The latest update from Bitwig offers variations on a theme – from microtuning to lots of new features for working with pitch editing and playing live. Oh, and it’s easier to learn, too.

Bitwig Studio 3.1 is now in testing, and while there’s a ton of new stuff, it’s really pitch and tuning that stand out.

Micro-pitch lets you get away from generic Western digital piano tuning and embrace lots of other options. That includes full support for the Scala SCL standard, which has now thousands of tunings from around the world. But since that can get, uh, overwhelming fast, there are also 30+ tuning presets that cover some basics for composers, theorists, and lovers of music traditions of China, Java, and more. There are even composer-specific options based on seminal works by the likes of Wendy Carlos and Harry Partch. Nerd. On.

Tuning freaks may already be using these in plug-ins – I’ve just gotten going in VCV Rack – but I really admire the elegance of the interface Bitwig built, including a nice graphical visualization.

I really hope it’s something other software copies, actually, because all of us benefit if music software is more open to tunings. It’s otherwise like being in an ice cream shop with only vanilla. I love vanilla, but not all the time.

It’s not just about this microtuning, as equally important are some other additions:

Pitch-12 lets you assign pitch classes as modulation sources for … well, anything you can imagine. This continues the evolution of Bitwig Studio into a modular design. Rough translation: playing keys on your keyboard can now do some freaky things with sound, easily and quickly. Cool.

PluckSlope ↗Slope ↘, and Follower in the modular Grid give you new envelope options. And yes, Pluck is useful for physical modeling ideas.

Transpose lets you create chords and stereo effects in the modular side of Bitwig Studio even without an input.

You’ll also find some great fast draw features. Quoting:

  • Quick Draw action: holding [ALT] with the pen tool will draw multiple notes at the current beat grid interval
  • Quick Draw action: drawing defaults to a single pitch for each note (think hi-hats), but adding [SHIFT] allows various pitches to be drawn (like a step sequencer)
  • Quick Slice action: holding [ALT] with the knife tool will cut any clip/event at the beat grid interval, for as far as you drag the mouse
  • Quick Slice action: slicing snaps its initial cut position to the beat grid, but adding [SHIFT] allows an off-grid starting position
  • Slice In Place function: will slice any selected clip(s)/event(s) at the detected audio Onsets, the set Beat Markers, or at a set beat grid interval

With some practice, those look like big timesavers.

Also, if you’re behind on exploring all this new stuff, Bitwig are expanding interactive help to more devices.

There are a bunch of new scripts and lots of additional fixes and improvements. Think little details like a ‘note chase’ option that lets you hear MIDI notes when you start the transport in the middle of them. See the full release notes:

(at least for now, that’s a testing link)

And news item:

Video walkthrough: