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The Leap-font Wavetable Synthesis (or Leap-font for short) is LeapFrog's trademark soundfont and LeapFrog's audio sound engine that was used for a variety of LeapFrog toys, such as the LeapPad, Learning Screen Karaoke, Imagination Desk, Leapster, See and Learn Driver, Fridge DJ Magnetic Learning Radio, and a few others to give examples.

It is a sound-font MIDI hardware synth (sound/music playback routine) who has an embedded on-chip synth in a system (e.g. LeapPad and Leapster) directing SYN files referring to a set of commands representing notes and onboard instruments inside the audio engine.

It is sometimes nicknamed as the LeapPad MIDI Sequencer, first created by Explore Technologies for the Odyssey Globe. It was architected by Richard Marriott and Brad Fuller.

Notable Uses

The following list gives examples of Leap-font uses in the music written for LeapFrog-oriented products. 

People Who Used It

Instrument List

Each instrument named in the timbre banks also includes an abbreviation of that instrument's name.

All of the instruments are named by Brad Fuller, displaying these Program Numbers in proper GM coding order with bank selection 0; the variants have the bank selection 1 or higher. Each instrument's samples are multi-sampled, or sampled with each range having a specific sample across its specific notes.

Drums and Percussion: On MIDI Channel 10, each MIDI Note number ("Key#") corresponds to a different drum sound, as shown below. GM-compatible instruments must have the sounds on the keys shown here. While many current instruments also have additional sounds above or below the range show here, and may even have additional "kits" with variations of these sounds, only these sounds are supported by General MIDI Level 1 devices.

Notes

  • The melodic presets belong to bank select 0. The variants of the presets (the instruments with special symbols) belong to bank 1 or higher.
    • For those instruments with special symbols, MFLP is My First LeapPad and LSK is Learning Screen Karaoke.
  • For the melodic presets, the timbre numbers 13(2), 22, 23(2), 25(2), 29(2), 71(2), 74(2), 75(2), 111(2) belong to My First LeapPad, LeapZone learning toys or the Green Explorer Globe.
  • Melodic preset timbre number 22 also belongs to Leapster.


