Controls and MIDI controllers
Garritan provides stellar tools to transform high-quality instrument sounds into stunningly realistic performances. The ARIA Player offers an easy, intuitive, and standardized control system to enable you to play and shape the orchestral instrument sounds, either in real-time or through a sequencer or notation program. The controls for one family of instruments generally carry over to other sections so that you feel at home with the entire soundset, and the system is streamlined so that you can make great music quickly. With a little practice, you can perform several tasks simultaneously, as a real musician does, so you can hear the musical results as you play. This chapter introduces you to the performance controllers that offer you a wide range of possibilities for musical expression.
With a MIDI keyboard it is possible to start making music within minutes of installing Garritan Personal Orchestra 5. The four basic controls for sustaining instruments (woodwinds, brass, and strings) are shown above. Play the keyboard with your right hand. The sharpness of an instrument’s attack is controlled by how hard you strike the key. With your left hand, use the modulation wheel to control dynamics and special keyswitch notes that will alter the playing style of the samples (like turning brass mutes on and off). The sustain pedal connects the notes, allowing you to make slurs and legato transitions.
One thing that makes an orchestra sound great is dynamic contrast. Every phrase and note has unwritten dynamics and nuances that players interpret. Without dynamics, music lacks depth of expression. Dynamics and expression in Garritan Personal Orchestra 5 are achieved through the mod wheel. Normally, this controller is mounted on the left side of the keyboard and is played with the left hand. With Garritan Personal Orchestra 5, the mod wheel simultaneously controls both volume and timbre for sustaining instruments (e.g. strings, woodwinds, brass, organ, wind machine). Especially with the brass instruments, louder levels produce a brighter sound.
Note: Instruments that do not sustain their sounds, such as pianos and drums, follow the General MIDI convention using note velocity for dynamics and sustain pedal for sustains. In typical General MIDI soundsets, the mod wheel is used for its typical function to add modulation or vibrato to the sounds.
The mod wheel controls the dynamic ebb and flow of volume and timbre changes. In the case of a sequencer, make sure to record a nudge of the mod wheel at the beginning of every MIDI track so that Garritan Personal Orchestra 5 instruments will start with the correct volume upon playback. Remember that in Garritan Personal Orchestra 5 the mod wheel is not a “set and forget” controller. It is intended to be used as an expressive controller that is in nearly constant motion shaping the volume and timbre of a passage. It is analogous to the air being blown through a wind instrument or a bow being drawn across the strings in a string instrument. Additionally, cymbals, snare drum, and bass drum use mod wheel to control volume of rolled crescendos/decrescendos when the proper note is played.
In addition to the mod wheel (CC#1), Garritan Personal Orchestra 5 will also respond to breath control (CC#2) and MIDI expression (CC#11) to control the function of expressive volume/timbre. Be careful to use only one at a time or the data between these controllers will cause interference. It is not necessary for the user to take any steps to activate these extra controllers.
Note: Note velocity is a component of Note On (and Note Off) messages, rather than being a separate data type. Like pitch bend and channel pressure, note velocity has no MIDI CC equivalent.
Virtually all keyboards made today support a feature called “note velocity” or “key velocity” that refers to how hard you strike a given key. The harder you press down a key, the harder and sharper the attack. The more gently you hit the key, the softer the attack.
Applying proper accentuation brings clarity and emphasis to the notes being played. It also shapes the rhythm and flow of a piece of music. The degree of force you apply to the keys will vary depending on the instrument selected and the musical context. With brass and woodwinds, accents are made by “tonguing” to emphasize certain notes. With strings, notes are emphasized by how hard the player digs the bow into the string. Whenever you feel that a note should be accented, do it by striking the key harder.
It is important to note that this control relates to attack strength (for the most part) independent of volume. Most sustaining instruments in Garritan Personal Orchestra 5 have volume controlled by the mod wheel. So, don’t always try to play notes louder by banging on the keyboard, or the result may be a heavily accented note that you did not intend. Non-sustaining instruments (including percussion, piano and pizzicato strings) use note velocity for volume and volume-related timbre changes, in addition to attacks. These instruments do not make use of the mod wheel, with the exception of the recorded percussion rolls.
