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Futuristic Engine Design

seaboard is the name of that strange instrument in front of me that's a new kind of keyboard controller that means it doesn't make sound itself but can be used to control al kinds of synthesizers and software with a synthesizer with regular keys you can give the sound a certain quality when you strike the note from there it sounds just as it is. of course you can modulate it afterwards with knobs and wheels, but that isn't connected in a physical way to the note held down.

other than a cello or other natural instruments, where you can slide up and down the fingerboard with the playing hand to modulate the pitch of the note you played, or even the character of the sound by changing the bow technique. the seaboard gives you just the same access to shaping the sound. you can modulate the sound after you stroke the note, with the same finger you're holding it down. there are 5 "gestures" to achieve that, roll calls them "5 dimensions of touch". the first one's called "strike".

that's already known as note velocity with whom you usually control the initial volume or hardness of the sound on a regular keyboard. the next one's called "press". we're also familiar with that already as aftertouch. you can further apply pressure on a stroke note. other than most regular keyboards that's polyphonic on the seaboard. you can control the notes in a chord separately. let me show you that: that feels very different to a regular keyboard,

where you have no actual movement and it just senses the pressure on the key. here you can squeeze the key and have a way to travel. so you can precisely control the amount of aftertouch. with the third dimension the seaboard starts to get interesting. it's called glide. this wasn't possible before; you can glide from note to note - and further. and that gets you very close to the aforementioned cello,

where you can do that naturally on the fingerboard. you can do that between the actual keys, but also at the spaces above and below which act like a ribbon controller. as you can see, this can not only be used for bendings, but also for vibrato. you've seen people jokingly wiggling their finger on the piano keys without anything happening. now you can use that movement to create a real vibrato. and unlike a predefined vibrato via the modulation wheel, you can control its depth and speed

directly with your playing finger. the fourth dimension is "slide" that means you can slide back and forth on the key and control the sound with that also. and finally there's "lift". that measures the speed you release the key with. we already know that as release velocity which is quite rare in traditional keyboards. this can be used for instance to control the time it takes a note to decay after releasing it. if you release it slowly it takes long...

if you release it quickly, it mutes very fast. to me the most interesting feature of the seaboard is "glide". it's like polyphonic pitch bending. let me show you some things you can do with it. play a chord and apply vibrato just to certain notes. glide between single notes in a chord. one thing that's rarely covered in existing demos is the microtonal potential of the seaboard. for example it is possible to adjust for the impure intervals of equal temperament

and play pure harmonies. to cover that topic in depth would go beyond the scope of this video. if you care about it, please search the web for equal temperament. just a little explanation on it: since the early 20th century instruments are tuned in a way that all keys can be used coequally. to achieve this, all intervals are slightly detuned. our ears got used to that and it is not perceived as detuned or wrong. but the difference to pure intervals is there

and you can hear it in direct comparison. i will show you that. with the seaboard it is now possible to compensate ...with some practise at least. i'll play a chord now, that will sound perfectly normal at first. then i will try to adjust the intervals to their actual places. if the effect wasn't obvious, i'll repeat it. pay attention to a fast beating between the notes

that gets slower and slower and then stops altogether in the desired pure harmony. guitarists will know that effect from tuning their instruments. those imperfect intervals are particularly disturbing with overdriven sounds. so it's very cool that you can even that out now. i'll give you another example with the oberheim matrix 1000 you already heard in the intro. it goes through the strymon mobius driving a leslie simulation with a very hot signal so it will distort quite a bit.

the strymon timeline is adding some delay to it. lets take a closer look at some synths and software you can play with the seaboard. as i mentioned its a controller with no sound engine by itself. but there's a software synthesizer coming with it, which is designed to work perfectly with the 5 dimensions the seaboard and where you can adjust what they should do in every detail. this is the plugin. it's called equator.

you can adjust for every sound how to react to your movements on the seaboard. this beautiful and easy to operate: you just click the function it turns yellow - i choose the slide function - (that is the back and forth movement) and now you see all sorts of things turn yellow, too. those are the parameters affected by sliding. i slide back.

you can hear the sound changing and see the filter in the sample field open up for instance. if you want to set up a new destination just click the desired parameter and pull up the yellow arc according to the desired modulation intensity. for instance if you want the resonance to open up. ...done. the equator is an interesting synthesizer in its own right with loads of features. it's got 3 oscillators,

