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jkoseattle

Channel confusion and EastWest Play

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Though I've been a Cakewalk user for decades, I must admit I've never really understood most of the Midi Channel/bank/input/output stuff. I click around on settings until things work. I just bought EastWest ComposerCloud and now I am determined to figure this out.

I have had a single orchestral EastWest library for years, so I'm familiar with Play. In Play, I have always just selected the Master instrument which includes lots of keyswitches to change articulations for the instrument. This was convenient, but keyswitches in general present all kinds of other problems. I have learned I can load multiple "Elements" instruments onto a track and assign each to a different Midi Channel. OK, so 1) Why do I want to do this when I can just use keyswitches to change to whatever articulation I want in the moment, and 2) If I load, say, legato strings into Channel 1 and then pizz into Channel 2, the Track Inspector still wants me to dedicate a track to a specific channel, so I don't understand how I can switch channels during playback. Even though two patches are loaded into the instrument the track is using, I can only assign that track to a single channel anyway.  Or am I misunderstanding some basic concept?

How is this supposed to be done?

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You might be able to use multiple channels for this. You can choose them on the synth. You need to use the multi version of the synth. Personally, I use EWSO, but just a handful of instruments, so I just need one Play instance and I don't worry about key-switching as I like the articulations I choose. I use other libraries for strings, so I don't have to worry about all those articulations that EWSO has. This stuff can get really complicated, and I like to keep things as simple as possible. But multiple outputs might be the solution here.

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JKO,

Fellow EW Play user here. More than one way to skin a cat, that’s for sure. So-called articulation switching is a major workflow issue, which varies significantly between DAWs.  EW provides the Master/Elements patches so users can work however they prefer, depending to some degree on which DAW they use. Cubase, for ex., offers “Expression Maps”, which purports to simplify matters. I would love to see CbB introduce something similar. In the meantime, you are correct - if you use the Master patch, you MUST use Keyswitches, which as you  noted, adds complexity and undesired consequences (notation is scrambled with non-musical Keyswitch “notes”, for ex.) You also have to be very careful where you place the Keyswitches in the time line, and make sure you start the transport before all applicable keyswitch notes. This is how I usually work, and it’s a pain.  The alternative; using multiple tracks with different articulations/patches, I find is worse. It’s non-musical, and a workflow killer.  You have to parse out your musical lines to multiple tracks, by copy/paste/duplicate, then mute or delete unwanted notes. Total pain in my view, so I choose the lesser evil of keyswitches.

I don’t think multiple outs will solve your problem; that’s more of a routing/mixing/busing tool. The other issue is how many instances of Play to use. Widely debated. I tend to load one instance per group of similar instruments. Either violins, violas, cellos, etc., or Winds/Brass/Strings/Perc., etc. depending on how big and involved the project. Track Templates are a life saver!

HTH!

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Thank you for the great responses. I'm slowly putting this together.

So, up till now I have been creating a separate PLAY instance for every instrument I use in a piece, and that often includes a full orchestra. So my Synth Rack view has this long list of several dozen instruments. Now, in learning about ComposerCloud, I'm seeing I can put multiple instruments on a single instance of PLAY, and assign them to different Midi channels.

My apparent misconception has been that I would load multiple articulations of, say, violins, and then use some sort of Midi event to swap Midi channel mid-piece, which made me wonder how this would be different from using keyswitches. Now I realize that loading multiple instruments into a single instance is a resources issue, plus I would now have one set of mixing controls in the PLAY UI that would affect all instruments in that instance. Aha!

So, as Rhenn brought up, I guess it makes sense to put all related instruments on a single instance so that I can control it like a bus, and use the Master keyswitch instruments so that I can switch articulations on the fly. Yeah?

