MIDI and the Roland FP-30 (heaps of sounds we didn't know of)


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Do you read manuals?
I do and as a proud but not entirely satisfied owner of a Roland FP-30 I pondered over the MIDI Implementation document a lot and it made me think...
My problem was that I found the 35 inbuilt sounds of the FP-30 rather limiting.

But to cut a long story short, I eventually figured that through MIDI I can reach (and play) lots-and-lots of instruments (voices, tones, sounds or however they are referred to), not just the 35, which is documented.
Plus, there is an effects processor that can be manipulated through MIDI, too.
Now I absolutely adore my FP-30!

You can read the whole story (and about the program I've written) on my website.


I wonder how many other keyboards are out there with hidden capabilities we could harness through MIDI if knew how to.

Similar discoveries, anyone?
 
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I have been considering an FP 30 and found it to have at least for me the best keybed.

If you have an iPad and a Camera Connection adaptor you will also find that there are a whole host of Apps available that can provide readily accessible additional instrument sounds.
 
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I agree about the keybed. I also bought a Casio 560 (costing twice as much as the FP-30) but I find myself preferring to go back to and playing the FP-30 more because it has such a nice keybed.

I don't have an iPad (I'm in the other camp, the Android), but I assume what you are referring to is using the Roland as a MIDI controller keyboard to play some software instruments on the iPad. (Which is what you can do with any keyboard with MIDI capability.)

For me the interesting thing was that the FP-30 had all these extra sounds built in. I venture to say, that internally it is pretty much the same as its brother, the FP-60, which is a step up in price.
 
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Very interesting. I wonder if this works with the FP-10. I'm going to try this out soon and see.
 
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Just looked at the specs of the FP-10 ... could very well be the case :)

Let us know. (and don't tell Roland ;-)
 

SeaGtGruff

I meant to play that note!
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I wonder how many other keyboards are out there with hidden capabilities we could harness through MIDI if knew how to.

Similar discoveries, anyone?
The Yamaha PSR-E4xx series can use two split points, although the second split point can't be modified using the panel controls or Function menu. The panel control and Function menu option changes both split points to whichever value you set, but if you hack the Registration memories in the Backup file or User files you can change the second split point to be different than the first. The first split point divides the Accompaniment section from the Voice section. The second split point-- which should always be set equal to or higher than the first split point-- divides the Split Voice section from the Main/Dual Voice section. So by setting the two split points to different values, you can have three sections-- from left to right, an Accompaniment section, a Split Voice section, and a Main/Dual Voice section.

Another neat thing you can do by hacking the Registration memories is set one or more of the parameters to an invalid value-- usually 0xFF, although for some parameters (that allow negative values) it's 0x7F. When you load the Registration, the parameters that have invalid values will be left alone on the keyboard. This lets you create and load Registration memories that will change specific parameters but leave other parameters untouched.

Hacking the Backup files or User files can be tricky and should not be attempted unless you know what you're doing, as I think you might possibly mess up your keyboard if you don't do it correctly. Also, there's a checksum field that needs to be changed, and if it doesn't match the expected value then the keyboard will refuse to load the file at all.

The PSR-E3xx models and DGX models don't have any panel controls or Function menu options for modifying the voice parameters-- Attack/Release Time and Filter Cutoff/Resonance. But the keyboards will respond to those CC parameters via MIDI. The incoming MIDI doesn't affect the Main, Dual, and Split Voice parts, so making use of this capability generally requires using the keyboard as though it were a controller to send MIDI to itself as though it were a sound controller, using an app to inject the desired CC messages into the MIDI. Yamaha makes an iPad app called Sound Controller that lets you modify these parameters during live play, and which also adds a virtual Pitch Bend Wheel and Modulation Wheel.
 
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It appears that the PSR-E463 (the one I looked at after reading your post) is a more versatile instrument than the Roland FP-30. What you wrote about the Split/Dual function strikes a chord with me, because I'm missing that level of sophistication in the Roland. You can also do a split OR a dual on the Roland, but my problem is with the 'OR'. What I'd want is a split AND a dual AND that the dual could be assigned to either the left OR right hand (or both). There doesn't seem to be a way to manipulate the split and dual settings with MIDI (apart from assigning voices to the appropriate channels). This can only be achieved with buttons on the front panel.


...using the keyboard as though it were a controller to send MIDI to itself as though it were a sound controller, using an app to inject the desired CC messages into the MIDI. Yamaha makes an iPad app called Sound Controller that lets you modify these parameters during live play, and which also adds a virtual Pitch Bend Wheel and Modulation Wheel.
Yeah, this is how the app I've written works, too. Roland hasn't made a similar app available for the FP-30 as far as I know.
 

