If you’re reading this article, you probably already know how to map hardware controllers to basic functions in MainStage. Now it’s time to take it one step further and map controllers to control effects plugins.
Check out the video below.
There are quite a few things going on in this video, but focus on the Direction Mixer, which controls a sound’s stereo width. In this situation, I used it to reduce the stereo width. To accomplish this, I mapped a virtual controller to move from 127 to 0, over a designated number of beats. In this case, 127 represented 2.00 spread and 0 represented 0 spread.
A virtual controller script was used in the above example, but it’s obviously possible to control effects with a hardware controller as well. In most cases, you’ll want effects to change or evolve over time, so you’ll need to use a continuous controller — an expression pedal or mod wheel.
Something like this is best taught by example, so here’s a situation where I’ve had to map controllers to effects in the past.
I worked on an Off-Broadway show called Invisible Thread last year. It was by far the most intensive show I’ve ever programmed for. Tom Xi and I had to write a lot of custom JS code to manipulate MIDI, and there was also a lot of room for creative sound design.
One of the songs called for a “vanishing piano,”
How do you interpret something like that?
If you want to be uncreative, you could simply map the expression pedal to control volume and be done with it. However, that’s boring and you probably shouldn’t be in this business if you don’t want to be creative.
The first task was to decide what hardware controller to use. The mod wheel was out of the question because the keyboardist needed to use both hands. The expression pedal was mapped to control volume. Since this patch involved making a piano sound vanished, I decided it would be fine to override the expression pedal’s default mapping.
Here are the general sound design parameters I came up with.
Moving the pedal from 127 to 0 would do the following…
Move the piano fader from -6dB to -20dB.
Increase the stereo spread of the piano sound from 1.00 to 2.00.
Move an EQ’s high-pass filter from 100Hz to 10kHZ.
Move a shelving EQ from 0dB to +3dB at 10kHz.
Increase a pre-fader reverb send from -30dB to -0dB.
Let’s break it down even further.
I moved the piano fader down to decrease the “dry” signal.
Increasing the stereo spread created a sense of expansion.
Gradually raising the HPF created a sense of increasing distance.
Raising frequencies above 10kHz helped with presence.
Gradually increasing the reverb signal resulted in atmosphere.