So far, we have focused on aspects of performance that are controlled with your fingers, but an important part of your performance comes from your foot. Most keyboards include a sustain pedal (MIDI CC#64). Instruments that can play sustained notes (string sustains, woodwinds, and brass) use the sustain pedal to activate the legato playing techniques. “Legato” literally means connected and directs the performer to play smoother transitions between notes instead of accenting each one.
Note: Notation string, brass, and woodwind patches only use the sustain pedal function.
Legato is achieved by holding the sustain pedal down for the desired group of notes. Whenever you depress the sustain pedal, the attack portion of the sample is removed to create much smoother transitions between notes. Just like note velocity accents notes to make them sound detached, the legato feature blends notes into an unbroken seamless musical phrase. Using the Sustain pedal removes the attack portion of the sample and connects the notes for a smoother sounding effect. Using Mono Mode makes sure there are no overlaps. The result is a phrase that sounds like a real legato phrase.
In the case of brass and woodwind instruments, notes are tongued when you have your foot off the sustain pedal. Slurs between notes occur when you hold down the pedal. For section strings, détaché notes are activated when the sustain pedal is up and legato notes are triggered when the pedal is down. You can also depress the sustain pedal to emulate same-string note changes which are used in rapid scale passages. Some instruments, such as the harp and triangle, use the sustain pedal to switch between the standard full decay of notes and damped notes. For instruments actually possessing sustain pedals (pianos), it functions as you would expect.
Using CC#64 is flexible but requires more work on the part of the user. Usually, a combination of carefully chosen note overlaps, CC#64 switching, and CC#21 (release/decay) data will allow the user to craft the smoothest legato note transitions.
Strings, brass, and woodwinds standard samples use the Auto-Legato control as a substitute to the sustain pedal. This feature automatically detects note overlaps and applies changes to the attack and decay characteristics of the note transitions. Auto-Legato is designed to provide convenience and can give good results when it is applied to take advantage of its intended design, but has some limitations. Those limitations are related to the way it handles polyphony. Its detection of overlapping notes and automatically stopping the first of the overlapping notes in favor of the second means that it functions in what is commonly known as “mono mode.” This gives automatic transition control and the ability to do easy trills but it can only play one note at a time. This means it works well with any single line parts. It won’t work for polyphonic parts where more than one note is played at a time. This means it is best applied to individual instrumental parts like solos or section parts that don’t use divisi or otherwise split the section into playing chords from a single MIDI track.
Note: Standard string, brass, and woodwind patches only use the auto-legato function.
New to GPO 5, some instruments that make use of Auto-Legato (such as the choir patches) now include an additional "Offset" control. This allows you to add additional legato phrasing offset: higher values result in a later start to a sample. Use this control to precisely adjust how smoothly connected the notes are. This control has no MIDI CC equivalent.
Keyswitching is a feature that allows you to change articulations quickly while playing. With a simple touch of a key located on the keyboard below the normal range of the instruments, you can move between different playing styles of an instrument without having to load multiple patches in multiple slots in the ARIA player. Many instruments in Garritan Personal Orchestra 5 have keyswitch patches, denoted “KS” next to their name. When you press a key in the keyswitch area, the ARIA Player loads the corresponding articulation into the playing area of the keyboard. The keyswitched notes are displayed on the player keyboard in rose and beige. All patches load using the first keyswitch as the default. Keyswitches remain active until another keyswitch message is received. When the appropriate note is pressed in the ARIA Player, it automatically switches to the corresponding articulation. Here is an example of a typical keyswitch layout for section strings:
Always put the keyswitching note for the particular instrument before the first note of the articulation you want to play, not at the same time! If you transpose your score, you must be sure not to transpose the keyswitch notes. Any transposition to these notes will change (or eliminate) their function. Although it may be tempting to use your mouse to trigger one of the displayed keyswitches in the ARIA Player, it is not recommended. The ARIA Player’s graphic representations of keys, wheels, and knobs are primarily there for auditioning sounds, not for live control.
