SpectMorph Tutorial

This tutorial contains a step-by-step guide to create morph sounds using the SpectMorph JACK client. When using the BEAST, LV2 or VST plugin, the steps are similar.

Starting the JACK client

The JACK client can be started like this:
  • smjack

Connecting the inputs/outputs

Use qjackctl to connect the inputs/outputs. In the audio tab, connect the smjack audio_out port to your soundcard. In my case, thats the system playback_1 port and the system playback_2 port. Then, in the jack midi tab, connect the alsa_pcm midi input to smjack midi_in port. These steps can be automated from qjackctl (but thats beyond the scope of this tutorial).

Default plan and templates

Compared to previous versions, if you start smjack without any argument (or load the LV2/VST plugin), a default morph plan is loaded.

You should right after start be able to play sounds via midi keyboard (or other jack midi source), if you have downloaded and installed the SpectMorph instruments. If you haven't done this yet, you should do it now and restart smjack once the instruments are installed.

Problems with your instrument installation are displayed in the Global Instrument Settings box.

You can switch to a different template using the Open Preset menu. A short description of the templates follows.

2 Instruments Linear Morph with LFO

This is a simple morph between two instruments, which can be choosen as Source #1 and Source #2. You should be able to choose between all available instruments here. The LFO controls the morphing, so it automatically goes back and forth between the two instruments. The frequency can be configured.

2 Instruments Linear Morph using GUI

If you need more control, this template is essentially the same, but has no LFO. The morphing can be controlled using the GUI. It is often a good idea to set the Linear Morph control input to Control #1 or Control #2. In LV2 and VST, these properties can be automated. In JACK, the control inputs are seperate audio inputs, which allows you to control the morphing from outside.

2 Instruments Linear Morph with Unison

This is an example of morphing between two instruments with the unison effect enabled. The unison effect adds up multiple detuned copies of the same sound, which is somewhat similar to several instruments playing the same notes.

Unison is always available (so you can use any of the other templates and manually enable the unison effect in the Output operator).

2x2 Intruments Grid Morph using GUI

This is an example of morphing 4 instruments. Here we use the mouse to control the position of the morphing on a plane. Similar to the previous examples, these can also be automated using Control #1 and Control #2 signals, or controlled using one or two LFOs.

The Grid Morph operator doesn't require external sources (like the linear morph); clicking on the nodes can be used to select the instrument. There are no limits to the size of the grid; it could be 2x1, 2x2, 3x1, 3x2, 3x3 and any other size.

1 Instrument (without morphing)

This is mainly interesting for testing. It plays one instrument without any morphing.

Empty Plan

To start from scratch, this plan can be used. Note that this still loads the standard instrument set (like any other template plan), as don't using any instruments is not a good idea. Also, it contains an output operator, as there is no scenario where you don't need one.

Adding or Removing Operators

Operators can be added using the Add Operator menu, and renamed by double-click on the title. To remove an operator, click on the x near the title.

Exporting and loading on start

Morph plans can be exported from smjack using File -> Export Preset.... For convenience, you can pass one argument to smjack on start, so that the plan will automatically be loaded, so you could start smjack like:
  • smjack foo.smplan
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