This tip is something that is so cool and useful, I just couldn't keep it to myself. In fact, I've been using this on all my patches recently.
In this installment, I will show you how to set up the pulverizer to shape the breath data from your wind controller. We'll use the pulverizer envelope follower to give our sounds an attack and release on the breath data itself. Why is this useful? Read on...
Let's say you have a patch that has a medium release (the sound tails off gradually) but you have your breath controlling the overall volume. Once you stop blowing, the volume drops to zero and you lose the release.
This is mostly a matter of playing style, but some wind controller players will completely stop the breath stream when tonguing a note. When this happens, the breath data goes immediately from whatever the last value was to 0. Then, a MIDI ‘note off’ event is sent, then the breath data starts up again at which point a new MIDI ‘note on’ is sent. So the order is breath 0, note off, breath on, note on.
When the breath data goes to 0 extremely quickly, this may result in an audible glitch, since the filters in Reason are so fast. The more breath affects filter cutoff frequency or volume, the more apparent the glitch. Wouldn't it be great if we could make it so our breath data fades out just to avoid the glitch, but not so much as to wreck our performance?
Now is the time that we turn to our friend the Pulverizer. Pulverizer has an envelope follower that is extremely fast (meaning it reacts quickly to changes in the envelope) and it has attack and decay, which means you can slow down how fast it follows going for low to high (attack) and high to low (release).
Here is an illustration. The top waveform is an abrupt attack and release, the bottom is the output of running this through the pulverizer envelope follower with attack and release set to zero.
You can see that even with minimum settings the pulverizer can smooth out some of the glitchiness.
Follower ins and outs
You can follow not only audio data but CV data as well as we can see by flipping the rack around and viewing the follower input and output jacks.
Mathias at Propellerheads explains this in a video way better than I can. He is using CV data from a Matrix, but keep in mind, we are going to use breath data. Take it away Mathias.
Here is an audio example of a patch with just straight breath controlled volume. You can hear the abrupt ending.
And here is the same passage with the pulverizer smoother activated. I think is sounds a little more natural. If you can't hear the difference go back and listen to the first audio sample again.
Setting It Up
First, to use this technique you must be using CV connections to control your synths, not the breath modulation knobs on the front of the device. So, here is a basic subtractor patch using CV to control volume. Note I'm using the RPG-8 with the arpeggiator turned off to convert breath data to CV:
All we need to do is patch a Pulveriser in-between these two like this:
Be sure to set the Follower CV amount knob on the back of the Pulveriser to around 50%. This will give you the closest 1:1 mapping with your breath data. Now flip the rack to the front. You will see the envelope follower light up with your breath data. The attack and release parameters are passed to the CV out. Set release to about 60% and you can get a nice smooth release, even if you stop the sound abruptly. Now, don't set it too long because sometimes we do want to cut off a note. We just don't want to hear any electronic clipping. In a legato line you shouldn't hear any difference.
You might want to experiment with the attack and release settings on the Pulveriser just to see what they do and how they affect your playing.
The file below is a simple combinator patch based on 'Justice Brass' from the Reason Factory Soundbank. I've routed the follower output to the CV in on the Combinator and used the Combinator Programmer section to control Volume and Filter Frequency on the Subtractor. The advantage to doing it this way is that you can see the controls move an gauge how much 'lag' you want in our breath response. Try it out, maybe you'll want to use this technique in one of your own patches.