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Topic: Controlling attack

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  1. #1

    Controlling attack

    I want to find a way to soften the spiccato attacks. The Strad manual says that the intensity of the standard spiccato attack can be varied by velocity and, to a lesser extent, by the expression pedal. When playing lyrically, I can soften the attacks by using the sustain pedal (legato.) But I can't soften the attack on the first note of any phrase--even if I play very softly (hard to do with my club-fingered touch.) Also, repeated notes give a too-strong attack, even with the sus pedal down, leaving annoying harsh bow-strikes where I don't want them.

    I've been thinking there must be a way to adjust the velocity response curve somehow, so that a wider range at the 'low end' is given to the softer attacks, and requiring me to dig into the keys more for the spicatto. But I don't know how to do this.

    Anybody else notice this issue? Suggestions?

    Thanks,
    Clay

    MacBook Pro
    Logic
    Axiom 49

  2. #2

    Re: Controlling attack

    Clay,

    This issue has been thoroughly analyzed.

    I checked the relative loudness of the attacks vs. sustains, by sending their output to different channels, using an unlocked copy of the Stradivari vers. 2.01 in K2.

    I could verify that if both CC#11 and velocity are set to very low values (say < 5), the attacks are at least -25 dB (peak value) below the sustains, i.e. barely audible.

    Are there other possible causes for the problem you're reporting? Are CC#11, and note-on velocity effectively set to very low values? You should check this with a sequencer. Some pedals, and keyboards, are indeed incapable of outputting very low values.

    Giorgio

  3. #3

    Re: Controlling attack

    Quote Originally Posted by Giorgio Tommasini

    Some pedals, and keyboards, are indeed incapable of outputting very low values.

    Giorgio
    I believe that is the point.

    The quality of most midi keyboards and the inconsistencies of their performance vary greatly.
    This is the reason that many users will have the need to fine tune and adjust parameters within the software interface for enhancing the control of attack, portamento, dynamic range etc. Of course we could use the mouse after the fact but that is not appealing for a performance instrument.
    Bosco Adama

  4. #4

    Re: Controlling attack

    Quote Originally Posted by Bosco Adama
    I believe that is the point.

    The quality of most midi keyboards and the inconsistencies of their performance vary greatly.
    This is the reason that many users will have the need to fine tune and adjust parameters within the software interface for enhancing the control of attack, portamento, dynamic range etc. Of course we could use the mouse after the fact but that is not appealing for a performance instrument.
    Yes, Bosco, that was my question. Giorgio, I do clearly hear the softened attack at low velocity and reduced CC #11. I have several keyboards--two weighted key pianos, an old Roland U-20, and a new Axiom 49. With all of them, it is hard to access the lighter attack, perhaps because the velocity threshold is set so low or perhaps because of my manual clumsiness. So I wonder if there is any way--perhaps inside my sequencer (Logic)-- to set the velocity response so that it switches to quieter attack at a higher velocity. I have found, of course, that I can edit this later; but it would be nice to have more easy control in real-time playing.

    I hope that makes sense. I'll be gone over the weekend but looking forward to any further wisdom on this question.

    Clay

  5. #5

    Re: Controlling attack

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen McMahan
    What do you think?
    I think it would be an extremely helpful utility. I cannot imagine, anybody would try to stop you

  6. #6

    Re: Controlling attack

    I had horrid low velocity response on my last controller. I did find a plugin that would extrapolate lower velocity values based on user-definable curves.

    However, this came at the expense of resolution. If a keyboard will only generate 30-40 unique values between 0-127, then all a plug-in will do is spread those out over that range (or compress them farther within that range).

    Really, the only solution is better controllers. It saddens me that keyboard controllers have devolved - I don't think there are ANY currently made controllers with even, high-res velocity, release velocity, poly-pressure, etc. Advances in software instrument design could really make great use of these features.

    I guess there is a good reason to keep my old Ensoniq TS-10 around.

    --Eric

  7. #7

    Re: Controlling attack

    I find myself using the original Strad far more often because I was able to make the necessary adjustments and tweeks to suit my playing style, combined with my particular controller.

    There is no reason why we shouldn't be able to have the same freedoms with the 2.0 version. I really hope the programmers are reconsidering the policy of not letting the buyer customize their patches to their satisfaction.

    I am really interested in the Cello as well, but only if I am able to do simple things like adjusting attack velocity.

    nhb

  8. #8

    Re: Controlling attack

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen McMahan
    Controllers/keyboards are a big thing and a lot of people are either upset by that or on the other hand don't want to deal with it. Following the threads on several forums - it appears that either an older Roland or a CME or a Kurzweil keyboard are the choices. Fatar and M-Audio are at the bottom of the heap and CME gets mixed reviews from users - some like them and some don't.
    Sheesh, I just bought an ancient Fatar Studio 2001 because it has a wonderful piano-like action; also, 'cause it allows me to set the velocity curve in several different shapes besides linear. Sorry to hear Fatar is "the bottom of the heap," although since this is vintage 1993 maybe it's better than the new ones? Whatever; I won't be able to try it right away in any case, since the internal battery's dead and I have to find a techy person to help me find a new one and install it. (It loses anything I program as soon as I turn it off)

    BTW, any Bay Area denizens here who know a good local person to work on MIDI equipment?

    Anyway, Stephen, the idea of creating a plug-in to address this issue is a great one. It would make a huge difference in the playability of this new generation of super-responsive instruments.

  9. #9

    Smile Re: Controlling attack

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen McMahan
    I hope your Fatar is one of the older good ones that I remember (I used to build synth keyboards from Fatar key beds back in the early 70's - liked them a lot then.)
    Yes, my Fatar is an old warhorse from 1993. It comes built into a hard case and the keyboard feels better under the hands than even my Clavinova of the same vintage. I took it in for battery replacement (dumb; the old battery was hardwired in!) and hope to have it back later this week.

    Stephen, sorry you hate your Axiom's touch, but glad to hear it I have an Axiom 49, and while I appreciate the ease of use, it was the Axiom's bad 'feel' that sent me out looking for a better keyboard. Maybe the reason that keyboards have gotten generally worse is because consumers have valued light weight and portability over touch. When I took the Fatar apart, almost all of the weight was in the keyboard structure; the electronics and case weigh next to nothing.

    Will be looking forward to that velocity plug-in!

  10. #10

    Re: Controlling attack

    Hello
    although this has turned in a hardware discussion thread I like to bring this old topic up again.

    After some months with this library I must say that the connection of velocity with both initial attack *and* portamento (slides) is not good at all for playing simple, lyrical lines.
    Generally, when playing such passages you would not like to have initial accents at all. So you have to play with very, very low velocity. But then when you play legato, there is this incredibly long slide. So: Low velocity at the 1st note of any phrase, high velocity at the following ones... (if you want a simple, clear change of the notes): Absolutely hard to do, please correct me if I'm wrong.

    Can't you please provide an alternative where the slides are controlled by a totally different controller, and velocity only is steering attack?

    Thank you

    Uli
    Uli Reuter
    film composer, Germany

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