Rhenn: If you are using elements patches instead of Master (keyswitch) patches, what happens when you're working on something and you realize that the patch you have sounds wrong because the articulation is wrong? Like say you have a smooth legato string thing, and there comes a point where you decide you need them to move fast. Do you then have to add another track for the fast passage? Why wouldn't you just load the keyswitchable patch in the first place? I don't get that.

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Jko,

Welcome to my world. No easy answers, but you are on the right track. Re:your ?s:

1: Yes. Use EW Master patches to switch arts on the fly. Masters use more resources but so does uploading lots of Elements.  No free lunch. I use 64gb ram which helps but is overkill most of the time. Note you can unload individual arts in the Play window until if/when you need them. Again, saving everything the way you like it in a Track Template is the way to go.

7 hours ago, jkoseattle said:

Why wouldn't you just load the keyswitchable patch in the first place? I don't get that.

2: If you are low on memory or CPU, you can just load the Elements you need.  When you get a full orchestra going w/>100 tracks, it starts to add up. And yes if you have a slow legato patch loaded and need fast legato or whatever, you have to add another track with an appropriate patch.  That’s why orchestral mock-ups can have hundreds or even thousands of tracks, using multiple master/slave computers. 

I use EWSO, HW Strings, Cinematic Studio Strings, Spitfire Chamber Strings, and many others. All work and respond differently which makes this even more challenging. But it keeps getting better all the time, so keep at it until you find your way forward.

I just ran across the following old forum thread about using CbB Drum Maps as a key switch mechanism. Brilliant idea, but complicated to setup. I’m traveling today but plan to implement asap. Will report back if I have any success.

http://forum.cakewalk.com/m/tm.aspx?m=3733731&p=1#msg3733731

(See Bristol Jonesey’s detailed instructions)

The other idea to copy midi clips to the media browser is also interesting but is much less robust. Still worth trying.

Good luck!

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EastWest Play supports up to 16 midi channels, much like the hardware synths of old. Each midi channel can have one patch, and each patch can be a unique instrument or you can assign different articulations of an instrument to different midi channels. However, by default, all output will go to a single audio track. Depending on how you mix, this may not be a problem for you. For example, I normally bounce individual midi tracks one at a time to separate audio tracks and then mix those. This allows me complete control over each instrument and/or articulation during the mix process. I believe you can route each midi track to a separate audio output if you want to mix with the live VSTi in place.

As for how many instances to load, that is completely up to you and may depend on your machine's capabilities. Sonar/Cakewalk generally assigns every VSTi to a single core. Depending on the instruments loaded in an instance, you may only be able to load 8-10 before you have latency artifacts when all of the instruments loaded play at the same time.

Dan

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Thanks for the great explanation. This is my thinking, tell me if it's possible or if I'm way off.

First, to answer you comments, I am thinking of the keyswitch master instruments for all the orchestral stuff, and having each section in its own instance, so for example, instance 1 would have an instance called "Winds", with Flute KS Master on channel 1 , Clarinet KS Master on channel 2 etc. Given the trade-offs people are pointing out in this thread, I think I might just as well stay with the KNOWN inconvenience of sing lots of keyswitches. Not a biggie.

For more unusual instruments, I'm going to play it by ear though for now. I've found that the orchestral instruments use keyswitches more heavily than everything else, so my methods may change when keyswitches aren't involved as much. 

Lastly, there are some instruments which will have multiple options, but I will probably only choose one. Piano, for example, CCX has at least half a dozen I love, but different pieces call for different pianos. What I'd love to do is put all the pianos I like on a single instance, assign them all to different midi channels, and then simply set my track's channel to the piano I wanted. My worry about that though is that CbB will still load every piano at startup. Is there a way to assign instruments to an instance and tell them not to load automatically, so that I can just load it if I need it? Another example of this would be with the rock instruments, guitar bass and drums.

So is it possible to load a bunch of stuff in a single instance but not have them load automatically?

