All About MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE)

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Echoes in the Attic
KVRAF
8430 posts since 12 May, 2008

Post Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:36 am

peter_sensel wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:33 am
That's a really intriguing idea about the Kontakt setup for MPE - I haven't yet tackled that one. Has anyone here set that up? It seems like it could bump up CPU pretty heavily, since you have to create an instrument for each voice. But I really like the idea, and could be applied to other plugins that are not MPE. It would probably be a bit unwieldy, though, since you'd have separate tracks for each channel!
Yep been doing it for ages. It’s a bit annoying for any instrument where you might want to change the settings once you need to duplicate the instrument every time you make changes to the primary one. Also you need to make sure to match the pitch bend with your controller. If your DAW and controller allow alternate pitch bend ranges then the standard 48 for mpe, then it’s easiest to just use 12 for example for kontakt. Otherwise you need to go in and add additional modulators in kontakt for pitch bend as each one maxed out at 12. But additional ones do add to the range.

The other thing is that while the per note expression works, keep in mind that if using an instrument with legato scripting like hammer-one for a guitar or legato bower strings, you won’t get to use that because the notes are totally separate. An exception is if you have a channel per row type setup like on the linnstrument. Cool for strings or legato instruments because you can keep a whole row on the same channel so those articulations still work. Some devs have made mpe compatible instruments as well, like orange tree samples, who have guitars that respond to pitch bend on different channels with just the one instrument so you don’t need duplicate instruments.

As far as cpu usage goes it usually isn’t too bad because you still just play the one note per instrument. But yeah it can rise a bit from effects etc. if you want effects per note which can be a cool effect actually. I like Omnisphere for this because it has an easy copy part function which copies the first instrument across to the other seven parts.
System: Windows 10, Dell XPS 2-in-1, Bitwig 3, Steinberg UR44.

Echoes in the Attic
KVRAF
8430 posts since 12 May, 2008

Post Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:41 am

WasteLand wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:31 am
Echoes in the Attic wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:22 pm
peter_sensel wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 1:33 pm
The SWAM instruments are really good "realistic" instruments for Brass, Woodwinds, and Strings.
https://audiomodeling.com/
As for MPE, you can apply expressive controls to these instruments, but, brass and woodwinds are monophonic, so applying 'polyphonic' control is not really a factor.
I'll put the SWAM instruments on the radar for a video.
The nice thing about the SWAM instruments is that even though they are monophonic, they can receive input from multiple midi channels, meaning you can leave your controller in mpe mode and it interprets the data correctly. This means you can abruptly cut off prior notes, play legato etc, and it will always apply only the new note modulation and pitch bend. Something like Kontakt in Omni channel mode is a mess if you play a device in mpe mode (alternating midi channels) because it gets mixed signals if you overlap notes (which you inevitably do playing legato styles). So I appreciate the mono instruments that can listen to multiple midi channels and keep the expressions separate.
https://roli.com/learn/how-to-setup-a-s ... th-kontakt

multi-channel.... omni makes it random...
That’s for polyphonic instruments. I was specifically talking about monophonic instruments like the swam instruments that still benefit from listening to multi-channel input data in the case of overlapping notes.
System: Windows 10, Dell XPS 2-in-1, Bitwig 3, Steinberg UR44.

WasteLand
KVRian
1024 posts since 8 Jun, 2018

Post Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:46 am

Echoes in the Attic wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:41 am
WasteLand wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:31 am
Echoes in the Attic wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:22 pm
peter_sensel wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 1:33 pm
The SWAM instruments are really good "realistic" instruments for Brass, Woodwinds, and Strings.
https://audiomodeling.com/
As for MPE, you can apply expressive controls to these instruments, but, brass and woodwinds are monophonic, so applying 'polyphonic' control is not really a factor.
I'll put the SWAM instruments on the radar for a video.
The nice thing about the SWAM instruments is that even though they are monophonic, they can receive input from multiple midi channels, meaning you can leave your controller in mpe mode and it interprets the data correctly. This means you can abruptly cut off prior notes, play legato etc, and it will always apply only the new note modulation and pitch bend. Something like Kontakt in Omni channel mode is a mess if you play a device in mpe mode (alternating midi channels) because it gets mixed signals if you overlap notes (which you inevitably do playing legato styles). So I appreciate the mono instruments that can listen to multiple midi channels and keep the expressions separate.
https://roli.com/learn/how-to-setup-a-s ... th-kontakt

