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DallasSteve

What is my Modulation wheel modulating?

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I have a small USB keyboard that I use with Cakewalk.  I also have a full size Yamaha keyboard I can connect, but it's easier to work with the small one.  I guess that falls into the category of Too Much Information.  That's a good song title.  So that USB keyboard has 2 wheels on it, Pitch and Modulation.  The Pitch wheel springs back to the middle while the Modulation wheel doesn't.

I know how to use the Pitch wheel, but I don't know what the Modulation wheel does.  I tried it while I was connected to Cakewalk and the keyboard went crazy with a sound something like a tremolo, but the sound wouldn't go away.  I had to reset the Audio Engine to get it back to normal.  Now I'm afraid to Modulate.  I have Modulaphobia.  Can someone explain what I can modulate and how?

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All the keyboards I have ever had output CC01** from the modulation wheel as per the MIDI Spec.   So, whatever I have mapped to CC01 happens when I move the wheel. In terms of MIDI data, it goes from 0 to 127.

If you have your keyboard going into Cakewalk, most likely the keyboard sends a string of MIDI commands for CC01.  If you record something from the keyboard into Cakewalk and use the mod wheel, when you play it back under most circumstances, Cakewalk will send CC01 back to the keyboard's sound section.

Without more details, it is difficult to say why "the keyboard went crazy."

ADDENDUM: **CC stands for Continuous Controller.  CC01 is a shorthand way of referring to "the parameter that has been assigned the CC value of 1."  For decades the MIDI Spec has had some standard values for certain parameters.  CC07 almost always is used for Volume (or at least it was before some manufacturers went rogue).  CC10 almost always is used for Pan Position.  Pitch Bend is its own data type (i.e., not a CC).

  

Edited by User 905133
to add some basics about CCs
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Thanks for that explanation.  Are there some typical actions that people like to use for that CC01 or is there a list of the possible uses?  I searched the Cakewalk documentation PDF and the text CC01 doesn't appear in my search.

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For plug-ins that process MIDI data

  • some are hardcoded to respond to CC1 is a particular way
  • others allow the user to map CC1 to a function

This should be in the plug-in documentation.

 

CC1 may be used at the DAW level for remote control

 

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From what I have seen the range of uses for Modulation (CC01) early on was rather small--Low Frequency Oscillator (LFO) to something like volume for a tremolo effect where the mod wheel controlled the amount [or depth].  But the range of uses has greatly expanded over the past few decades.  

I have a number of soft synths that use mw (mod wheel) to affect timbre in any of a number of ways, especially brightness / cutoff frequency. Often in contemporary soft synths, different presets will use the wheel to control different effects. In many cases its really up to the individual sound / patch / preset designer.

See  scook's reply

Hardware and Software Documentation will give you more ideas as to how the mod wheel can be used.  BTW, even if a piece of hardware is coded to output CC01 from the wheel, it can be remapped via software.

Edited by User 905133
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