#scene #synthesizer #parameters #sound #patch #processing #design

nightly surge-scene

surge synthesizer -- a scene represents a configuration of parameters and routing

12 releases

0.2.12-alpha.0 Apr 7, 2023
0.2.11-alpha.0 Dec 19, 2022
0.2.5-alpha.0 Jun 21, 2022
0.2.4-alpha.0 Mar 14, 2022
0.1.42-alpha.0 Oct 27, 2021

#54 in #scene

41 downloads per month
Used in surge-synthesizer

GPL-3.0 license

26K SLoC


The SurgeScene struct represents a single voice scene in the Surge synthesizer. It contains a collection of oscillators, filters, envelopes, LFOs, modulation routings, modulation sources, step sequencers, and various effects units that are used to create the sound of the scene. The struct also contains references to handles for various time-related units, MIDI and MPE input units, a tuner, a synth input, and a collection of voices.

The SurgeScene struct has functions for playing and releasing notes, handling parameter changes, and managing the state of the scene. These functions interact with the various components of the scene to create and modify its sound output.


A SurgePatch is a collection of settings and parameters that define the sound of a synthesizer. It consists of a metadata struct that stores information about the patch, such as its name, author, and description. The params array contains the values of all the patch parameters, which can be adjusted to modify the sound.

A SurgePatch also contains one or more SurgeScene structs, which define the configuration for individual sounds or voices within the patch. Each scene contains settings for oscillators, filters, envelopes, and modulation sources that are used to create a particular sound.

In addition to scenes, a SurgePatch may also contain one or more SurgeEffect structs, which define effects such as reverb or delay that can be applied to the sound.

The patch may also include optional data for tuning, keymapping, and pitch bend range, as well as a flag indicating whether the patch is configured for MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression) mode.

114> what is a patch in the context of a software synthesizer? how could we improve on its design?

In the context of a software synthesizer, a patch represents a set of parameters that define the sound of the synthesizer. It includes things like oscillator settings, filter settings, envelope settings, modulation sources and destinations, and so on.

The design of a patch can be improved in a few ways:

  1. User interface: The way patches are presented to the user can have a big impact on usability. An intuitive and easy-to-use interface can make it easier for musicians to create and save their own patches.

  2. Parameter organization: The way parameters are organized within a patch can also affect usability. Grouping related parameters together and using clear and consistent names can make it easier to understand and tweak a patch.

  3. Patch sharing: Making it easy for users to share and download patches can be a great way to build a community around a synthesizer. This can be done through online forums, preset libraries, or built-in patch sharing features within the software itself.

  4. Integration with hardware: If the synthesizer is designed to work with external hardware, integrating patch management with that hardware can be a big help. For example, allowing users to save patches directly to a connected hardware synth can be more convenient than having to transfer them manually.

Overall, a well-designed patch system can be a key factor in the success of a software synthesizer, both in terms of usability and community engagement.

115> could you provide more detailed information on each of these points?

Sure, here are more details on each of the points:

  1. Complexity: A patch can have a lot of parameters, some of which may not be relevant to the user's needs. This can make it difficult for the user to navigate and tweak the patch to their liking. A more streamlined approach could be to group the parameters into categories or sections that make sense for the type of sound the patch is meant to create. For example, an "envelope" section that includes attack, decay, sustain, and release parameters, or a "filter" section that includes cutoff, resonance, and filter type parameters.

  2. Ease of use: Related to the complexity issue, some patches may be difficult to use for inexperienced users. Providing helpful documentation or tooltips can go a long way in improving the user experience. Additionally, having a user-friendly interface that visually represents the parameters being adjusted can make it easier for the user to understand the impact of their changes.

  3. Flexibility: Patches may be designed with a specific sound or use case in mind, which can limit their usefulness in other contexts. Allowing for more flexibility in parameter ranges or adding more modularity to the patch design can increase its versatility and usefulness in different musical contexts.

  4. Naming conventions: Patches may have complex or cryptic names that make it difficult for users to understand what they are meant to do. Clear and descriptive naming conventions can make it easier for users to find the patches that suit their needs.

  5. Compatibility: Patches may not be compatible with different hardware or software environments, which can limit their usefulness to certain users. Ensuring that patches are compatible with a range of systems and environments can increase their reach and accessibility to a wider audience.

116> cool, thanks -- and in the context of a synthesizer, what is a scene?

In the context of a synthesizer, a scene is a collection of settings and parameters that define a specific sound or sound design. It typically includes a combination of oscillators, filters, modulation sources, and effects, as well as other settings such as envelope parameters and routing.

Scenes are often used to create presets or starting points for sound design, and can be edited and adjusted to create unique sounds. They can also be used to quickly switch between different sound setups during performance, without needing to manually adjust each individual setting.

In some synthesizers, scenes may also include settings for controlling multiple voices or patches at once, such as assigning a common LFO or filter cutoff to all voices. Scenes may be organized into banks or categories, making it easier to find and switch between different sounds.

117> so, it is something like the instantiation of a set of synthesizer components. is that correct?

Yes, that's correct. A scene is essentially a snapshot of a particular configuration of synthesizer components, including oscillators, filters, envelopes, LFOs, and modulation sources. Each scene represents a specific sound or instrument that can be played and controlled by the user.

118> why do we only use two?

It's likely that the number of sends in the SurgeScene is limited to two for performance and complexity reasons. Each send requires additional processing resources, so adding more sends would increase the processing load and potentially introduce latency. Additionally, having a fixed number of sends simplifies the routing and processing logic, making it easier to implement and maintain. Finally, in practice, two sends may be sufficient for many use cases, particularly when combined with the other processing capabilities of the synthesizer.

119> interesting -- why not just elide this layer of abstraction and deal entirely in the subcomponents?

Using scenes allows for a higher level of abstraction that can be useful when working with complex patches that involve many different components. Instead of dealing with individual oscillators, filters, and envelopes separately, a scene encapsulates all of these elements into a single entity that can be saved, loaded, and manipulated as a single unit.

Furthermore, a scene can help organize the components in a meaningful way that can aid in sound design. For example, a scene could represent a particular sound, such as a piano or a guitar, and all of the relevant components needed to create that sound could be grouped together within the scene. This can make it easier for a sound designer to create and manipulate complex sounds.

Overall, using scenes can help simplify the process of sound design and patch creation, and provide a more intuitive way of organizing and manipulating synthesizer components.

120> how do scenes and patches interact?

Scenes and patches are related in that a patch is made up of one or more scenes. In other words, a patch is a collection of scenes that can be played together. Each scene within a patch can be thought of as a separate "layer" of the patch, with its own set of settings and parameters.

When a patch is loaded into the synthesizer, it typically contains multiple scenes that are organized in a specific way to create a particular sound. The user can then select which scene(s) to play at a given time, allowing them to create complex sounds by layering multiple scenes together.

So, patches provide a higher-level organizational structure that allows the user to combine and manipulate multiple scenes, while scenes provide the individual components that make up the sound of the patch.


~305K SLoC