multi-channel.... omni makes it random...
That’s for polyphonic instruments. I was specifically talking about monophonic instruments like the swam instruments that still benefit from listening to multi-channel input data in the case of overlapping notes.
yes you are right, i looked around, it does need scripting it seems, to achieve it.
win 10 pro; cubase 10.5 pro, live 10 suite+push 2, reaper, reason 11 suite, bitwig studio 3, maschine mk3+jam, arturia V collection 7, korg collection, komplete 11 ultimate, softube modular, VM, meldaproduction etc.
https://soundcloud.com/sada-exposada

yellowmix
KVRAF
1694 posts since 11 Aug, 2012 from omfr morf form romf frmo

Post Thu Sep 17, 2020 10:46 am

WasteLand wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:33 am
MPE is still a niche? but there are quite a lot of synths capable of MPE nowadays, enough for years...
not every synth needs MPE, although you can turn every synth into MPE (i only tested, in.. voltage modular, 4 instances of Mini V3...). it is still a nice. but many synths i have can do MPE. or many, enough.

yes not quite known that voltage modular can do MPE, and do it great (the module you must buy...).
or biotek 2....
Before I got my Morph I wet my feet with Strobe 2. I love the original Synth Squad and had to get the updated version. It accepted the relevant CCs without an MPE controller, all I had to do was put colliding notes and CCs on different MIDI channels. So while there is no joy of playing polyphonically and more tedium of sequencing it manually, one can still take advantage of it.

Highly encourage anyone with an MPE synth but no controller to try it out. I found it very rewarding. And made my buy a controller.

And yes, it's great to see many existing synths implement it. Biotek 2 was a real surprise (though it was begging for it given the amount of modulation) and I've been retrofitting my existing presets to take advantage of it.

One thing I'd like to see are MPE FX. Not all FX are good candidates for this but imagine a multivoice pitch shifter where you could play each voice, a vocoder/spectral FX where you could play each band, a delay where you could play each delay line, and so on.

WasteLand
KVRian
1024 posts since 8 Jun, 2018

Post Thu Sep 17, 2020 11:20 am

yellowmix wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 10:46 am
WasteLand wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:33 am
MPE is still a niche? but there are quite a lot of synths capable of MPE nowadays, enough for years...
not every synth needs MPE, although you can turn every synth into MPE (i only tested, in.. voltage modular, 4 instances of Mini V3...). it is still a nice. but many synths i have can do MPE. or many, enough.

yes not quite known that voltage modular can do MPE, and do it great (the module you must buy...).
or biotek 2....
Before I got my Morph I wet my feet with Strobe 2. I love the original Synth Squad and had to get the updated version. It accepted the relevant CCs without an MPE controller, all I had to do was put colliding notes and CCs on different MIDI channels. So while there is no joy of playing polyphonically and more tedium of sequencing it manually, one can still take advantage of it.

Highly encourage anyone with an MPE synth but no controller to try it out. I found it very rewarding. And made my buy a controller.

And yes, it's great to see many existing synths implement it. Biotek 2 was a real surprise (though it was begging for it given the amount of modulation) and I've been retrofitting my existing presets to take advantage of it.

One thing I'd like to see are MPE FX. Not all FX are good candidates for this but imagine a multivoice pitch shifter where you could play each voice, a vocoder/spectral FX where you could play each band, a delay where you could play each delay line, and so on.
o with Morph, you mean sensel morph.
still have strangely my eye on it, but i think i only buy a second hand lightpad M, then i have two lightpads. they are great, and seaboard block, i can play it quite good, i think..
but the sensel morph, still attractive...

o well.

don't have strobe 2, i picked cypher 2.. (and equator, i bit strange for someone, who does sounddesign, and makes tracks out of these sounds. but equator is strangely quite good.. not a LION or a cypher 2, and it makes the learning curve (play style and making patches at the same time) easier.)

