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Topic: Expression Pedal Use

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  1. #1
    Member CBK780's Avatar
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    Expression Pedal Use

    Hi All:

    I just purchased an expression pedal (Fatar) to go with the Strad product. I am disappointed with it but am wondering if I am misunderstanding the purpose.

    When I used hardware synths, I generally attempted to create a more realistic sound by swelling at the beginning and training off a bit at the end. That is how most instruments, particularly winds, sound.

    With Strad I thought I would need to do something similar. But I found using an expression pedal to be rather clunky and hard to control. Some of that is a physical problem I have. But it certainly does not feel like a supple control device.

    Then I thought that perhaps I was misunderstanding its function. Perhaps the way to use expression is simply to set a basic level for the phrase and not try to create subtle variations for each note. In this case, I would assume that the samples do not need this type of subtle volume adjustment.

    Which is correct?

    1. If I just use the expression pedal to set the basic level of the phrase then it seems like a slider would be easier to use.

    2. If the expression pedal needs to be manipulated constantly, then would a higher end pedal work better?

    Any insight would be most appreciated.

    Charlie

  2. #2

    Re: Expression Pedal Use

    I'm considering switching the functions of the mod wheel and the pedal by reassigning the cc#.
    I'm going to try to assign cc#11 to the mod wheel and use it to control expression as in GPO and JABB . Then I'll assign cc#1 to the pedal for adding vibrato ( modulation). That might work.
    Bosco Adama

  3. #3
    Member CBK780's Avatar
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    Re: Expression Pedal Use

    I understand and have been thinking about something similar. But I am still wondering how much you need to use the expression controller (or mod wheel in JABB and GPO).

    Also, I really like the mod wheel for vibrato on the Strad. I find I use it for every note. That's why I am asking of the expression controller is used the same way or more as a "set and forget" for the phrase.

    Charlie
    (day job)
    CEO, Cognetics Corporation

    www.cognetics.com
    (night job)
    musician

  4. #4
    Member CBK780's Avatar
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    Re: Expression Pedal Use

    Can you say more about your comment that "Once you get used to the effect that the pedal has (not just volume) then it gets to be a bit more comfortable?"

    In what way is expression different from volume?

    Charlie
    (day job)
    CEO, Cognetics Corporation

    www.cognetics.com
    (night job)
    musician

  5. #5

    Re: Expression Pedal Use

    When a violinist changes the pressure of the bow on the string it changes both the volume and quality of sound. So, using the expression control (along with the mod wheel CC#1 vibrato amount) gives the effect of actually playing the instrument with all it's expressiveness.

    Starting at the bow tip for an upwards sweep (sorry, don't know all the technical terms) you cannot apply much pressure on the string because there is just not much leverage. Compare that with a down stroke starting at the bow handle (frog?) where extreme bow pressure can be applied and the entire sound of the instrument changes.

    The expression control cannot just be "set and forget" - it should be varied almost constantly (along with CC#1) to get a realistic performance.

    I've given up on the foot control for expression as I can't get the subtle control I want. I'm using a slider with a custom curve which feels much better. I have a second control slider right next to the expression slider to control the Vibrato amount. So, with two fingers of my left hand I can control both CC#11 and CC#1. That leaves aftertouch to be inputted and I choose to do that within the sequencer (Sonar 6) as, here again, I can't get the subtle control I want from the keyboard.

    Fred

  6. #6
    Member CBK780's Avatar
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    Re: Expression Pedal Use

    That is really interesting.

    So you are using two sliders and manipulating both at the same time. It sounds a bit awkward but I suppose if we can learn to play piano we could learn that as well.

    What does the aftertouch add? I just took my wonderful old Yamaha keyboard off the desk and replaced it with an Alesis QS8.1 I had so I could experiment with aftertouch. So far I am not getting good results.

    It sounds as if you need to "pencil in" the aftertouch by editing once you have laid down the line. I am hoping to do as much as possible in real time playing rather than editing the Midi afterwards. It's a lot more fun!

    I know that some organs have a lever that you can move with your knee using a sideways pressure. I think that would work a lot better than a pedal but have not seen a Midi controller version.

    I am also wondering if a ribbon controller or 3D joystick would enable you to control multiple cc's with one hand. I am a bit pessimistic about my ability to manipulate cc#1 and cc#11 in real time with two fingers.

    BTW, I am also using Sonar 6

    Charlie
    (day job)
    CEO, Cognetics Corporation

    www.cognetics.com
    (night job)
    musician

  7. #7

    Re: Expression Pedal Use

    Quote Originally Posted by fred Holmes
    I've given up on the foot control for expression as I can't get the subtle control I want. I'm using a slider with a custom curve which feels much better. I have a second control slider right next to the expression slider to control the Vibrato amount. So, with two fingers of my left hand I can control both CC#11 and CC#1. That leaves aftertouch to be inputted and I choose to do that within the sequencer (Sonar 6) as, here again, I can't get the subtle control I want from the keyboard.
    Fred, since you have abandoned the expression pedal, you could use this to control vibrato speed, by assigning it to either AfterTouch or CC#67. CC#67 doeas essentially the same as AfterTouch.

  8. #8

    Re: Expression Pedal Use

    Quote Originally Posted by CBK780
    What does the aftertouch add? I just took my wonderful old Yamaha keyboard off the desk and replaced it with an Alesis QS8.1 I had so I could experiment with aftertouch. So far I am not getting good results.
    There is a setting in Sonar that accepts aftertouch from your midi controller. I'm not at my DAW at the moment, but look around in the options/settings for that.

  9. #9

    Re: Expression Pedal Use

    CC#67 doeas essentially the same as AfterTouch
    Thanks Nickie - great idea!!

    Charlie,
    Aftertouch adjusts the speed or frequency of the vibrato.

    In fast passages the violinist just doesn't have time to even use vibrato. In slow passages you'll may hear a fast vibrato move to a slower vibrato as the note draws to a close for musical phrasing(or visa versa). Also if they are getting ready for more fingering they just naturally reduce the vibrato frequency as they prepare to move the finger to a new location.

    So again, as with CC#1 and CC#11 constant adjustment of aftertouch is required for a musically pleasing and realistic performance. My aftertouch on a Kurzweil PC88 just never seems to be subtle enough which is why I draw it in the sequencer (also Sonar 6.01pe BTW)

    Fred

  10. #10
    Member CBK780's Avatar
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    Re: Expression Pedal Use

    Thank you all for your helpful comments. To summarize whay I have read so far:

    It seems as if the requirement is to:

    1. Play the keys
    2. Manage the expression (CC#11)
    3. Manage the vibrato (cc#1)
    4. Manage the vibrato speed (cc#67)

    It seems like the aftertouch on the keyboards may be disappointing so, im principle, you could end up with three controllers that you need to manipulate in real time.

    The suggested solution might be:

    1. Use a slider for cc#1 and cc#11
    2. Use a pedal for cc#67 (aftertouch)

    Do I have that right?

    It seems to me that if you could get decent aftertouch, it would be good to use it to control vibrato. That would seem to be a natural way to use the key. But it sounds as if the keyboards are generally not responsive enought.

    Does that sound right as well?

    Charlie
    (day job)
    CEO, Cognetics Corporation

    www.cognetics.com
    (night job)
    musician

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