Can Your Hardware Synth Do This? (PPG WaveGenerator + Voice-Per-Channel MIDI Expression)

This video, via Eigenharpist Geert Bevin, demonstrates a new capability that is under development for WolfGang Palm’s PPG WaveGenerator – voice-per-channel MIDI expression.

Here’s what Bevin has to say about it:

I’ve been helping Wolfgang Palm with adding a new feature to PPG Wavegenerator that allows per-note expression over MIDI, by implementing a voice-per-channel MIDI mode. This is a quick test of the first fully working version he sent me today. It’s short, but I hope it shows the possibilities of this feature with new electronic instruments like the Eigenharp.

Note that this demo is only using one single sound that has independent expression in three axis for each individual note.

I’m using a modified version of the standard ‘Jigsaw Lead’ patch that has up-down movement mapped to per-note filter cutoff (Y movement in PPG), pressure (X movement in PPG) to note volume and left-right movement to per-note pitch with a 5 semitone interval.

At this point, this is a sneak preview of an unreleased feature. But apps like PPG WaveGenerator could make polyphonic synth expression, something that’s largely been limited to rare and expensive synths, into a relatively inexpensive option.

25 thoughts on “Can Your Hardware Synth Do This? (PPG WaveGenerator + Voice-Per-Channel MIDI Expression)

  1. This is exciting as hell (Is hell exciting?)

    Man my head is reeling with possibilities. Damn I need cash I want that freakin Eigenharp too.

    Damn I need money. Now because of you I have to go rob something to get this

    You could send me a demo model Ill be official tester..

    That is a great breakthrough it really is unreachable for the starving musician. When you get this all figured out and running you will be gods in these circles.
    Damn I really am …I am …Just…you know….really I am


    You can build a fire for man to keep him warm for a day or…
    Light the man on fire and not have to listen to his whining anymore

  2. You can up and lower the audio output in the settings with a choice of 22HZ, 32HZ and 44.1HZ. The default is the lower setting wich Prefer. .

  3. mpc 1000 does aftertouch per pad. It’ll be great to use the MPC to control and sample PPG! This is just another reason why we need a drum synth mode though. 🙂

    Seriously, with the velocity mapping combined with the x/y sensitivity the PPG WaveGenerator is capable of some of the most playable/expressive drum synthesis.

      1. Roland Octapad II Pad-80 has the ability to play up to three notes per pad and velocity switching, which allowed the user to either stack or alternate between the assigned notes depending on how hard the pads were struck. These new features were groundbreaking at the time, and are still utilized in Roland’s electronic percussion today. Further improvements to the MIDI specification included the control of modulation, pitch bend and aftertouch using a foot pedal, along with full System Exclusive (SysEx) capability.[3] The Pad-80 had a patch chain function that allowed a series of 32 patches to be arranged in any sequence, eight of these chains could be stored in memory

        1. Yes, that all has absolutely nothing to do with per-note expression over MIDI. What you describe has indeed been done over and over again since those days. Nowadays it’s already rare to find instruments with polyphonic aftertouch (ie. just pressure per note), we’re here talking about two additional expression streams per note where one is at 14-bit resolution (pitch bend).

          It’s kind of funny though that much of your comment is a verbatim copy-paste of the Wikipedia article about the Octapad.

            1. I find it funny since your comment still doesn’t describe anything that explains why the Octopad would be able to achieve electronic expression that is similar to what PPG Wavegenerator and the Eigenharp are capable of. Since I don’t see anything in the features of the Octopad, I searched for it on Wikipedia after your first comment, I still ask you the same question “I’m curious to see how the Roland Octapad would achieve continuous control of three expression parameters individually for each note that is played.”

  4. PPG WaveGenerator can’t even handle plain old virtual MIDI properly, hopefully they will work on some of the basics before spending too much time on this…

    1. That actually has been fixed a few weeks ago and is in the approval queue in the iTunes store. Wolfgang is already moving on to other things since then which I think is great! You can’t really blame Wolfgang for Apple’s slow approval process.

        1. Bug fixes are part of the software development process, applications have grown so complex and prices have come down so much that there’s a real pressure to release early and often. Combine that with really horrible documentation, about how CoreAudio and CoreMidi works and incompatible changes between iOS releases, and bugs become almost a given. If you really want a 100% bug free app (does that even exist), it needs to be tested exhaustively by a professional paid team, prepare to pay at least 10 times the price for it then. The irony is that at that price people would cry outrage because it costs too much. The AppStore model is largely responsible for the expectation of free(mium) software and $30 apps being labeled as expensive, combining that with a model that doesn’t allow for quick bug fixes is Apple’s fault, yes. Additionally there’s always the stress that Apple might not actually approve your update and then you have to spend ages as a developer to figure out why and wait another couple of weeks afterwards.

  5. I was reminded of seeing someone play a ukelele, due to its nice intimacy. I can see the creative draw of this, but I question whether or not the audience will be able to make a connection between the sound and the musician’s actions in generating it. In fact, there is a line of sorts between actually playing and merely ‘generating.’ I found the demo to be very expressive. I’d simply like to hear something less gee-wow over the capabilities and more organic. I’ve heard several people manage it, so the real job, as always, is to reach your listener. To my ear, filter sweeps mainly say “Look, I’m sweeping a filter!”

    1. Seems like the demo then reached its purpose, it really was to clearly show the capabilities from a technical point of view and making it obvious for listeners to identify what’s going on. It absolutely wasn’t intended to be an intimate and emotional musical performance. I got the first working version of that feature literally 30 minutes before recording the video.

  6. Is this going to work as per-voice MIDI out too? I’ve been wanting to be able to use an ipad to control my polyevolver with per channel midi for a while to get that polyphonic legato working on an analogue synth. I’ve been waiting for one of these iPad apps to make it happen. Animoog dropped the ball with their midi out, though they have it in the future plans.

    1. I don’t think there’s any plans for that in PPG WaveGenerator, I suggest you check out GeoSynth, it’s in my mind the most playable iPad instrument and supports voice-per-channel MIDI out very well. As a bonus, after the virtual MIDI fixes it works really well with PPG WaveGenerator as a sound engine too, once this new feature gets released.

      1. This was great news, I bought its and am pretty damn satisfied. I’d think about a few changes for it to be ideal, but definitely as good as it out of what I’ve seen. Thanks for the tip.

    1. It means that each synth voice gets a dedicated MIDI channel, allowing all parameters like pitchbend, CC, … to be sent for the active note on that voice and channel. Other notes will get another voice and MIDI channel, getting different pitchbend and CC messages. Usually all notes are sent on the same MIDI channel, making pitchbend global for all and only allowing poly-aftertouch to provide per-note expression and that at a limited resolution of 7 bits (128 steps).

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