SeaGtGruff

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I haven't looked at the manual for the FP-30 yet. Can it play MIDI song files that have 16 channels? Because if it can (16-part multi-timbral), then you should be able to create splits and layers using MIDI.
 
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Yes, it can play songs from a flash drive with multiple instruments on multiple channels. And I know what channels the piano uses when in split mode or dual mode. The trouble is that the only way to put the keyboard into split mode is by pressing the Split button on the dashboard. And the only way to put it into dual mode is by pressing two instrument buttons at the same time, again on the dashboard. None of the manuals mention a MIDI command that would do that. Also, the two modes (as invoked through these button presses) are exclusive (i.e. either this OR that, but not both at the same time). It would be great if this could be controlled via MIDI, but no such thing to my knowledge.
(Playing another keyboard and using the FP-30 simply as a sound source via MIDI is not an option I would consider.)
 

SeaGtGruff

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Using external hardware or software, you can process a single channel of MIDI data coming from the keyboard and send it back to the keyboard as two or more channels of MIDI data. Basically, all you are doing is changing the nibble in the Note On/Off events that contains the channel number, or if desired, copying the Note On/Off events to additional channels, based on the original Note values.

Or, depending on what you want to do, you can use other criteria to determine when to do one thing or another with the data, such as looking at the Note velocities and using "velocity switching"-- although it can be tricky to select different channels for a Note On event based on its velocity, since you'd have to ensure that the Note Off event which goes with that Note On event is also moved to the same channel. So I'd recommend sticking with the Note values as the determining parameter.

In a DAW, the feature that makes this sort of thing possible might be called "MIDI effects," and it might be added to a MIDI track the same way that audio effects are added. But it depends on the DAW. For instance, my favorite DAW (Acoustica Mixcraft) lets you do this sort of thing during the basic setup of a MIDI track when you're assigning a patch, virtual instrument, or external instrument to the track. So if you use a DAW for this sort of thing, the steps to achieve your intended goal will depend on how that particular DAW does things.

If you're using hardware, there are MIDI processor boxes that can do various things to MIDI signals-- merge 2 incoming ports of MIDI data into 1 outgoing port, or clone 1 incoming port into 2 outgoing ports, or change a specific type of MIDI event into another, or reroute data from a given channel to another channel based on some criteria, etc. Depending on what the boxes are capable of and what you're trying to accomplish, you might need to use multiple boxes of different types (splitters, mergers, etc.) to accomplish your specific goal. But there are also MIDI interface boxes, such as Bome Box or some of the iConnectivity MIDI interfaces, that can be programmed to do all sorts of MIDI processing using a single box.
 
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Thank you SeaGtGruff for your comprehensive reply.

Using external hardware or software, you can process a single channel of MIDI data coming from the keyboard and send it back to the keyboard as two or more channels of MIDI data. Basically, all you are doing is changing the nibble in the Note On/Off events that contains the channel number, or if desired, copying the Note On/Off events to additional channels, based on the original Note values.
Yes, I am aware of that (and the rest, and also have an iConnectMIDI4+), but the thing is that I can split the note on/of messages any way I like (or do whatever with the other messages the FP-30 sends) the fact remains that the piano will only play sounds (instruments) on two specific channels in Split or Dual mode and I can't even have both Split and Dual enabled at the same time. This seems to be hard-wired. Or even if not hard wired, there is no known way to manipulate it with MIDI.

Can I humbly suggest to read my blog (link in the first post above) to see where I'm coming from?
 
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Thank you SeaGtGruff for your comprehensive reply.



Yes, I am aware of that (and the rest, and also have an iConnectMIDI4+), but the thing is that I can split the note on/of messages any way I like (or do whatever with the other messages the FP-30 sends) the fact remains that the piano will only play sounds (instruments) on two specific channels in Split or Dual mode and .

I can't even have both Split and Dual enabled at the same time. [B/]

This seems to be hard-wired. Or even if not hard wired, there is no known way to manipulate it with MIDI.

Can I humbly suggest to read my blog (link in the first post above) to see where I'm coming from?


Damn.

Just noticed the above line, Split or Dual but not both together.

That is not what it looks like on the Roland Piano Partner 2 app where it clearly shows both active at the same time.

Looks like Roland are doing a VW on the image!

Not doubting what has been found by picman at all and this has saved me a trip to check out the feature at the local Music Store and it potentially costs Roland a lost sale since I will probably buy the Yamaha P121 instead of the FP30 and save £80 by doing so.
 

