The SWAM Engine is a platform developed by Audio Modeling for their SWAM-based instruments. BLOCKS Dashboard allows easy integration between BLOCKS and the SWAM Engine. This article will show you how to use the Lightpad or Seaboard Block as a melodic instrument controller with the SWAM Engine.
BLOCKS Dashboard Settings
- First, connect your Lightpad Block via USB or (on MacOS) Bluetooth.
- Next, launch BLOCKS Dashboard.
- In BLOCKS Dashboard, select the Block you’d like to use with SWAM.
- If you’re using a Lightpad Block, load the “Note Grid” app to load it onto your Lightpad. (If you’re using a Seaboard Block, the default program is already loaded onto it.)
- Click “Edit,” and select Mode: MPE. This ensures that the following settings are selected under “MIDI Settings”:
- Use MPE: on
- MIDI Start Channel: 2
- MIDI End Channel: 16
- Under “MIDI Settings” change the “Pitch Bend Range” to 12 semitones (to match SWAM’s maximum pitch bend range).
Note: beginning with Woodwinds 2.8.0 and Solo Strings 2.0.0, SWAM instruments allow larger pitch bend ranges. If you’re using one of these instruments, you may simply leave “Pitch Bend Range” set to the default of 48 semitones.
Setting SWAM to respond to the Lightpad and Seaboard Blocks’ dimensions of touch
SWAM is able to receive and respond to the Lightpad and Seaboard Blocks’ dimensions of touch. The most common modulation in SWAM is called “Expression.” SWAM will want you to assign a controller to the Expression parameter before producing any sound.
Let’s assign the Block’s Press (transmitted as Aftertouch) to SWAM’s Expression.
Click on Options → MIDI Mappings → Assign AT (Aftertouch) next to Expression
Glide is transmitted as pitch bend, and SWAM has a maximum pitch bend range of 12 semitones. Earlier we set the pitch bend range to +/- 12 semitones in BLOCKS Dashboard, so now we will do the same in SWAM.
To set SWAM’s pitch bend range, in the upper-right corner of the main view set both “PB D” (pitch bend down) and “U” (up) to 12.
Mapping other controllers to parameters in SWAM is performed in the same way as Press above:
- Go to: Options → MIDI Mappings
- Each parameter has a drop-down menu. Simply select the input that you’d like affect that parameter.
For example, Slide is transmitted as MIDI CC 74. To assign Slide to “Bow Position”, simply select CC 74 in the drop-down box next to “Bow Position”.
Now you’re ready to expressively control the SWAM Engine with your Lightpad or Seaboard Block!