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MG2 with Wind Synth Dynamics: Is it Possible?

I’m enjoying triggering MidiGuitar 2 with my harmonica mic and creating a blend of the two. However there is one area I find MG2 is lacking: dynamics, the difference between loud and soft notes. It’s either note on or note off, as far as I can see - like a Midi keyboard.

I also own a MIDI harmonica, the Lekholm DM48:

This is a wind synth that uses a chromatic harmonica interface. It has great expression, capable of very loud and very soft notes depending on breath pressure. However, it misses some of the good stuff about playing a real harmonica (especially note bending), which is why I’m using MG2 with my analogue harps as well.

MG2 is great. However I miss the subtle volume dynamics I get from both a real harp and the DM48. Is there any way to configure MG2 to play with real loud/soft dynamics according to the gain input, or is it necessarily only capable of just an on/off type of Midi signal triggering?

In guitar all energy is present in the pluck. this is not the same with a wind instrument! The tone builds up more slowly with normal harmonica technique.
At the time MG creates a midi note, your harmonica note hasn’t reached its normal amplitude.
If you enable aftertouch in MG, and your synth can do something with aftertouch, you can patch this.

for completeness sake, here are the other things to be aware of:

  1. the synth used needs to support it. Lots of synths, especially analog type synths per default don’t listen to the notes velocity.
  2. set input level not to high on your interface.
  3. keep the curve knob in the middle.

Thanks so much for your helpful reply Paul. Good to hear there is a possibile avenue to try:

“If you enable aftertouch in MG, and your synth can do something with aftertouch, you can patch this.”

I found the Aftertouch menu. What does it mean to say “You can patch this”, in practical terms of what steps I need to take?

Thanks! Brendan

In synths there is often a “Poly Aftertouch”, or “Poly AT”, sometimes just “AT” reference to the polyphonic aftertouch input. You can them often map a filter cutoff or amplification to the aftertouch.
This however requirs that you understand how the synth works.
This is what I mean with “patching”. there is no general simple trick for all synths, and some synths can not even do it.

The following only applies to the full desktop version.
The polyphonic aftertouch MG generates, can be converted to CC’s via a midi machine script.
Note that the aftertouch is made “mono” (the synth will treat all notes with the same value) for the sake of getting it working with synths lacking aftertouch implementation.

Thanks! It sounds complicated and I’m using an iPad. I’ll do some more study on Aftertouch as it relates to iOS on wind synth forums etc. Good to know it might be possible. If I get it working I’ll let you know.

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Hi Paul, Checking the synths I use on the iPad, Thumbjam seems to be the most configurable in terms of offering the ability to map CC numbers to functions.

I enabled Aftertouch in MG2 and the Channel Pressure to Volume with Aftertouch setting in Thumbjam.

I did notice a small difference but there’s still not much volume swell from soft to strong blowing. Not really what I was hoping for in terms of dynamics and expression.

I’d be interested to try other iOS apps that enable Aftertouch - do you recommend any?

So far my conclusion is that the you need to ‘fake’ volume expression with MidiGuitar by blending the synth sound with your analogue signal. Do the dynamics with the analogue sound and hope that people don’t notice that the MIDI sound has a uniform volume regardless. Not ideal but workable if you get the blend right.

The aftertouch dynamics are governed by the “gain” and “curve” knob. It is personal to the synth connected how it reacts to the aftertouch, different synths react differently.
I have no list of iOS synths with aftertouch (yet).

Thanks, I’ll try adjusting those controls. You’re right about synths: they vary enormously in many respects. Though Thumbjam has Aftertouch, I find it a bit ‘laggy’, with too much latency. In terms of a user-friendly interface, fast patch selection, a wide selection of usable sounds and good tracking, Music Studio is so far the best for me. Sampletank tracks well too, and its front panel of global effects knobs are simple to use. It has a Midi learn button for assigning CC numbers to functions. I tried getting CC7 Volume linked to Aftertouch, but noticed no effect.

If you do come across an iOS synth which responds well to Aftertouch in MG2, let us know.

After looking around, the main iOS synths mentioned with this feature (besides Thumbjam) are Thor, Magellan, Sunrizer and Animoog. I have Thor and Magellan; I’ll have a try and report back.

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I did a test with Thor, Magellan and Sunrizer. On my DM48 MIDI harmonica, I can use the Midi learn function to make the volume control respond to CC2 breath pressure. With standard harmonica and MidiGuitar 2, I couldn’t get the synths to respond to Aftertouch CC7 in the same way.

I tried using Aftertouch in MG2 itself, testing different gain/curve settings. The best I could achieve with careful slow playing was a two-step volume shift: an initial lower signal below the threshold line in the screen which then abruptly increased to a higher signal above it.

So far it’s not satisfactory for practical use. This two-step shift is not smooth, and I can’t get it consistently with normal play. Plus it requires settings that are not optimal for glitch free tracking in normal playing.

Probably I was expecting too much. MG2 is already giving a lot of amazing new Midi sounds to players of analogue instruments, and using the 50/50 blend setting overcomes the latency and expression issues. That’s good enough for me.

One final note: while testing, I tried the Roli Noise app. There are some patches in there which play beautifully with MG2, notably Breath Flute. It’s the best patch I’ve found anywhere for seamless integration with the harmonica sound, perfect glitch-free tracking and smooth bends. A nice bonus from this exploration :slight_smile: