• Register
  • Help
Results 1 to 8 of 8

Topic: The Mysteries of Controlling a Virtual Piano

Share/Bookmark
  1. #1

    The Mysteries of Controlling a Virtual Piano

    Let me start by saying that I really respect the views of the many professionals that contribute to this forum. Your vast knowledge base and willingness to share it are wonderful. So to this forum I would like to pose these questions….



    In promoting one particular virtual acoustic piano instrument over another, the main focus of discussion usually centers on the sound: the make and model of piano sampled, how it is tuned, the number of samples per note, the length of the sample, room ambience, release samples, simulating harmonic resonance between strings, capturing overtones and noises, etc.



    Yet in the actual use of these instruments, how they “play” becomes a key determinant of how they sound. In this regard, there is an aspect that is seldom discussed: the response of the virtual piano to an 88 key midi controller keyboard; the coupling of these controllers to the virtual piano, e.g., are there some controllers better suited to a particular virtual piano? Is this not a major factor in the experience the user will have with the instrument?



    If the midi velocity range is 0-127 do controllers sense increases in velocity in the same number of increments and output proportionally? Are they consistent in response or does the output jump out of proportion to the input velocity? Selectable velocity curves notwithstanding, how many controllers have the capability to sense 127 increments of velocity and output 127 increments? Is compression a major issue with some of these controllers?



    Look at the demos of each virtual piano be it Ivory, Akoustik Piano, Old Lady, Art Vista Virtual Grand, TBO, etc. They sound great each in their own way, but what controllers were used to create the demo performances? Which, if any, were created by the pianist playing an electronic midi controller and if so which controller? Sometimes they are being created from MIDI files whose original source is unknown.



    I believe that many were created by pianists performing on a real acoustic piano with MIDI recording\output (e.g. Yamaha Diskclavier) captured to a MIDI file. That MIDI file is used to then “play” the virtual instrument. This is not quite the same as playing it through an electronic midi controller. The possible conclusion here is that the same pianist trying to perform the same piece on an electronic midi controller would not be able to create the same level of performance as they had on the Diskclavier.



    Shouldn’t each demo of each virtual piano be accompanied by the name of the controller used to create it? Are there any midi controllers (e.g. Studiologic VMK-188, M Audio ProKeys 88, Yamaha P90, S90ES, Roland RD700SX, etc) that equal the capability of the Yamaha Diskclavier in terms of coupling the playing with fully accurate and expressive MIDI output?



    Thanks,



    John

  2. #2

    Re: The Mysteries of Controlling a Virtual Piano

    Right! That why I say tweaking the velocity curve is not enough, but the "key touch" is important. What I call also the response. It's the physical strength you need to hit a key to play the highest velocity (127). The best master keyboard are those that can modify this sharply, and not have the only three presets "light, medium, heavy".

    For example, for the sampletekk's TBO, I set my RD700sx to play velocity 127 when I play a key like a karateka. That makes sense for a such dynamical library from which highest layer has been sampled a limit of breaking. And if you use this library with a cheap keyboard without tweaking "key touch", it will sound unnatural because velocity 127 is so easy to reach.

    But this depends on the player : if it's a trained pianist, he has enough strength in his fingers and would select an heavier response. But if it's a non trained one or someone who never played on a real one, who has not enough strength in his fingers, he would select a lighter one.

  3. #3

    Re: The Mysteries of Controlling a Virtual Piano

    Thanks for the input! Are you happy with your RD700sx in regards to being able to set up the velocity responses? How does it fare in the upper (harder playing) range vs. the lower (softer playing) range?

    John

  4. #4

    Re: The Mysteries of Controlling a Virtual Piano

    Quote Originally Posted by xav93
    For example, for the sampletekk's TBO, I set my RD700sx to play velocity 127 when I play a key like a karateka.
    How do you like TBO? and how does it compare to other libraries that you may be familiar with?

    And what is a "kareteka"?
    JP

  5. #5

    Re: The Mysteries of Controlling a Virtual Piano

    Quote Originally Posted by logic+sonaruser
    Thanks for the input! Are you happy with your RD700sx in regards to being able to set up the velocity responses? How does it fare in the upper (harder playing) range vs. the lower (softer playing) range?

    John
    I get it since it's out and I still have no shadow of a regret. Everything in it is right to me. And about response, you can select yours in the 100 ones available between "super light-10" and "super heavy+9" (far from the 3 basic presets light medium heayvy...).
    And no matter the response you select, the midi velocity is still well played from 0 to 127 with steps 1 by 1. So it's always very sharp. No midi velocity shadowed or forgotten due to bad velocity curve. So your soft and hard play is ok.
    Sure it's not as sharp as a disklavier that has 1024 velocity steps (in place of 127 for amm midi keyboard), but your play is still all right.

  6. #6

    Re: The Mysteries of Controlling a Virtual Piano

    Quote Originally Posted by jimmymio
    How do you like TBO? and how does it compare to other libraries that you may be familiar with?

    And what is a "kareteka"?
    JP
    TBO is the most expressive piano I get. From extra ppp to extra fff (like a karateka... you know Bruce Lee? Imagine Bruce Lee playing on a piano like he does kung fu...strings are near to brake), the timbre is very warm to very bright. No dynamic limit. But to exploit the full quintessence of this dynamic, you have to use a very good master keyboard and set up correctly, as I already said it, your keyboard's response.
    No matter it's not a Steinway or other top of the art piano, but it's so so expressive. You play normally and at the moment you need to do an extra fff or an extra ppp, you know that it can do it. You play hard, you know it can be harder. You play soft, you know that it can be softer. I'm really addicted to this dynamic reserve.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    310

    Re: The Mysteries of Controlling a Virtual Piano

    Can't agree more.

    I'm back from a gig tonight (without my favorite drummer) and I have almost broken the (old) Bechstein on backbeats voicings... so I understand what "Bruce Lee play" is about.

    However, you can live with a mere (but robust) controler with only light / medium / heavy setting : Just put it on heavy, and then adjust with the velocity curve (e.g. saturating at 120 = 127).
    Well, you lose "resolution" of course, but I can live with that (until the day RD700SX weight is cut by half or more).
    Anyway I can't myself control 127 points step by step, my fingers are not good enough...


  8. #8

    Re: The Mysteries of Controlling a Virtual Piano

    I'm planning on purchasing an S90ES. Will this function as a good controller?
    JP

Go Back to forum

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •