Ok, the original idea for this tutorial was to show how to use breath control to cross fade between two samples in NN-XT, similar to how you cross fade between waveforms in the Wavetable Oscillator in Thor. The idea was that you could get realistic sound if you had say soft and loud samples. This is done all the time with piano sounds and percussive sounds, so why not use breath for sustained sounds right? Wrong.
I thought it would be a piece of cake, but the samples I was using in the Reason Factory Sound Bank didn't cross fade well. It basically sounded like two different players, not one player getting louder and softer. Furthermore, some of the samples were slightly out of tune with each other, so as soon as the loud version of the sound came in, you could hear a chorusing effect.
I found that by using one sample per note and just varying the brightness and volume using standard techniques, I was able to get a sound that was much more playable and much more realistic than I was with the cross fade technique.
That's not to say you can't cross fade between samples if that is the effect you are going for, but it certainly was not what I was going for. (Let us know if you have done this in the comments - I always love to hear about a new technique).
Quick and Simple BC
The patch I am going to work with is the "VLN Long" patch from the Orkester Sound Bank. You can find it here: Orkester Sound Bank ->Strings -> Solo Violin (VLN) -> VLN Long.
Zone 1 settings
We need to make the the zone available to all velocities (in case we start a sound loud and decrescendo to soft. Along the bottom of the blue editor window you will settings for Lo Vel and Hi Vel. Set Lo Vel -> 1 and Hi Vel -> 127. (Click the pictures below to enlarge).
- F-Freq - This stands for filter frequency and controls the filter cutoff frequency. Most of the time the filter will be either the 12db lowpass or 24db lowpass filter. These filters remove the high frequencies, letting everything underneath the cutoff frequency through, hence the name 'low pass' - only the lows pass through the filter. 12db vs 24db refer to how steep the cutoff is. The 24db is a steep slope compared the 12db. In practical terms, the 12db will sound brighter than the 24db. This is basically a brightness control. Sound designers will modulate the cutoff frequency with velocity to mimic the real world effect of hearing more high frequencies the harder something is struck. With a sustained sound, like a violin, you will get more high frequencies the harder you press the bow on the string. This is 47% in the Velocity section. Make this parameter breath controlled rather than Velocity controlled by setting it to 0 in the Velocity area and setting it to 50% in the Modulation area and activating the 'X' and deactivating 'W' in the F Freq control in the modulation section.
- Mod Dec is 0 in both areas, leave it alone. This control is used to control the Mod Envelope decay parameter and is not applicable to our sound. This would be useful if you h a percussive sound with some high frequency content that decays as the sound sustains. You could set this to a higher value so that as you play harder, the high frequency content decays more slowly. Again, not applicable to our sound.
- LFO 1 Amt is set to the X control in Modulation. This is for vibrato, in this patch. If you want more vibrato the harder you blow, leave it alone, otherwise deactivate the X and active W. Normally, breath pressure alone wouldn't dictate vibrato (would it on a real wind instrument?-no.) However, setting this control to W lets us map some other control on our wind controller to this. I like to map my upper pitch bend plate to mod wheel.
- F Res isn't used - leave it alone. This refers to filter resonance and gives the sound an EQ 'bump' at the frequency of the filter cutoff. In practice you get a slight 'ringing' at the filter cutoff frequency, especially at extreme values.
- Level is 15% in the velocity section. Set it to 0 here and 100% in the Modulation section. Make this breath controled by activating the X and deactivating the W in the Modulation Section. This will increase the volume of the sound as we play louder.
- Leave all the other controls alone.
Zone 2 settings
The zip file download contains two violin patches and a Reason Song File of the Bach 2 Part Invention above. For the two violin patches, one is based on the soft set of violin samples and one based on the forte samples. I just use them as two different violins.