Another MIDI question

pitch bending=guitar sliding

Is the sound you get sliding up the neck of a guitar possible to get using midi. Is it what is called ‘pitch bending’? Is any special equipment or special function on a keyboard needed?
Specifically, I would like to be able to bend or slide note to note using a midi track with a violin effect applied. I can get the basic notes on the MIDI track but they are pretty cut and dried (stacatto). This is hard to explain…


Yes, this is practically always possible with MIDI hardware controllers nowadays. For example, most MIDI keyboards come standard with 2 controllers, i.e. a pitch bender (as a wheel, stick, strip, breath, pedal, etc.) and a modulator (usually a wheel). Do you not have a hardware controller?

Bending and sliding are two different things both on a guitar and on a synthesizer.
Pitch bend in midi would be the same as bending the tone of a guitar string by pushing it up.
To do a slide on a synthesizer you need a voice that plays in portamento with a long glide time.

all i have is an old Yamaha ps6100. it has MIDI capabilities with a ‘transposer’ switch and a knob labeled ‘pitch’ on its back side, but not the other stuff you mention. it was inherited and i have only been messing with the MIDI for a couple of months. i am talking of sliding on a guitar (like F to C) not bending. do you know where to get the “voice” you speak of. I use Edirol Virtual Sound Canvas VSC MP1 and SFZ.

What I meant to say is that the ability to do portamento (sliding from one note to the next) is not really a MIDI thing but a specific synthesizer feature.
Sample-based synths - like soundfont players - are notoriously bad at it.
To get a taste of how to do portamento you could download Ichiro Toda’s Synth1 VSTi.
Look at the controls at the bottom right side of the GUI.
Set the “Play Mode” to “Legato” and experiment with the settings for “Portamento” to achieve the right effect.

I am actually considering purchasing one of these…

Doepfer sure makes some interesting stuff indeed…

regards, Nils


Doepfer sure makes some interesting stuff indeed…

This is true! Especially their diy stuff.
I wouldn’t shell out EUR 250,- for the ribbon thing though.
And it doesn’t solve g8tor’s portamento issue either, does it?
Anyway, it’s sold out! :)

thanks you guys…i downloaded the Synth and will experiment with it to see how it works…

There are several differences between pitch bend and portamento

1) with pitch bend, if you play a C and bend up to D, you’re still palying a C bent up, whereas with portamento (glide), you start on C and then play D and it glides up – it’s easier to read the MIDI piano roll and see what notes are being played. Whenever the MIDI pitch bend is not in the middle, you have to know what the current equivalent transposition is to read the MIDI piano roll correclty.

2) With pitch bend, you have complete control over the timing and rate, just as you do with a guiltar slide. With portamento, you set a time or rate (most synths only support one or the other) and when you hit the next key, it glides to the new note taking the programmed time (or at the programmed rate). You don’t have direct control like you do with pitch bend.

3) For chords, pitch bend is more like a guitar slide. On synths that support polysonic portamento, some algorithm is used to figure out which old note is sliding to which new note – and believe me, this is NOT as simple as it sounds, especially since we don’t play all the new notes simultaneously, and we might play more or fewere notes. After that assignment is made, each voice glides up to its new note independently, using the programmed rate or time. In simple cases this might sound similar to pitch bending, but not always and it can be sensitive to the order in which notes are played (in the new chord). Also, note that the new chord would have to be the same color and inversion as the old one to sound like pitch bend, but in any case the individual notes aren’t guaranteed to be locked into a chord that glides.

Excellent explanation!
Just want to add that MIDI and portamento also don’t go very well together, because normally (like in music notation) the glide is supposed to be timed before the target note. And that isn’t possible, at least not when playing live, because there is no way for the synth to know what or when the next note is going to be!
It’s very hard to replace a guitar by a synthesizer (thank god!) :)

which would you recommend for achieving some fluidity on a violin solo track playing mostly individual notes as opposed to chords? i dont want to sound like sliding from one note to the next on every note, just on some …like you would on a guitar.
i also have a software program called “intelliscore” which can change a wav to MIDI. Do you know anything of this program? It implies that i should be able to play & record the track with a guitar, use intelliscore to change it to a mid then add the voice i want. does that sound feasible? if that is what the program does it might do the same as the portamento and pitch bending on a synth. i haven’t tried it yet, but the program was given to me so i am just wondering.

I don’t know Intelliscore, but it would be interesting to see what it makes of a recorded guitar-slide!
So, maybe you could experiment. Record a short phrase with slides. Have a go at it with Intelliscore and see what events have ended up in the MIDI file.

The average pitch-to-MIDI converter will either ignore the slide or put out a lot of wrong notes.
So please let me know if yours does any better.

BTW: is your violin track a .wav or a .midi at the moment?

we just had a hurricane here so i have not been able to much with this…
tonight i will record a short track using my guitar, use Intelliscore to convert it to a mid file, then import it back into N-trk and add the voice (violin)…
i will be sure to let you know how sliding sound of the guitar is treated by Intelliscore

it doesnt work very well…the notes going up the scale don’t really slide but are individual notes. and the program i am using is called “amazing midi” ver.1.7…intelliscore can also do the same thing but seems much more complicated.

