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  1. Ian Graham
  2. MIDI Software
  3. Sunday, 01 December 2019
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I am a keyboard player, and my default set-up is a digital piano plus a four octave controller keyboard mounted as a second manual, the latter sounding through a Ketron sound module, either directly, or with a computer in the mix.
My preference is to keep any set-up as simple as possible – Really, I prefer not even to use the computer for live play. (In another ‘identity’ I am an organist, and I suppose the simple directness of stops and combination pedals is always at the back of my mind…...)

I value the ability to layer 2 or 3 patches/programs in such a way as to produce a sound which responds to the touch of the keyboard and careful finger articulation.

I have one software application which provides a direct way of doing this; the controller keyboard also allows this at least for two sounds via the ‘dual’ function; and I suppose it could also be done by chaining more than one sound source.

There are disadvantages to each of these approaches. The software is the best, when it works well, but is not glitch-free: it can be a trial to get working at all, and seems unusually prone to sticking sounds in this configuraton. The keyboard requires an intrusive preliminary ‘set’ to prioritise one or other voice before setting up any single pairing of sounds, and I have not found a way to fine-tune the balance of the two voices. Chaining introduces issues of program choice/change, because my sound module(s) have no onboard controls to set the patches.

I have wondered whether there is a way of approaching this by using channel sets, but can’t quite see it, if so……..

I would welcome any recommendations of specific software, or hardware – but TBH I’m hoping for a bit of dialogue with any others seeking the same musical end, as much as a quick answer.dals is always at the back of my mind…...)
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Hello,

If you do NOT want to use a computer, then you're limited by the facilities of your devices. Some do allow the creation of 'performances', 'combos' or whatever name they use, where pressing a key plays two or more 'sounds' at the same time to give a more complex sound, but you may or may not have as much control over the relative components as you wish.

The sound modules I have allow this sort of thing, up to I think 3 separate sounds, and I think you can adjust the relative volumes, and maybe other parameters.

If you do use a computer, then things are much more flexible. You can create a midi file, which could play different sounds on different channels, but playing the same notes. Here, 'different sounds' could well include variants of the same sound. Here you have total control over the different settings on each channel, with the use of various controllers allowing various options. You could go so far as to slightly alter the timing of the same notes to give the effect of extra delay or lead-in on, say, one of the overlay channels.

You then refer to the various problems that you're having with your setup - are you sure these problems are connected with midi, or might they be to do with the connections etc? How are you connecting the devices together - I hope you're not using one of the cheap USB/DIN connectors which are frequently discussed here as causing problems.

Oh, I understand what 'layering' is about, but what do you mean in this context by 'chaining'?

Geoff
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  1. one week ago
  2. MIDI Software
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Hallo, Geoff, and thank you for your response.

Difficult to know where to start !
Full disclosure: I do not use a DAW, and am very wary of getting drawn into the learning curve of that, although I realise in the end it would probably provide the tools for what I’m seeking to do.
The software I referred to is one I have used for many years. It is a single-author application, and has the virtues and disadvantages of that origin. In principle it allows everything you describe in your third paragraph. The author is ingenious, lateral-thinking, I would say; but there is no width of support community, and I suspect some of the glitches I mentioned would have been ironed out in a more corporate production. My obvious option is to persevere with this, and that includes the issues you mention in your 4th paragraph.
However,the fact remains that I still find including a computer in the set-up is cumbersome in live play, which is what I’m principally concerned with here.

I’m interested in what you say about your modules. I have two Ketron SD2 modules. I rate them highly for (what I hear as) the best of their sounds – but they have no onboard controls at all. I am aware that another avenue for me would be to get one or more modules which do have onboard selection. What models do you use?

By chaining I meant connecting items of kit in sequence. For example, I can easily set up my Roland A500 in various ways as to selecting one program at a time. I could then take a line from the through port of the Ketron to the second Ketron. (What I would then need is a program/bank select in that line.)

