Design of a Scalable Polyphony-MIDI Synthesizer for a Low Cost DSP

Antti Huovilainen

In this thesis, the design of a music synthesizer implementing the Scalable Polyphony-MIDI soundset on a low cost DSP system is presented. First, the SP-MIDI standard and the target DSP platform are presented followed by review of commonly used synthesis techniques and their applicability to systems with limited computational and memory resources. Next, various oscillator and filter algorithms used in digital subtractive synthesis are reviewed in detail. Special attention is given to the aliasing problem caused by discontinuities in classical waveforms, such as sawtooth and pulse waves and existing methods for bandlimited waveform synthesis are presented. This is followed by review of established structures for computationally efficient time-varying filters. A novel digital structure is presented that decouples the cutoff and resonance controls. The new structure is based on the analog Korg MS-20 lowpass filter and is computationally very efficient and well suited for implementation on low bitdepth architectures. Finally, implementation issues are discussed with emphasis on the Differentiated Parabole Wave oscillator and MS-20 filter structures and the effects of limited computational capability and low bitdepth. This is followed by designs for several example instruments.