2 multimode filters, 2 lfos a sick 5 envelopes, fm capability, and even the possibility to play samples - i would wish to be able to load my own samples. but it seems to only give you the pre set samples it comes with. yet those are quite extensive. it works seamlessly together with the seaboard and set up is very easy.

you can even modulate the effects with your fingers. all that gives you a great potential for sound design. but there's a big drawback with the equator: it eats your cpu for breakfast. my slightly dated macbook pro is on its limits and beyond, even with my quad core imac with big ram its not significantly better. this got to be improved. to give you some more sound examples of the equator, i will play you some presets. you can also use just any other software or hardware synth with the seaboard.

but to get the full potential, there are some requirements on the receiving side. the seaboard is working with the established midi standard. there is just one problem: pitch bend - which is the command the glide function works with - is a channel message. that means it usually controls all played notes at once. when you play a chord and glide with just one voice, all other voices would bend, too. to work around that, roli uses a litlle "trick":

every voice is sent out on its own midi channel. the receiving synth of course needs to be able to work with that. that means you will need a multitimbral synth or when working with soft synths you have to open up several instances. i want to show you the procedure with the example of the waldorf blofeld. after you choose a sound you want to play with the seaboard, change to multi mode by pressing shift and multi. then you have to set up a separate part with the same sound for every receiving channel.

i memorized the sound number a028 hold play and switch to the next part. choose a028 again. third part: a028 ... and so on. you already see this is quite an effort. further you have to set every part to the correct pitch bend range of +/- 12 or +/- 24 semitones. and at the blofeld you can even set the bend range per oscillator - which is a cool thing theoretically. in this case it means even more work. chose the first oscillator,

choose bend range and dial in +24. luckily i set this up before. same for the second oscillator... choose bend range... +24 ... and so on. this is a whole lot of work altogether. when you decide to play a different sound, you have to go through all of this again. if you do all that, you are rewarded with highly expressive sounds. while the blofeld is quite a pain to set up as we could see, i want to show you the oberheim matrix 1000,

which is a great companion to the seaboard. of course i like analog synths and this is a great one... further it is working particularly well with the seaboard, because it has a feature that most modern synths lack: i would call it a midi guitar mode, that was designed to work with midi guitars. to set this up, just press channel, and after the usual 16 midi channels there is "g1" now it it receiving on channels 1 to 6 and every of its six voices is automatically set to respond to a different cannel,

just as required for the seaboard. now we'll set the pitch bend range. choose bend, set it to 24 and you're done. (those settings are global, so you have to do this just once.) now you can play it the way as with a regular keyboard. it even responds to the +/- keys on the seaboard that are intended to change sounds on the equator. some thoughts on the hardware: it feels very sturdy and is surprisingly heavy for its size.

but not too heavy to carry on the other side. the key waves themselves feel very special and hard to describe. jamie cullum said at the first contact with it: "somewhere between piano and food - in a good way" i would second that. it is possible to use the seaboard completely wireless. it has got a rechargeable battery built in and uses the midi over bluetooth technology. so it is the perfect companion for mobile musicians.

many instruments are being marketed that way, but i actually sat on the train with it for practicing and it worked really great. one thing is quite annoying: on a midi controller you would usually assume a 5 pin midi output, but not so with the seaboard. it has got two usb ports and a power supply input as well as a jack input for a foot pedal. but no standard midi port.

so if you don't want to rely on the computer, you will need an extra device that translates from usb to standard midi. conclusion: the seaboard has a great concept. keyboardists can build everything they've learned about the keyboard layout. but they can play with new ways of expression - just like on a natural instrument. the hardware is very sturdy yet mobile. the lack of a standard midi output is big drawback. the software is well thought out, with great potential.

its demand on computer resources is just ridiculous. the seaboard works very well with other soft- and hardware. some preparation on the side of the receiving synth is required, which can be a pain sometimes, depending on the particular synth and its menu structure. older synths with midi guitar mode work particularly well. the price tag is 799 รข‚¬ which seems quite high for a 2 octave midi controller. but you just can't compare it to ordinary controllers, it's an innovative product with an assumably small audience and it's surely not mass produced like everyday-controllers from big companies.

considering all that i think the price tag is quite nice actually. there are also bigger models with integrated sound engine, but they are a lot more expensive. other options are instruments like the haaken continuum and the roger linn linnstrument and others all those are much more expensive and don't build on the common keyboard layout, so you have to learn everything from scratch. to close this up, i will play a little piece of music. enjoy and thanks for watching.


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