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How do I MPE?

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Just bought myself a Sensel touchpad controller and am trying to wrap my brain around this whole new world of MPE and how it relates to Kyma. I have a few questions:

  • Can I use KymaConnect or do I have to plug the Sensel directly into the Pacarana?
  • Is there a sound in the library that utilizes MPE so I can see how my Sensel is interfacing with Kyma?
  • When using MIDI voice how do I get polyphonic aftertouch?


asked Sep 14, 2020 in Controllers, OSC & MIDI by jeffhinton (Practitioner) (570 points)
edited Sep 14, 2020 by jeffhinton

1 Answer

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KymaConnect passes MPE MIDI commands correctly to and from the Pacarana without modification unless you have explicitly set some of its MIDI filtering and channel mapping, which is disabled by default. So it is "MPE neutral".

MPE though expects a  device in the set up that is responsible for sending the correct commands to the MPE controller to configure it for proper operation. One of the most important parts of this set up information is informing the MPE controller how many touches (voices) the sound supports. If the MPE controller is configured for more touches than the sound generator expects there will be missing touches (notes). A few MPE controllers provide all the necessary set up through their preferences or configuration screens but many do not and must be set up remotely through MPE configuration MIDI commands.

Typically the command device that sets up the MPE controller is a central application like a DAW. The Kyma application in conjunction with the Pacarana serve in this capacity in a Kyma set up.

For this to work though Kyma needs to know that it has an MPE controller attached. There is not a "are you a MPE controller" command in the MPE standard. This means that the presence of a MPE controller must be detected by more indirect means such as through looking for specific SYSEX responses to SYSEX queries or other means.

Kyma does this sort of thing to recognize the Linnstrument, and Roli Seaboard when it is USB connected direct to the Pacarana. It does not currenty recognize the Sensel.

Once Kyma has determined that it has a MPE controller sending MIDI it automatically changes how the MIDI Voice sound treats incoming MIDI. It supports MPE X-axis commands mapped to per-touch continuous pitch change, MPE Z-axis to continuous !Velocity, and MPE Y-axis to continous !Timbre. So it more or less just works as expected, provided the Kyma Sound was set up to take advantage of those parameters.

Polyphonic Aftertouch is not part of the MPE specification. It is not sent for MPE touches. MPE uses one MIDI channel per touch and sends Channel Aftertouch for the Z-axis. It does not use Polyphonic Aftertouch.
answered Sep 15, 2020 by delora-software (Master) (5,520 points)
Thank you for the thorough answer. I feel like I have a much better understanding of MPE now. I guess I'll have to remain vanilla MIDI for now, although the Sensel does allows you to assign CC numbers to various parameters, which I think will come in handy. Cheers!