there are MPE FX, unfiltered audio, they connect only with the lightpad M.... (but it isn't recorded with automation... the modulators, are strictly modulators in the domain of unfiltered audio plugins. i think know, but the macro's, they can be automated. o well.. you must record the output.. audio..), but not the way i mean. they can be controlled by MPE, but single channel. so i must take my words back.

in a way MSoundFactory can be used as an MPE FX.. or the MXXX(Core)? no that last one not.
didn't do a lot with MPE yet with MSoundFactory. and no the FX aren't multi-voice either, an effect with MPE:

i think the problem with MPE FX will be: collision, or you can record after the fact (the synth or soft synth is fact here).
and: multi-voice effects. i am testing two things now, while i am writing this, sorry if i am incoherent. multi-voice effects, do they exist? a have a collection of the more "stranger" FX, but simply don't know if one of them is capable of doing it.

only:

in voltage modular you can chose 2 devices or more, aha! there we are an MPE FX, and i experimenting with MPE mainly in LION, equator and voltage modular, right now. and pigments 2..
and ... ow... that i gonna tell later... o yes, already worked with MPE and biotek2, yes biotek2 is made for MPE, like LION. it takes biotek2 to the next level, it had it already in it, now you can pull it out, with easy strokes......

but yes, the question was also in my head MPE FX. why no MPE FX.

you only have 16 midi channel, but that is per "device", so you can have multiple "16 channels", in cubase you can route one device to an FX, of course i think also in bitwig.

the bomb would be more MPE devices together... it can be done.

not all in voltage modular is polyphonic, and when VCV rack comes as a plugin (if it comes, it will come, but it will take time), polyphony is easier to implement, in VCV rack.

but with monophonic modules you can already built, a 4 "voice" effect, for instance.

must experiment with it, how it works. the MPE domain is a new territory, and time i hadn't much lately. shall try to make a MPE FX, in voltage modular. will take some time, to make good ones.

in LION the FX, and all (?) MPE synths, they aren't multi-voice (that would render incapable of handling a patch i think).

there is soft synth, that is already there, that gets MPE, i am working with it now. testing it.

and biotek 2, yes, i got an e-mail from the developer, also about a bug, that has been fixed (crashing cubase). will come, when it comes.. in the release notes of the installer, there is a little bit more info about MPE, that i added to my insignificant thread about "biotek2 is a MPE synth!".

EDIT: like your way of thinking, and your enthusiasm!

EDIT 2: i always write i instead of a, many times. why? "i bit strange for someone", is in way true, beta testing a (...). i bit strange. yes that is also true, but it must be "a bit strange for someone"
win 10 pro; cubase 10.5 pro, live 10 suite+push 2, reaper, reason 11 suite, bitwig studio 3, maschine mk3+jam, arturia V collection 7, korg collection, komplete 11 ultimate, softube modular, VM, meldaproduction etc.
https://soundcloud.com/sada-exposada

Noumena
KVRist
206 posts since 4 May, 2019

Post Thu Sep 17, 2020 1:23 pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_O-8DQfQOA&t=122s

I’ve got a couple vids about MPE and Kontakt on my channel.

Noumena
KVRist
206 posts since 4 May, 2019

Post Thu Sep 17, 2020 6:40 pm

So first things first: for creative MPE stuff I really need to recommend Bitwig, for a number of reasons. First is that the built in instruments and the modular Grid have really excellent MPE implementations. As in, really, really good. Second is that the Instrument Rack instrument hosting containers built into BW allow for some good midi round robining.... which means you can build the kind of Kontakt racks I demo in the video above in Bitwig very quickly and easily (for instruments, like Kontakt, that don't support MPE natively.) The idea being that you have several identical (or not) instances of Kontakt configured to be mono and to respond to the MPE modulators (pressure, cc74, etc.) and Bitwig will round robin which notes go to which instance. Works great, all built in.

If you're not using Bitwig you still have some options. You can make multis like the one I show above in Kontakt. You'll have to retype the KSP that I show onscreen as I don't have a copy anymore. This works really great... again, be sure to set the Kontakt instances to be monophonic.