In addition to these four basic controls, Garritan Personal Orchestra 5 features other controls for greater control over your instruments, all of which are user-adjustable. For example, automatic variability imparts subtle changes in tuning and timbre, and portamento controls let you continuously glide between notes like string or trombone players. With this controller-based approach, you play your articulations in real time in much the same manner as a real player does.
This control bends the pitch of a note. You can add scoops, slides, or drops to solo strings or trombones at the beginning or ending of notes and passages.
These controls automatically create tuning and timbre variability from note to note. The VAR 1 knob controls intonation with random tuning variations, adjustable from a few cents to an entire semitone. The VAR 2 knob introduces random variations in timbre quality by adjusting a filter on the instrument. The combination of both controls provides a more human result in the quality of the sound. The VAR 1 and VAR 2 controls can also be adjusted or varied throughout a piece by using MIDI controllers CC#22 and CC#23, respectively.
This control lets you slide from one note to another. It is particularly helpful with some instruments, such as the trombone and the strings. There is a knob that adjusts the portamento for instruments that use this function. Additionally, MIDI controller CC#20 can be assigned to an external MIDI fader or drawn as graphic data in your sequencer of choice. Portamento is off by default. In general, slides between smaller intervals require greater values than slides between larger intervals. It is best to draw the data manually (for any specific notes that require slides) in your sequencer or to assign this feature to a separate hardware controller (CC#20) for real-time control.
The default length is the natural release/decay length of the sample. As you adjust MIDI controller CC #21, the length of the release/decay of the sample can be varied over a useful range. This can be used along with MIDI note length data and velocity strength to give a wider variety of articulation types ranging from very short and light to accented and forceful. With strings this can help simulate bow strokes from light sautille to strong marcato. It can also give control of note releases in legato situations by lengthening releases for smoother overlaps. With pizzicato patches, very short values can give the impression of a damped pizzicato. With wind instruments, very short staccato notes can help create the illusion of double and triple tonguing. This controller is also useful for creating sforzando articulations when using the aggressive brass patches or for getting a staccato sound.
Non-vibrato (NV) solo woodwind and brass instruments have vibrato control. There are two vibrato controllers: aftertouch/channel pressure (controls vibrato intensity) and MIDI CC#17 (controls vibrato speed). Using these controls, vibrato can be added to a solo part with natural variations in entrance timing, speed variations, and intensity. It is important to be aware that the vibrato features do not apply to any instruments with naturally recorded vibrato in the samples (such as string instruments). Instruments that have vibrato control will display a knob labeled “VibSpd(CC17)” in the Instrument Controls on the Controls tab of the interface.
Note: M-Audio and some other keyboard brands often use CC#131 as a substitute for aftertouch when the keyboard model doesn’t have aftertouch sensitivity built in. A programmable slider on the keyboard can be assigned to CC#131 to control aftertouch data.
Many keyboards send aftertouch data when finger pressure on a key is varied while the key is held. Aftertouch data is used to adjust the vibrato intensity of a non-vibrato instrument. This controller data can also be “drawn” into MIDI tracks manually. MIDI CC#17, when used in conjunction with aftertouch, will vary the vibrato speed. CC#17 can be assigned to an available slider or knob on a hardware keyboard to give real-time control. This controller data can also be “drawn” into MIDI tracks manually.
This controller is used on sustained string samples and the trombone to aid the creation of portamento effects when going from detached (non legato) playing to legato playing. This controller switches the instrument to a layer that does not respond to pitchbend data. This gives you the flexibility to draw pitchbend data between two notes that only affects the second note of the pair when carefully placed CC#19 data has also been added to the track. This can be used to help solve certain kinds of portamento problems. This controller is hidden, i.e. not part of the ARIA Player GUI.
The Solo String keyswitch instruments use CC#15 to control an alternative switching system for trills on keyswitch notes G# and A. The standard keyswitches (G# thru B) give you control over half-step and whole-step trills, plus their muted counterparts. The CC#15 controller extends trill intervals from a half-step to as wide as a major third using the following:
- 0-32 – half step
- 33-64 – whole step
- 65-96 – minor third
- 97-127 – major third
This controller is used in conjunction with the aggressive brass and strings patches (denoted AG) to add more forcefulness and ‘grit’ to the sound of these patches. For percussion instruments, advancing this controller can give the impression of harder beaters being played aggressively.
