Ribbons Ondes Martenot Inspired iOS App Updated With MPE Output

Olympia Noise Co. let us know that Ribbons – their Ondes Martenot inspired instrument for iOS – has been updated to support MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE) output.

Here’s what they have to say about the update:

Ribbons is now universal, supporting iPhone 5s and newer, and adding support for MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE) output.

On the iPhone, Ribbons now can map touch pressure (Z-Axis) to control various parameters of the synth, including LFO Depth and Rate, Wavetable, Volume, and Filter setting. Z-Axis can also be used to send MPE control messages. Z-Axis is only available on devices that support 3D Touch (iPhone 6 and newer).

When Ribbons (née Ondes) launched in 2014, MPE was not yet a MIDI standard, so the implementation of the MIDI output was a bit of hack; Each finger could be mapped to a unique MIDI Port and Channel, allowing each touch to control a different MIDI destination. While this mode is still available (“Classic mode”), Ribbons now supports the MPE MIDI standard, allowing you to use the unique Ribbons interface to control MPE synths like Moog Model D and Model 15.

Pricing and Availability

Ribbons is available for US $4.99.

5 thoughts on “Ribbons Ondes Martenot Inspired iOS App Updated With MPE Output

  1. Anyone know how many levels of touch pressure the iPhone generates? Do the apps generally do 128 levels (7-bit MIDI) or can they do more? I’m an Android-phone dude (and iPad) but wondering if this Z axis stuff is any good.

    1. Yes. Z-axis sensitivity is very good on iPhone 6S and up:

      Alexis Gallagher reports: “The raw force values are in a range from zero to six and 2/3…. [edit] The reported force resolution is very precise. It’s on the order of 0.2% of the total range of force that it reports. If you look at the fractions you get back and then assume that those floating point numbers are actually representations of fractions, we’re seeing 600 possible values”

      Source: https://academy.realm.io/posts/alexis-gallagher-3d-touch-swift/

  2. Music apps on IOS generally do less than 127 values on velocity and very few do anything at all with pressure or aftertouch. The ones that do never come close to these pressure values quoted above – they rarely ever do seven bits reliably, let alone more. And aftertouch is a mishmash of finger-size and hold-time cludges, if that – usually it goes unimplemented on the Apple screen.

    I use this stuff all the time, but MPE on the screens themselves is not a thing right now. There are apps that do certain things on-screen, but MPE really requires an external controller with that kind of capability to use the few apps with MPE software support.

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