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Why so many ribbon controller assignments?

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Rebecca Turner
Posts: 0
Eminent Member
Topic starter

In my MODX I notice that many preset patches have at least one modulation source as a ribbon controller. Why is this, when the MODX has no such controller and there are spare knob controls going unused? It means having to re-assign the controller.

Posted : 28/03/2023 1:45 pm
Posts: 773
Prominent Member

In my MODX I notice that many preset patches have at least one modulation source as a ribbon controller. Why is this, when the MODX has no such controller and there are spare knob controls going unused?

As I think you know only Yamaha can provide a definitive answer for 'why' questions.

But a likely explanation is that the performance was originally designed for the Montage which does have a ribbon controller.

It was then loaded 'as is' onto the Modx.

It means having to re-assign the controller.

You only need to re-assign the controller if you want a controller to do whatever 'unknown' thing(s) the ribbon controller was doing in the first place.

So, for me, the bigger issue is that Yamaha just plain doesn't document what their performances, arpeggios and other components really do.

Bad Mister has said many times that Yamaha has both their own team and 3rd parties develop content for their instruements.

I've never understood why they don't just have the developer provide a 1 or 2 page description of just what their performance/arp/other does and what features it is highlighting.

The developer know EXACTLY what they put in their offering and how to take advantage of it so it shouldn't be much of a burden to have them document it.

Posted : 28/03/2023 4:10 pm
Bad Mister
Posts: 12304

It was decided that MONTAGE compatibility was important for the MODX. Andrew is correct, the sound library for the MODX (2018) was initially developed for the MONTAGE (2016) and both include 1354 Single Part programs from the Motif XF (which also featured a Ribbon).

Programmers were tasked with using the wealth of available controllers. Imagine the response of a MONTAGE owner if nothing was programmed to the Ribbon. (Buying a programmable synthesizer, one would think programming it is part of the reason you purchased it. Just saying).

Best Practice:
Navigate to the Part > “Edit”
Touch “Mod/Control” > “Control Assign”
Set the “Display Filter” = Ribbon
This will recall all Control Set “Destinations” that are assigned to the Ribbon.
By tapping the box “Source” you can change the “Ribbon” to whatever Controller you like.
Rinse and repeat (if multiple Destinations are assigned to the Ribbon).

Alternate methods:
From the HOME screen
Press [EDIT]
Touch “Control” > “Control Number”
The “Ribbon” defaults to cc16, by setting a Controller to match (cc16) it becomes the Ribbon.

You’ll find that whatever is assigned to the Ribbon may already be assigned to another controller.
If you have a Smart device - find an App that can send cc messages… setting cc16 will give you a Ribbon via MIDI.

BTW — The MODX doesn’t have Aftertouch capability… but can respond to it

I've never understood why they don't just have the developer provide a 1 or 2 page description of just what their performance/arp/other does and what features it is highlighting.

Adding a 1 page description for each Performance would add, over 2,000 pages to the Data List manual. 2,227 MODX Factory Performances
Adding a 2 page description would add over 4,000 pages to the manual.
That might be the reason…

The developer know EXACTLY what they put in their offering and how to take advantage of it so it shouldn't be much of a burden to have them document it.

Instead of providing “the fish”, perhaps providing a methodology to learn to fish yourself is better (or should at least be considered)… A series of guides that helps the user navigate and review what a program is capable of doing. Additionally, Yamaha provides a musical example that audibly (and visually) auditions each Factory sound.

The “Mastering MODX Series” of articles starts with simple concepts (and examples are not so busy that you can’t hear what’s going on) so that they focus on a specific type of assignment, one by one — making it easier to grasp the topic and the concept…. If you go through the tutorials you emerge with a wealth of information and details on how the assignments work.

But if you attempt to take a complex Factory programmed Performance that is doing two dozen different things simultaneously and learn by deconstructing it — that’s going to be more difficult without an understanding of the basic concepts…. by the time a programmer has assigned as many 16 Source/Destinations on each Part of a 5-Part Performance, it becomes very difficult to hear and learn exactly what is going on) but if you start with simple step-by-step topics… Navigation being the key…when you see it used in a complex Factory Performance, you will recognize what is going on.

