Nowadays, it’s becoming increasingly more common to find alternative control surfaces in the field of music production. Such controllers allow for interesting mapping combinations and guarantee creative results especially when it comes to drive complex devices.
Specifically, we decided to test the Roli Lightpad along with our modulator device LFOO, included in the Modulators 21 suite. Cool thing about Roli devices is that they implement an expressive comunication protocol called MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression – you can read more about it on Roli’s website), presenting themselves with a flexible surface and giving the user control over different parameters per gesture, using a combination of horizontal and vertical axis along with pressure. LFOO is a low frequency oscillator device, which generates two simultaneous continuous waveforms, which the user can combine into a third, complex modulation signal.
In order to use Roli’s control surface to create generic mappings in Ableton Live, first of all we need to set up Live’s MPE and Expression Control devices. These allow for calibrating and routing each axis of MPE controllers to any parameter in a Live Set. In our experiment, we tried to create an expressive modulation enviroment around the Lightpad by mapping its two axis to control each oscillator’s shape respectively. This results in an intricate, yet playful gestural interaction with the third modulation signal itself, allowing for exploration of unpredictable territories in a very dynamic way. LFOO’s output is mapped to control Live’s Utility Gain parameter, modulating the audio signal’s amplitude in favor of textural research and evident movements. Lightpad’s pressure is instead assigned to Auto Filter Cutoff, with harder pressure opening the filter.
The result is a multidimensional one-finger sound design setup. Scrolling the finger around the pad, along with a constant changing pressure, results in variations ranging from subtle to pretty radical, becoming an interesting playground for recording takes and performing live. Multidimensional mapping gives the user an interesting approach to electronics, filling the gap between quantized movements and human interaction.
We found these types of mapping systems and control surfaces to work particularly well with Modulators 21, where each parameter can bring to radically different outcomes. We encourage you to try out different combinations with different multidimensional or MPE devices, assign them to our modulators and have fun!