This is a special use of the sustain pedal. In most other instruments in Garritan Personal Orchestra 5, this controller is used either for legato or note sustaining. Some instruments, such as triangle, harp, celesta, and glass armonica, use the sustain pedal to switch between the standard full decay of notes and damped notes. Non-sustaining instruments use the sustain pedal for standard sustain while in “Pedal mode 2.” The vibraphone adds a second instrument choice that can function in standard “Pedal mode 1,” at the expense of keyswitching.
This control filters out the higher frequencies of a sound. By cutting this range, you can make instruments sound softer. For example, with a choir patch, you might decrease Tone to remove some of the breathiness of the sound.
This is a toggle switch that allows you to add a virtual mute to an instrument. For brass instruments, it acts as a standard brass mute; for strings, it changes the sound to a sordino tone.
Use the "VelTrack" control to correlate note velocity with amplitude. The higher the value, the more an instrument's loudness responds to velocity. This kind of tracking allows for custom sensitivity to note velocity based on your preference.
When you press a key on the keyboard, the sound produced follows various volume levels over time. This is an amplitude envelope, controlled by four separate events.
Attack is the change in amplitude from silence to peak volume and is triggered when the key is first pressed. CC#73 controls the length of time between the key being pressed and the peak volume. You might adjust this control to reduce sharp attacks or to produce a slow rise to a sustaining sound.
Decay is the change in amplitude from peak volume to the sustained tone level. CC#75 controls the length of time between the attack peak and the sustain level. You might adjust this control to cause the initial attack to drop down more slowly or rapidly.
Sustain is unique in that, instead of controlling the length of time for an event, CC#70 controls the amplitude of the sustain level until the key is released. You can think of this as the primary volume of a particular sample. For example, setting this to 0 causes the sound to end almost immediately.
Release is the change in amplitude from the sustain level back to silence after the key is released. CC#72 controls the length of time between the key release and the volume returning to zero. You might adjust this control for interesting effects, such as a short, clipped release or a pseudo-reverb falloff.
Although the bass drum is an instrument of indefinite pitch, its tone is very deep and booming and capable of being adjusted. The bass drum in Garritan Personal Orchestra 5 has an adjustable fundamental that is controlled by a knob designated “BDFund” in the controller section of the ARIA Player. This control can add a great deal of energy to low frequencies, so use it with care.
This controller also controls the fundamental strength of the organ patches, and is especially useful in the pedal stops. This controller are labeled FUND on the ARIA Player interface.
CC#20 controls the vibraphone’s attack speed. This allows continuous control of the vibraphone’s attack speed from hard to ‘bowed’ attacks. This controller is labeled as ATTACK in the ARIA Player. CC#22 and #23 controls the level and speed of tremolo, respectively. These controllers are labeled as TrmLev and TrmSpd in the ARIA Player.
When using the piano patches from the notation set (rather than the standard set), CC#68 must be used for sustain pedal rather than CC#64.
These controls allow the user to boost certain frequencies of the organ. CC#22 controls the strength and CC#23 controls the frequency. They are labeled respectively as FiltLv and FiltFq in the ARIA Player.
New to GPO 5, the Custom Organ Console makes extensive use of controls in the ARIA Player to simulate the stop combinations of a real pipe organ. See the Custom Organ Console in the instrument directory for details.
The Custom Organ Console uses different performance controllers from the other organ patches:
- Swell Pedal (CC#2). The Swell control mimics the organ shutter system to open and close the stop shutters on a pipe organ. In addition to adjusting the relative volume of the stops, the swell pedal also simulates changes in high frequency content and tone color.
- Chiff Noise (CC#12). The Chiff control adjusts the level of the sound created as air first enters a pipe, before the airflow is sufficient to create a steady pitch. Chiff is velocity-sensitive, and a little goes a long way: judicious use can add extra realism to your performance.
