Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

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Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by Folderol »

Does the ribbon controller on your synth initiate notes or only drag sounding ones, or is that configurable?

Does it send and receive MIDI messages? If so, which ones? or is that configurable?

Can it cover the entire note range of the keyboard or just a subset? Is that configurable?

Does it only do pitch, or does it also respond to pressure?
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by BJG145 »

Ribbon synths FTW. I don't currently have one, though I've previously tried the Eowave Persephone, Eowave Ribbon and Haken Continuumini. I'm surprised there aren't a few more standalone ribbon synths currently available. The Haken "letterbox" Continuumini is probably the best of the bunch though it's still not ideal.

Anyway, all those are sensitive to pressure and position. They send MIDI note on touch and pitchbend on movement IIRC. Ideally you'd want to be able to send velocity based on the initial touch and pitchbend or configurable MIDI #CC based on position/pressure. The MIDI programming is the easy bit though.
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by The Elf »

On the Hydrasynth you can configure the ribbon to send notes - it becomes 'Theremin-ish' of sorts.

On my K2700 it can only be a modulator AFAIK.

Or are you maybe also thinking of the Roli Seaboard, which does all the lot and much more?

So... it depends! ;):beamup:
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by BJG145 »

You might also get some ideas from the documentation for the (discontinued) Doepfer R2M or Kurzweil Expressionmate.

https://doepfer.de/pdf/R2M_man.pdf
https://kurzweil.com/wp-content/uploads ... XPMATE.zip

For instance, you might want to factor in relative and absolute modes (pages 12 and 27 in these manuals).
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by Folderol »

Thanks for the replies - so there's not exactly a 'standard' then :lol:
Hydrasynth sounds most interesting, and for the experiment I have in mind I need someone with one of these and a Yoshimi Pi.
I wonder if I can find anyone with such a combination :tongue:
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by Eddy Deegan »

Folderol wrote: Fri Aug 26, 2022 9:02 am Thanks for the replies - so there's not exactly a 'standard' then :lol:
Hydrasynth sounds most interesting, and for the experiment I have in mind I need someone with one of these and a Yoshimi Pi.
I wonder if I can find anyone with such a combination :tongue:

Despite being under the weather all week I'm almost back to normal now Will and will have some spare time this weekend. What do you need? :)
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Re: Questions for synthists with ribbon controllers

Post by Folderol »

Eddy Deegan wrote: Fri Aug 26, 2022 2:43 pm
Folderol wrote: Fri Aug 26, 2022 9:02 am Thanks for the replies - so there's not exactly a 'standard' then :lol:
Hydrasynth sounds most interesting, and for the experiment I have in mind I need someone with one of these and a Yoshimi Pi.
I wonder if I can find anyone with such a combination :tongue:

Despite being under the weather all week I'm almost back to normal now Will and will have some spare time this weekend. What do you need? :)

Hi Eddy, thanks for offering.

With the Hydrasynth ribbon set to send notes, have that running and connected to the YP before you start Yoshimi (which should then automagically connect to it.
Load any instrument into Yoshimi that has a continuous sound, then at the bottom of Yoshimi's main window set Mode to Legato and just below that set the Portamento checkbox.
Next, click on Controllers, and in its window change Portamento Thresh to 0
and Time to about 80
The ribbon should now give you a smooth sweep - or at least that's what I'm hoping!
You may need to change the Time setting depending on how you use it and what instrument you select. Also setting Proprt and twiddling those knobs might be interesting.

If the Hydrasynth sends velocity as well as pitch, this should also work, and just possibly channel aftertouch too. I doubt key aftertouch would do anything sensible, but you never know :P

Also, doing a crude test here with just an ordinary keyboard and playing individual notes, some of the morphing sounds gave very interesting results.
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by Eddy Deegan »

Bad news Will. Although the Hydrasynth plays Yoshimi as one would expect, unfortunately it cannot be configured to send NoteOn/NoteOff data generated by the ribbon controller, only CC and NRPN control information.

