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Boring synth stuff

I’m Just Going to Rant About SynthMaker

This is going to be a boring post. SynthMaker is a modular-type audio environment where you can make your own synths or effects by connecting a bunch of little things together. It’s like Reactor or SynthEdit, and a version comes with FL Studio (woo!). It’s perfect if you have large chunks of life to waste, and smaller chunks to waste on writing about it. Today, I’m going to talk about the specific problem facing me today in SynthMaker.

I have a MIDI keyboard controller, and it has 9 faders and 8 knobs that send CC stuff. Basically, these knobs can control knobs on the screen. Controlling only 17 things is kind of limiting, there are a lot more than 17 things I’d like to control. In some other blog post, I’m pretty sure I wrote about changing the MIDI channels for the knobs on the keyboard to increase the amount of things I could control, but today I wanted to take a new approach. In yet another blog post I ranted about how much I hate digital synthesizers with minimal knobbage and a bunch of pages to scroll through, but I decided to do exactly that, except with software.

Soooo, here’s what I’m trying to do in SynthMaker. All of my 17 knobs and faders will control 17 virtual knobs n stuff on the screen, but one of them will be able to scroll through different ‘pages’ and change what all the other knobs control. On page 1, the knobs control 16 oscillator parameters, on page 2 they control 16 filter parameters and whatever else. The actually knobs that are being turned are always controlling the same virtual knobs, but what those knobs are controlling can change. It’s like… instead of many light switches turning on many lamps, the switches on the lamps are turning on different lights. Actually, that’s a very bad analogy.

To figure all this stuff out, I’m just using two knobs. One controls either the pitch or the volume of a sound, depending on the position of the other knob. These virtual knobs send out numbers from 0 to 1 and those numbers are connected to other stuff. It’s pretty easy to make a switch where the numbers from knob #2 go to different places depending on knob #2. If I turn knob #1 and adjust the pitch and then turn knob #2 so that knob #1 controls the volume, the pitch stays the same, but if I turn knob #1 to adjust the volume and then turn knob #2 to control the pitch again, it automatically ‘jumps’ to where the knob really is, messing up the pitch. What should happen is when I switch back to control the pitch, the pitch only changes after I move the knob that it’s connected to, so when I’m switching pages the different parameters ‘remember’ where they were until I tweak the knob that’s currently controlling them.

I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to do this. Okay I think I did it, mostly by screwing around aimlessly. So, knob #1, or the page knob, sends out numbers from zero to one. These numbers are rounded to the nearest integer (0.5 becomes 1, blah blah blah) and this number is checked to see if it equals 1. If this number is equal to 1, the second knob doesn’t control the pitch, which isn’t what I want, darn. I’m going to end this post now, and keep wasting time.

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