To close out 2017 in a festive way, we thought we would do something special here at DontCrack. We decided to share with you a unique virtual instrument for FREE in association with the India-Europe Foundation for New Dialogues FIND Foundation.
The “Semantic Daniélou-53” is as highly original as the name it bears.
It is a virtual instrument named after its creator, “Alain Daniélou” (4 October 1907 – 27 January 1994) who was a French historian, intellectual, musicologist, Indologist, and a noted Western convert to and expert on Shaivite Hinduism. He spent his whole life investigating “Eastern” music and their different scales and intervals.
The result of this life-long work is a fascinating instrument capable of producing beautiful soundscapes based on fascinating microtonal progressions.
An original and highly creative virtual instrument any musician should explore…
The history of the “Semantic Daniélou-53”
Alain Daniélou spent a big part of his life elaborating a complex theory called “Musical Semantics”. It was the fruit of many years of research and experimentation in Indian modal music as well as other eastern musical traditions. it offers a novel approach to our perception of relationships between pitches. The system he elaborated belongs to the family of just intonation scales, also called “natural” scales.
This implies that the intervals it is composed of are expressed in the form of ratios made up of whole numbers to both the numerator and the denominator, which as a result creates harmonic ratios between all the notes of the scale, in this case, 53 per octave. The particularity of this scale is that it bestows a special value to harmonics 2, 3 and 5 and their combinations. According to Alain Daniélou, the intervals created from these 3 factors have the power to provoke precise and apparently universal feelings or emotional reactions in humans.
In 1936, Alain Daniélou worked alongside Maurice Martenot, the famous inventor of the “ondes” which carry his name, with whom he built his first keyboard instrument which was tuneable and which displayed interval frequencies. It was patented the following year. The instrument is on display at the Musée de la Musique in Paris.
A number of years later, during his travels in India, he designed a craft-built instrument in Varanasi in 1942, which involved the use of a considerable number of bicycle wheel spokes. He then build a series of small bellow harmoniums called Shruti Venu, of which one, built at the University of Visva-Bharati was kept and was restored in 2016 by Klaus Blasquiz.
In 1967, Alain Daniélou designed a new electronic instrument, the S52. To build it he called on Stefan Kudelski from Lausanne, Switzerland, the inventor and builder of the Nagra, the famous professional portable tape player. The prototype was presented in Paris in 1980, namely at the UNESCO International Music Council and the IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique / Research and Acoustic/Music Coordination Institute), and afterwards in Bordeaux, Berlin, Rome, etc.
It was not until 1993 that the idea of an entirely digital instrument came into being, by the name of the “Semantic”, christened by the composer Sylvano Bussotti in reference to the Alain Daniélou’s work, Musical Semantics. Upon Alain Daniélou’s request, it was developed by Michel Geiss, an electronics engineer, musician and specialist in electronic instrument design, who was at the time was working with Jean Michel Jarre.
The Semantic, later renamed the Semantic Daniélou-36 to avoid confusion with the 2nd version, the Semantic Daniélou-53, contains as is name indicates 36 intervals. These 36 intervals were the ones Alain Daniélou considered to be the most essential among the 53 of his scale. Michel Geiss developed a greatly improved version in 2013, while conserving the external appearance of the original instrument. The second version made use of recent developments in the world of electronic music and included internal sound-generating software. This major technological update enhanced the instrument by offering the possibility of producing richer, varied and expressive sounds, whilst having remarkably precise tuning (to a thousandth of a cent). The new version also boasted a ribbon controller for fine pitch variations.
The Semantic Daniélou-53
Developed by Christian Braut, Jacques Dudon and Arnaud Sicard at UVI, upon request of the FIND Foundation (India-Europe Foundation for New Dialogues), the Semantic Daniélou-53 is the first of the Semantic instruments which integrates the entire Daniélou scale. As its name suggests, it includes 53 intervals and offers 72 scales (or tunings). Released in 2013, using UVI Workstation technology it is presented in the form of a virtual instrument, which is available for MacOS and Windows.
Minimum system requirements:
• Mac OS X version 10.7 and 10.8 (64-bit | 32-bit), processor Mac Intel, 2 Gb RAM
• Windows 7 and Windows 8 (64-bit | 32-bit), processor Core Duo minimum, 2 Gb RAM
UVI Workstation, MOTU MachFive , Digital Performer 7 & 8, Pro Tools 10 & 11, Logic 9 & X, Cubase 7+, Nuendo 6+, Ableton Live 8 & 9, Studio One 2, Garage Band 6, Maschine 1 & 2, Tracktion 4, Vienna Ensemble 5, MPC Renaissance, Reaper 4, Sonar X3, Main Stage 3, MuLab 5.5, Finale 2014, Sibelius 7.
Download the user manual (English):
Download the user manual (French):
Download the instrument:
Download the scala tuning files of the Semantic Daniélou-53:
GETTING STARTED: instructions
UVI Workstation, the host application designed to use the “Semantic Daniélou”, must be downloaded. It can be used either independantly or as a plug-in with Audio Unit, RTAS, VST, AAX or MAS for MacOSX, and VST, AAX or RTAS for Windows.
Download the UVI Workstation:
Then proceed as follows:
- Unzip the file “SemanticDanielou.zip” if it does not automatically unzip after downloading. This will create a file called “SemanticDanielou.ufs”.
- Select your chosen destination for the file.
- Launch the UVI Workstation application.
- Open the preference options by clicking on the small wheel at the top of the window.
- Enter “Sound Banks”.
- Add the file path to “SemanticDanielou.ufs”.
- Quit/restart the UVI Workstation application.
- Load the “SemanticDanielou.ufs” instrument via the file explorer.
It can be played using different methods:
- Using the mouse, by clicking on one of the two keyboards which appear on the screen (either the “hexagonal” keyboard,which shows the intervals in the form of ratios and whose layout has been designed to make optimum use of the Daniélou scale, or the “traditional” keyboard”)
- Using a simple Midi/USB keyboard (as most musicians possess)
- Using a Midi keyboard more adapted to microtonalities, such as the l’AXiS-64 C-Thru, which is the best in this field.
The “Semantic Daniélou” is delivered with a database of 28 sounds, selected for their harmonic qualities and their diversity. As well as the complete scale of 53 notes per octave, this instrument offers 72 tunings, which themselves contain many different scales.
The system’s preset note selections enable a novice to rapidly obtain musical results, whilst the microtonality expert will find great pleasure exploring the tunings which offer a greater number of notes, such as the 12, 36, 45 or 48-note versions of the Daniélou scale. It is also possible to add a drone or to refine the sounds by adjusting the attack or decline of notes, or to add effects such as reverb, delay, etc.
And there’s more, a contest, where you can win prizes!
The India Europe Foundation for New Dialogues (FIND) and the Atelier d’Exploration Harmonique (AEH) are pleased to invite you to participate to a musical competition based on the just intonation system devised by Alain Danielou for the Semantic instrument.
Available now at the Semantic Microtonal Music International Competition! Five prizes, of 200 € each, will be given out to the winners.
Closing date for entries: 31st January 2018