Playing the Sample Modeling VST with a ROLI Seaboard

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Playing the Sample Modeling VST with a ROLI Seaboard

Post by Nagelmaschine » Fri Jan 25, 2019 1:20 am

Ok, so this is not a question but a quick review of the basic playability of the Sample Modeling VST in combination with a ROLI Seaboard RISE 49. I thought this might be the best place for the post, since it might spawn some questions. So on we go...

This is a short tutorial on how to control the Sample Modeling brass instruments in Cubase with a ROLI Seaboard. The Sample Modeling instruments can be played fantastically with a breath controller as recommended, but if you are like me and only have a Seaboard that is almost 10 times more expensive, I might be able to help you a bit, because I didn't find any detailed information about this topic myself and wanted to share my short experiment with you. (Pictures below)

My setup for this run:
Windows 7 64 Bit
Cubase 9.5 Pro
ROLI Seaboard Rise 49
Kontakt 5 (full version)
Sample Modeling - The Trumpet v3

Initial set up: Create a MIDI map that translates the controller outputs to MIDI notes. In Cubase this is done via note expressions.

-Set up-
Step 1:
Before we open Cubase, the Seaboard must be connected to the computer and turned on. And, of course, it has to be installed properly.

Step 2 (Figure 1):
We start with an empty project in Cubase. In the ROLI Dashboard we set the pitchbend range to 2. Everything else stays at default values (Multi-Mode, MPE etc), because it makes no difference for the test.

Step 3 (Figure 2):
We create an instrument track with a Kontakt instance and load the desired Sample Modeling VST, in this case The Trumpet 3 v3.

Step 4 (Figure 3):
In the settings of the instrument we switch from Main View to Controller 1 overview. Here, we find some of the possible adjustable parameters for the instrument with the corresponding MIDI-CC assignments.

Step 5 (Figure 4):
On the left side of the overview for the instrument track we open the note expressions. Here you can create a mapping in Cubase between controller inputs and MIDI notes.

Step 6 (Figure 5):

We create an expression for the CC 11 message to translate the value of incoming aftertouch events. Aftertouch is used by the Seaboard for pressure sensitivity of the surface, so depending on how strong or soft a note is pressed, the aftertouch value changes accordingly. CC 11 is used by the instrument for the dynamics, so we can now control the dynamics with pressure on the Seaboard, which would be comparable to the blow strength of a breath controller.

But since the Seaboard offers even more input dimensions, I would like to control another parameter directly with the controller.

Step 7 (Figure 6):
In the settings of the instrument we switch from Controller 1 Overview to Controller 2 Overview. Here, we find further adjustable parameters for the instrument with the corresponding MIDI-CC assignments.

Step 8 (Figure 7):
We create an expression for the CC 21 message, which controls the growling in the instrument, and map it to the input CC 74 value. This value is used by the Seaboard for sliding, which is the vertical position of the fingers on a key on the controller. If a note is played now and the fingers are placed higher up on the key, the growling will be stronger than if the fingers are placed lower down on the same key.

The result is a very easy to play instrument, even without a breath controller, which responds beautifully to inputs and feels very natural despite the rubber keyboard. We can control the dynamics very precisely, which makes up most of a realistic performance, and all other parameters like growling, flutter tongue or vibrato can either be assigned via one of the additional dimensions of the controller, or we can connect another MIDI controller. The vibrato, for example, can be played directly via the dynamics and the pitchbend, but it's not enough for a good flutter tongue effect, because my fingers can't press into the rubber and release it as fast as a trained brass player could play on a real instrument.

On the subject of pitch bend, there is the only real disadvantage of playing the Seaboard with the Sample Modeling instruments:
At the moment, there are fixed pitchbend values programmed into the Sample Modeling instruments, which cover a maximum of three semitones up or down. Although we can play these values quite well with the Seaboard if we set its pitchbend range to 2, no direct and naturally playable legato beyond these values is possible. So you have to rely on the programmed legato, which also works very well, but seems a bit unnatural to play on the Seaboard.
SampleModelingSeaboard1.jpg (1.14 MiB) Viewed 614 times
SampleModelingSeaboard2.jpg (1.71 MiB) Viewed 614 times

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Re: Playing the Sample Modeling VST with a ROLI Seaboard

Post by MSchnell » Fri Jan 25, 2019 4:47 am

Many thanks for this review !

I also do have a Rise 49 (and a TEC BBCv2) and intend to play "The Trumpet" (and SWAM instruments, and ...) with it. I already did some research on that topic, but did not yet start doing the actual setup. So I think I might be able to take advantage of your findings also and to contribute some additional information.

In my Live setup I use Reaper as the basic sound system and I have a Behringer X-Touch Compact for switching and real-time-tweaking the patches. Hence I need to switch between e.g. "The Trumpet" and the "Equator" Synth that came with the Roli by pressing a button. In a Live setup you can't do any tweaking using the "Dashboard" right within your performance.

Here the problem is that "Equator" needs to take full advantage of the Midi MPE stream the Seaboard sends, while "The Trumpet" (and other plugins) digest plain old "standard" Midi. There are different ways to handle this and I did not try if the way I chose really does work so I am not going to elaborate on this.

But there is a dedicated problem with the Rise and elaborated monophonic instruments. When testing different stock patches in Equator standalone (not the VST, as same does not send messages to the Rise !!!) you will find that some allow to play adjacent semitones simultaneously, while others perform a glide when trying to do so. This is extremely important for the playability of the appropriate sound. The Trumpet needs to receive adjacent semitones to perform its typical tone transitions as well in melodies as in trills.

I found that the "new semitone" vs "semitone glide" is controlled by the "glide sensitivity" "fader" [<>] on the Rise: only when set to the top position, the Rise performs the semitone glide.

Obviously I need to control this fader in realtime by my patch changing infrastructure. I researched and found that the fader can be remote controlled by sending Midi SysEx messages to the Rise. So I did some Reaper "JSFX" scripts that send these when I press a patch change button on my control surface. Of course other performance parameters of the Rise can controlled in the same way, and I will do my infrastructure scripts in a way that sets them according to the patch I want to play at the given time.

Music examples ->

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Re: Playing the Sample Modeling VST with a ROLI Seaboard

Post by amouretmusic » Wed Jun 05, 2019 6:33 pm

Hello Mickael,

the seablock being multichannel, we can imagine playing the seablock in a polyphonic way and to put the trumpet 3 three or 4 times. each trumpet 3 would have a different midi canal. coupled with the breath control will solve the problem of the monophony of trumpet 3?

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Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:06 pm
Location: Krefeld, Germany

Re: Playing the Sample Modeling VST with a ROLI Seaboard

Post by MSchnell » Wed Jun 05, 2019 7:46 pm

The polyphony with a breath controller and a keyboard is not really a problem, anywhere, as there are plugins that create multiple channels from a single channel polyphonic Midi stream, resulting in something similar to MPE (but lacking the "after on" modulation). E.g. "JS:Midi Chord Splitter" in Reaper.

You would route the Keyboard stream through the splitter and route the Breath Control data to each channel (e.g. by the Reaper routing features).

With the Seaboard Rise you can set the count of channels to be used in the keyboard itself (don't know about the blocks). I do have done an "MPE to Single channel" plugin. Same could be modified to allow for reducing the 15 full MPE channels to 2, 3, or 4.

Music examples ->

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