Any musicians that delves into the world of electronic music is bound to encounter the idea of MIDI at some point, and in reality, it can be a bit of an overwhelming topic. When you start dealing with connections between electronic instruments, different signal chains, and communication protocols, you get into some technical jargon . . . for less technically minded folk like me, that can get in the way of making actual music. The results that you’ll get from an understanding of MIDI will certainly help you make more in-depth and interesting music though, so it’s worth the time investment. In the iOS world, MIDI is still a bit of a wide open realm of possibility; with the amount of new iPad and iPhone users jumping on the iOS music boat everyday, its best for us all to get some of the basics under our belt. We call it Virtual MIDI in the iOS music world, and although its a little different, it allows for the same type of powerful music production as physical MIDI connection. In the first part of this series, we dug into a little background on Virtual MIDI and looked at an overview of how the process actually works. Today, we’re going to dig into another specific example, which involves using SoundPrism Pro to trigger multiple apps.
A Virtual Orchestra Waiting For Direction
Virtual MIDI opens many doors to an iOS musician – connecting a controller app to a synth app is only the first piece of the puzzle. If you’ve got multiple synth apps on your iOS device, then you’ve got a full orchestra just waited to be directed. When appropriate, MIDI controllers will allow you to trigger multiple synth apps so that you can build thick, rich layers of sound using all your available tools. This isn’t always the best option – sometimes one powerful synth will be enough to create the sonic landscape that work just right for you music. There are other times when you just need something more though, and in this case, you might just need the new and exciting sound of multiple synths merging into a unique creation. A solid MIDI controller will give you this option and you should be prepared to use that power when necessary in your music.
Multiple Touch Points In SoundPrism Pro
SoundPrism Pro is built with the human hand in mind and Audanika has made sure that we can use all five of our fingers to our musical benefit. As a result, they’ve integrated multiple touch points into both the chord and bass sections of the app so we can create simultaneous note performances. Once we’re holding one finger on the chord section, we can continue placing fingers on the chord section until we hear up to five notes. This works best when we have SoundPrism set to single note playback, allowing us to build complex chords; it will work in double or triple note playback though. On the bass side of things, we can integrate two touch points into our performance, creating low register, two note chords. This can be an interesting effect when used wisely; it can also lead to muddy dissonances. The use of all our fingers may seem self-evident, but it’s a huge advantage when using an interface built around touch; SoundPrism Pro’s use of multiple touch points open our options tremendously.
The real beauty of multiple touch points comes when we bring SoundPrism Pro’s strong Virtual MIDI capabilities into the equation. Each simultaneous touch can be assigned to a different synth, allowing you to create thick, rich layers of sound. For example, you can assign the first touch point to Sunrizer Synth, the second touch point to Magellan, the third touch point to Animoog, the fourth touch point to Arctic Keys, and the fifth touch point to Addictive Synth. When you pick complimentary synth patches, you can build amazing textures that will move your music to the next level. If you’d like to use fewer synth options, then you can assign two, three, or four different synths; the options are there for you to decide what works best with your music. You can also assign multiple synths to your bass notes, applying two different synths to multiple bass touch points. When you combine the options between the chord and bass sections, you can build some pretty massive sonic creations with SoundPrism Pro, extending its usefulness in a big way.
Assigning Different Synths to Multiple Touch Points
Assigning multiple synths to touch points is quite easy within SoundPrism Pro, but the work needs to start back in the synth apps that you’d like to trigger. In this example, I’m going to assign Magellan to the first touch point, Sunrizer Synth to the second touch point, and Animoog to the third touch point. This means that each synth app will need to have background MIDI enabled and be assigned to a different MIDI channel. Each one of these apps holds the capability to make these settings, but they handle it in a bit of a different way. We’ll go through the set-up of each app individually.
After launching Magellan, you’ll arrive on panel 1 of synth #1, where we’ll start getting things ready to go. Choose a preset to serve as your first touch point; in this case, I’m going to use the “Heavy Strings” patch that can be found in the Pads bank. You can switch presets by simply tapping the main readout at the top in the middle of the screen. I also want to change the patch for Magellan’s second synth, so I’m going to flip the switch on the right labeled “Synth” to the “#2″ position. Now I’ll change the preset to “Trekkers” from the “Basses” bank. At this point, turn on background audio, which can be enabled through a button on the left side of the screen – it reads “BG AUDIO.” At this point, you need to switch screens by pressing the “PREFS” button at the top of the screen. You’ll find your MIDI settings here in the lower right hand corner.
You’ll be looking for two read-outs, labeled “SYNTH 1 IN CH” and “SYNTH 2 IN CH”; each one will have a number surrounded by two arrows. Magellan contains two synths that can either work together or individually; in this case, we’re going to be using them individually, so we want them set to different MIDI channels. Make sure that the “SYNTH 1 IN CH” is on “2″ – this is the MIDI channel that we’ll be using for the second touch point on the chord section of SoundPrism Pro. Then set the “SYNTH 2 IN CH” to “4″; we’re not going to use that synth yet, but we’ll be coming back to it.
Sunrizer Synth Set-Up
Make a switch to Sunrizer Synth and we’ll get this one ready to go as well. The patch can be adjusted by tapping on the readout at the top, middle of the screen. I’m going to choose the “Supersaws” patch that can be found in the Sunrizer 2 bank. Once I’ve picked a patch, I’m going to enable background audio by pressing the button in the upper left hand corner of the screen that is marked “AUDIO BKG.” In order to set our MIDI channel, you’ll have to press the “UTILS” button on the upper left hand side of the screen. This will bring a pop-up window titled “Tools” to the screen with a list of options; choose “Settings.” This will move you to yet another collections of choices – scroll down until you find the MIDI options. We want to assign Sunrizer Synth to MIDI channel 1, so find the Channel heading under MIDI and select “1.”