- Tremulant Speed (CC#17). The TrmSpd control varies the rapidity of the tremulant effect, in which the wind supply is modulated, imparting a vibrato to the tone.
- Tremulant Level (CC#1). The TrmAmt control (Mod Wheel) adjusts the intensity of the tremulant effect. For certain combinations where you can hear the tremulant inherent in the sample, it cannot be attenuated and is best left switched off.
The Harp instruments added in GPO 5 include the following performance controls:
- Velocity (CC#12). The Velocity control sets the current velocity amplitude tracking depth. Higher values will increase the amount of depth that the current amplitude envelopes have on the triggered notes. With a higher depth setting lower velocities will be naturally softer in amplitude, and higher velocities will have reached the maximum amplitude values. Lower velocity settings will result in all velocity input having close to the sample amplitude regardless of input velocity values.
- Release (CC#72). The Release control affects normal release mode to allow tailored sustains throughout larger sequences where muddiness can occur, since sustain pedal can be too long at times.
- Pick Noise (CC#13). The Pick Noise control sets the depth/amount of pick noise to be added.
- Soft (CC#74). The Soft control softens the character of your harp. It works well as a controllable MIDI CC, so that the harp can take on a brighter and darker character throughout the performance and movement of a piece.
- Aggressive (CC#81). The Aggressive control adds more forcefulness and ‘grit’ to the attack of the harps. It utilizes the ARIA Player’s saturation effect to alter the attack transients.
- Live Mode (CC#99). The Var control varies the amount of variation programming that provides a more realistic ‘humanized’ performance. For producers and composers who want their compositions to sound identical in every performance, turn Var to 0.
The Piano instruments added in GPO 5 include the following performance controls, which have no assigned MIDI CC equivalents:
- Dynamic Range. The Dyn. Range control refers to the difference in volume between the loudest possible note and the softest possible note. When the Dynamic Range knob is at 50%, you'll experience the natural dynamic range of the sampled piano. Above 50%, the softest notes are even softer and below 50% the softest notes are louder. The dynamic range setting can have a large influence on the expressive characteristics of the piano.
- Release Decay. The Rel. Decay control adjusts the length of the decay of the release sample, which includes the sound of the damper muting the piano strings, a crucial part of realistic piano sampling.
- Release Volume. The Rel. Volume control adjusts the volume of the release sample.
- Release Crossfade. The Rel. Xfade control adjusts the severity of the crossfade between the decay of the original note sample and the attack of the release sample.
When Stereo Stage is turned off, instruments can be panned from left to right in the usual way, positioning them left to right by relative left/right volume intensity only. When Stereo Stage is turned on, it simulates the arrival times from the position of the instrumental sound source to a pair of virtual stereo microphones, plus the first reflections from side walls, rear walls, and the ceiling. This can create a more three-dimensional image for positioning instruments on the stage, both left to right and front to back (when Stereo Stage is activated, the panning knobs in the mixer section of ARIA still control the left to right positioning). There are two Stereo Stage controls available on the Controls page of the ARIA player.
- On/Off button. This toggle switch activates and disables Stereo Stage, lighting when activated. This switch can also be controlled using CC#103.
- Depth. This sets the position of the instrument front to back on the stereo stage. Small percentage numbers place instruments closer to the microphones; larger percentages place instruments farther back on the stage, with 100% being near the back wall of the stage. The Depth parameter can also be controlled with CC#36.
Controlling timbre/EQ enables you to produce a clearer sound. When many instruments are added and played at once, the sound can become muddy. Judicious mixing and EQ can reduce sonic clutter so that combinations have better clarity and transparency, creating breathing room for the voices, so parts can be heard distinctly and clearly. In addition, the EQ controls can extend tonal range and allow better matching of sounds across the various instrument patches.