More generally, I think there is an issue of language here. My current post is but the latest instance of a search that’s been going on for years. Search engines are in many ways very literal creatures – if you know exactly what you’re looking for, they’ll find it. Fail to get the received terminology right (difficult when you’re exploring a topic from a position of ignorance!) and you won’t get far. Given the amazing array of gubbins there are available for MIDI, I suspect that someone somewhere makes the sort of simple switch gear I need to insert bank and patch control into a stream, but the only instance I can find seems to be a small scale production now abandoned – the MIDI Patch Changer keypad . By the same token, something like the left-hand pad of the A500, as a stand-alone box, would probably give me all I need.

Re your penultimuate paragraph: I think one of the issues here is the simple fact that we’re running MIDI software as a top layer in a general purpose computer. There can be so much else going on in the machine which then at times impacts on the real-time activity in the midi application. I did yesterday put up a pendant post, wondering aloud whether anyone anywhere had ever developed, as it were, a MIDI operating system, which would allow the user to boot the computer exclusively into that use, but I don’t think there’s been any response. The answer may be ‘no’, although in general my impression is that with MIDI, if something can be tried, someone, somewhere, has tried it.

I’ve run on somewhat, but I hope this gives a fuller picture of what I’m trying to achieve. Thanks again for your interest.
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  1. one week ago
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Hello,

I've tried to find a manual (esp for midi) via the web for the SD2. There seems to be a link for this, but when I try to go there - there is nothing there. The link for the SD5 seems to work, but not the SD2.

Yo use the two unite usefully, you need to be able to use the midi channels (1 - 16). Then you could use certain channels for certain things. Set the indiv devices to receive on their own channels. Then messages would go into the system using all 16 channels, but - for example - the keyboard would be set to take note ONLY of messages on Ch 1 - 6, the first Ketron to respond to ch 7 - 10 and the second ketron to respond to ch 11 - 16. But, if you cannot set the devices that way, then you've got a problem.

The units I use the most are a Yamaha MU90r and a Korg NS5r. Both of these have a small screen, and keys/buttons to allow a fair bit of setup etc. This includes assigning receive channels. Prob these could also be set using SYSEX, I don't think it could be done using normal midi (controllers).

By the way, I did send a message regarding your question about the OS. For the sort of thing you're trying to do, the situation regarding the OS should NOT be a problem.

If you want to be rid of the computer from your setup, then you might try to find one of the Roland (or whoever else made them) midi file player. You could then prepare a midi file to send all the setup instructions, etc, and this might be a bit help. But this might not be any use of the Ketrol will NOT allow selecting specific midi channels as noted above.

Geoff
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  1. one week ago
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Thanks, Geoff, for your second response.
Just to be clear about the Ketron, for the record: it has three 'true' banks,and a fourth which seems to be a 'greatest hits' selection from the other three. I think this must be legacy from some earlier version of the thing as part of an actual keyboard. Only the 0 bank has any close relation to the GM standard - the other two are made up of alternative voices but not full GM sequences, though there are 127 programs in each.
In many ways, the Ketron is 'quirky' - one aspect of which is that a lot of the program names, especially on the second and third banks, are 'funky' ones, as on many synths, so you really have to explore the sounds to ID what you want to use. That said and done, there are some 'straight' sounds on those banks which are arguably subtler than the comparable ones on bank 0 - there is a good flute sound, for example, which is called 'Anderson'.
And, bottom line, the module does respond accurately and fluently to simple conventional MIDI input. If there were a version of it with some sort of onboard button control, it would be an absolute winner.
Ian G.
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  1. one week ago
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Hello Ian,

What you describe above sounds pretty much like 'normal' for GS. Here there is usually a full GM bank, which is the default, so if you do nothing then the unit is GM compatible. But, many of the standard sounds (not necessarily all) have alternative sounds attached, which are accessed via bank numbers, but the same PC (program change) setting. In some cases the alternative sound will be a different version of the same sound, in other cases it could be something very different (like in the case of the different synth sounds you mention) but still a viable alternative to the base GM sound.

I'd guess that the 'Anderson' flute sound will be a reference to Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull (I think) who used a flute on stage? I'd assume the sample(s) used for this could be from JT sound recordings, which usually have a very distinctive sound.

Geoff
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  1. one week ago
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"I'd guess that the 'Anderson' flute sound will be a reference to Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull "
Yes,could well be:)
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  1. one week ago
  2. MIDI Software
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