Switch apps one more time to bring Animoog to the forefront, where you’ll be presented with the X/Y Pad. Choose a preset by tapping on the currently loaded preset name directly above the keyboard on the left. This will bring a collection of categories and presets to the main screen. I’m going to select “PADS” as my category and key into the “Infinities” preset.
In order to turn on background audio and select a MIDI channel, you’l need to choose the “SETUP” option at the top of the screen. You’ll see four setup categories on the left hand side of the screen and some parameters on the right hand side. Start by selecting “CONFIGURATION” from the left hand side of the screen. You’ll see two columns, labeled “AUDIO” and “DISPLAY”. Under the “AUDIO” column, you’ll find a button labeled “BACKGROUND AUDIO.” this button should be highlighted in green, letting you know that background audio is active. On the left side of the screen, select “MIDI,” giving you yet another screen. Find the section labeled “IN,” which should have another label to the right that reads “CH.” Tap to the right of “CH.” and select “3″ from the list of channels.
Making Final Touches In SoundPrism Pro
Once you’ve got your synths ready to be triggered in SoundPrism Pro, you’re just a few steps away from having multiple touch points in your musical performances. Tap the house icon on the right side of the control bar giving you the SoundPrism Main Menu. Select “Preferences” on this window and then “MIDI” from the following window. When you’ve reached the “MIDI Configuration” window, find the “Chord Section” area at the bottom. Within that area, choose “Assign MIDI Channel to Touch Point.” You’ll appear at a windows with two moveable columns – the left one will be labeled “Touch Point,” while the right one will be labeled “Channel.” It should look like this:
Make sure that the “Touch Point” is set to “1″ and then adjust the “Channel” to “1.” Move “Touch Point” to “2″ and then move the Channel to “2.” You’ll make one more change – setting the “Touch Point” to “3″ and then moving the “Channel” to “3.” In this example, I’ve chosen to make the “Touch Point” number match the “Channel” numbers, but that’s not a requirement – as long as you’ve got the corresponding synth apps set correctly, any combination of numbers will work.
Press the “Back” button to move to the “MIDI Configuration” window, but this time choose “Sources and Destinations.” Find the area at the top of the “Sources and Destinations” window labeled “SoundPrism sends MIDI to these devices.” Under this section, make sure that “Animoog MIDI IN,” “Magellan,” and “Sunrizer,” have all been set to the “ON” position.
Testing Multiple Touch Points
Return to the main screen and successively place your fingers on the screen. The first finger that your place on the screen should trigger sounds from Sunrizer Synth, while your second touch will bring a sound from Magellan, and the third finger will give you an Animoog patch. This combination of sounds will only happen if you’re leaving your fingers on the screen, creating a layer of synth textures. If you simply tap each finger on the screen individually, it will continue to play the patch from Sunrizer Synth, reading each individual tap of the screen as the first touch. Once again, these synth layers work best if you’re using individual notes – you can switch to individual notes by pressing this button on the left side of the control strip:
Assigning Synth Patches to The Bass Section
You can also have multiple synth apps driving the sound on the bass section of SoundPrism Pro. At this point, pressing the bass section on SoundPrism Pro, you’d get the Sunrizer Synth patch currently assigned to the first touch point on the chordal section. The bass section is set to MIDI Channel 1 by default, where we also have Sunrizer Synth assigned, thus you’ll find that sound coming from the bass section. We can change this by pressing on the house button on the right side of the control strip and once again making your way to the “MIDI Configuration” window. In the middle of that screen, you’ll see an area entitled “Bass Section” – choose the “Assign MIDI Channel to Touch Point” option. Here, you’ll see two columns, similar to what we found when we assigned MIDI channels to touch points on the Chord Section.” Place the “Touch Point” column on “1″ and then move the Channel to “4.” Remember that we set the MIDI channel for Magellan’s second synth to “4″ earlier, so when you tap on the bass section, you’ll now hear the Magellan patch “Trekkers.” If you’d like to program a different synth to the bass section’s second touch point, simply return to the “Assign MIDI Channel to Touch Point” from the bass section, move the “Touch Point” column to “2″, and adjust the “Channel” column to the appropriate MIDI channel. You can also keep the bass section consistent to one patch by assigning both the first and second “Touch Point” to the same MIDI channel.
Creating New And Unexpected Textures
Experiment with trying different combinations of notes – you’ll find that you can create some new and unexpected textures by combining patches from different synths. There are a wealth of apps that support Virtual MIDI connections – take the time to patch together different collections of synth apps through SoundPrism and change patches within these synths as you play. The power of SoundPrism Pro as a controller melded with the vast potential of the rapidly growing iOS synth market gives you an almost unending array of textures that can benefit your music. Come back soon for another Virtual MIDI example, this time drawing upon another combination of controller and synth app.
Connecting multiple synth apps through a controller like like SoundPrism Pro opens a world of sonic possibilities to iOS musicians. Synth apps like Sunrizer Synth, Magellan, and Animoog each hold individual strengths, but when working in tandem, they make a sonic powerhouse. It’s pretty straight-ahead too – a basic command of Virtual MIDI and MIDI channels will take you a long way. Have you tried triggering multiple synth apps through SoundPrism Pro? What unique sonic creations have you made with multiple synth apps? Do you find SoundPrism Pro to be a good controller for this purpose? LEAVE A COMMENT below and let us hear about your experiences with SoundPrism Pro, multiple synth apps, and Virtual MIDI!
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