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Using Four Voices To Your Advantage

Using Four Voices To Your Advantage
« on: September 15, 2016, 07:25:08 PM »
A single Poly Evolver has only four voices to offer, and this has always been one of the major criticisms against it.  But while working on a new piece of music tonight, I discovered that sometimes four voices is just the right number.

One of my favorite programs is what I call "PWM Piano."  It s a deep PWM patch with an envelope much like a piano with the sustain pedal depressed.  It's wonderful for left-handed arpeggiated accompaniments - very rich, and with a long release time that fills out the background.  But the one shortcoming of this patch is that it can sound quite messy when you're beginning the arpeggios in the lower register.  Long-ringing bass notes start running into each other, creating an annoying swelling boom effect that spoils the music and reduces the clarity of the chord progressions.  One solution is to use a sustain pedal, but this isn't always practical (such as when your feet are already busy playing the bass pedals!).  The solution?  Four voices.  When the voices able to ring at any one moment are only four, the voice reassignments cut the last ringing notes, almost like releasing for an instant a piano sustain pedal.  Hence, if there are unpleasant effects from ringing discordant bass notes running into each other, that effect is quickly attenuated.  It's a perfect and natural solution that requires nothing from your playing; the problem simply takes care of itself. 

I actually discovered this obvious situation on the Prophet '08 in layer mode, but it applies even more to the Poly Evolver.  Plus, on the Prophet '08, one very musical way of reducing the number of voices to four is by copying Layer A to Layer B, slightly detuning them, and then panning them at the mixer.  This makes a fabulously rich sound, and it remains clean, due to the number of voices.

The moral of the story?  With deep arpeggios, sometimes eight voices are far too many.   
« Last Edit: September 15, 2016, 09:07:43 PM by Sacred Synthesis »

Re: Using Four Voices To Your Advantage
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2016, 01:48:21 PM »
It's also just right for me- who can only play 4 fingers at once anyway  ;)

DSI Equipment: Poly Evolver Keyboard, Evolver desktop, Prophet 8,  Pro-2, OB6, P-12
 

https://Soundcloud.com/wavescape-1

Re: Using Four Voices To Your Advantage
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2016, 08:39:39 AM »
Ever consider a small octave-length set of bass pedals?  It's the best way to enlarge your overall sound.

Re: Using Four Voices To Your Advantage
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2016, 10:13:52 AM »
Ever consider a small octave-length set of bass pedals?  It's the best way to enlarge your overall sound.

That's a good idea.   Any recommendations on brand?
DSI Equipment: Poly Evolver Keyboard, Evolver desktop, Prophet 8,  Pro-2, OB6, P-12
 

https://Soundcloud.com/wavescape-1

Re: Using Four Voices To Your Advantage
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2016, 12:01:23 AM »
I've used several different bass pedals by Hammond, so I can only speak about these.  They were all fairly good. The model I'd most highly recommend is the XPK-200.  Unfortunately, it's been discontinued, but you might still be able to find one new or used.  It's a twenty-note pedalboard with really high-quality pedals - meaning firm to the touch - and a nice simple clean-cut design.  I liked this pedalboard very much, but it has the short pedal stubs that allow only for playing with the toes, not the heels.

The set I'm presently using is XPK 200L, which has twenty pedals long enough for playing with both toes and heels, allowing for smooth connected playing.   These a fairly good, but for your purposes, they may too long.  It would be a bit of a reach to hit the black notes when standing or even when sitting on a stool or chair.  I use a proper organ bench, which allows the legs to hang over them so that all the pedals are easily within reach.

I've also used the Hammond XK pedalboard which has 25 full-length pedals, but this wouldn't work for you either. 

Other than these Hammond models, you can find pedalboards by other various companies.  Roland, Korg, Studiologic, Moog, and Nord have produced them, and there are other boutique brands as well.  If you only want to try it out, I'd suggest a small simple one-octave set.  But believe me, if you take to it, it will open up musical possibilities you didn't expect.  To suddenly have both a full bass sound and a free left hand will seem like an exciting musical miracle.  But make sure that the pedalboard can function as a general MIDI controller, and not only in conjunction with a particular organ. 

