MIDI Controllers and Microtonality

Come on man, that was your queue. 16 part multitimbral.

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We had simultaneous posts, so I didn’t see yours when I was writing mine.

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I like to work away from the computer as much as possible, compose with elektron sequencer and use p locks a lot.

That’s why I would like to use ‘detune’ p-locks on my sequences. I can do it manually with the help of a tuner, but that’s a lot of labor for each step. Ideally I would use a midi keyboard to input notes and there would be a midi processor that would automatically add the ‘detune’ p-lock according to the scale setup I chose previously.

I’m working with A4 and AR at the moment

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Does Lion currently support Oddsound’s MTS-ESP? Right now, it only says, “Full microtuning support (via TUN files)” at the web site. If so, I have to try it. When working ITB, I’m strictly limited to Sonic Pi’s internal synths, which is super-convenient for demo-ing, but don’t sound all that thrilling.

ADDED: Oh, wait, down below it says, “Added Oddsound MPS-ESP tuning support .”

This is all I can offer you in response. Any further questions about Lion in relation to MTS-ESP should be directed to his attention. fwiw, Lion is a great-sounding synth. I bought it because it cost only $25 at the time… and other people here assured me it’s quality product.

He seems pretty responsive.

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Yes, our 1.3.0 patch for LION was released on Friday and adds in MTS-ESP support.

I just heard from a user that we have the same bug as u-he’s Hive implementation where it doesn’t respond to the MTS Suite’s real-time scale morph. This is because LION only updates its base frequency with a new note on message, and the thought of people morphing the base frequency via an external scale providing plugin was not something that crossed my mind in 2019 :laughing: I’ll get that fixed but it won’t be a quick release on PA. We’ll add it in with the Apple Silicon release.

(To clarify, this isn’t the same as, say, pitch bend. We have a callback that updates the current frequency when the bend changes. This is like changing the entire tuning table mid-note, which is a hilariously cool thing that people can now do.)


@blipson @Jukka thank you for helping me figure all of this out! Looks like the TG-33 desktop I have is also 16 part multitimbral, exciting. So with my current setup of polysynths of Blofeld desktop and TG-33 I could get a nice microtonal polyphony using Midihub.
I’m really debating now which route would offer the most flexibility both in terms of performance expression and microtonal composition.
One route would be to simply get the Hydra keys and then have one stand alone synth that can offer poly after touch, mts, microtonality. Another route would be to get Midihub+Novation SL MK3+Hydra Desktop. They avarage to about the same price which is the most I can spend. With the latter setup I get to use microtonality through Midihub with tg-33 and blofeld plus some after touch polyphony with the Novation pads, but I will lose a bit of the Hydra flexibility with the absence of the keys poly after touch and theremin strip. Am I missing anything else with regards to either setups?

Could you take out the Novation SLM3 in the middle and just go Midihub+HSK with your TG-33 and Blofeld ? Or do you intend to use the sequencer part of the SLM3 ?

Take it slow, research the detail, make sure the pieces will work together, and will match with your goals. There are complications to examine, when combining separate pieces to be used together like this, and upfront planning will pay benefits.

I feel like I’m in MIDI therapy session so thank you for the patience :slight_smile: So the reason for the SLM3 wouldn’t necessarily be the sequencer but because I do need a MIDI keyboard controller (I used to do it with the Prophet 6 but it was borrowed and had to give it back, so currently I’m using one of the oldest crappiest not even velocity sensitive 61 MIDI controllers because it’s the only thing I got. The remainder of my setup is a desktop Evolver, Minitaur, a Microbrute, and the occasional soft synth). I’ve been saving up for a while and now I have a budget of around the price of the Hydra keys to update my whole setup. I’m also really eager to step forward and move into the world of possibilites offered by MPE. From my reserach so far if I get the Hydra keys that will open the way for future integration of things like the Sensel Morph etc.
But I was considering the Hydra desktop and the SLMK3 combo because of what the SLMK3 offers in regards to controlling my hardware synths. Do you think there are some possible complications with the idea of the Hydra Keys functioning as a basic controller for a couple of soft synths and hardware synths at the same time? I think I read somewhere that for instance with the Komplete Kontrol keyboard you can’t actually do it simultaneously, use it as controller for soft synths and hardware synths.

Well yeah of course there are complications.

Some things to consider: The HSK doesn’t have a keyboard split function, but the Midihub could be used for that. The HSK is only 49 keys, the SLM3 come in both 49 and 61 key versions. The SLM3 has two MIDI out ports (plus the CV stuff), the HSK only one (and some CV too) but with the Midihub you could split that one MIDI out to a variety of MIDI connections.

I think you might use the HSK in two separate ways at separate times, using the internal microtonality, or at a separate time using it as a controller through a Midihub for some group of external synth devices. I would not suggest mixing these two modes, though it might be possible, you’d need to think that through more carefully.

Using the HSK to output poly-aftertouch or MPE through devices like a Midihub (there are other MIDI processors too) also needs careful consideration. I’m not saying it wouldn’t work, it just faces more issues.