SeaGtGruff

I meant to play that note!
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I understand what you're saying, but I'm not sure you've understood what I'm suggesting. Please bear with me as I elaborate, using my PSR-E models as an example. Keep in mind that I have no experience with any Rolands, so I'll have to leave it to you to try my suggestion to see whether it works as I expect it should.

The idea is to use the keyboard as a MIDI controller to play the keyboard as a sound module. When you do this, you are no longer limited to whatever the keyboard lets you do when you're playing it as an instrument, because you can tap into whatever capabilities it has when it's playing a MIDI song file or playing a received MIDI stream.

For instance, my Yamaha PSR-E keyboards let me use only three voices when I'm playing it as an instrument-- the Main Voice, Dual Voice, and Split Voice. I can use auto accompaniments, which use up to eight more voices, but I'm not playing those eight voices; the keyboard is, and I'm just controlling the key changes. And I can play along with song files, which use up to 16 voices-- minus the voice I'm playing along with, if I'm playing along-- but, again, I'm not really playing those 15 or 16 voices; the keyboard is.

To take a step back for a moment, the PSR-E keyboards have three types of "parts," meaning the different voices they can use to generate sounds. They have "keyboard" parts, or the voices that can be actively used when playing the keyboard as an instrument (Main, Dual, and Split); "accompaniment" parts, or the voices used when playing a style (Rhythm 1, Rhythm 2, Bass, Chord 1, Chord 2, Pad, Phrase 1, and Phrase 2); and "song" parts, or the voices used when playing a MIDI song file (Channel 1, Channel 2, Channel 3, and so on, up to Channel 16). The song parts are also used for playing incoming MIDI messages.

By the way, the PSR-E models actually refer to their accompaniment parts as "style" parts, but some models have "patterns" or "grooves" in addition to "styles," so I think "accompaniment parts" is better descriptive. And all of this "parts" terminology I'm using isn't even mentioned in their manuals, although they do have functions to control whether each of these three types of parts will be transmitted via MIDI output-- "Keyboard Out," "Style Out," and "Song Out," although some models simply have a sort of all-in-one "PC Mode" function for this rather than three separate functions.

Other brands and models of keyboards may have different sets or types of parts, but the concept is the same.

For instance, an analog synth might have only six voices, with no auto accompaniment and no 16-channel MIDI song playback capabilities, in which case it has just those six "keyboard parts" (although it probably doesn't refer to them as such, and just calls them "voices").

A digital "ROMpler" synth (meaning one that plays instrument sound samples which are stored in ROM, even if it also has RAM for loading additional instrument sounds) might have 16 parts so it can play back 16-channel MIDI song files, but it might not have separate parts for playing the keyboard as an instrument versus playing back a MIDI song file, in which case it just has 16 parts, and there's no reason to distinguish between whether some of its parts are keyboard parts while others are song parts.

A non-"arranger" keyboard might have both keyboard parts and song parts, but not accompaniment parts.

The distinction I'm making between different types of parts isn't the point; it's just terminology I'm using because I find it helpful. But the fact is, a given keyboard's various voice-playing features-- essentially, its tone generators-- might be programmed or designed to fulfill specific parts or roles, in which case the keyboard might not allow you to swap around the roles that specific parts are used for.

For instance, on the PSR-E models-- and I'm guessing on the FP-30 as well-- the keyboard can receive and play up to 16 channels of MIDI data, but the incoming MIDI channel messages can't control the three keyboard parts (Main Voice, Dual Voice, Split Voice). Most, if not all, of the PSR-S models have functions that let you associate or assign a specific incoming MIDI port and channel to a specific keyboard part, such that you can affect and control that specific keyboard part using that specific MIDI channel, but the PSR-E models don't have that.

Some keyboards refer to certain parts as "zones," each of which can be defined as having a given range of notes or keys that it covers. This gives you the ability to set up the zones in more flexible ways, such as having two voices layered together on the left end of the keyboard, a single voice in the middle of the keyboard, and another single voice on the right end of the keyboard-- that is, a three-way split, but with the leftmost split having layered sounds.

To get back to the matter at hand, if a keyboard is able to play 16 different voices when it receives 16 channels of MIDI data over its MIDI IN or USB-MIDI connection, you should (in theory) be able to use external hardware or software to actively play on all 16 MIDI channels while you're playing the keyboard, regardless of any limitations the keyboard's internal firmware, onboard functions, and physical panel controls might impose upon you. Of course, you'll still be limited to the specific types of MIDI events that the keyboard is designed to respond to. For instance, if the keyboard isn't designed to respond to Filter Cutoff and Filter Resonance CC messages, you can send those CC messages to the keyboard from now until the universe ends but the keyboard just won't respond to them. But if the keyboard will respond to 16 channels of MIDI data by playing 16 different simultaneous instrument sounds, you should be able to play 16 different sounds simultaneously.