I've stumbled across only one other synthesist that uses bass pedals - the Moog Taurus 3.  He's from France and has a fabulous set up and some beautiful pieces of the ambient type.  Here's a link to his channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/samurailonewolf/videos

Let me know if you need any more suggestions.

« Last Edit: October 21, 2016, 12:28:28 AM by Sacred Synthesis »

Re: Using Four Voices To Your Advantage
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2016, 10:59:04 AM »
Thanks for the details sacred synthesis.   I guess my only other question is:  when you plug this into your midi, how does the synth know what octave range to play?  Can you step it up and down the octaves?
DSI Equipment: Poly Evolver Keyboard, Evolver desktop, Prophet 8,  Pro-2, OB6, P-12
 

https://Soundcloud.com/wavescape-1

Re: Using Four Voices To Your Advantage
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2016, 11:40:52 AM »
Very simple.  You just tune your bass patches to a bass range.  There's nothing clumsy about it.  I use five different bass patches, all of which are tuned to the low range.  if I turn to program #6 or above, the programs are back to the normal range and I can play a melody with the pedals.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2016, 11:44:28 AM by Sacred Synthesis »

Re: Using Four Voices To Your Advantage
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2016, 01:10:51 PM »
  Thanks sacred synthesis for the reminder that these even exist.   I'll likely get a one octave peddle board by years end :)
DSI Equipment: Poly Evolver Keyboard, Evolver desktop, Prophet 8,  Pro-2, OB6, P-12
 

https://Soundcloud.com/wavescape-1

Re: Using Four Voices To Your Advantage
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2016, 01:39:39 PM »
You're welcome, Soundquest.  I hope this works well for you.

Re: Using Four Voices To Your Advantage
« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2016, 11:50:24 AM »
You're welcome, Soundquest.  I hope this works well for you.

Well Sacred Synthesis,  I'll blame you ;)  I now have a Studiologic mp113 midi foot peddle board.   I literally have only played with it for like 30 minutes thus far,  but I'm already excited to see what this will bring to the plate.

To others thinking of such purpose...I need to warn you about a detail.  The model I mentioned does not fit under any of my stands! (the traditional x beam stands like you'd find at GC stores).   So for now my left leg need to reach a little to the left to play it.  Being more or less an ex-drumset player, I'm used to the whole HH thing though.

An interesting bonus is that it had not even occurred to me when I ordered this unit that I could use it like a bass drum, or for just adding beats too.  Can't wait to play!

SS: I cannot remember off hand.  Can you midi A and B layers on PO8 separately?  I'd like to park it next to the PO8 most of the time.
DSI Equipment: Poly Evolver Keyboard, Evolver desktop, Prophet 8,  Pro-2, OB6, P-12
 

https://Soundcloud.com/wavescape-1

Re: Using Four Voices To Your Advantage
« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2016, 01:50:37 PM »
Soundquest -

Congratulations on the pedalboard.  What will you be using as a sound source, the Prophet '08?  I hope you'll post some music examples when you can.

The keyboard stand is one issue that didn't occur to me.  I use only the four-legged type, as below (Gator Frameworks GFW-UTILITY-TBL Heavy-duty Keyboard Table - about $100 at Sweetwater).  They give your legs and feet lots of room to move about and play pedals.

[Edit: I removed my last comment, which Tracy has corrected below.]
« Last Edit: December 13, 2016, 11:50:37 AM by Sacred Synthesis »

Re: Using Four Voices To Your Advantage
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2016, 02:50:02 PM »
Can you midi A and B layers on PO8 separately?

Yes. The Prophet '08 is bi-timbral and each layer can be addressed independently via separate MIDI channels in Multi mode. See pages 11-12 in the manual for more info.
Dave Smith Instruments

Re: Using Four Voices To Your Advantage
« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2016, 11:19:55 AM »
Can you midi A and B layers on PO8 separately?

Yes. The Prophet '08 is bi-timbral and each layer can be addressed independently via separate MIDI channels in Multi mode. See pages 11-12 in the manual for more info.

Ok, thank you.  I'll play with that.
DSI Equipment: Poly Evolver Keyboard, Evolver desktop, Prophet 8,  Pro-2, OB6, P-12
 

https://Soundcloud.com/wavescape-1