I tried configuring the envelopes to trigger with a RibbonOn event and this does indeed trigger the sound engine on the HS but again, no MIDI note data is transmitted.

Thinking about it though, this makes sense for a continuous controller as MIDI 1.x doesn't have a standard way to transmit continuously variable note+pitch information AFAIK. A receiving implementation could map CC or NRPN messages to note-pitches internally (which I expect is what the Hydrasynth does) but in that event you could test it with any variable controller as opposed to requiring a ribbon.

I was hoping it would transmit notes in quantised Theramin mode but it doesn't (and I suppose that wouldn't be distinguishable from playing the keyboard normally anyway).

Let me know if you'd like me to try anything else!
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by Folderol »

That's a bummer. I think the only answer would be for us to make pitch bend MIDI-learnable. Then you could learn whatever Hydrasynth sends, although it would still be necessary to find a way to initiate the note. Do you know if the Hydrasynth is continuously sending ribbon data, or only when there's a change?
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by The Elf »

Doing things like generating a note from a controller is easy in Cantabile, but it would be a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

Now if Yoshimi ever became a VST... ;)
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by Folderol »

I know, I know, I know.
There is a slight problem - nobody with the skills and time to make the necessary conversions.
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by BJG145 »

What's the overall objective...? To make a demo of Yoshimi with a ribbon controller...?

I've got an Artiphon Instrument knocking around that I could try or lend...it has some ribbon-like capabilities.

https://youtu.be/GSD9UlvCl4M?t=26
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by Folderol »

I'm basically trying to find out what Yoshimi can already interface with, and whether we can expand that without too much upheaval. The Artiphon looks interesting as it seems to have quite a range of control. We don't have MPE support, but depending on exactly what it transmits over MIDI we might be able to go a long way already.

I don't know how far away you are, so I don't know how practical a loan would be (thanks for the offer) - I wouldn't want to put you to the trouble of sending it - and the associated transit risk these days :(

If you have access to a fairly recent version of Yoshimi it would be great if you had a fiddle yourself. That would actually be more useful knowledge. You wouldn't be making the assumptions I probably do :lol:
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by N i g e l »

is midi fast enough for ribbon data ? I guess its a bit like breath control in terms of update rate.

The Hydrasynth & Kurzweil sound engines have direct access to the raw ribbon so speed isnt an issue. The Kurz has a special socket for the Kurz ribbon - PC2Rib.
I think the PC2Rib is just a glorified resistor [or maybe 3], as all the ribbon stuff is defined by the host synth.

If you need note & trig from a theramin type output, you could put it through an MS20 [or K2 ] for volts & trig, or MidiGuitar VST for MIDI in a PC.
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by BJG145 »

N i g e l wrote: Sun Aug 28, 2022 10:45 pm is midi fast enough for ribbon data?

Here's a demo of a USB MIDI ribbon controller called oneString with Animoog. It's an old Kickstarter from a few years ago.

https://youtu.be/4lk16uc2xRo?t=68

I was interested in the comments about how it has a separate position and pressure strip which can be played with one finger, allowing you to control pitch and modulation, "...and that's how the old synths used to work".
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by N i g e l »

that is a cool set up, he's even sprayed the BCR fader box white :)
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by BJG145 »

It was an open-source project based at straytechnologies.com. Website is long gone but you can still find the build instructions on Wayback. (Main page with schematic and software here.)

I'm interested in building a ribbon controller sometime, though it would take someone with Folderol-level electronics to put this one together without the original kit.
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by Folderol »

I've actually seen a design (can't find it now) where a long pressure sensitive strip was fixed first and the position sensitive one put on top of it, so it's single finger for pitch and controller (i.e. velocity/modulation etc.). This used a teensy LC rather than an arduino, which is much simpler for sending MIDI over usb.

