All About MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE)

Interactive, forum-based, in-depth reviews, tips, tutorials and more!
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KVR Expert
26 posts since 7 Aug, 2018
KVR Expert

Post Thu Sep 10, 2020 2:17 pm

I'm Peter Nyboer - I've been invited by the KVR gang to spread some knowledge about MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression) and Expressive Play here in an experts forum. I've been evangelizing and demo'ing MPE for a few years for the Sensel Morph, and I've gotten in pretty, pretty deep. Before working with Sensel, I helped start Livid Instruments where we had a pretty good run helping redefine MIDI controllers!

I've been working on a bunch of videos that I'll be releasing over time in this thread to help document how to use MPE and set it up for a bunch of different software and hardware.

I want to use these videos as more than just tutorials, I want to start a conversation about what people are trying to learn and what they know. I want to gather creative minds here and try to share what we've figured out. I really love the possibilities that MPE brings to synthesizers and electronic music, as it give us an opportunity to be really physical with our artificial sounds in natural ways.

So to kick this off, here's an intro about what exactly MPE is:
https://youtu.be/2jTCM3EGxhU

Next up, MPE with Arturia Pigments
https://youtu.be/aZN1f6pW74s

MPE and Xfer Serum synth
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUhQb0qgujI

MPE with UVI Falcon
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EV4jF9nSRdE

MPE with Madrona Labs Aalto
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPtZh9RsuYQ

MPE with Audio Damage Continua
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_UHBfBIjQM

Snyderphonics Mantamate with the Morph and MPE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICISfxtA-qA

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KVRAF
5310 posts since 15 Oct, 2017 from U.S.

Post Thu Sep 10, 2020 2:29 pm

Are there any touchscreen apps that can be used as a virtual sensei on a tablet as a midi input?
Living rent free

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KVR Expert

Topic Starter

26 posts since 7 Aug, 2018
KVR Expert

Post Fri Sep 11, 2020 8:29 am

No, there's no emulator of the Sensel Morph. The best thing about the Morph is its pressure sensitivity, so emulating it on a touch screen would be disappointing to say the least! : )

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KVRAF
2153 posts since 8 Jun, 2018

Post Sun Sep 13, 2020 11:45 am

great that there is more attention for MPE!
take me as apple as reed-son as flesh-icon, immediately
shits the wise man. hero and blind. take me as
stick as tongue as dog... Music & Soundscraping

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KVRian
964 posts since 25 Jan, 2017

Post Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:05 am

I love the Sensel Morph and I was actually thinking of getting a 2nd one to extend the octave range.
Actually I wish there was a 4 or 5 octave version available :)

I understand KVR's idea of having a new thread in this forum section but I'm afraid it could go unnoticed to most members. I found this thread completely by accident while I was logged-out and had no forum section-filter active.
Three days and just a couple of replies... a thread like this could probably "explode" if it was also showing up as a link/announcement in the Instrument section or the Hardware section.

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KVRAF
2153 posts since 8 Jun, 2018

Post Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:33 am

Niowiad wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:05 am
I love the Sensel Morph and I was actually thinking of getting a 2nd one to extend the octave range.
Actually I wish there was a 4 or 5 octave version available :)

I understand KVR's idea of having a new thread in this forum section but I'm afraid it could go unnoticed to most members. I found this thread completely by accident while I was logged-out and had no forum section-filter active.
Three days and just a couple of replies... a thread like this could probably "explode" if it was also showing up as a link/announcement in the Instrument section or the Hardware section.
i see 572 views since sept. 9.

not bad. still more video's to come, i hope with some synths that people know, and i don't have..

not a sensel morph owner by the way, but that doesn't mean i do not like the product, on the contrary: it is great controller.
i considered it. but i ended up with a new roli seaboard block (for a b-stock price, very low..) and second-hand lightpad M (the price for a second hand one, you can buy almost new 3 lightpads..).
no regrets. the combi seabord + lightpad M, gives a lot of expression, a lot. a second lightpad M i will buy, when i find one (second hand).