Instrumental Preset Mapping
Note: While GM1 does not define the actual characteristics of any sounds, the names in parentheses after each of the synths are, in particular, intended only as guides.
PC# General Midi Program Instrument Name Bank Introduced
1. 0 Grand Piano (pf) 0 1997
2.
3. 2 Honky-tonk Piano (hnky) 0 2002
4.
5.
6.
7. 6 Cembalo (hpd) 0 2001
8. 7 Clavinet (clv) 0 2000
9. 8 Celesta/Music Box (cel) 0 1999
10. 9 Glockenspiel (gl) 0 1999
11.
12. 11 Vibes (vb) 0 1999
13. 12 Marimba (mar1) 0 1997 (mar1)
13. 12 MFLP Marimba (mar2) 1 2000 (mar2)
14.
15.
16.
17. 16 Rock/Drawbar/Ballpark (rorg) 0 1999
18.
19.
20. 19 Church/Pipe (org) 0 2001
21.
22. 21 Accordion (acc) 0 2001
23. 22 Harmonica (hmca1) 0 1999 (hmca)
23. 22 MFLP Harmonica (hmca2) 1 2001 (hmca2)
24. 23 Bandoneon (bdn) 0 1997
25. 24 Acoustic Guitar (gtr1) 0 1997 (gtr1)
25. 24 MFLP Guitar (gtr) 1 2000 (gtr2)
25. 24 Mandolin (mndl) 2 2001
26.
27.
28.
29. 28 Muted Guitar (m-gt) 0 1999 (m-gt)
29. 28 MFLP Muted Guitar (m-gt2) 1 1997 (m-gt2)
30. 29 Rock Guitar (elgt) 0 1999 (elgt)
30. 29 Rock Chords (elgt-ch) 1 1999 (elgt-ch)
31.
32.
33. 32 Acoustic Bass (ac-bs) 0 1999
34. 33 Electric Bass (el-bs) 0 1999
35.
36.
37.
38.
39.
40. 39 OW Bass (owbs) 0 1999
41. 40 Violin (vln) 0 2001
42. 41 Viola (vla) 0 2001
43. 42 Cello (vc) 0 2001
44. 43 Contrabass (db) 0 2001
45.
46. 45 Pizzicato Strings (pizz) 0 2003 (Little Touch LeapPad)
47.
48. 47 Timpani (timp) 0 2001
49. 48 Strings Ensemble (str) 0 1999/2000
50. 49 Chamber Strings (ch-str) 1 2003 (Little Touch LeapPad)
51.
52.
53. 52 Gospel Choir (gsp-chr) 0 2001
54. 53 Voice Doo (vx-doo) 0 2003 (Little Touch LeapPad only)
55.
56.
57. 56 Trumpet (tpt) 0 1999 (tpt)
57. 56 Mute Trumpet (str-m-tpt) 1 2002 (str-m-tpt)
58. 57 Trombone (tbn) 0 1997
59. 58 Tuba (tba) 0 1999
60. 59 Wah-Wah/Harmon Mute Trumpet (w-tpt) 0 1999
61. 60 French Horn (frhn) 0 2001
62.
63.
64.
65.
66.
67. 66 Tenor Sax (sax) 0 1997
68.
69. 68 Oboe (ob) 0 1997
70.
71. 70 Bassoon (bsn1) 0 1999 (bsn1)
71. 70 MFLP Bassoon (bsn2) 1 2001 (bsn2)
72. 71 Clarinet (cl) 0 1997 (cl)
73.
74. 73 Flute (fl1) 0 1997 (fl1)
74. 73 MFLP Flute (fl2) 1 2000 (fl2)
75. 74 Recorder (rec1) 0 1999 (rec1)
75. 74 LSK Recorder (rec2) 1 2003 (rec2)
76. 75 Pan Flute (pfl) 0 1999
77.
78.
79.
80.
81. 80 Lead 1 (square) (sqld) 0 2000
82. 81 Lead 2 (sawtooth) (swth) 0 circa 2002
83. 82 Lead 3 (synth blips) (syn-bl) 0 2000
84. 83 Lead 4 (triangle wave) (trwv) 0 2000
85. 84 Lead 5 (car sync) (c-syn) 0 2003
86. 85 Lead 6 (pulse wave) (plwv) 0 circa 2002
87. 86 Synth Bass (syn-b) 0 2000
88. 87 Deep Synth (d-syn) 0 somewhere circa 2002-04
89.
90.
91.
92.
93.
94.
95.
96.
97.
98.
99.
100.
101.
102.
103.
104.
105. 104 Sitar (str) 0 2001
105. 104 Sitar 5ths (str-5th) 1 2001
106. 105 Banjo (bnjo) 0 2001
107. 106 Koto (kt) 0 circa 2001-02
108.
109. 108 Kalimba (kal) 0 1997
110.
111. 110 Fiddle (fdl1) 0 1999 (fdl1)
111. 110 2004 Explorer Fiddle (fdl2) 1 2004 (fdl2)
111. 110 Odyssey Atlasphere Fiddle (fdl3) 2 1997 (fdl3)
112. 111 Jew's Harp (j-hp) 0 1999
113.
114.
115. 114 Steel Drums (st-d) 0 1997 (st-d)
116.
117.
118.
119.
120.
121.
122.
123.
124.
125.
126.
127.
128.
* 0 General Percussion (perc) 0 1997
* 8 Electronic Percussion (el-perc) 0 circa 2000
* 16 LeapPad Mainstream/Imagination Desk/Little Touch LeapPad SFX (lp-id-ltl-sfx) 0 1999 (LeapPad and Imagination Desk)/2003 (Little Touch LeapPad)
* 24 My First LeapPad SFX and Letter Sounds (mflp-sfx) 0 2001/2002
* 32 Leapster SFX (lpstr-sfx) 0 2003

General MIDI Instruments

The General MIDI Level 1 instrument sounds are grouped by section. In each one of these are around 4-8 specific instruments. The guide is as follows due to the limitation of 6 voice-instruments in the music:
PC# Section Name
1-8 Piano
9-16 Chromatic Percussion
17-24 Organ
25-32 Guitar
33-40 Bass
41-48 Strings
49-56 Ensemble
57-64 Brass
65-72 Reed
73-80 Flute
81-88 Synth
89-96
97-104
105-112 Ethnic
113-120 Percussive
121-128

