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The Tweaker's Guide
The knobs on your synth typically send controller data. You can also generate and output such controller data from faders and and editors within the software. Whether they work or not depends solely on if the feature is implemented in the product. Sometimes controllers are freely assignable in your midi device. For example, in a Proteus 2000, the manufacturers have implemented 12 controllers, calling them controllers a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l. You can route the controller number of your choice to each from 1-95. Inside each program of the p2k, you assign parameters to as many controllers as you want. You may decide you want filter cutoff on controller A and resonance on Controller B. Then at the global level you define that Controller 17 for example) will always tweak Controller A. You twist the A knob and Controller 17 values are sent to the sequencer, which echoes them back to the synth, and turns the frequency cutoff parameter.
MSB and LSB Don't let this bit of technical jargon scare you off. MSB stands for Most significant byte and LSB stands for Least significant Byte. This data format is used when 127 values are not enough for the control. Think of it like a shortwave radio. The MSB sets the coarse tuning and the LSB is the fine tuning. Synths with very finely articulated knobs may send out an MSB and LSB, but most just send an LSB. You can tell by recording a knob tweak in your sequencer, then looking at the data in the event editor. If there are two sets of controllers, each with a range of 0-127, that's what's going on, it's sending a MSB and an LSB. Don't worry about learning hexidecimal code that the programmers have to deal with. Unless you are writing music software, all that stuff is a waste of time. Just remember, coarse and fine tuning.
One of the beautiful, but confusing things about controller definitions is the way manufacturers can creatively use them to control the innards of their synthesizers. Remember, it's just code. Send the right code, the synth reacts.
0 Bank Select (MSB)
re-route anything to Controller 0. It will mess up your program changes.
1 Modulation Wheel or Joystick (positive polarity) (MSB) Can be effectively remapped to other controllers on some synths
2 Breath controller sometimes Joystick (negative polarity) (MSB) Can be effectively remapped to other controllers on some synths
4 Foot Pedal (MSB) Don't mess with it
5 Portamento Time (MSB) Only use this for portamento time
6 Data Entry (MSB) Better leave this one alone too.
7 Volume (MSB) If you re-route to Controller 7, your software mixer will mess up
8 Balance (MSB) Some synths use it
10 Pan position (MSB) If you re-route to Controller 10, your software mixer will mess up
11 Expression (MSB) Roland synths use it. Some synths use it for LFOs, some for crescendo/ decrescendo (loudness). Sometimes routed to keyboard aftertouch.
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The group below are sometimes "hard assigned" to faders and knobs on your synth. But usually they are set as a default you can change to match your other synths
12 Effect Control 1 (MSB)
13 Effect Control 2 (MSB)
16 Ribbon Controller or General Purpose Slider 1
17 Knob 1 or General Purpose Slider 2
18 General Purpose Slider 3
19 Knob 2 General Purpose Slider 4
20 Knob 3 or Undefined
21 Knob 4 or Undefined
Akai LPD8 Laptop Pad Controller
The LPD8 laptop pad controller is a USB-MIDI
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22-31 are undefined, available for use by synths that let you assign controllers. These are a good choice if you can freely assign controllers on all your synths. If you can use them in a consistent way, all your synths will react the same way. For example if you always assign 22 to Knob A and you always assign Knob A to filter cutoff, then all your programmable synths will sweep the filter when you turn knob A no matter what synth is selected on that channel in your sequencer. This works until you get a synth that hard assigns filter cutoff to controller 74, as many general midi synths do. To make it more confusing, some synths will let you assign filter cutoff to CNTL 22 but will still let the synth react to CNTL 74
32 Bank Select (LSB) It's critical that you do not assign this controller to other functions. Unless you like random bank changes running through your song.
These may or may not be implemented in your synth, most likely they are not.
33 Modulation Wheel (LSB)
34 Breath controller (LSB)
36 Foot Pedal (LSB)
37 Portamento Time (LSB)
38 Data Entry (LSB)
39 Volume (LSB)
40 Balance (LSB)
42 Pan position (LSB)
43 Expression (LSB)
44 Effect Control 1 (LSB) Roland Portamento on and rate
45 Effect Control 2 (LSB)
46-63 may be in use as the LSB for controllers 14-31 in some devices, but I have not seen one yet.
This group controls pedals typically. Leave this group alone when reassigning controllers.
64 Hold Pedal (on/off) Nearly every synth will react to 64 (sustain pedal)
65 Portamento (on/off)
66 Sustenuto Pedal (on/off)
67 Soft Pedal (on/off)
68 Legato Pedal (on/off)
69 Hold 2 Pedal (on/off)
More Ways to CONTROL
Digidesign Command 8 Control Surface for Pro Tools
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This next group controls parameters on some synths. Here's where you need to closely inspect your midi implementation chart to see what's going on. Synths with lots of knobs may "hard assign " them to specific knobs. If you can use 71 and 74 for frequency and resonance, it's a good idea to do so. On the Korg Triton for example, 71-74 are hard assigned to the knobs. If you set your more freely assignable Proteus to respond the frequency cutoff on CNTL 74, then your rig is more consistent.
70 Sound Variation
71 Resonance (aka Timbre)
72 Sound Release Time
73 Sound Attack Time
74 Frequency Cutoff (aka Brightness )
75 Sound Control 6
76 Sound Control 7
77 Sound Control 8
78 Sound Control 9
79 Sound Control 10
80 Decay or General Purpose Button 1 (on/off) Roland Tone level 1
81 Hi Pass Filter Frequency or General Purpose Button 2 (on/off) Roland Tone level 2
82 General Purpose Button 3 (on/off) Roland Tone level 3
83 General Purpose Button 4 (on/off) Roland Tone level 4
84-90 are undefined, typically available for use by synths that let you assign controllers
Effects Group Controls 91 and 93 are active on nearly all general midi synths I have played, and many others use these too.
91 Reverb Level
92 Tremolo Level
93 Chorus Level
94 Celeste Level or Detune
95 Phaser Level
It's probably best not to use the group below for assigning controllers.
96 Data Button increment
97 Data Button decrement
98 Non-registered Parameter (LSB)
99 Non-registered Parameter (MSB)
100 Registered Parameter (LSB)
101 Registered Parameter (MSB)
It's very important that you do not use these no matter what unless you want to invoke these functions
120 All Sound Off
121 All Controllers Off
122 Local Keyboard (on/off) You might actually crash your keyboard if you use this one.
123 All Notes Off (Heh, your song will go haywire if you use this assigned to a knob.)
you typically don't want your synths to change modes on you in the middle of making a song, so don't use these.
124 Omni Mode Off
125 Omni Mode On
126 Mono Operation
127 Poly Operation
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Questions and Answers
OK, we're done! Amazing what you can do with a little control. Heh. Never lose Control, it's unbecoming you know. Heh, I AM IN Control! Right!
Take Control of your Sonic Universe! Ah, there's the title....
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