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....
take me as apple as reed-son as flesh-icon, immediately
shits the wise man. hero and blind. take me as
stick as tongue as dog... Music & Soundscraping

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KVRian
964 posts since 25 Jan, 2017

Post Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:59 am

WasteLand wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:33 am
Niowiad wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:05 am
I love the Sensel Morph and I was actually thinking of getting a 2nd one to extend the octave range.
Actually I wish there was a 4 or 5 octave version available :)

I understand KVR's idea of having a new thread in this forum section but I'm afraid it could go unnoticed to most members. I found this thread completely by accident while I was logged-out and had no forum section-filter active.
Three days and just a couple of replies... a thread like this could probably "explode" if it was also showing up as a link/announcement in the Instrument section or the Hardware section.
i see 572 views since sept. 9.

not bad.
It sure isn't bad for the video, but I was actually referring to this thread, which I found by accident and only because I happened to be logged-out.
I saw the YouTube video but I had no idea there was an actual forum thread with Peter from Sensel in for a discussion on MPE.
And if this barely got 3 replies in 3 days, when MPE is often talked about in the forum, I'm thinking most other KVR members are not aware either.

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KVRAF
2153 posts since 8 Jun, 2018

Post Mon Sep 14, 2020 8:03 am

Niowiad wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:59 am
WasteLand wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:33 am
Niowiad wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:05 am
I love the Sensel Morph and I was actually thinking of getting a 2nd one to extend the octave range.
Actually I wish there was a 4 or 5 octave version available :)

I understand KVR's idea of having a new thread in this forum section but I'm afraid it could go unnoticed to most members. I found this thread completely by accident while I was logged-out and had no forum section-filter active.
Three days and just a couple of replies... a thread like this could probably "explode" if it was also showing up as a link/announcement in the Instrument section or the Hardware section.
i see 572 views since sept. 9.

not bad.
It sure isn't bad for the video, but I was actually referring to this thread, which I found by accident and only because I happened to be logged-out.
I saw the YouTube video but I had no idea there was an actual forum thread with Peter from Sensel in for a discussion on MPE. And I'm thinking most other KVR forum members are not aware either.
yes, it isn't that visible here, i agree. and every attention to MPE is welcome.
perhaps when more video's come. the linnstrument was also here, i thought, don't know how many people saw it.
take me as apple as reed-son as flesh-icon, immediately
shits the wise man. hero and blind. take me as
stick as tongue as dog... Music & Soundscraping

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KVR Expert

Topic Starter

26 posts since 7 Aug, 2018
KVR Expert

Post Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:01 am

Here's another video, this one about using Arturia Pigments and MPE. I'll be focusing a lot on how to add MPE to these software synths, as well as giving a basic intro to each software. There's a lot of good stuff coming down the pipe! While I do use the Morph in these videos, the info is applicable to any MPE controller.

https://youtu.be/aZN1f6pW74s

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KVR Expert

Topic Starter

26 posts since 7 Aug, 2018
KVR Expert

Post Mon Sep 14, 2020 10:02 am

Also worth noting - I totally missed the "MPE button" in the interface. That *does* need to be turned on in the Arturia software.

udk
KVRer
1 posts since 17 May, 2007

Post Mon Sep 14, 2020 12:33 pm

Hi there,
First: Sorry for my bad Englisch ...
I wonder why no one spends effort on optimizing realism with existing breath Controllers like Yamaha WX7 and physical modelling of woodwind or brass emulating software. For me this is the first place where MPE has been foregotten or is never used as it could be, or isn‘t it? Thank you for hints on this special subtopic!
Best regards
Udk

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KVR Expert

Topic Starter

26 posts since 7 Aug, 2018
KVR Expert

Post 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.

KVRAF
9349 posts since 12 May, 2008

Post 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.
System: Windows 10, Dell XPS 2-in-1, Bitwig 3, Steinberg UR44.

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KVRAF
2153 posts since 8 Jun, 2018

Post 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...
take me as apple as reed-son as flesh-icon, immediately
shits the wise man. hero and blind. take me as
stick as tongue as dog... Music & Soundscraping

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KVR Expert

Topic Starter

26 posts since 7 Aug, 2018
KVR Expert

Post 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!

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