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Your plan to load the KS Masters will work, but is resource intensive if you load a lot of instruments.  Keep in mind you can unload any articulations you don’t need from the Play Instrument window. Cakewalk will remember the settings when you save the project. You can always reload any arts if/when you need them later. See attached screenshot.  Check out pgs 66-68 of Play 6 manual for helpful info.

Re: not loading individual instruments inside a single Play instance, depending on the instrument, you might be able to use the same technique: Load all the instruments you want, then selectively uncheck the “load” boxes in the Play interface.  Not sure if all instruments have that option though. Or, try unchecking ALL mic positions - that might unload all samples? Lastly, you could try doing a purge with an empty project from the Plan min menu.  Hopefully one of those methods will work - I’m not at my DAW so I can’t confirm.

If all else fails, you can use the Synth Rack on/off switch to deactivate individual Play instances.  IIRC the Synth Rack has to be floating or docked in the MultiDock for the “power switch” to appear in upper left hand corner. In your example, load each piano in a separate instance. Point your midi track to each instance in turn until you find the sound you want, then turn off the ones you don’t want. You could save that setup as a template for future use.

 

D4CA3875-9728-49DC-9DA3-E573732B3728.jpeg

  • Great Idea 1

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@Rhenn - This gave me a lot to think about and try out. There doesn't seem to be an elegant solution for this though. Not only does unchecking all mic positions not prevent the instrument from taking a lot of loading time, once it's loaded with no mic positions, then turning one on doesn't work. I had to unload the whole instance and start over. So much for that.

I think rather than pre-load things, my approach is going to be to make liberal use of the Comments field for the instruments in the Play Browser, as one can filter on text in those comments. Then I can search on "MyClarinet" for example, read through the comments I've written for each, and hopefully be able to make a decent choice without having to audition a bunch of them. I tried this approach today starting with the dozen or so pianos I found in Composer Cloud. 

One other thing I don't understand, however. If I load multiple instruments into a single instance and assign different Midi channels to them, then when I bounce to audio, CbB just bounces everything in that instance to the single Synth track. This is true even if I set the instance to All Synth Outputs Stereo. I thought I have done this before with drums, how do I separate them out at bounce time?

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JKO, Re: separate bounces: Let’s assume we have: 1 Play instance with say 5 instruments loaded. CbB is setup with separate midi tracks (5), and 1 audio track pointed to the Play main outs.  (NOT setup as a single Instrument Track, IOW). Since there’s only one audio track, anything we bounce/freeze has no where to go but to the one audio track. In order to have discrete bounces for each instrument, we must setup multiple audio tracks in CbB, one for each output we want to address in Play.  So we must add 4 more audio tracks (for a total of 5), and point each track input to the corresponding output in Play. You may not have noticed in the lower right hand corner of the Play Instrument GUI there is an output selector drop down box. That’s where we select the independent outputs for each instrument which we will send to the CbB audio tracks.  

In this scenario we wind up with 2 tracks for each instrument, 1 midi, 1 audio. And even more if we use dedicated  keyswitch tracks. Which is a lot of tracks, so track folders come in handy, as does the Track Manager for hiding tracks in TV and/or Console.  And, since there’s a fair amount of work involved in setting this all up, Track Templates are indispensable.

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Addendum to last post:  "Add Track" dialog makes this easier: Select Split Instrument Track, All Stereo option.  This will create 8 stereo audio tracks pre-patched to Play, but just 1 midi track. So you still have to add the additional midi tracks for each instrument.  I setup a test project and loaded 4 pianos in Play.  Setup the 1st midi track, then duplicated, then changed midi channel for each and labeled the tracks.  Just delete any unneeded tracks. Screenshot below.  (BTW, I can deactivate/reactivate all mic positions  in Play without issue on my system.)  Not sure why you can't - could be memory or config issue.  Are you using SSDs for your sample drives?

Mults.PNG

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When bouncing, solo the midi track you want to bounce, then bounce to a new track. After it is bounced, archive the midi track and move on to the next one.

Dan

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