Polyphony/legato sense check (and hello)

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Michael
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Re: Polyphony/legato sense check (and hello)

Post by Michael » Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:06 pm

Thanks, KSS! Very helpful.

The reason I’m asking these questions is because as you can imagine they impact the signal logic I’m trying to map out. I guess I first kind of need to settle on a midi-cv module, which determines the specific poly allocation, and then finalize the logic.

The logic is not going very well, which I guess is why this is not done in modular :). It’s a bit of a boolean mind bender trying to map it out without missing something, and the problem so far is the hyperbolic growth with each voice. Hard to imagine my initial wish was 16 voices, which I scaled back to 8. Unfortunately even 4 voices (not acceptable) is a challenge.

If I can finish the logic, the next step is to determine what kinds of logic modules would do the job best, and whether or not the system would be in the realm of affordability.

Part of the logic planning from a module perspective involves a better understanding of how envelope modules function, so I will need to post more questions (although the answers will likely be variable depending on the module).

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Re: Polyphony/legato sense check (and hello)

Post by KSS » Sun Jun 28, 2020 10:01 pm

Don't try to re-invent the wheel.

Go back and look at what was being done in the early years if you want to get a clearer picture of the logic involved. Two resources -one *just* became available to those without back issues to look into. First, look at the E-mu modular. Dave Rossum and Tom Oberheim combined to give the world their first *commercial* polyphonic modulars. You can read in the E-mu modular owners manual how the tasks were divided. The E-mu modular was 16 voice poly capable. There are clues in the Oberheim 4 and 8 voice owners and service manuals too.

For that matter, look at the Prophet 5 service manual too. When all this was brand new cutting edge it was important to explain it clearly to those who could not have possibly have had prior experience!

The newly available old resource is Polyphony magazine where John Simonton went into great detail about how to write software for polyphonic modular operation. The Muzines website has just published all 45 issues of the magazine. The part you want is near the beginning, say the blue covered issue from about '77. He goes into the two note tables and if you read the whole series, I guarantee you'll have a better understanding of how to get where you want to go. Note this is before MIDI. But the concepts are easy to re-map into modern hardware.

FWIW, software envelopes using the PAIA QUASH module ar part of the series. And of course gates and triggers for non-software modules too. The Quash is still viable hardware today.

While you're at the Muzines site, look for the Alphadec 16 controller article(s) by Charles Blakey of Digisound80. That's inthe EM&M listing, again near the top. It's another early 16 voice polyphonic controller. As with the others, the computers are outdated -always found it funny that Alphadec system used a 'Tangerine' brand computer. Who knows? Maybe someone reading the article had a 'Dream'. ;)

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cornutt
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Re: Polyphony/legato sense check (and hello)

Post by cornutt » Mon Jun 29, 2020 5:21 pm

The Roland Juno-106 has a voice allocation mode in which you can tell the synth which voice to allocate to which note by slightly arpeggiating each chord. The way it works is that the first note played is always assigned to voice 1. While you hold that down, the next note will be assigned to voice 2. While you hold those down, the next note is assigned to voice 3, and so on. Any given note is always assigned to the lowest-numbered available voice. When you let the chord up completely, the next note played will be asigned to voice 1.

They implemented this to give you control of the polyphonic portamento. It's very expressive. You.can play a chord with the.portamento on, let it up, and play another one, and if you arpeggiate them the same (say, low to high), then the previous lowest note will slide to the new lowest note, and so on. If you arpeggiate the second chord highest to lowest, the voices all "cross" each other. A better keyboard player than me could probably do it consistently.
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Michael
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Re: Polyphony/legato sense check (and hello)

Post by Michael » Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:26 am

One interesting sidelight to this exercise is I’ve learnt more about certain utility-type functions/modules I had never had any interest in before. Things like gate/trigger delays and sequential switches.

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Rex Coil 7
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Re: Polyphony/legato sense check (and hello)

Post by Rex Coil 7 » Tue Jun 30, 2020 11:01 am

I think the fact that poly synths do not respond to the player's input like a piano or organs is what makes them unique. It forces the player to re-work their technique(s) to work with the limitations of the synth. Hammond tonewheel organs work in this same way when the percussion circuit is engaged (single trigger on the percussion circuit only, while note on/off is multi-trigger). Play legato, and the percussion will not re-fire after the last staccato note was played ... play staccato and the percussion fires with each staccato key strike. That "limitation" is what makes the tonewheel Hammond (and many poly synths) expressive in it's own way. The experienced player knows how to manipulate the single trigger function of the percussion circuit .... same with re-firing the EGs of a poly synth .... it's part of what makes these instruments what they are.

I recall on my old Korg Mono/Poly a slide switch that permitted the selection of "Single Trigger" and "Multiple Trigger" ... ~single~ meant the EGs only retrigger when playing staccato ... ~multiple~ meant the EGs retrigger with each key strike regardless if legato or staccato technique was used. Oh! .. and now that I think of it, the Mono/Poly also did the whole "round robin" thing when in poly mode. Again, this ends up being a "limitation" that the player learns to use to their advantage, one that makes what is played and what we hear to be unique to those instruments. Keith Emerson, Chick Correa, Moot Booxle, George Duke, and many other well known synth masters would use these "limitations" to their full advantage and actually created a very recognizable style that only works with single trigger instruments. 70's synth bass riffs are so recognizable partially due to this set of "limitations" mastered by the players (think 70s funk synth bass lines or fusion/jazz players that took advantage of single trigger EG functions).

But these are just my own opinions.

Oh, one other thing. The Kenton Pro2000 Mk2 (rack or desktop midi-to-CV converter) does the round robin thing. I believe it also does some single/multi trigger things as well. I have one going on two+ years now but haven't used it very much (health issues). It may be worth having a look at ... or not.

:)
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Michael
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Re: Polyphony/legato sense check (and hello)

Post by Michael » Wed Jul 01, 2020 9:57 am

Very interesting. Continued thanks to everyone willing to discuss this and for providing insight.

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Re: Polyphony/legato sense check (and hello)

Post by Pelsea » Wed Jul 01, 2020 5:32 pm

I suspect you can get everything you are looking for with a pair of Yarns. These features are pertinent:
  • 1,2 or 4 note polyphony in either mono mode (one channel controls a voice) or poly mode (all voices on same channel). Voices not played are passed via MIDI so you can chain 2 Yarns to get 8 voices (or more).
  • Various options for voice allocation.
  • Legato mode (overlapping notes do not produce new gates) which can be controlled via MIDI.
  • Oscillator mode-- standard waveforms are output instead of CV.
In addition, there is an arpeggiator feature and a simple sequence recorder along with more esoteric things like euclidian pattern generator and alternate tunings.
Books and tutorials on modular synthesis at http://peterelsea.com
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tito_tunes
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Re: Polyphony/legato sense check (and hello)

Post by tito_tunes » Wed Jul 01, 2020 6:25 pm

Playing a Dave Smith Linnstrument gives me the experience I think OP is seeking. Each of your fingers is a monophonic voice capable of portamento, vibrato and aftertouch. You can play chords and slide individual notes around, it really feels like you're an orchestra or choir. I know its a very different than a keyboard but maybe the roli seaboard would be worth looking into since it's closer to a piano.
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KSS
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Re: Polyphony/legato sense check (and hello)

Post by KSS » Wed Jul 01, 2020 8:46 pm

tito_tunes wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 6:25 pm
Playing a Dave Smith Linnstrument
Dave Smith? I thought the Linnstrument was all Roger's design, work and execution?

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