What do you think the future will be for software instruments?
We have had sample libraries and instrument VST plugins for decades now, and even though they have improved in quality, the actual technology driving them have been pretty much the same.
Any acoustic instrument, like a piano, guitar, violin, saxophone etc. have to go through the same process. Let the player play note by note, and record samples for different dynamics, playing techniques and articulations etc.
The problem with this approach is that you basically play back static images, meaning samples.
In real life, acoustic instruments have unlimited tonal variation. Even if a player tries to play the same note, in exactly the same way, over and over. Each audio waveform will be unique.
Dynamic range in analog terms is infinite, so is legato curves, vibrato curves and other expressive articulations.
Basically, we want to find ways in the software world to reach this endless infinite variations and flexibility in the software instruments.
What is the Future of Software Instruments?
I believe physical modelling, algorithms and perhaps even some AI will be the future of software instruments.
I am already a huge fan of what I call, playable software instruments. Meaning instruments that you can play and control all expression and articulations in real time, like on an actual acoustic instrument.
Physical modeling instruments are already here, advanced scripting for more playability is also already here. AI is definitely coming, and even though it may be scary, it will also bring huge benefits for creativity.
However, you can have the most advanced and playable software instruments ever, and still not be able to take full advantage of them unless you have great input controllers.
Meaning that a standard MIDI keyboard is not enough, because you want to be able to control the instruments and expressive techniques in real time as you perform.
We already have the MOD-wheel, perhaps you have faders you can assign. Then there are things like breath controller (which I love), and even expression pedals.
I have experimented with a MIDI ring which is an amazing way to add vibrato and bends as you play.
There are also new inventions like the ROLI Seaboard, and more upcoming MIDI keyboards that go beyond the simple velocity dimension of standard keys.
MIDI 2.0 is already here, and I am certain more and more physical controllers will be designed to take advantage of it. And of course, this goes for the software instruments as well.
Let’s sum it all up: the future of software instruments in my opinion, will be AI, algorithms, physical modelling, and unlimited sound shaping and performance capabilities.
And this will all be controlled with more advanced hardware that has way more input performance controllers than an old standard MIDI keyboard.