My big trick with MPE is that I nearly always map pressure to amplitude. Everywhere that I can I completely bypass the amp envelope and only play it this way. The amount of nuance and control I have over dynamics playing this way is incredible. I also usually try to figure out ways to scale the pitch bend way, way down. I don't usually slide my notes around on the keyboard but use the PB for subtle pitch modulation and +/-48 steps on my ROLI 49 is too pitch unstable. I usually have it set to +/- 6 and then I can slowly move my fingers on the key bed and get a very natural pitch modulation.

Also worthy of note is that Slate + Ash's truly excellent Kontakt library supports MPE as a multi through some kind of under the hood magic that I don't really understand. It sounds fantastic.

Answering the questions above (to some degree) think of MPE as PER VOICE modulation. It doesn't have to come from a controller, even, but it is a standard that allows you to perform modulation on an instrument of parameters on each voice, independent of the others. So -- re: MPE FX -- you certainly can do this (and I do it all the time) but this means that you need to have an effect on each voice... so if you're using the Grid, say, you build your effects in the instrument and they are duplicated for every voice of polyphony. Or if you're using the Kontakt method I use the fx are built into the mono voices. This works well. I use per voice MPE modulation mostly to control the send level to delay or reverb.. or the wet/dry for delay or reverb. As I slide my fingers up (cc74) the dry sound fades and the effected sound increases. Controlling the send this way is very powerful -- you can set up a delay with a very long feedback and you can subtly control each note's level going into the delay... allowing you to play a whole passage dry and then send a single chord into delay/feedback.

My experience with Strobe and Cypher is very different than what is written above. I found the MPE implementation to be ponderous and buggy. Perhaps this has changed. Right now I do almost everything in my homegrown Bitwig Grid based sampler and synth, Pigments2 (which is very good, although I wish it had a lag processor with separate attack/decay controls for pressure smoothing...) the new Generator synth (which is fabulous with MPE.) I also like the Synapse Obsession synth... it has a simple implementation that works well. Diva works OK (you can't really effectively map pressure to amplitude, which is a drag) and Hive works pretty well. I find Lion to be almost impossible to deal with as much as I like everything else that UA does.

What does MPE need to work as well as it could? It needs a MIDI fx VST that can preprocess the MPE data. I want to be able to build per voice LFOs, lag processors and envelopes that modulate pitch/pressure/cc74 before it gets to the synth. Also I want to be able to control attack and decay lag independently on pressure -- that way I can have a sharp attack and a slow, steady decay. Decreasing pressure with your fingers smoothly is very hard... I would like the computer to smooth it, but not at the cost of a sharp attack. Lastly I would like more synths to allow me to completely bypass the amp envelope and use pressure instead. When I control amp with pressure the envelope just gets in the way.

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carrieres
KVRAF
1729 posts since 10 Apr, 2002 from Poissy, France

Post Thu Sep 17, 2020 11:27 pm

^^^ very nice post, thank you
Image

anomandaris1
KVRist
472 posts since 26 Nov, 2009

Post Thu Sep 17, 2020 11:39 pm

Noumena wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 6:40 pm

What does MPE need to work as well as it could? It needs a MIDI fx VST that can preprocess the MPE data. I want to be able to build per voice LFOs, lag processors and envelopes that modulate pitch/pressure/cc74 before it gets to the synth. Also I want to be able to control attack and decay lag independently on pressure -- that way I can have a sharp attack and a slow, steady decay.
Can't you already to this in Bitwig? It has per voice processing or not?


Btw, how to assign CC74 in Pigments2 (in the synth itself, without using DAW modulation) ?

WasteLand
KVRian
1024 posts since 8 Jun, 2018

Post Fri Sep 18, 2020 12:04 am

anomandaris1 wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 11:39 pm
Noumena wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 6:40 pm

What does MPE need to work as well as it could? It needs a MIDI fx VST that can preprocess the MPE data. I want to be able to build per voice LFOs, lag processors and envelopes that modulate pitch/pressure/cc74 before it gets to the synth. Also I want to be able to control attack and decay lag independently on pressure -- that way I can have a sharp attack and a slow, steady decay.
Can't you already to this in Bitwig? It has per voice processing or not?


