or do bats eat cats?  Are voices made from tones or are tones made from voices?  A fleeting reference amidst some earlier waffle concerning the Juno 60’s workings, compounded with Roland’s inability to clarify an answer in their official specifications, means Gigadenzian lore shall henceforth dissipate all confusion with these consistent explanations.

When we refer to “tones”, we refer to the samples stored inside the synthesiser’s memory or ROM, and thus, the instruments they purport to emulate.  A “tone” is finalized package of looped audio, signed, sealed and ready for delivery, not a building block or supplement for anything else.

When we refer to “Voices”, we refer to the waveforms tones are made of, just as when we define molecules by the atoms that compose the.

Two hydrogen “atoms” and one Oxygen “atom” bind together to form a single “molecule” of water which, when replicated countless times, yields a refreshing drink.  In the same fashion, three voices or waveforms with related or contrasting highlights, blend together to create a single sample or “tone” of Flute or Fender which, when replicated countless times, gives rise to a beautiful melody.

Though voices are the building blocks for tones, there are many occasions where a solo voice or one looped waveform is all that the tone needs to fulfil its role, just as a single atom of Helium is its molecule’s sole occupant and when looped, is all that is required to lift a party balloon or lend your own voice a sensuous masculinity….

This is important when we consider a synthesiser’s advertised “Polyphonic” capacity.  When Roland and others gleefully play the numbers game, do they mean 128 simultaneous “voices” or “tones”?  Time is of the essence so let’s squander no more, it’s voices.  Thus, in order to reach its full “Polyphonic” prowess, each tone could only consist of a single voice and any merged, multi-layered tones will effectively reduce this limit depending on the number of voices used to compile them.

With a slice of the basics committed to memory, let us relax explore some hardware that will provide tangible and stimulating examples of all that laborious terminology.  As promised , below are some literal, visual and audible illustrations of my studio’s stalwart enablers of work and providers of pleasure. Just click to return to the main page and begin exploring.