Get More From Your Gear With ‘MIDI Hacking’

The latest loopop video takes a look at the art of MIDI hacking – manipulating MIDI signals in realtime to expand the ways you can use your hardware.

Previous loopop videos have used MIDI hacking to play melodies with samples on the Novation Circuit, turn the Korg Electribe 2 into a 3 oscillator synth, add CC to CV functionality to the Arturia BeatStep Pro, all things that can’t be done out of the box with those devices.

With the earlier videos, Lemur scripting was used. This demo looks at using the Bome Box and MIDI Translator Pro to do this sort of live MIDI manipulation.

Here’s what loopop has to say about the video:

This time I decided to see if I could extend the capabilities of Elektron’s Analog Four. The A4 is an amazing synth with four analog voices which can either play different sounds each, play one sound with up to 4 voices polyphonically, or any combination in between.

However, with this “MIDI hack” it can do more.

Each of the A4’s voices has 2 oscillators. Out of the box, you can’t configure these voices to be played separately with the internal keys or an external keyboard. You can manually step sequence each of the oscillators using parameter locking, but that precludes real time play and is hard to do using a tuning knob.

That’s where this short 3 line script saves the day. With it, you can play each of the 4 voices of the A4 paraphonically with a simple keyboard split on an external MIDI keyboard.

Playing paraphonically has a different character than playing two separate notes. Both notes share the same envelope, filter and fx, which is a limitation, but actually gives the music created a unique feel, similar to what can be done on the Moog Sub 37.

With this short script you can potentially turn your A4 to a “paraphonic A8”, by applying this script to all 4 voices.

This should work on the Analog Keys as well, but you would need an external keyboard for that.

If you’re doing this sort of ‘MIDI hacking’, share the details on what you’re doing in the comments!

11 thoughts on “Get More From Your Gear With ‘MIDI Hacking’

  1. I wouldn’t call it “hacking” if you are doing things with the tech that it was originally designed to handle. Write some code or solder some hardware, and we can start to call it “hacking”.

    Names aside though, it’s great to see people digging deeper into what can be done with gear and sharing it with others!

  2. Wow, didn’t know about the Bome box, only about the Bome software for actual computers. This is very interesting, and allows for a lot of opportunities (such as blocking active sensing (bye bye Yamaha MIDI), selecting of or surpressing of MIDI clock messages from specific inputs etc. etc.), for those that decide not to use computers on stage.
    Until now I’ve only heard of the Yamaha MEP4 or the midisolutions.com devices capable of doing something in this direction. Cool, and thanks for posting.

  3. Fine and good with newer gear. With older gear, regardless of the level of midi implementation, you are always a slave to CPU processing power, which gets bogged down with too much incoming data. Strangely though some synths respond way faster than others from the same era.

  4. Just get yourself an Arduino and use the MIDI Library to do the same thing. Cool idea though to just control the tuning parameter. I bet some people who are good with MAX can do the same too.

    1. Pure Data is free MAX alternative and doing midi stuff with it is pretty easy. I think arduino is more complex for similar tasks since you have to making physical connections (soldering DIN connectors etc). Also if you need USB MIDI i guess it will be harder to make with arduino, maybe teensy board is more suitable.

  5. This would get really interesting if you could do 4 voices of duophony on a single patch (is that even a thing?), but the voice/oscillator assignment would be confusing for the player (how much that matters probably depends on the patch and style of playing) and it would probably require jumping through hurdles for patch editing.

    That said, the A4 has been very attractive to me for a while, but imagining working with four independent duophonic voices strikes an even more attractive balance of flexibility with creative constraints.

  6. PatchMorpher (no longer available) made it possible to play the Moog Voyager paraphonically, controlling the pitch of the 3 oscillators individually. The difficulty turned out to be that due to their analogue nature, different Voyagers are not quite tuned the same and so what sounded perfectly tuned on my Voyager didn’t always sound so great on other people’s so you’d need to be able to fine-tune the MIDI “fine tune” controller. It also sounds a bit weedy and thin. But anyway, worthwhile trying if you’re into MIDI hacking!

    1. Patch morpher does not work on iOS 11, and we’re deeply missing it… This app should be ported to 64 bits since it was the best of its kind

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