Did you know that every K-Board Pro 4 ships with a free license for Bitwig Studio 8-Track? That means that everyone with a K-Board Pro 4 can start exploring the exciting new world of MPE synths right out of the box! The folks at Bitwig have made the process of mapping MPE Expression controls simple. In this tutorial we’ll show you how to setup Bitwig to work with MPE and the K-Board Pro 4.
First open up Bitwig. I’ve created a new project to show your how to get up and running from scratch.
Click the Bitwig icon up top, then navigate to the “Settings” tab and click on the “controllers” sub menu. Add the K-Board Pro 4 as your controller and select “K-Board Pro 4” as the MIDI in and out. When that’s done, you can close the window.
In the K-Board Pro 4 editor, we’re going to select the factory default MPE preset:
MPE control parameters can be mapped to any synth in BitWig. For this tutorial we’ll use the Bitwig Polysynth.
Find the Polysynth instrument in the browser window and drop it onto the MIDI instrument in track 1.
Inside the instrument you can insert a modulator. Click on the plus sign to add a modulation source. The MPE standard modulation source is called “expressions”. We’re going to click to add it to the instrument’s panel:
When you add a modulation to the instrument you’ll see that a panel opens up on the left side of the app. Here you can adjust the settings for the expressions modulation source. You can activate and deactivate the modulations, and choose of the expressions will be polyphonic – per key- or monophonic (global). Smoothing is enabled by default. There is also an option to switch between “absolute” and “relative” key modes for the timbre expression.
“TIMB” is short for timbre and is used to map the y-axis of the key. As per the MPE spec, the Y-axis or “Timbre” is sent along CC74. We can map this to a parameter and now control that from the K-Board Pro 4 controller. In our video tutorial it is mapped to pan between 2 synth voices.
Notice that we also set the range of the effect of the parameter when we’re mapping the control. This is represented as a green arc in the instrument panel. Click on the “TIMB” modulator to close and save the mapping.
“VEL” is the velocity, which we map in the tutorial video to the synth’s “drive” parameter for some velocity response in the overall volume and drive of the synth.
Similarly, “REL” and “PRES” are used to map Release Velocity and Channel Pressure. In our video example these sources are mapped to the envelope release and oscillator sync values.
That’s it! Bitwig made their MPE integration really simple and intuitive. Now you just need to decide what joyful noise you wish to make. Go for it!
You can watch the video tutorial we shot and edited together here:
And, as always, if you need any more assistance with your K-Board Pro 4 please visit our support.keithmcmillen.com to search our knowledge base or submit a support ticket.
Thanks! Have a good one!