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Topic: to keyswitch or not, that is the question

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  1. #1

    to keyswitch or not, that is the question

    I've been debating if I should keyswitch in between articulations or have separate tracks for each. Here are the pros and cons:

    keyswitch,
    -1 track for 1 instrument
    -easy to switch between articulations
    -all articulations at your fingertips
    but,
    -you usually have to load all the articulations which some you may not use, therefore its taking up some power.
    -also if you are playing a part in your piece and the playhead does not hit the correct keyswitch it will play the part in the wrong articulation. Very annoying.

    separate tracks,
    -load only what you want
    -playback is always what you want
    but,
    -you have way more tracks than you might want
    -can be a pain switching between and editing instruments/articulations.

    so which method do you use and why do you like or not like it?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Steve_Karl's Avatar
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    Re: to keyswitch or not, that is the question

    I do both, but only because some articulations aren't keyswitched instruments.
    If they were all KS I'd load as many as I could get away with before running out of ram.

    I like having them right there ready to go on the same track.

  3. #3

    Re: to keyswitch or not, that is the question

    Lately I've been using a controller, rather than a keyswitch, for my selections. That way the sequencer always selects the correct sound. With keyswitches you can never be sure.

  4. #4

    Re: to keyswitch or not, that is the question

    n8tron,

    I think the easiest way for you would be the note-channel method which I use more and more lately. Depending on the sequencer, you have to choose the option to set different MIDI channels to different notes or set of notes in the piano roll edit view of MIDI parts within the same MIDI track. In Cubase and Nuendo you just have to leave the "ANY" option for MIDI channel in the drop-down menu of every MIDI track, since it's like that by default every time you add a new MIDI track. Then, in piano roll, you just set every note to different MIDI channel depending on the articulation you need at that point. This way you have the entire instrument on only one MIDI track and don't have to waste RAM on unnecessary articulations that may come with preset KSs.

    This is especially useful if you have, for instance, one articulation in 90 % of the cue, but at one point you need another one - also, be sure to set the articulation that will be used the most to channel 1 since that is the default channel even if you're in the "ANY" mode.

    Of course, if you use Kontakt 2, you can create your own KSs which will eliminate the problem of unnecessary articulations in them, but I still like the note-channel method more - to me it's a lot more practical and quicker, even if the overview of articulations of each individual note or phrase is not as good as it is with keyswitches.

    How to use the note-channel method depends on the sequencer you use, I know only about Cubase/Nuendo.

  5. #5

    Re: to keyswitch or not, that is the question

    Quote Originally Posted by n8tron
    you usually have to load all the articulations which some you may not use, therefore its taking up some power.
    That's an understatement.
    I use opus 1 mostly, which can be called modest when comes to size. When I used gigastudio, my 2 gb ram was not sufficient to load the performance sets for the 5 string parts - let alone the sets for all the other instruments. Not happening. I used cubase and GS on the same computer though. With Halion I can load all sets, no problem, but still it isn't anything I would recommend; far from it. System get's slow, and you get all these signs of fatigue and instability.

    Recently I've reworked my samples and started using the midi-channel method (like Atmajian described above). Works great to me. I've set the editor to display notes on different midi channels in specific colors, so I can immediatly see which ones are which. Any expression settings, like mod wheel or such, becomes a bit more tricky but it's ok. Together with this, is RAM-save or the more efficient Steinberg Freeze option which is more than enough to hold all samples needed close and handy.
    I have to load about 30 Halion sessions for each song though, so I need to use a stereo solution to get all articulations of one instrument on one stereo channel, and not end up one stereo channel per articulation - like 480 audio output channels in the mixer.

    However, using the MIDI-channel way, it may be an issue when you wanna play your notes in. I barely play my notes in. I paint them in 95% of the time.
    Kid: When I become an adult I wanna be a musician.
    Parent: Son, you cannot become both.

  6. #6

    Re: to keyswitch or not, that is the question

    does pro tools and digital performer have the ability to do this separate midi channel per note thing? I haven't seen that before.

    so are you saying that section by section you can select the notes that you want to say be pizz and run it to that midi channel in your sampler?

    I play the notes in 90% of the time, so i'm not sure how well that would work.

  7. #7

    Re: to keyswitch or not, that is the question

    Quote Originally Posted by JonFairhurst
    Lately I've been using a controller, rather than a keyswitch, for my selections. That way the sequencer always selects the correct sound. With keyswitches you can never be sure.
    so for example expression control cc#4 0-10 is legato 11-20 is pizz etc etc??

  8. #8

    Re: to keyswitch or not, that is the question

    Quote Originally Posted by n8tron
    does pro tools and digital performer have the ability to do this separate midi channel per note thing? I haven't seen that before.

    so are you saying that section by section you can select the notes that you want to say be pizz and run it to that midi channel in your sampler?

    I play the notes in 90% of the time, so i'm not sure how well that would work.
    Well, if you want realtime articulation switch, than KSs or controller remapping are a way to go. Note-channel method is just less consuming if you are using only a couple of articulations and if subsequential channel switching isn't a problem for you - that is, if you don't mind playing the entire phrase with one articulation and then changing channels of some notes to the ones you need. I personally don't.

    Yes, you just select a certain part of a phrase or just one note in the piano roll and set it to the channel that has the articulation you need and the sampler will run that articulation. I don't know about ProTools, but I heard that DP has that option, just as Cubase/Nuendo.

  9. #9

    Re: to keyswitch or not, that is the question

    Quote Originally Posted by n8tron
    so for example expression control cc#4 0-10 is legato 11-20 is pizz etc etc??
    Hey, how did you know I was using CC4?

    Yes, I stack the instruments in GS3, then use CC4 to select them. The sequencer includes a "look back" function, so it always plays back the correct sound.

  10. #10

    Re: to keyswitch or not, that is the question

    hehe, cc4 would be the most likely controller for me cause I have an expression pedal set up ready to go.

    do you find it difficult to switch on the fly.. finding the right articulation with a controller?

    I've been using sonic implants strings recently which is the first very in depth tons of articulations sample sets I've used. Its kinda overwhelming/ridiculous for example just in legato you can have up bow, down bow, crossfade between the two, slow attack, and each instance in-between. and the same in pizz, col legno, tremelo... I mean you could have a whole instance of your sampler dedicated to 1 area of articulations! I'm just not quite sure how to deal with all of them right now.

    I'll give the controller method a shot. It might work better than key-switching for me. Any other tips let me know!

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