I'll probably eventually get round to building one, but at the moment I'm concentrating on finding out what existing commercial kit can be used with Yoshimi - as well as the never ending development and bug fixes {sigh}.
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by BJG145 »

Folderol wrote: Mon Aug 29, 2022 10:43 am I've actually seen a design (can't find it now) where a long pressure sensitive strip was fixed first and the position sensitive one put on top of it, so it's single finger for pitch and controller

Perhaps this one...?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cdc2U2_ ... dSimulator

Looks a lot simpler; I'm going to have a go at this sometime.
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by Folderol »

Not the same one, but very similar :thumbup:
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by MarkOne »

Talking of ribbon controllers and odd instruments, is my mind playing tricks or do I remember in the mists of time there was an instrument that consisted of 4 ribbon controllers that you played a bit like an upright bass?

We’re probably going back to the 70s and it might have been something that featured on Tomorrow’s World..

My googling has failed to find it.

Maybe it was a dream.
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by BJG145 »

MarkOne wrote: Mon Aug 29, 2022 1:16 pm Talking of ribbon controllers and odd instruments, is my mind playing tricks or do I remember in the mists of time there was an instrument that consisted of 4 ribbon controllers that you played a bit like an upright bass?

...you're not thinking of the Theremin Cello...? This was the first ribbon controller, but it only had the one.

Image

The Eigenharp Alpha is also played upright and has a single ribbon controller.

Image
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by MarkOne »

No, the more I've thought about it, it was definitely 4 ribbons, about the height of a double bass and the whole body was basically a C profile PVC construction that probably started life as a length of white guttering.

This probably predates MIDI and I think each ribbon created a CV/Gate signal.

But I really can't find anything out there on the interwebs
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by BigRedX »

MarkOne wrote: Tue Aug 30, 2022 9:06 am No, the more I've thought about it, it was definitely 4 ribbons, about the height of a double bass and the whole body was basically a C profile PVC construction that probably started life as a length of white guttering.

This probably predates MIDI and I think each ribbon created a CV/Gate signal.

But I really can't find anything out there on the interwebs

Are you thinking of David Vorhaus' Kaleidophon?
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by Folderol »

Hmm we do seem to have 'drifted' a bit :lol:
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by BJG145 »

BigRedX wrote: Tue Aug 30, 2022 12:41 pmAre you thinking of David Vorhaus' Kaleidophon?

Good catch.

https://www.soundonsound.com/people/david-vorhaus
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by MarkOne »

BigRedX wrote: Tue Aug 30, 2022 12:41 pm
MarkOne wrote: Tue Aug 30, 2022 9:06 am No, the more I've thought about it, it was definitely 4 ribbons, about the height of a double bass and the whole body was basically a C profile PVC construction that probably started life as a length of white guttering.

This probably predates MIDI and I think each ribbon created a CV/Gate signal.

But I really can't find anything out there on the interwebs

Are you thinking of David Vorhaus' Kaleidophon?

YES! That’s it!

Glad my memory was not playing tricks on me!

And this is the BBC TW article I had in mind:
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by BJG145 »

Time to put some of these to work.

Image

(Arduino with MIDI board, Teensy 4.0 with audio board, Daisy Pod, and an Axoloti donated via the forum.)

500mm membrane potentiometer and FSR on the way...

Image

I swiped a spare laptop from work this afternoon, and just downloaded the latest Debian.

I recently took a look round the local Hackspace, a makerspace with 3D printers, laser cutters, electronics workbench and wood/metal workshops, and decided to sign up.

Image

If I can't make a Yoshimi ribbon synth out of this lot then I'm a Dutchman. :D
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by Folderol »

We will be watching!
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Re: Questions for synthesists with ribbon controllers

Post by MarkOne »

BJG145 wrote: Tue Sep 13, 2022 9:05 pm
If I can't make a Yoshimi ribbon synth out of this lot then I'm a Dutchman. :D

veel geluk
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