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An Introduction to Controllers for Composers

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During her presentation at our Interactive Music Symposium, Ressa Schwarzwald talked about how using controllers could make composers' lives easier. Below, you’ll find a summary of key points from her talk, where she mentioned a lot of great resources for composers who are looking to dip their toes into the world of controllers!

DAWs and MIDI Controllers

Control Surface Integrator (CSI) in REAPER

According to the Control Surface Integrator (CSI) official documentation project, CSI is “a REAPER plugin that aims to let you integrate your hardware control surfaces into REAPER with a much higher level of control than is possible out of the box.”

Ressa shares a couple of videos that she recommends composers check out to get started with CSI:

Instruments with MPE Protocol

MPE stands for MIDI Polyphonic Expression and, according to ROLI, “allows digital instruments to behave more like acoustic instruments in terms of spontaneous, polyphonic sound control.”

In the following video, Ressa demonstrates MPE with her ROLI Seaboard, which she uses to control a wineglass instrument in Kontakt. You see her modify a few mapped settings, specifically for the Slide (also known as MIDI CC 74) and Press gestures.

She recommends you check out ROLI’s official video, How to use a Seaboard RISE with Kontakt, to get a good overview and learn how to make any Kontakt instrument preset respond to the Slide, Press, and Glide gestures of a ROLI Seaboard.

Using your gamepad as a MIDI controller

If you want to use your gamepad as a MIDI controller, choose Options from the main menu in REAPER, open Preferences, display the MIDI Devices screen, and then click on the Add joystick MIDI button. In the video below, Ressa shares her results, using her Xbox controller as a MIDI controller.

Mobile devices as MIDI control panels

You can also use mobile devices as MIDI control panels! Here are three apps for this purpose that Ressa mentions during her presentation:

Metagrid: Grid-based controller for iPad.

Metapad: Gesture-based controller for iPhone.

TouchOSC: Next generation modular control surface which works on mobile and desktop.

Wwise and MIDI Controllers

Ressa previously wrote an entire article about working with MIDI in Wwise and you can give that a read here.

Be sure to give Ressa’s presentation a watch, where she goes into more detail about using MIDI controllers with Wwise, MIDI controllers and game engines, making patches in Max/MSP and Pure Data, using real instruments as MIDI controllers in REAPER, and pushing the boundaries with microcontrollers!

 

Ressa Schwarzwald

Ressa Schwarzwald

Audio Lead at Creative Mobile, interactive audio geek and explorer!

 @the_ressium

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