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Topic: Pedal/expression problems from a novice

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  1. #1

    Pedal/expression problems from a novice

    Help me out here with this pedal thing. I am a retired music teacher pushing 60 so I feel like I am entering anew universe here. I just purchased Garritan Strad. I assume that the expression pedal is the same as the sustain pedal. When I plug the sustain pedal into my Roland, it has no effect whatsoever on dynamics....or sustain, for that matter, within Stradivari(loaded on a MAC G5). It works fine on the Roland itself...but not with the software. What is CC #11? and how and where do I acces it?

  2. #2

    Re: Pedal/expression problems from a novice

    Hi telemann!,

    First off, the expression pedal is not the same as the sustain pedal when talking about your midi controller.

    In the midi world the sustain pedal is a switch - it is either on or off. You are either telling the controller (your keyboard in your case) that you want notes to sustain after your fingers release the keys (the pedal is pressed) or not (the pedal is released).

    An expression pedal is like the volume knob on a radio. It is usually set up on the floor like the volume pedal on an organ. You press on the front of the pedal and it moves forward and the volume increases, you press back on the pedal and the volume decreases.

    Most keyboard do not come with an expression pedal. You have to purchase one from your local music store. They cost about $50.00 US currency. Here is a link to a very poular pedal made by Yamaha:

    http://www.zzounds.com/item--YAMFC7

    Your keyboard probably has a plug in the back somewhere where you can plug in an expression pedal. On many Roland keyboard it is actually labeled "expression pedal". Also on Roland keyboards, the sustain pedal plug is usually labeled "sustain pedal"

    As far as the CC #11 - well I'll do my best to explain this .

    Midi provides a way to turn physical actions, a key press, a pedal press, a knob turn, etc. into a numeric value that can be transmitted across a wire (the midi cable) to another midi device - or in your case a computer. So you have all these different ways to send information from your keyboard controller to your computer. So how does the receiving device know which knob, pedal or slider is being changed? Well, the midi specification defines unique numbers for each one of these. The followinig link list most of the "standard controllers" and the unique number which is assigned to them:

    http://www.borg.com/~jglatt/tutr/ctl.htm

    Lets ignore note events and pitch wheel events for now as they are handled differently. There are two basic types of controllers "continuous controllers" and "on/off controllers". Contrinuous controllers are the kind like a volume knob or the modulation wheel on your keyboard. They send the values from 0 to 127 in a continuous stream as the pedal, wheel or slider is moved - hence the name "continuous controller". On/Off controllers are the ones like the sustain pedal that are either on or off. Continuous contoller is often abbreviated to "CC" when talking about midi controllers. The on/off controllers are usually just abbreviated to a single "C".

    So, CC #11 is the abbreviation for "Continuous Controller 11". You can tell by looking at the midi controllers chart in the link above, that CC11 is normally mapped to the expression pedal. The sustain pedal is normally mapped to C64, which is short for Controller 64.

    You might have noticed that I used the word "normally" when describing the controller to controller number mappings. While these are the defaults, most controller keyboards allow you to override these defaults and remap them to different controllers.

    But for now, we can assume that your keyboard is set up in the standard way and that you need to go to the music store tomorrow and buy an expression pedal to plug into your keyboard so you can play this new toy you got!

    You mentioned you have a Roland keyboard. I can probably verify that your keyboard provides a plug for an expression pedal if you can tell me what model you have. Or you can just check on the back or your keyboard and see if you see one .

    Let me know if I can answer any other questions for you.

    Cheers,
    Kenny

  3. #3

    Re: Pedal/expression problems from a novice

    Kenny:

    I commend you on your succinct yet entirely thorough answers to the questions asked. You are very adept at clearly and carefully describing what can at times be intimidating and obtuse information. Great Job!!

  4. #4

    Re: Pedal/expression problems from a novice

    Quote Originally Posted by Kenny Long
    There are two basic types of controllers "continuous controllers" and "on/off controllers".
    Very fine explanation, Kenny!

    I would, however, like to add, that the MIDI specification does not distinguish between "continuous controllers" and "on/off controllers" and neither to software samplers and sample players like Kontakt and Kontakt Player. To them all controllers are "continuous controllers". Even when a Sustain Pedal only issues on/off data to CC#64, you can still get a sequencer to send all values between 0 and 127 to CC#64. This can be usefull, if you have a sampled piano, that can do half-pedaling, but your hardware Sustain Pedal can not (only on/off). You can then draw the half-pedal CC#64 data in the sequencer's piano track.

  5. #5

    Re: Pedal/expression problems from a novice

    Well...thanks to the online help from all of you, I have this wonderful program up an running. It took 4 trips to 3 different music stores to get an actual expression pedal. I was sold a damper pedal, 2 diferent guitar pedals and finally, a Roland E-5(which of course changed everything). Most of the sales people, even when I asked specifically for an expression pedal, did not know exactly what the distinctions were....and they do this all day long??? If it had not been for the help here....I probably would have never gotten even out of the batters box. Thanks again.

  6. #6

    Re: Pedal/expression problems from a novice

    Well...thanks to the online help from all of you, I have this wonderful program up an running. It took 4 trips to 3 different music stores to get an actual expression pedal. I was sold a damper pedal, 2 diferent guitar pedals and finally, a Roland E-5(which of course changed everything). Most of the sales people, even when I asked specifically for an expression pedal, did not know exactly what the distinctions were....and they do this all day long??? If it had not been for the help here....I probably would have never gotten even out of the batters box. Thanks again.

  7. #7

    Re: Pedal/expression problems from a novice

    Glad you got it running!

    Have fun,
    Kenny

  8. #8

    Re: Pedal/expression problems from a novice

    Hi, telemann417

    You received a wealth of information here. I'm just not sure that it was made clear that an expression pedal, which I see you now have, is simply a device which is sending out cc11. Those aren't two different issues. Without such a pedal, one could program the wheel on many keyboards to send cc11 and have the same tool available.

    Randy B.
    (rbowser)

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