Noob MIDI controller questions...

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mitya33
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Noob MIDI controller questions...

Post by mitya33 » Sun Apr 28, 2019 7:16 pm

Hey guys

This will be a really simple question for someone out there, but I've realised I don't really understand MIDI controllers.

I mean, I get that they are used to send signals to a computer. But the term seems so broad these days.

Take something like the NI Maschine MK3, or Arturia's SparkLE. I keep reading (and watching) that these devices can be used independently of any software. Yet they're called MIDI controllers. Surely if they're capable of being standalone music creators, they're by any definition controllers; they're... well, music making machines. (Terminology fail: I did say I was a noob!)

So can someone please clarify what precisely the definition of MIDI controller is?

On the same topic, could someone help me understand the workflow? I've seen vids (example: https://youtu.be/WudewcRXrfY) where one MIDI controller is hooked up to other MIDI controllers and, say, a riff is played on a keyboard controller and then the performer whacks a button on the "launchpad"-style controller, and that does something e.g. loops the riff. But at that point, who's playing that riff? The keyboard controller or the launchpad? I'm just struggling to understand what the precise role of each piece of kit is in a multi-device setup like this involving multiple controllers.

Thanks a lot in advance!

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meatballfulton
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Re: Noob MIDI controller questions...

Post by meatballfulton » Sun Apr 28, 2019 9:52 pm

mitya33 wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 7:16 pm
Take something like the NI Maschine MK3, or Arturia's SparkLE. I keep reading (and watching) that these devices can be used independently of any software.
No, they are bundled with the software they are designed to control. They are not meant to be used as general purpose controllers. SparkLE is essentially a drum machine, Maschine is a full music production environment.
So can someone please clarify what precisely the definition of MIDI controller is?
Any device that outputs MIDI (digital control data) but doesn't make sound itself. It might be a keyboard controller, a pad based controller or just a box with knobs and sliders.

Many MIDI instruments can be used as controllers, but that is a secondary feature.
I've seen vids (example: https://youtu.be/WudewcRXrfY) where one MIDI controller is hooked up to other MIDI controllers and, say, a riff is played on a keyboard controller and then the performer whacks a button on the "launchpad"-style controller, and that does something e.g. loops the riff. But at that point, who's playing that riff? The keyboard controller or the launchpad?
The Launchpad is a controller device used specifically with Ableton Live. It can be used to trigger recording and playback of what are called clips (which can be looped or not as you choose). So in your example, the performer arms the track to record a clip using the Launchpad, plays the MIDI keyboard to enter the notes so then Ableton Live itself is playing the clip. Then the performer uses the Launchpad to start and stop other clips inside Live to create a sequenced performance in real time.

If you have never used music software before this can be a very confusing concept, bordering on black magic. I suggest you watch beginner tutorials on Ableton Live to understand the basics of how it works.
I listened to Hatfield and the North at Rainbow. They were very wonderful and they made my heart a prisoner.

mitya33
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Re: Noob MIDI controller questions...

Post by mitya33 » Tue Apr 30, 2019 10:02 pm

Thanks for your reply and for the information.

I get it now. It's frustrating how the manufacturers don't go to more lengths to do total noob-oriented material and vids. I watched the Maschine video totally in the belief that it was a standalone box. It's like they make these vids with the assumption that everyone out there is already deep into the hobby and just 'knows' this stuff. Which may largely be the case, but some noob support would be appreciated!

Thanks again.

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