An important part of the trick is to turn off the keyboard's Local Control, such that the keyboard won't directly generate any sounds in response to your playing. Instead, you want it to indirectly generate sounds in response to the MIDI messages it's receiving. So you play the keyboard, it sends all of its outgoing MIDI messages on channel 1-- or whatever other channel(s) you've set it to transmit on-- you use external hardware or software to filter the Note events based on their Note values, then send different Note events back to the keyboard on different channels. You probably won't be able to select which instrument sounds to use on the keyboard itself, at least not on all 16 of the channels-- although there might be ways around that, such as creating MIDI "song" files that contain no Note events, just messages for selecting the instrument sounds for the channels you want to use-- so in the normal scenario you'll be using the external hardware or software to send additional messages on each channel to select whichever instrument sound you want to use on that channel.

Do you currently use a DAW? And what operating system does your computer use? I might be able to give some step-by-step instructions on how to set up an example of this in your DAW so you can verify whether or not the FP-30 will respond as I expect it should.
 
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Biggles, I have not used Piano Partner, so I wouldn't know what it does and how it works, but as SeaGtGruff says you can do all sort of wizardry with software, so they might make it possible to, in effect, have both Dual and Split work concurrently.

I guess my earlier statement requires a qualification: you cannot have Split and Dual (i.e. layering two sounds) IF you only have the keyboard and try to do it with the dashboard controls. It won't work. Say, if you are in Split mode, as soon as you change over to Dual mode (by pressing two instrument buttons at the same time, as instructed by the manual), then Split will simply switch off. And vice versa.
 
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I'm back with some more on Split and Dual after doing some further tests and I think this will clear up the picture.

As a synopsis let me say that, Roland's implementation of these functions on the FP-30 as a physical unit, is very restrictive, but yes, as SeaGtGruff pointed out, you can do (almost) anything via software.

In my earlier posts the scenario I was describing was one where the piano was put in Split or Dual mode using the buttons on the dashboard. I said that in this way it is impossible to have them working at the same time. I also said, that it was not possible to enable the two functions to be in force concurrently via some MIDI command.
My earlier experiments also revealed that when the piano is in Spit or Dual mode it will only receive on two specific channels (1 and 3 or 1 and 5, respectively), ignoring all the others. Hence my frustrated reply earlier that "I can split the note on/of messages any way I like (or do whatever with the other messages the FP-30 sends) the fact remains that the piano will only play sounds (instruments) on two specific channels in Split or Dual mode and I can't even have both Split and Dual enabled at the same time".

However, if one just ignores the Split/Dual business on the piano altogether and rolls his own in software, then, yes, any permutations of Split and Dual are possible. (I guess this is what SeGtGruff was saying all along.)

As a way of an example, in pseudo code it might look like this:

Lets say we want a Xylophone and a trumpet on the right hand (assigned to channels 2 and 3) and a double base for the left (on channel 1).
The piano is set to transmit on channel 1.
Then in software:

- capture ch.1. note on message
- if it's C4 or higher
- send out on ch.2.
- send out on ch.3.
- else
- send out on ch.1.
(do the same for the note off message)

Piece of cake and problem solved.

Nevertheless, I wish this could be achieved on the piano itself, rather than software.
 

SeaGtGruff

I meant to play that note!
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Yes, it's a shame that keyboards so often have many more capabilities than what the manufacturers provide from the panel controls. We shouldn't have to rely on external hardware or software to unleash the full potentials of our keyboards.
 
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Ok, so I got down to business today and implemented a form of Split and Dual (actually Quadruple) functionality in my program that leaves Roland's hardware version in the dust. So, now I can split the keyboard and layer up to four voices on each side (or not split it and layer up to four voices). Additionally, there is optional transposition (one octave) on each side, in case too few low or high notes left after a split.

I had a wonderful time playing with these lots of voices, the piano just got a massive new dimension. Love it.

I updated my blog with this new info - see link in the first post above. And, of course, my program is still available for anyone who wants a copy. :) (Windows only, sorry Apple / iPad users.)
 
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SeaGtGruff

I meant to play that note!
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I'm glad you were able to do this! Just be careful layering a lot of voices together, because that can quickly deplete your instrument's maximum polyphony, especially if you're using a sustain pedal.
 

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