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Video Tutorial: Using key switches to add articulation

The earliest sample-based instruments tended to have one sample for each note, leading to a “machine gun” effect with rapid retriggering. The drum part for New Order’s Blue Monday is a classic example of this, although, (ironically), it was meant to be an echo style effect, but the Linn Drum they were using kept crashing and they forgot to reprogram the dynamics at the crucial moment. With the growth of multi-sample instruments, samples are played on a “round robin” basis, each successive note triggering a different sample, so that there is variation in the sound, in an effort to generate a more human performance.

But musicians don’t only play with slight differences in intonation and attack, they also bring an arsenal of playing styles and techniques to bear. We can emulate vibrato with the pitch bend wheel, tremolo with the modulation wheel, but it’s not always straightforward. The current generation of sample based VSTi’s such as Kontakt have a solution – using keys outside the normal range of the instrument to switch to a wholly different set of samples, for example going from legato string playing to pizzicato. In this video, I look at the articulations available in Broomstick Bass and how to write those key switches into an existing MIDI part.

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