Folks (musicians especially) don’t read manuals - Yamaha opted to put the information about each program in the program itself, and provides documents that will help you learn “how to explore”.

Don’t be afraid to push that [AUDITION] button, be sure to follow the “light-show” — the Audition data for 95% of the Performances is played in real-time and is MIDI data stored in ROM. You can see when the player turns on an Assign Switch, or selects a Scene button, or turns an Assign Knob or turns the Super Knob…

imho… this is not only more practical, but likely to be more useful.… Arpeggios, you are provided with best possible information - the instrument it is intended for, the genre, the program that was originally used to create it, the number of measure in the Phrase, if it has additional SFX or Accent articulations, they even give you a clue to where it might be used (as a fill-in, or break, or main section), and a hint at the complexity.

Trying to describe one Bass Arp from another, or one guitar riff from another, or one drum groove from another… using word!!! ? please go ahead…what other information would you include.
No matter how good and how detailed your written description… you will still have to play it (hear it) to know it’s going to work in your musical situation… n’est pas?

Posted : 28/03/2023 5:53 pm
Posts: 773
Prominent Member

Adding a 1 page description for each Performance would add, over 2,000 pages to the Data List manual. 2,227 MODX Factory Performances
Adding a 2 page description would add over 4,000 pages to the manual.
That might be the reason…

Yes - really! And I'm not grinning

Common business practice is to provide, and work towards, a spec. I wouldn't think of hiring a contractor to provide a piece of work without having a spec document that outlines what was actually in the content the contractor delivered.

So creating such a short decscription should have been part of the deliverable to Yamaha from the start. I certanly understand that 20 years ago, before the internet, it wasn't cost effective for Yamaha to actually DELIVER that content.

But in this day and age it is a simple thing to do to provide downloadable content like that.

Instead of providing “the fish”, perhaps providing a methodology to learn to fish yourself is better

I think of it more like Yamaha providing the info about what kind of 'fish' are in the pond so we know what kind of 'bait' to use.

Folks (musicians especially) don’t read manuals

Sure they do - when they want to know the details about a specific performance they would certainly read a one-pager written by the musician that created it.

What they will NOT read is a collection of data (like the Data List) that doesn't have the relevant search data that lets you use that data efficiently and effectively.

Arpeggios, you are provided with best possible information

Simply not true - I doubt if you can find anyone, musician or not, that would agree with that.

The Arpgeggios are, perhaps, the BEST example that supports what I said. There is an almost total lack of needed information.

Not only is there NO info about what any arpeggio does there isn't even a simple Nomenclature that explains the arcane na;mes used. Consider pages 142/143 of the Data List doc.

I challenge ANY musician at any level to understand what these are and how they differ

Wobble 1, 2,3,4,5
GateL1, 2, . . . 20 How does Gate L12 differ from GateL17? I'm supposed to try each of them to see if I can tell the difference?

GateM1,2,... 20 How do the M gates differ from the L gates?

GateS1,2,... 20 How do these S gates differ from the L and M?

What is the significance of the numbers 1-20 in the names other than to provide a unique name?

SlicePhrase1,2,3,... 8
Slice 16, 32
Slice Fill1

PumpingCtrl S, M, L, P
Pan Efx4CRL, Pan Efx4LCR

Only the combo of 'Pan' and CRL' suggests that it might pan from Center, then Right and then Left but who knows.

Yamaha has this info but won't provide it.

So sad!

10,000 arpeggios and no info at all about what any of them really do and no way to even find them.

It isn't that hard to create a spreadsheet with filters for the various attributes.

My honest opinion is that Yamaha could get a LOT more mileage out of their current offerings it there was more documentation about just what was in those offerings.

Which performances use the Ribbon? Who knows.
Which performances use the SuperKnob? Who knows.

