I love using monophonic sounds, and monophonic mode is a must for e.g. solo woodwind and brass sounds. As a long time user of analog mono synths, I am very much used to the phrasing style of holding down one key and playing other keys, so that the pitch always will jump back to the held key. Think of a guitar hammer-on and pull-off. One note is struck, then the hammer on raises the pitch, and after the pull-off, the pitch returns to the first note.
Ok. So when I play a monophonic sound on my Seaboard, I naturally use pressure a lot. Let's say, I am playing a clarinet'ish sound, and the intensity of the tone builds when applying pressure. Let's say I am holding a D with pressure applied. Now I want to make a little grace note or trill using E, and return to the held D. Here comes the crucial part: If I was using a keyboard with channel aftertouch (which is monophonic) the response would be intuitive and musical: The grace note on E would be playing with the intensity of the held D (where the aftertouch is applied). This is the way it would work on a real woodwind intrument also.
However: Since the Seaboard is using polyphonic pressure, when playing the grace note on E, the intensity of the sound instantly drops to zero, but jumps back up again on returning to the D. This is neither musical nor intuitive.
So, my question is: May there be a way, we can achieve the behaviour of monophonic aftertouch on the seaboard?
I have worked several hours on the problem, testing various settings on Roli Dashboard, and also using the Midi Transformer of Cubase/Nuendo, but I have not yet found a solution.
(If I do not find a solution for this, I will change this to a feature request. :-) )
I'd think to set the Seaboard to single channel mode via Dashboard would be all that's needed to get the behavior you want. Then pressure will also be sent on a single channel and because channel aftertouch is used it should affect all notes.
But it sounds as if you already tried that. Could you describe what does not meet your expectation when you use Seaboard in single channel mode with a monophonic patch?
Hi Frank, thanks for your response.
Unfortunately the Single Channel does not solve this riddle. The thing is, even if it converts the polyphonic pressure to Channel Aftertouch, the actual behaviour of a keyboard with Channel Aftertouch is not completely emulated. On the latter, it will always send out the AT of whatever key is pressed the hardest, with no regard to what key is sounding. However the situation with Seabord is, that it is sending out the AT value of the last played key. I will try to make an audio file that will show the difference.
Ok, here is an audio snippet I did. It is a monophonic sound, and aftertouch opens the filter.
First half is played on a normal keyboard. As pressure is applied on the "main" note, any other note played has the same filter opening.
Second half, I play on Seaboard on Single Channel setting. Note how every new note that plays, has its own aftertouch value applied. This makes it impossible to get that "natural legato" sound.
When I say "natural legato", think of a flute or a clarinet: You are holding a note and increasing pressure on the mouthpiece. Now you make a trill. Off course the notes in the trill will have same breath pressure applied, and the sound will be coherent and fluent. Not so with Seaboard. You hold one note, with pressure, but any new note will have its own pressure. This sounds quite different, and one cannot make it sound like e.g. a wind instrument if you are using pressure to modulate anything.
The good thing is, that a software fix should be easy: Some kind of script, that will only send out an aftertouch value, IF it is the highest aftertouch value at the time.
On second thought, I don´t think a software fix would be that simple. But should be doable.
Yes, there's a problem. You are obviously supposed to get the behavior you desire by using single channel mode and setting the Pressure Tracking Mode to "Hardest".
But alas there is a long standing bug with that setting, so it won't work. With "Hardest", Seaboard Blocks stop tracking pressure altogether as soon as more than a single note is played and Lightpad Blocks don't use the highest pressure value of several notes, behaving like "Last Played".
I have a support ticket about these (#35574, in case a mod/dev is interested) and support confirmed both issues. Nevertheless I'd be thankful if you can find some time and open a support ticket about this issue as well. Can't hurt to remind them from time to time :).
Thanks Frank, for your interest in this.
Do you know if "Hardest" works with Seaboard Rise?
I don't know, I haven't had my hands on a Rise yet.
I am interested in Seaboard's single channel behavior because I would love to take it with me, together with a Lightpad, and play any of my software instruments with that combo. Blocks are so ultimately portable, thus I find it a missed opportunity that we can't properly play ordinary non-MPE instruments with it because of some buggy behavior in single channel mode.
As a workaround I currently use MIDI plugins to filter aftertouch, slide (CC74) and pitchbend out of Seaboard's MIDI stream in order to play non-MPE with the Blocks. These three dimensions all have their own slew of misbehavior in single channel mode. Support very recently raised my hope again that at least some of them will be fixed in a very soon to be seen update - alas, they said the same last year, so I don't really hold my breath. But I am confident that at some fine day we'll see the fixes. In the meantime I'll keep on breathing calmly :) and give them a reminder from time to time.
Seaboard pressure is not the same as an ordinary keyboard's aftertouch, in that you never really have zero pressure, while on a conventional keyboard with aftertouch you mostly play with zero aftertouch and then purposefully lean in to trigger the reaction. You feel an end point and can decide to press further down. Seaboards won't be able to emulate the haptics, but at least it could try to emulate the resulting message stream by offering pressure curves to select from. So that Seaboards can be played without emitting aftertouch messages and begin to spit them out (still ranging from zero to 127) only when more pressure is applied.
Thanks Frank, for shedding a bit of light on this "hidden" subject. I will definitely write to support.
And yes, off course the "Hardest" mode is supposed to do exactly what I want, but it just does not work. :-(
I would certainly love a fix soon.
There seems to be a one-sided attention to the polyphonic side of Seaboard, but monophonic playing will always be able to do things that are impossible in a polyphonic mode.
As far as I can tell, the issue with "Hardest" mode for pressure tracking has been successfully fixed with Blocks Firmware v.0.4.5 YAY :)
None of my other gripes with single channel mode seems to be addressed yet. Eg, Slide mode "Highest" still behaves like "Last Played" and there are still pitch bend reset messages being sent at each new note-on with Glide Tracking disabled - my personal pet peeve (because I 'd love to use my pitch wheel Lightpad app in single channel mode but the reset messages fight it). Hopefully they keep the momentum up! This fine move restored some confidence on this end.
Thanks for opening this thread, Lars - and thanks for fixing, devs.
Ok, to be precise: it's fixed for Seaboard, but not for Lightpad...
0.4.5 has been released. Is this issue solved in this firmware update?
Yay! "Hardest" mode now works, so proper monophonic behavior can be achieved. Great!