Instrument Bundle Collections

Name of Bundle Pack Number of Instrument Sounds Number of Drum Kits Total

Years Used

LeapPad Mainstream Models/Leapster/Imagination Desk Instrument Collection around 66 melodic timbres 4 drum kits 70 1997-onwards
My First LeapPad/LeapZone Learning Toys Instrument Collection 60-61 melodic timbres 2 drum kits 61-62 2000-onwards
Learning Screen Karaoke Instrument Collection 13 melodic timbres 1 drum kit 14 2003-onwards
Complete 69 melodic timbres 5 drum kits 74 1997-onwards

Sound History

  • In 1997, Explore Technologies used it with a number of instruments for the Odyssey Globe, making this the "Worldwide Premiere".
  • In 1998-99, more instruments are added, such as banjo, fiddle, pan flute, saxophone, and a few others to give examples.
  • In 2000-2001, there are more uses of a diverse variety of instruments.
  • In 2002-03, the instrument sets are expanded into the list.
  • In 2004-present, all of the instrument sets are now complete.

Example

Behind the Sounds

In some embodiments, the actual instrument sound files are not stored with the SYN audio resource, just the commands. This allows musical sets of commands to specify complex musical pieces with very high quality in very small space. The instrument sounds and notes are stored in a RAW audio resource file which may be an uncompressed binary file representing a sound. It may be used when high quality audio output is desired.

How It Works and Instrument Channels

The Leap-font is a lot more advanced, working a lot like MIDI (musical instrument digital interface). The instrument system in the Leap-font has so much more that he or she can do with it. The Leap-font supports 6 channels, which means he or she can have up to 6 instruments or multiple tracks with the same instrument playing at once.

What Others Have to Say About the Leap-Font

  • From Kristin Miltner:

"While in some old hard drives cleaning house, I discovered that some past self, one a lot less jaded than I am now, had carefully saved .mp3 -- or in some cases even .aif versions of LOTS and LOTS of my Leapster game music...

I remember how diligent me and Mark Bartscher were. We could have settled for porting a generalized set of samples onto the "Base-rom", but no... we had to make sure the audio engine had the capability to extend the instrument set to the cart each time, for nearly each individual title, some synths that were a little more complex than just a square or sawtooth wave for our arcade titles, some percussion variety, kitty meows, something that sounds like a gamelan but I can't remember what it was exactly now... all kinds of different hand-built sample sets... and so on.

In these BGMs I even adjusted layers of decreasing velocity in repeated notes to imitate BPM-synced delay effects (no DSP). I can't believe I was so precious about these. Listening back to some of them, I can't believe that they let me get away with so much "beepy" electronica in games for the children.

I hope they make you laugh out loud like I did."

  • From composer Brad Fuller, explaining about the music sequencer in the Explorer Globe:

"We wanted some real instruments that would fit inside this "globe", so I decided to architect a music sequencer for it, with the use of real instruments. Each note and instrument must be stored into a binary RAW data, and I put them all together to fit the music data inside the globe. We even coded the GM instruments in order (e.g. Grand Piano: 00, Violin: 41, Flute: 73, and so on).

It worked out perfectly. I called it "The Leap-font (Explore Technologies MIDI Synthesizer Performer (former name in 1997))".

The platform was finally done with sound, and we would continue doing it for the LeapPad and Leapster, both [restricted] embedded systems. The Leap-font is, to me, like a synthesizer with onboard instruments. We would do these kinds of music written for LeapFrog and other children-oriented products, respectfully."

  • From CEO Mike Wood and inventor Jim Marggraff, talking about the LeapPad mainstream models and Imagination Desk:

"Music data, for example, may be transferred to and from the interactive learning appliance according to a MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) or MIDI-like protocol.

Each SYN audio resource may be a set of commands representing instruments and notes. In some embodiments, the actual instrument sound files are not stored with the SYN audio resource, just the commands.

This allows musical sets of commands to specify complex musical pieces with very high quality in very small space.

The instrument sounds and notes are stored in a RAW audio resource file which may be an uncompressed binary file representing a sound. It may be used when high quality audio output is desired."

Gallery

Trivia

  • Brett Smith’s YouTube Channel also has all the music played (or given) to all 196 countries on the LeapPad ("Geography: The Seven Continents" and "World Geography") as well as the predecessor Odyssey Globe and LeapFrog Explorer Globes, demonstrating the Leap-font [all 3 instrument bundle packs, including the Complete instrument bundle pack].
  • Nicknames for this popular LeapFrog wavetable synthesis are:
    • LeapPad MIDI Sequencer
    • Explore Technologies MIDI Synthesizer Performer
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