Posted : 28/03/2023 6:34 pm
Posts: 7905
Illustrious Member

I've suggested that, should Yamaha elect to do it, that adding documentation for each Performance would be helpful. The best documentation would be nuanced by the original programmer. The model of this is similar to the release notes for the Chick Corea library where every Performance has a nice description of what you can knob/ribbon(for Montage)/etc. On the other end of the spectrum - and still useful - would be an automated manual that just spits out some tables of what controllers were used vs. assignment. Doesn't need ratios or curves or all that necessarily. You'd be able to more easily answer the question of what Performances demonstrate aftertouch. None of the auditions can "show" aftertouch unless you have a MIDI monitor and are more technically savvy (or patient) than "most musicians". However, still a better grasp of the assignments and Part utilization would be helpful and all of that could be scripted to get to the docs. Even J Melas could do this -- or maybe there's already a view in his tools that visualizes this and somehow you can run a report that'd run through all preset Performances. I don't know. At any rate - for us programmers the project is sitting there waiting should anyone outside Yamaha elect to make it happen. It'd be better coming from the source - but ...

I've also suggested that arpeggios have a guide. The way you would describe the pattern would be exactly how Yamaha has already conveyed arpeggio details in the tutorials. Musical staff. Add some key other items to summarize like the "type" of arpeggio (there are a few different variants that "act" differently). If there's an accent phrase then show what that is on a second staff. Arpeggios are way more complex than I'm going to type -- so I recognize the challenge in coming up with a system that represents "everything". I'm OK with leaving some details on the table just to reduce scope of work.

I find the current information to be helpful when I need that information. Often I do - so I'm not knocking what is provided currently. I also appreciate that it fits in a list that's easy to run through. Any additional information for Arpeggios in its own appendix/book/etc would be good gravy.

I think it's reasonable to convey that this information would help musicians more quickly harness the potential of their gear. That's a good thing. So there's no harm or foul in the ask.

And then, the response we get as "no, not going to do it" is reasonable as well. No help in those departments - pony up. It's a lot of work to develop the documentation, even if automated, because you'd want the documentation team to check what the script spit out to make sure nothing went off the rails. That's thousands of pages of content to edit. I get it. Reasonable "no".

... still, customers will keep asking for what would make their use of the product more productive/enjoyable. You don't always get what you ask for - but eventually something might eventually happen. Wishing well.

On "who knows" ....

I had a script I used to figure out how many performances used aftertouch (I believe -- it was something). I think I summarized the results for the firmware at the time. So finding out which Performances have ribbon or use superknob is not that huge of a task for the programming/sysex experts. I could answer both of those questions in a few days (hypothetically).

Posted : 28/03/2023 8:59 pm
Posts: 7905
Illustrious Member

BTW: an example table might be

Part 1
1: AKC1 - P. Pitch (SNC - CAK3)
2: MWC - P. LFO Speed
3. EFC5 - P. Volume
4. ATC - E. 1,2,3 Coarse

Where AKC = assignable knob (controller), MWC = modwheel, EFC = envelope follower, ATC = aftertouch and so on. Maybe slightly longer than two characters to make searching have less hits on words with the same letter combinations. At any rate - you could search for "AKC" and this would find all of the documentation Performances/Parts with any use of an assignable knob 1-8.

SNC - CAK3 is superknob (controller) is assigned to common assignable knob 3 which is assigned to Part 1 assignable knob 1 which has a destination of Part (P.) pitch. The "E." is for element and numbers are which elements as most element parameters have a table.

The 1: 2: 3: business is a quick way to show destination number. This would just help the user find the right assignment on the keyboard. Not necessarily "needed" but takes little room in the documentation and provides value.

I'm just throwing out more of an example of what the docs could look like. Not that anyone is necessarily picking up the torch.

This doesn't show the whole thing - but just the part-level controller assignments.

Posted : 28/03/2023 9:21 pm
Posts: 773
Prominent Member

BTW: an example table might be

Another possibility that might be more generic and allow other tools is an XML format of a dump file:

Refer to page 194 of Data List

Table 00 05 00 is shown as 'Sequencer Setup' on page 191 where the address headers are:

. . .

Using XML is natural match for the nested hierarchy of the various dump blocks. It also allows the XML tags to be plain English from the Data List so you don't need to use arcane abbreviations.

It would allow standard XML tools to be used for searching and also be browser compatible.


