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Getting started making SFZ format instruments

D., 13 june 2019

So, you want to do what we do, and make instruments from samples?

Most of our instruments are for the Plogue Sforzando sampler, which means they consist of a number of WAV files and instrument behaviors defined in the SFZ format. We've been contributing to the SFZ Format wiki, including filling out a lot of the information on what the various SFZ opcodes do. You can find all that stuff at https://sfzformat.com/

There's a lot of content there, and you should be able to find everything you need to make SFZ-based instruments that do anything currently possible in SFZ. There's probably even enough information if you want to develop your own SFZ player. But for someone new to read through a ton of information about opcodes and try to figure out which ones you need to make a simple drum kit or violin work... trying to sort through all that is probably not the best idea. So we also have a few tutorials which only mention a few opcodes relevant to a particular instrument type.

Start here, even if you're not going to be making a drum instrument, because it covers a lot of the basics like assigning samples to keys, doing round robins, and velocity layers:

https://sfzformat.com/tutorials/drum_basics

Then, for non-drums, move on to this, which covers pitch and making an instrument monophonic:

https://sfzformat.com/tutorials/sustained_note_basics

If you want your instrument to be more expressive, well, this part isn't really done yet, but we've quickly noted down how the vibrato in our cello works. We'll expand this the next time we implement vibrato in an instrument:

https://sfzformat.com/tutorials/vibrato

And also a quick look at that cello's legato:

https://sfzformat.com/tutorials/legato

That'll get you pretty far, though things like guitars and pianos will have additional special stuff that can get pretty messy and advanced. We did document, in probably way too much depth, getting cymbals and hi-hats to mute:

https://sfzformat.com/tutorials/cymbal_muting

Somebody else should probably explain piano pedaling someday, though... as non-pianists who have never made a piano instrument, we have no clue.

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