Pivotuner screenshot

Pure intonation on keyboards in real time! Microtonal modulation! Strange and novel sonorities! Welcome to Pivotuner!

Pivotuner is a plugin which tunes MIDI data in pure intonation in real time. Besides enabling beautiful purely-tuned chords on keyboards, this also enables many other cool things such as microtonal modulation, and unusual chord sonorities!

Most keyboard instruments of today are tuned to equal temperament. While straightforward and practical for a wide variety of situations, equal temperament results in chords that the ear does not perceive as completely in-tune. Furthermore, standard equal temperament limits musicians to only 12 pitch classes (pitches per octave), when the human ear is capable of hearing closer to 343 pitch classes. Pivotuner solves both of these problems, while still allowing musicians to think in the 12-note framework they are accustomed to!

Pivotuner's algorithms are based around the idea of "pivot notes" or "keys" in purely-tuned chords: notes to which all notes other notes are tuned according to pure intervals. For example, the chord C# in the chord {A4, C#5, E} would be tuned ~13.69 cents flat compared to equal temperament, so that the frequency ratio between C#5 and A4 would be ~5/4 (a pure major 3rd). If the key then shifts to C#5, all notes would be tuned relative to this C#5, which is ~13.69c flat, meaning we have microtonally modulated down ~13.69c! This sort of process can be chained for larger modulations!

Sometimes microtonal modulation is undesirable; sometimes we want to stick to a single key, or a single pitch center. Pivotuner can lock keys (which prevents microtonal modulation and enables unusual sonorities; tuning a F major triad to the key of D sounds quite interesting), and the pitch (which prevents microtonal modulation while still allowing chord tuning to shift)!

Pivotuner also has plenty of customization options, including the ability to fine-tune which intervals are used for tuning (there are at least three different ways to purely tune a minor 7th), as well as multiple tuning algorithms!

Pivotuner was created in collaboration with, and while interning with Ben Bloomberg!

Click here to watch a demo video!

Pivotuner is currently unreleased, but if you're interested to give it a try feel free to email me at dmitri.o.volkov@gmail.com .

Click here to download the Pivotuner Guide! Note that this guide is for an earlier, out-of-date version of Pivotuner. The interface and some terminology has since changed, but the core ideas are still there. I plan on updating the guide soon.

All content copyright (c) Dmitri Volkov 2022 unless otherwise noted.