Posted : 28/03/2023 10:07 pm
Bad Mister
Posts: 12304

Wobble - is a genre specific Arp… If the term is unknown to you then DubStep/EDM may not be your thing. It is an ARP phrase that’s in the Control/Hybrid category, and it is cc74 Filter Cutoff movement… requires Key Mode = Direct. You hear the sound direct, the Arp applies filter movement. Each number would represent a different pattern of filter movement. This is where the information about what sound was used to create the data comes in. Those familiar with “Wobble” would know it’s often used on Synth Bass to create movement in the sound. They are numbered because each one has a different ‘wobble’.

If the ones they give you don’t work, you can create your own using the Pattern Sequencer (create User Arp).

Gate - is a basic synth term you should know. In a basic synth the Keyboard is a “gate” when you press a key you complete a circuit - when you let go you break the circuit. A Gate in electronics turns things On and Off.

A “Gate” Arp Phrase that is listed as Expression, and is in Control/Hybrid category, would be adjusting cc11 Expression — requires Key Mode = Direct. While you hold down a key you hear the sound direct, the cc11 Expression movement will control the output level creating the on/off/on/off ‘gating’ type effect. A gating effect would sound like a bunch of on/off events… in rhythm… sound, then no sound, repeating to make various patterns. Thus the numbers — different patterns of on/off.

Gate S is ‘short’ duration
Gate M is ‘medium’ duration
Gate L is ‘long’ duration.

If the 20 variations that they give you don’t work, you can create your own using an FC7 (Foot Control 1), and Pattern Sequencer (create User Arp). Those are simply to differentiate them - give them a unique name. (How would you go about describing them?)
Example: call up “High Pass Gate” and experiment with the “Gate” Arps and the “Wobble” Arps. A Gate Arp is initially assigned…

In either case, to really know what an ARP is going to do and sound like, you have to assign and play it.

S short, M medium, L long — not that hard to figure out when Gate/Expression cc11 is part of the documentation (and when you hear, there is no doubt)
L left, C center, R right — not that hard to figure out when Pan is part of the documentation.

I’m not saying it wouldn’t be wonderful to have complete documentation of every feature and function… but a lot of synthesis is exploring and trial and error. The best things happen when you’re trying to do something else. I hate to tell you how many people call up “CFX + FM EP” and only hear the acoustic piano. They don’t move the SuperKnob so it remains hidden. One reason to hit that [AUDITION] button… if you look and listen while it plays - it becomes so very obvious that the Super Knob morphs acoustic into electric.

Don’t forget the Synthesizer Parameter Manual when you run into a term you don’t know (not that everything is there but it is a great resource). Not knowing Wobble could be that it’s not in your particular musical palette… anticipate that there may indeed be such things.

The Super Knob always does something!
I can highly recommend the John Melas Tools — if you prefer to view things outside of the instrument (spreadsheet like)…
But just to reiterate. The information is in the firmware. You can see an Overview of your control assignments (“Motion Control” > “Overview), then you can take a shortcut directly to the “Common” or “Part” Assign screens. Activating the “Auto Select” feature lets you engage a controller and see everything that is assigned to it. Or use the “Display Filter” to zero in on each Controller in turn.

But if you want to search for all Performances that use a Ribbon (?) - perhaps I don’t think like that… (I need a sound with Ribbon?)… while you wait for that type of detailed documentation, a workable solution must be found…

My workflow is more like: First, I would recall the sound and play it… then if it appeals to me I would begin to explore what the controllers and switches do using the shortcuts to view and review Assignments. I also press the [AUDITION] button, as a phrase to demonstrate how to approach playing this Performance is right there. To me that’s better than a spreadsheet or a couple of pages. I would immediately start organizing and changing Control Assignments to suit my playing style. I view all Control Assignments from the factory as “suggestions”.

Posted : 28/03/2023 10:09 pm
Posts: 1717
Member Admin

Yamaha and its personnel would do well to learn from Alan Kay's thoughts of the 1980's on the 60's and 70's user interaction discoveries and considerations:

Posted : 29/03/2023 7:37 am

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