Why MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression) Matters

Developer Geert Bevin shared this video, sharing his take on why MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression) matters.

MPE was ratified as an official extension to MIDI by the MIDI Manufacturers Association in January. It is supported, in preliminary form, by a wide variety of controllers and applications.

The official specification is now available as a download from the MIDI Association site. You need to be a member of The MIDI Association to download, but joining is free.

Bevin is the author of the original MPE spec proposal, when it was known as ‘Multidimensional Polyphonic Expression’, and has contributed to the development of multiple expressive MIDI devices and apps, including the Eigenharp and the Roger Linn LinnStrument.

9 thoughts on “Why MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression) Matters

  1. As a Seaboard owner I appreciate you for doing this video. This is the future an needs to be implemented for all synthesizers and users like us.

  2. The JUCE library fully supports MPE, so with a teeny bit of effort, some 70%+ of plug-ins that use JUCE can be converted to take advantage of MPE.

    Next problem, DAWs, some very well known DAWs do not support MPE. And other major names do.

  3. What is MPE other than having an instrument capable of receiving on multiple consecutive channels? Many instruments have been able to do this for a long time. It’s like having a multitibral synth with all the channels set to the same patch. Am I missing something?

    1. Yeah but pitch and mod wheels affect all voices so holding a chord and rasing volume with pressure or pitch bending or filter sweeping just one note while leaving the other notes in the chord alone is impossible, you can’t even do something simple like slide 2 separate notes in different directions. Controllers like the Linnstrument actually let you use this expression to it’s full potential. Watch some Linnstrument demos on YouTube if you haven’t.

    2. “What is MPE other than having an instrument capable of receiving on multiple consecutive channels?”

      And how many synths are even multi-timbral these days?

      MPE is very simple and based on MIDI 1.0, so it works with some ancient gear. But it’s also designed to be easy to implement – so it’s something you should look for in synths, even if you don’t use an MPE controller now.

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