Yeah, that’s the problem Cliff, bends or slides in Midi do tend to be granular. You just get a set of microtonal steps, and not a true slide or bend.

As hansje said, if you want to get it smooth, then you need it as a synth function, and not a Midi function.

Many VSTi’s can and do give very smooth bends and slides. Rhino and Absynth are two of my personal favourites.

But it can be a lot of work.

So get NI guitar rig, and faff about with it until you get a nice violin sound on your guitar.

And don’t forget, the violin sound is why god gave us strat players a little finger on our right hand! :D


Ali, I think he means he’s getting a gliss (sequence of half-tone intervals) rather than a glide or bend.

With MIDI, you should be able to get a reasonably smooth pitch bend. Depending on how you have your synth set up, you can get as many as 64 little steps between two consecutive half-tones, which sounds pretty smooth. The wider a range you want to be able to slide, though, the fewer steps between half-tones. I generally have my bend range set to a whole tone, so I get 32 steps between half-tones and that still sounds smooth.

With tedious MIDI editing, you could set up the pitch bend range to a single half-step, and program in a slide where each time you get to the next half step, you play that note and drop the pitch bend back to the middle (64). Of course, this only works if the new note doesn’t re-trigger the sound (i.e., legato mode).

I can’t remember where, but I’ve heard a “pedal steel” track that was entirely MIDI and very convincing. But it sure would be a technical nightmare to do all the necessary MIDI editing. IIRC, it was the authentic licks and playing that made it work; the sound itself was relatively simple and not a perfect imitation of a pedal steel guitar. But that’s the secret to any imitative synth work: the playing matters a LOT more than the details of the tone. If you play licks folks expect to hear on the given instrument, in a good mix, it doesn’t matter so much if the tone doesn’t nail the imitated instrument.

Hey Ali, I sure wish I could do that pinky trick, but I just can’t wiggle it that fast! I did know a guy who had that down and used it a lot but very subtly, and man did it work. He was one of those guys who always made the other guitarist in the band sound fantastic too.

i will keep working on it…
ali — actually what i am looking for is more fiddle than violin, but most of my sound libraries only list violin or viola…
unfortunately, my strat wont let me do the pinky thing either (blame the guitar) but my son can do it like second nature…and, yes, he makes me sound pretty good when we jam together… :cool:

btw: can i send a guitar wave track to sfz and change its voice? i don’t recall if “send to” is available on the wav track properties…


can i send a guitar wave track to sfz and change its voice?

The simple answer is “no”.

sfz is a MIDI softsynth. You can assign MIDI tracks to “Output To” sfz, and play notes that way. You can’t get sfz to figure out what the audio notes are and synthesize those notes, or anything like that.

Here’s the long answer.

VSTi (and probably DXi) plugin instruments can also work as track plugins, meaning they have an audio input and an audio output. Most VSTi’s, though, would ignore the audio in, or else just add to it, rather than process it like an FX. Furthermore, I don’t know if you can plumb a VSTi that way in n-Track any more.

You used to be able to plug a VSTi in on an audio track. I don’t know whether this is still possible. You may or may not be able to assign the “Output To” for an audio track to the input of a plugin softsynth, which would be another way of doing the same thing (similar to the difference between using insert FX versus putting FX on groups).

But even if you can do one or the other, it’ll only do something interesting if the VSTi was designed to process input audio rather than just generate audio. For example, most synths these days aren’t modular; the synth creates notes and processes them, but you can’t feed an arbitrary audio signal into them. On the other hand, with a modular synth like the old Moog modulars, you could feed any signal anywhere (with patch cables) and do some very complicated, confusing, and usually horrible but occasionally totally wild stuff (like cross modulation). In theory, a little of this is also possible in the world of VSTi/DXi, but I don’t know of any synths that actually support it.

You can plug Native Instruments B4 Leslie in and process any audio track with it, and control the rotor speed using MIDI, and get overdrive from the Leslie amp sim. You can even do that with the whole B4 organ VSTi. I had this happen by mistake once at a gig: the soundcard’s input was fed into the VSTi. Any notes played would add to that, and the sum is fed to the Leslie sim. Unfortunately, my laptop was set up with the laptop’s built-in mic as the input. (I’d just been using NetMeeting, which always turns the #### mike on even if you’re not doing any audioconferencing). I couldn’t tell quite what was going on for a while, but some really wild swirly noises were coming out of my system. Freaked the sound guy right out, since he was trying to patch me up at the time. Fortunately I did eventually figure it out and disable the input!


In theory, a little of this is also possible in the world of VSTi/DXi, but I don’t know of any synths that actually support it.

The latest version of Plogue Bidule comes as VST(i) too.
Inside you can build your own synths or patch and manipulate VST(i)s, audio streams, MIDI streams and even spectral data.
It would be very well possible to build something that takes a guitar wave track for input and uses the pitch information to synthesize a fiddle(oid), that accurately follows the guitar (including slides etc).