Btw, how to assign CC74 in Pigments2 (in the synth itself, without using DAW modulation) ?
the first macro is assigned to timbre, i.e. CC74. so use the macro to modulate.
it is in window pop up when you click MPE. they call it slide, which is CC74..

at Noumena (almost a metapysical name, weren't that immanual kant uses it somehow different.. o well in way.. noumenal..), great post, i had made a reaction, deleted it, it was to chaotic.
(cypher 2 MPE implementation is now excellent, curves! and not buggy at all. great MPE synth.)

and Noumena thanks for the kontakt vid's, didn't try kontakt yet, so many experiments, time! time!
win 10 pro; cubase 10.5 pro, live 10 suite+push 2, reaper, reason 11 suite, bitwig studio 3, maschine mk3+jam, arturia V collection 7, korg collection, komplete 11 ultimate, softube modular, VM, meldaproduction etc.
https://soundcloud.com/sada-exposada

Noumena
KVRist
206 posts since 4 May, 2019

Post Fri Sep 18, 2020 6:37 am

anomandaris1 wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 11:39 pm
Noumena wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 6:40 pm

What does MPE need to work as well as it could? It needs a MIDI fx VST that can preprocess the MPE data. I want to be able to build per voice LFOs, lag processors and envelopes that modulate pitch/pressure/cc74 before it gets to the synth. Also I want to be able to control attack and decay lag independently on pressure -- that way I can have a sharp attack and a slow, steady decay.
Can't you already to this in Bitwig? It has per voice processing or not?


Btw, how to assign CC74 in Pigments2 (in the synth itself, without using DAW modulation) ?

you can only do this with the grid in bitwig or with the instrument rack trick + a grid hack... bitwig doesn't have a assymetric polyphonic lag processor modulator.

cc74 in pigments always controls the first macro knob, if memory serves.

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pnyboer
KVR Expert
17 posts since 7 Aug, 2018
KVR Expert

Post Fri Sep 18, 2020 8:19 am

RE: MPE effects. I think on of the tricky parts of that is CPU usage - adding an effects chain per-voice gets pretty thick. However, there is also likely a sort of architectural inertia in software design that influences this. Effects are global, and come after the synth voices, and that's how it's always been. Even though you can't do per-voice, it is still pretty great to use the aftertouch to control an effect or two.
Probably a good way to prototype this is to use Cycling 74's Max. There are some good MPE tools in that environment, and you can build a polyphonic synth with a voice that includes an effects chain.
A more out-of-the-box solution is UVI Falcon. Use Keygroups in UVI Falcon - there are some effects that you can add, but they are a limited selection compared to the full range of effects available. But you can still pack on per-voice pan/stereo effects, phasors, filters, distortion, amp-sims, and a reverb. It's pretty deep.

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pnyboer
KVR Expert
17 posts since 7 Aug, 2018
KVR Expert

Post Fri Sep 18, 2020 8:27 am

RE: Pigments - watch the video a page back! But, yeah, it's just the first Macro knob. A good move, but somewhat obscure!

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pnyboer
KVR Expert
17 posts since 7 Aug, 2018
KVR Expert

Post Fri Sep 18, 2020 8:28 am

Speaking of videos, here's my findings for Serum:
https://youtu.be/rUhQb0qgujI

WasteLand
KVRian
1024 posts since 8 Jun, 2018

Post Sat Sep 19, 2020 3:52 am

pnyboer wrote:
Fri Sep 18, 2020 8:28 am
Speaking of videos, here's my findings for Serum:
https://youtu.be/rUhQb0qgujI
thanks for the video's, although not a sensel morph owner, they are still helpfull, although i understand the basic and much more, still you learn. being to focused, means that you sometimes must look elsewhere..
i don't have serum either, but have pigments 2 and MSoundFactory (and more wavetable synths, how do i got so many... o yes the synthmasters are also MPE capable), and a wavetable synth, that i won't mentioned yet, although it is an way already public, that has now MPE also (not public yet.. this version). in the same domain as serum.
win 10 pro; cubase 10.5 pro, live 10 suite+push 2, reaper, reason 11 suite, bitwig studio 3, maschine mk3+jam, arturia V collection 7, korg collection, komplete 11 ultimate, softube modular, VM, meldaproduction etc.
https://soundcloud.com/sada-exposada

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