The Precision EQ is a three-band equalizer, with each band having a separate gain knob (–24dB to +24 dB). The “Low” controls the filter’s gain for the bottom of the spectrum, the “Mid” controls the midrange frequencies, and the “High” controls the top end of the frequency spectrum. You can adjust these by placing your cursor over the desired knob, left clicking/holding, and moving the mouse up and down. Release the mouse button at the desired number.
|Manual controls||MIDI CC#||Description|
|Modulation wheel ("ModWhl")||1||Controls volume of sustaining instruments. Does not affect most percussion, keyboard, harp, short bow strings, and pizzicato strings instruments. Alternate control is provided via MIDI CC#2 and CC#11.|
|Volume (Mixer view slider)||7||Controls the overall presence of the loaded instrument in the mix. Turned off by default in favor of mod wheel.|
|Pan (Mixer window knob)||10||Controls the panning of the loaded instrument. Turned off by default since all the instruments in Garritan Personal Orchestra 5 are pre-panned based on their place in the orchestra.|
|Tremolo width (hidden)||15||Controls the interval of tremolos/trills when using the solo string KS patches. Set to 0–32 for half step; 33–64 for whole step; 65–96 for minor third; or 97–127 for major third.|
|Tremolo width (hidden)||16||Controls the interval of tremolos/trills when using the solo string KS patches. Set to 0–32 for half step; 33–64 for whole step; 65–96 for minor third; or 97–127 for major third.|
|Saturation/Brightness ("Aggres")||16||Controls aggressiveness in patches denoted “AG”. Controls bow noise in string AG patches and force in brass AG and percussion patches.|
|Vibrato speed ("VibSpd")||17||Controls vibrato speed in woodwind and brass patches denoted “NV” (including French horn and clarinet).|
|Pitchbend cancellation (hidden)||19||Cancels all pitchbend data. Used for string and trombone patches when moving from detache to legato phrasing.|
|Portamento ("Porta")||20||Controls portamento amount during legato passages on sustaining instruments. Sustain pedal must be depressed for this controller to function.|
|Fundamental strength ("Fund")||20||Controls the level of the lowest frequencies for bass drum and most organ patches.|
|Attack speed ("Attack")||20||Controls the attack speed for the Vibraphone KS patch. Adjustable from hard to bowed attacks.|
|Length||21||Controls the sample decay/release time. Especially useful to give shorter bow strokes for the short bow string patches and to smooth transitions with higher values for legato string section passages, as well as creating double- and triple-tonguing in the brass.|
|Intonation variability ("Var 1")||22||Controls amount of random variation in tuning from note to note.|
|Tremolo level ("TrmLev")||22||Controls vibraphone tremolo level (must be used with CC#23).|
|Filter strength ("FiltLv")||22||Controls organ filter strength (must be used with CC#23).|
|Timbre variability ("Var 2")||23||Controls amount of random variation in tone from note to note.|
|Tremolo speed ("TrmSpd")||23||Controls vibraphone tremolo speed (must be used with CC#22).|
|Filter frequency ("Filtfq")||23||Controls organ filter frequency (must be used with CC#22).|
|Stereo Stage depth||36||Controls the position of the instrument front to back on the stereo stage. Higher values place instruments farther back on the stage, with 100% being near the back wall of the stage; lower values place instruments closer to the microphones.|
|Legato (pedal)||64||Controls legato mode on sustaining instruments.|
|Sustain (pedal)||64||Controls sustain pedal on keyboard instruments.|
|Damping (pedal)||64||Controls damping on instruments such as triangle, harp, celesta, and glass armonica.|
|Notation set sustain (pedal)||68||Controls sustain pedal on piano patches from the notation set.|
|Auto-Legato||102||Turns auto-legato on or off. Values 0–63 are off, 64–127 are on.|
|Stereo Stage||103||Turns stereo stage on or off. Values 0–63 are off, 64–127 are on.|
|Volume/attack||Note velocity||Controls volume for non-sustaining instruments and attack strength for sustaining instruments.|
|Pitch bend||Pitch bend||Controls fine tuning of note pitch. Used to create ‘scoops’ or ‘drops’ at the beginning or end of a note or passage for strings and trombone instruments. Difficult portamento situations can be solved when using pitch bend in conjunction with CC#19.|
|Vibrato intensity||Channel pressure||Controls vibrato intensity in woodwind and brass patches denoted “NV” (including French horn and clarinet). MIDI controller also called “aftertouch”. Some keyboards allow the usage of CC#131 for aftertouch.|