(compMus1) Programming the NN-19 Sampler in Reason

The manual for the Reason (available on the manuals volume of the server) has a chapter for the NN-19. It would be good to read this chapter.

Essential to understanding how to program patches in the NN-19 is to understand the hierachy ranging from audio file to complete patch. Working from the bottom up (or beginning to end):

Samples ? Key Zones ? Key Map ? Synthesis Controls ? Real-Time Controls ? Patch

Samples are the audio files on your storage medium (hard disk). You should copy your audio files into one folder for use in all of you NN-19 patches. Edit the audio files to remove unwanted silence at the beginning or end, and/or to focus on specific sections of the file that you want to use in the sampler. You can also use Peak to set loop points, which will be read by the NN-19. It is much easier to edit loop points in Peak than in the NN-19.

Key Zones are containers for audio files in the sampler. You load samples from disk into key zones, which contain information regarding the key range of MIDI input that will trigger sample playback, the root key that triggers playback at the original speed of the recording, tuning of the sample, and loop playback mode.

A Key Map contains all the key zones for a patch. Our patches are focusing on single key zones for a patch.

Synthesis controls are used to determine how samples are played back via MIDI noteon messages. The NN-19 breaks these into sections.

The oscillator section controls pitch and sample start point. Interpolation should always be on. Keyboard tracking should be on if you want the patch to change pitch (by changing playback speed) based on MIDI note number (key) pressed. The tuning controls of octave, semi, and fine show musical pitch values as you change them. Envelope amount controls how much of an Attack-Decay pitch envelope you want applied to the signal. Turning to the right creates an upward pitch shift at noteon, followed by a downward glissando to the sustaining pitch. The decay time is unchangeable, and is proportional to the distance of the glissando set by the amount knob. Moving the knob to the right (counter-clockwise) creates a downward pitch shift on attack, with an upward glissando to the sustaining pitch.

The amplitude envelope section contains an ADSR envelope for controlling overall amplitude of each note, with a level knob that determines the maximum amplitude of the envelope (scales the envelope output).

The filter section contains controls for selecting filter type (low pass, etc.), cutoff/center frequency, resonance, keyboard tracking of frequency, a filter envelope, a knob for setting the amount of the envelope, and an invert button for the envelope. The filter can be turned off completely with a switch (next to the word filter on the front panel). Refer to my post on filters for a discussion of filter types and parameters. The keyboard tracking control allows for changing the cutoff frequency according the midi note number played. (KBD set to straight up should give you a match with the KBD tracking of the OSC section.) The filter envelope is an ADSR type, and is triggered along with the amp envelope at noteon. The amount knob controls the amount of frequency deviation that the envelope will apply to the filter, and the invert switch is used to create downward movement of the frequency based on the envelope.

The LFO section contains controls for picking the waveform of the LFO, setting its frequency (rate), its amplitude (amount), and the modulation destination. The destination is limited to pitch (osc), filter frequency, or panning. Please don’t choose the panning option. You can also select sync, which changes the rate control from frequency in Hz to rhythmic values based on your sequence tempo.

The remaining sections of the NN-19 fall into the Real-Time control category. The first is Velocity, which determines how your patch responds to input key velocity. All the controls have positive and negative directions, meaning that a control can increase in proportion to key velocity, or it may change in inverse proportion to the key velocity. The most usual mapping for key velocity is amplitude, with mapping in the proportional (positive) direction. Another common control is to map velocity to filter control.

The Mod Wheel section maps incoming mod wheel continuous controller data to synthesis parameters in a way similar to the velocity section. Common mappings include using the wheel to change the LFO amount, and changing the filter frequency. Mod wheel to filter resonance can produce musically interesting results as well.

The final real-time control section is labeled Controller, and responds to incoming controller data that our lab MIDI controllers do not output by default.

The final section is unlabeled, but controls note triggering and polyphony. You can be generous with polyphony settings (how many simultaneous notes that can be sounded at one time). The computer CPU can play 30 voices without really sweating. Portamento controls the time it takes to change pitch when a new note is pressed. This control only has real use in monophonic modes (1-note polyphony). The mode section should be kept at the default Key setting. The legato/retrig setting is also a monophonic control, and determines if a new amplitude envelope will be triggered when you press a second key while holding down the first key. Finally, you have a control for setting the semitone (half-step) range of the pitch bend wheel.


One response to “(compMus1) Programming the NN-19 Sampler in Reason”

  1. […] Basic sampler architecture, as indicated towards the beginning of my post on the NN-19. […]

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