Key bend suggestions
gbarcza last edited by
Several years now every once in a while i switch on and give a try of the “key bend” function, wishing it was working like at any open hole wind instrument, one could gradually slip from a note to another, or could make well controlled vibrato on each note, etc. In spite of the warning “beta version” it always make me dissapointed, as it doesn’t exactly work like it was supposed to be, so i always switch it off after a half an hour. I would like to give some suggestions for a future improvement of this function, and would be happy happy to hear other users’ opinion about it too.
- Most importantly the range of the bending should happen according to the actual fingering setup. In saxophone fingering for example there is a half tone difference between the 3rd and the 4th hole (Btw E and F). Still, when with “key bend” on, the movement of the finger on E can bend the note even a whole note higher (to F#), which is not what we would expect: a bend of half tone, not more. Therefore the bend range should be adjusted according to the intervals of the actual fingering, half tones wherever it’s needed.
- There should be a finger velocity sensivity adjustment to filter out unwanted bending while normal playing. Only slow movements should be considered as bending, normal and fast movements of the fingers shouldn’t.
The key bend function is a fantastic idea, i hope once it will be developed on from beta version.
Thank you for your feedback and suggestions Gergely.
We made some hidden step in the key management towards what you described but there are still some software/hardware tricks to find to achieve this.
@laurent_aodyo I would love to hear the latest on the prospects for a key bend. Bending notes is central to the physical flutes that I play (open-holed Native American flutes) and the absence is keenly missed. Like @gobarcza, I keep turning it on once in a while and then abandoning key bend an hour later.
The issues are easy to state, but I cannot imagine a strategy or programmatic method or simulate an authentic physical-world key bend:
Knowledge of what note is being bent to (the target note) so that the appropriate span of bend (1x semitone, 2x semitones, 3x ...) to select.
The avoidance of a noticeable discontinuity - a jump - in pitch when near the target note.
The lack of a sensitivity setting for key bending to avoid accidental activation.
If there is anything I can offer in the way of assistance (Guinea pig, beta tester, human sacrifice) I would be happy to sign up (uh ... maybe not the last item).
Another option might be to (optionally) generate the key bend data as a CC and allow a downstream rendering engine attempt to produce key bends. Such experiments could be done directly in Kontakt or even a VST ...
Peter Ostry last edited by
Bending up and bending down with different fingers and different movements on different touch plates will never work well for all aspects. It is ok for occasional ornaments, some whining- and "woah" effects, but not for precise bending. I am not sure about the internal sounds, but for MIDI controlling the beta key-bend and the thumb-down bend can remain as they are and I see no need for refinement. This is the fun stuff. But what about precision?
I believe, rolling the thumb upwards/downwards on the slider could work with a good degree of precision, but the slider's location is too low for a natural grip. Unhappy with currently available bending and in absence of a sensitive mouthpiece or a mechanical rocker for the thumb (both old Yamaha style), I tried to use a foot pedal for bending. Couldn't find one with a middle position and the coordination feels odd anyway.
Finally I use the roll movement of the Sylphyo. The standard mode has two drawbacks:
- the hysteresis ('platform' between left and right) is too wide for smooth bending across the midpoint and
- it is hard to start higher or lower and bend towards the target note.
At the moment I am happy with bidirectional absolute roll mode. For some reason this mode does not allow range setting and I have to scale the data in software. Normally my roll maximum is about 40 degree left and right for 1 semitone and I adjust the synth accordingly. For larger ranges I use relative roll instead of absolute. For wild effects the absolute mode with a wide bend range is worth a try.
I have visual feedback of my data, but don't need it for bending. It is natural and easy to find and keep the neutral position of the Sylphyo. And most musicians have ears ;-) An additional advantage is the possibility to stretch octaves, typical for many real instruments. You can play low sounds a little left (lower) and high sounds a little right (higher). In absolute rolling mode, the Sylphyo controls that really good.
My suggestions for development:
- Leave thumb-down bend as it is.
- Leave key-bending (beta) as it is, maybe make it just less accidently and add CC output.
- Make pitchbend a selectable output for all movements.
- Allow range scaling in all absolute movement modes.
@peter-ostry I should also point out another issue: cross-fingered key bends produce no bend at all. For example, key-bending from <xox|ooo to <oox|ooo does not produce a key bend. This is critical for the Native American flute fingerings I typically play, and I am guessing is probably an issue in other fingerings.
The challenge (I'm guessing) is knowledge of the pitch of the target note of the key bend. The static default of +2 semitones needs to be replaced by a look-ahead to what pitch will result when a key-bend is initiated and carried to full-bend ...
I am wondering if, in any potential firmware upgrade, might there be any process to a more usable key-bend? The issues / suggestions posed by @gobarcza in the opening message of this thread are central to the key-bend issues, along with the lack of a key-bend on cross-fingered fingerings.
Alternately, has anyone made use of the CC-based version of key-bend? In particular, if using a sampler (Kontakt in my case), is there a straightforward way to accomplish a workable key-bend using CC 78?
On physical, open-holed flutes, performing key-bends are so natural that they have become part of the core repertoire of every player. Not having them available for most of the scale on the Sylphyo is a huge disappointment and handicap for me.
Thanks for any progress that could be made in this area in any upcoming release ...
Peter Ostry last edited by Peter Ostry
@clint I do not know how to map in Kontakt but I think, for general use, you will need a program to remap MIDI data. There must be some software available for your operation system.
Bending is indeed a problem for Sylphyo. You are right, we can only key-bend the lowest finger position. But think of less precise players than you are. If all keys would bend, these people would have a constantly whining instrument because they cannot hold all ideal finger positions all the time. And you cannot tell them "if you can't play properly, you cannot bend."
Older standard windcontrollers have pitchbend on the mouthpiece (WX7, WX5) or/and on a spring-loaded rocker (WX7, WX5) or on easy to reach contact plates (EWI). The Sylphyo does not have this opportunities, so Aodyo invented something else and we are not really happy with that.
I will stick to the bidirectional Roll function for pitchbend. It bends any note how I need it. But hearing you playing native American flutes, I am pretty sure that "Roll Bending" is not what you want. Hmmm ... I have no solution to offer.
"a finger velocity sensivity adjustment to filter out unwanted bending while normal playing"
... along with maybe an addition setting to not begin key-bending until some percentage of the pad is uncovered.
The act of key bending on physical open-hole flutes is sooo natural and common that I think it would provide a very direct means of expressivity to a significant percentage of potential Sylphyo players ...
Making use of CC's to accomplish key-bending is (I'm thinking out loud here ...) maybe not so straightforward ... such a system would need to know which base key is in effect in order to determine which pair of notes we are bending from (easy - the prior Note On) and to (challenging - where is the target note??)