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Topic: Piano Key Touch Playback Settings (Read 642 times) previous topic - next topic

Piano Key Touch Playback Settings

I have tried asking this earlier, and have tried every setting I can think of in NWC, but to no avail.  So, here I am trying again:

When writing for piano, I want to be able to adjust the touch in a way that affects the MIDI playback.  However, whatever I try, it only seem to affect the playback volume.  The key touch remains the same. I does not come out softer or harder.

Any suggestions? 

Re: Piano Key Touch Playback Settings

Reply #1
I think this was when you asked "I need to make the piano sound (a lot) softer" some time back.

By definition of a real piano, there is no way to do this. You cannot go to a Bösendorfer grand and tell it "play softer" (with the keys pressed the same as before). The only thing that the piano player can change (besides timing and pedals, of course) is the velocity of the hammer striking the string.

With electronic equivalents, the rules could be arbitrarily different - but they mostly aren't, or aren't in a simple way: I.e., a computer simulation of a piano could do anything it likes with the MIDI commands it gets. But this behaviour is outside the realm of NWC - you need to use the right piano synthesizer. There are at least hundreds of piano synthesizers out there - from simple soundfonts (where you cannot change the softness, because they are typically recorded from a single instrument; but you can select the soundfont you like) to elaborate software "virtual instruments" that simulate the physics of a real piano, which have typically many parameters to adjust the overall sound - so you should be able to change softness with such a beast.

So, if you want to select the right softness, you need to find a synthesizer (be it a soundfont or a virtual instrument software) with the softness you want (on a software, you might - as I saied - be able to control it with some GUI controls). If you want to change the softness in the course of a piece, you either need to use a virtual instrument that can do that (typically, virtual instruments allow you to change all their parameters with NRPN messages), or you must change between various instruments (which would then be mapped to e.g. different soundfonts that you collected and selected beforehand) along the way with instrument changes.

Just as examples, on my Casio keyboard, I have about 10 different pianos from which I can select; on my small Yamaha synthesizer, I have more than 20 (I think), and I can (or could) control about 12 parameters of them - I never tried out all of them; and here on my laptop, I have some 10 or so piano soundfonts. Among all these, there are very soft ones, and very hard ones, and some that are soft in the lower range and harder in the upper range ... I select what I find necessary; and I could even change between them along a piece with NWC instrument changes - but I have not yet done that.

Summing up: Welcome to the infinite and, for me, horrifyingly large world of sound production. It can cost you a lifetime, and a fortune ...

H.M.

Re: Piano Key Touch Playback Settings

Reply #2
I have tried asking this earlier, and have tried every setting I can think of in NWC, but to no avail.  So, here I am trying again:

When writing for piano, I want to be able to adjust the touch in a way that affects the MIDI playback.  However, whatever I try, it only seem to affect the playback volume.  The key touch remains the same. I does not come out softer or harder.

Any suggestions? 
As H.M. mentioned, the MIDI parameter that is relevant is called "velocity" and is the most direct analog to key touch available in the MIDI definition.

By default NWC uses velocity to manage dynamics.  I.E. when a dynamic {E.G. piano (p), forte (f), mezzopiano (mp) etc.} is applied the channel volume is unaltered, BUT the velocity is changed.  Think about velocity as being how fast the key is struck/pressed.  For a real piano this will directly translate to how hard the key is struck, as speed and force are directly related.  I.E. you can't strike the key hard without striking fast, and just the same you can't really strike a key softly without striking it slowly - do not confuse this with playing fast or slowly - the two are not the same thing.

Tina Billett's explanation here:
https://nwc-scriptorium.org/helpful/dynamics.pdf
dynamics.pdf: https://nwc-scriptorium.org/helpful.html#Explanations
is absolutely invaluable. and I highly recommend you study it.

IMPORTANT NOTE:
don't expect any MIDI synth to be able to accurately emulate any real world instrument.  Some are closer than others, but if you ask a brass player if they've ever found a brass patch that sound right they'll laugh at you (or maybe cry).  Ditto strings players WRT string patches etc.  The same is going to apply to piano patches.  Velocity is what you've got, though careful manipulation of velocity, volume and articulations MAY help.
I plays 'Bones, crumpets, coronets, floosgals 'n youfonymums - 'n I'm lernin' tubies now too