Thursday, October 13, 2011

Too Many Knobs

I ind it interesting when I think back to how my style of composing and playing music has changed. I used to just find a preset I like, one of my own or sometimes a factory preset, and then play music with it. The art was in the notes and a limited amount of control (velocity, pitch bend and mod wheel). Knob turning was left to tweaking presets before the performance of the music.

With a DAW like Ableton Live its certainly possible to tweak parameters in real time and have the DAW record those changes. But dealing with a large number of parameters in real time is a daunting task. For this reason, a number of software synths now offer performance controllers. A convenient set of knobs or sometimes XY pads with which certain key parameters can be changed in real time with the idea that these changes are part of the musical performance.

Native Instruments did with this Kore which I always thought was a great idea but sadely Native Instruments has decided to drop Kore. Each Kore instrument has a limited set of controls. A similar idea is built into Massive and Abynth from the same company. Camel Audio's Alchemy has a performance controller section with a controller that looks very similar to Kore's that allow you to morph between different settings of the perofmance controls. Albeton Live itself offers instrument racks with performane controllers.

These only serve as examples of a capability that I am sure has been built into many soft synths. So we see now the musican also acting as conductor. So the art of the sound designer, musician and conductor/orchestrator have now been combined.

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