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Full Version: Writing string parts with the midi keyboard, some questions about expressiveness.
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Hello my fellow composers,
as I am currently trying to cultivate my composing skills, I have come to the point where I want to gain control of the dynamics of the strings.
Right now the way I do this is by volume control, so if I want to write a sustained note, going from piano to forte, I would normally write a high velocity note with a gradual rise of the volume.
However, the samples I use have at least 3 layers of velocity and I was wondering if there is a better way to do this by crossfading the different velocity samples as well as controlling the volume.
Then I could assign this to the mod wheel (or maybe aftertouch) and use the velocity function of the keyboard for other purposes (for example changing to staccatto).
But what if we could control this directly from the keys? By determining the travel value of the pressed key, we could emulate a soft dynamic with a shallow press and a hard one with a deep. Does such functionality exist in any midi keyboard?
Cross fading based on velocity is a step in the right direction to a more realistic sound but it still has the problem that you can't change the tone of a held note as the volume changes. Another step in the right direction is to use volume crossfade. With a real instrument the tone changes with the volume so it makes sense to cross fade the samples as the volume increases. This seems to be typically controlled with the mod wheel. Mod wheel all the way down uses all of the lowest volume sample, mod wheel all the say up uses all the loudest sample. Anything in between is a varying percentage of each volume layer.

I would expect using key depth to be difficult to control. I may play fast or slow notes but I'll likely always press the key all the way down each time.
I think that those expensive ROLI Seaboards do what you want. I don't remember exactly from my short time trying one out, only that I didn't like it very much.
Simon and I experimented with a similar system with the string sections in VSCO 2 Pro- the velocity inversely controls the attack and the modwheel controls the dynamics. A third dimension could be added to crossfade between non-vibrato and vibrato if desired (but we didn't take it that far). The result is a highly playable system that harnesses existing instincts of the player to control the instrument- soft velocities give a soft attack, while hard velocities give a hard attack. With some of the brass ensembles, we combined the staccato and sustains on one patch with velocity controlling the staccato volume and modwheel the sustain- the result is similar, great control over the phrasing- accented and unaccented sustains.