There will be differences too in using either the HSK or the SLM3 with computer based synths.

Can your target synths process poly-aftertouch or MPE ?

I’d forget the Komplete Kontrol keyboard. I’d park the ideas about the Sensel Morph unless you had some specific need in that direction later.

Right, I only mentioned it because it made me think whether or not it would be technically possible to let the Hydra Keys control a soft synth and a hard synth simoltanously.

From what I understand yes the Blofeld engine processes polyphonic aftertouch (the Blofeld keybed itself doesn’t transmit polyphonic aftertouch) and MPE.

With the Sensel it’s not something I would get now, but that’s where I would like to go musically, the MPE expressive route. So the Hydra Keys would make sense as a step in that direction.

The HS has possibilities too outputting MIDI CC controlled by it’s internal LFOs, etc — via the ModMatrix,plus all the fun MIDI you can generate via the Arpeggiator — which could also be further processed by things like a Midihub. You will need to be careful though not to clog standard MIDI DIN lines, the HS can generate a lot of MIDI very easily.

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A couple of additional considerations:

  1. Aside from basic messing around, using a standard keyboard layout for higher EDO microtunings is no fun at all. For example, 19 equal divisions of the octave spread over the 12 positions of a piano keybed is unreasonably taxing on your brain and uncomfortable to play in a real playing way. Higher EDOs even worse. The best way to go is an isomorphic keyboard, which is a whole nother debate. I can say from experience, though, that using a LinnStrument and laying out 19-EDO octaves in 4x5 grids puts a lot of notes under your hands laid out in a musically sensible way. Still, the LinnStrument doesn’t let you assign a MIDI note per pad, which sucks. LS is a rather rigid instrument in its way, and I’ve characterized it as going obsolete. Sensel Morph, on the other hand, is much more programmable, but small, with a less musically responsive touch; LinnStrument is significantly better, I reckon, but still: I’m waiting on the Erae Touch. Mostly, though, I’m doing microtonal with my custom sequencer.

  2. Does Blofeld have a “clone part 1” function, like Omnisphere? If not, when you employ the pitch bend trick to get n-polyphonic microtonal with Blofeld, you’ll have to go through the trouble of copying one channel to the other n-1 channels. That’s pretty aggravating if you want to change patches frequently. Omnisphere’s clone function minimizes the pain, but one reason I don’t bother experimenting with the pitch bend trick is that I’d have the same copying chore with my only multitimbral hardware synth, Kyra. I wouldn’t mind having the pitch bend trick with Omnisphere, but that would only give me a monotimbral 8-polyphonic synth, and I’m already well-covered there with Xerxes and DDRM. I got those for MPE, but then I discovered they had full implementations of MTS as a non-documented feature. For ITB, I just go with Sonic Pi’s built-ins, as I mentioned, for demo purposes.


I see what you’re saying about the potential joylessness of standard keyboard layout and microtunings! I come from a classical piano performance background and I enjoy the traditional keybed being “misplaced” so to speak. I find it very liberating to be confused by the keyboard, like playing with your eyes closed. I also of course see the appeal in isomophic controllers, but as supplementation. I don’t think I can give up the standard keybed altogether completely yet :slight_smile:
The Erae looks beautiful! And at least from the video seems to me a lot more inviting (the Sensel too in this sense) than a grid.
I’ve never tried cloning parts on the Blofeld so I will check. And again sorry for my ignorance with this, very new to thinking about MIDI, but if I set the Midihub to send the pitchbent note to each of the Blofeld’s 16 channels then why/what would I have to set on the Blofeld channels? Thinking about the Midihub+Nord Microtonal video I don’t remember them doing something like this but I’m probably missing something?

I think there’s some fiddling with assigning the onscreen notes to a particular note on the keyboard if I remember it right (been a while, but sure I had the same issue to begin with!)

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I emailed Midihub and HSK support and they both confirmed that this will work. And I decided to get the HSK. Then I can build on it from there and add the Midihub at some point, and more expressive controls.

Thank you everyone for being so generous with your knowledge.

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Awesome, thanx for the questions, it’s always fun to consider new ideas. Good you asked about poly-aftertouch and MPE.

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This thread made me want to implement pitch bend microtuning in my sequencer, which turned out to be rather simple to do, given that I already had the code for MTS real-time tuning. It was virtually the same routine, just with a bunch of stuff deleted. The cost, of course, is the limitation to one note per channel. Along with creating more ITB options using Spectrasonics stuff, pitch bend microtuning breathes new life into my Jupiter-Xm (4 timbres, so 4-polyphony) and even my Super 6, which makes for a pretty respectable monosynth when I microtune it.

Most importantly, I realized that getting a monosynth based on a full implementation of MTS doesn’t make much sense since they can all be retuned via pitch bend just as well; there goes my Moog Matriarch—and I was this close. I now keep my streak alive of never following through with a Moog or Sequential purchase, except for an EtherWave and a Moogerfooger thing back in the day. A Pro-3 is looking kind of interesting now…

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