Qwiki Keyboard Mapping

Keyboard mapping is a control source available to many synths (including Dimension) that produces a one-to-one relationship between actual keyboard note position and the value of the controller output.

Keyboard mapping is a control source available to many synths (including Dimension) that produces a one-to-one relationship between actual keyboard note position and the value of the controller output. A MIDI Note number of middle C [#60 in strict MIDI convention) produces a controller output value of 60 (in a 0-127 value range). There are other formulas that can be followed; see Octave Registers for an explanation.

This technique is very useful for opening up the filter depending on KB position, as well as timbral changes, progressive detuning, or a variety of wilder effects. You are tying the amount of a particular effect to how high (or low) that you're playing the keyboard.

While there's no direct general way to accomplish this in P5, there is an easy method to closely approximating the same results using the pattern Editor in P5. If you want accuracy, you should start by Floating the Inspector and dragging it to full screen height. You do this to bring the complete range of the Editor's preview keyboard and the full range of the 'background' automation curves into close alignment.

Then you begin the calibration procedure: center the scroll bar to the right dead-center, until clicking the Automation Tool at the Eb5 preview keyboard position produces a value of 50%. This'll get you the most accurate results, but if you're not concerned with this fine of a level, you're free to skip these preliminary steps. Just remember that the Notes display and the 'background' automation curves display independently of one another. Automation is always the full height of the Editor (0-100%), no matter what the size of the Note display. On to the technique:

  1. In a New Pattern in the Editor, settle on the smallest Snap to Grid setting for your phrase, and enter your note patterns with the Note Tool or by recording 'live' input. Slip-edit to length and correct as desired.
  2. Keeping the same Snap to Grid settings, select a destination from the DXi Automation dropdown, and switch to the Automation Tool. You can also select an Output, MIDI, Effects, or Arpeggiator parameter as a destination in this step.
  3. Click on each note in the pattern as close to the Note On position as possible. The automation curve values will jump to the same value as your Note#, and at the length of the note clicked. You can have differing note lengths, and the curve will snap to each distinct length at each note 'height'. Stay within the Snap increment of the Note On, and you're all set. Your automation curve now follows your note pattern very closely, as it would in a true Keyboard Mapping synth implementation.

At this point, you can do a quick glissando on the GUI preview KB to select only the note values. Delete them, or Copy them to another pattern as another keyboard mapping template. To manipulate only the newly generated automation curve, select only the notes as above, Cut them, then lasso or Ctrl+A all of the remaining automation. Then Retrograde, Quantize, slide or edit the curve, and Paste the notes back in when you're satisfied.

Many synth implementations have the ability to swap the high/low values in keyboard mapping, allowing you to reverse the process. That is, going higher on the controller's keyboard produces a proportionally lower control value. In P5, we don't have this editing ability. Retrograde is more of a 'front-to-back' swap, rather than a 'top-to-bottom' one.

Once again, we'll mine the excellent MIDI FX plugins at TenCrazy to fill this void. Go there and download the MFX CC Map, install it, and add it to your Device Chain in the Track Inspector. You can now process an incoming CC# message [MIDI automation only] to change it's high/low values and direction, as well as a pass-thru option for the original message. MFX CC Map v1.3 and P5 v2.01 now both reveal channel aftertouch messages, so it's natural to add this [free] plug to your processing arsenal.

Remember that the embedded MIDI parameters in a pattern can be utilized to further control other unrelated parameters. Use this keyboard mapping technique for any effect that you want to closely follow your performances captured in a pattern.

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