Archive for March 2011

MOTU Timepiece – Great Value

Here’s one I stumbled on: the MOTU Timepiece II. The current model is the Timepiece AV, which comes with a USB interface. The Timepiece and Timepiece II have an old style Mac OS9 serial interface, one that Apple dropped in 1999. Sounds like a boat anchor? That’s what most people think, and that’s why it’s such a great value. I picked one up on eBay for $25.
The MOTU Timepiece II MIDI interface
The Timepiece is a very well-made 8-channel MIDI interface, and it’s almost completely programmable from the front panel. No computer needed, so the interface doesn’t really matter. The Timepiece isn’t just an interface, it’s a MIDI patchbay. This means you can route any input by cable or by channel to any output. One setup I use merges inputs 2, 3 and 4 to output 1, so I can use my windsynth plus footpedals to control a rack module. Another setup splits the wind synth output to two channels so I can control Logic Sculpture and a rack synth simultaneously.

The usual issue with the Timepiece is that the original owner has lost the manual. Not a problem! Download the Timepiece AV manual from the MOTU web site. I have been assured by MOTU tech support that the MIDI section applies to the Timepiece and Timepiece II as well as the AV model. Everything I’ve tried from the manual has worked.

The only caveat I have is that the interface is kind of wacky. There are four front panel knobs that control different levels of parameter windows. Once you get used to this, you have a very inexpensive and capable MIDI tool for your studio.

Modifying Sculpture patches for Wind Synths

One of the most powerful Logic softsynths is Sculpture. Most Sculpture patches have been created using keyboards, but it is fairly simple to modify many patches into wind-synth patches.

1. The first order of business is to choose the patch to convert. Patches that are percussive or plucked are not going to work really well on any wind synth. If you modify them enough to work, the character of the final patch will be quite different than what you started with. Here is the part of Sculpture where you choose the object type:

Choosing an Object Type in Sculpture

The object types are circled in red. For best wind-synth compatibility, set these to Blow, Bow, Bow Wide, Noise or Impulse. All of these work better with a gradual note onset. This patch only has Object 1 activated, so we only have to worry about that. Other patches may have more active objects.

2. Next, get rid of any velocity-sensitive characteristics. Wind synths just don’t do velocity and the velocity options will prevent full control of the sound with breath. Here are the parts of the Sculpture interface that are velocity-related:

Velocity Sensitivity in Sculpture

The simplest approach is to turn these all down to 0. However, this will also change the character of the sound, so you might want to map the velocity characteristics to another controller. I use a MIDI Solutions Event Processor to do this when required, but you can get creative with some other controllers on your wind synths or a foot pedal. For this patch, there are no active velocity characteristics, so no worries.

3. Next we set the MIDI controllers at the bottom of the Sculpture screen:

Sculpture MIDI Controllers

At the far right, change the default Mode to “Load from Setting”. The other settings reflect my preferred controller setup: in addition to the controllers on the wind synth, I use 2 foot pedals. One is on 4, the standard foot pedal number. The other is on 30 and controls only the vibrato. At the very least, you will want to set Ctrl A to “2 Breath”.

4. If the patch had an envelope programmed in, you probably want to disable it. You usually build the envelope with the breath controller, so if Env is highlighted(lit up in blue), click on it to deselect it.

Envelope Selector

5. Now you’re ready to actually build the control link to the wind synth. You can do this in two different panels. Each will have a slightly different effect, see which you prefer. First, activate the link by clicking on the big 1 beside it:

Sculpture Controllers 1

6. Next, click and hold under “Target” and select “Object1 Strength” from the dropdown menu:

Sculpture Controllers

7. Finally, if you’re using the Controller A panel at left, slide the button all the way to the right. If you’re using the Controller area at right, set Via to Ctrl A and move both sliders to the right:

Sculpture Controllers

8. Finally, Save As under a different name:

Save As

Other tweaks:

– if the patch has 2 or 3 objects, you will have to repeat the above steps for the other objects. You have to get creative if there are 3 objects, because the Controller A link only has 2 slots. For these, I use Envelope 1 on the right side of the screen for Objects 1 and 2 and Envelope 2 for Object 3.

– most wind synths are duophonic at most, so do your CPU a favor and set Voices to 2.

– you may have to reduce the attach and release times to make the sound work better with a wind synth:

ADSR Change

This just scratches the surface of revising Sculpture patches for wind synth. This is a deep subject, now go practice!

June 13 2017 edit – I’ve added a downloadable collection of Sculpture presets that have been modified to work with wind controllers. There’s a link on the Downloads page, or just click here: Sculpture Presets for Wind Controllers

Unzip on a Mac, then copy to Users/YourUserName/Library/Application Support/Logic/Plug-in Settings/Sculpture. I recommend making a subfolder with a name like Wind, to make them easier to find in Sculpture. To make the user Library folder visible, hold down the Alt key while clicking on the macOS Go menu and choosing Library.