SMuFL: Electronic music enhancement

Hi Daniel,
I notice SMuFL has a couple dozen general electronic glyphs. They look good but aren’t too practical in my small experience. Electronic music mostly means synthesis I think, and what would be best for that is a descriptive language for the signal chain. So far the only way to meaninfully document your patches has been with a cell phone picture (AFAIK), but a proposal has been put forward to use a standard set of patch signals. This is available at Patch and Tweak, which takes it’s name from a series of recent books about synthesizers. The books are insanely good by the way, and in a few weeks they’re coming out with a Moog exclusive (made in conjunction with Moog) that happens to be about my kit, which is the Moog Matriarch, Mother-32, Subharmonicon and DFAM semi-modular family. These guys are connected to Moog so I think if you reached out to them there would be interest in the feature.

In another recent thread I detailed how patch block diagrams can be added to Dorico using existing facilities (thank you for all of that!), so it’s not something that needs to be added to enable this kind of notation. But I was wondering if it would make sense to enhance SMuFL with these symbols? These guys have been working with Moog - the preeminant synthesizer company, and as an electrical/software engineer I can tell you they make eminant sense. If you go over to that web site you can download the SVG’s (open use license). I think it would make a lot of sense to add these to the standard.

Anyhow wanted to put it out there, thanks so much for the line and playing technique editors which make this possible, amazing stuff!

Notes for how this would work best in Dorico (in my small opinion)

  • Patch changes can happen at any point in a flow
  • They generally should be placed above the line I think
  • They should be able to consist of a couple pieces of information
  • A block diagram made up of Modular blocks from above, connected by lines (e.g. patch cables)
    • We should be able to dynamically add arbitrary text to any block. E.g. “10kHz” could be added to the VCF (voltage controlled filter) to indicate the 3dB cutoff
    • Also musical symbols equally should be attachable. That is, on the VCF example, we would like to drop say a hairpin to mean “drop it down (or up) to taste”
  • Finally we need to connect between blocks. Having anchors on the four corners of the blocks would be best with this.
  • We should be able to colorize the connectors (see below)

Here’s a full example from the Patch site

Addendum: the advantage of this notational approach is that no matter what the synth, it’s made up of these elements. So it should be translatable to whatever instrument the player uses. Otherwise I can’t think offhand of what other electronic instruments that you’d notate for (chime in if you know of some). There’s the Theremin which can probably be notated using conventional techniques, glissandos and such. And for the guitar guys, this should be able to be used for stomp pedals and such too.

If you’d like to see those Patch & Tweak symbols in SMuFL, please contact the originators of those symbols and encourage them to join the W3C Music Notation Community Group and agree to the terms of the Contributor License Agreement (CLA), then create an issue in the SMuFL repository proposing the inclusion of their symbols and providing written permission for their use.

OK Daniel, I sent a request off to them! I hope I’ll be able to get them to submit, this would be a big step in notational music synthesis I think.