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Remap the Roland Fr1xB with Kontakt to use it as a Steirische Harmonika

fogman25

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I enjoy playing the diatonic accordions and recently started learning the Steirische Harmonika.

I wanted to use the Fr1xb keyboard with midi capabilities to allow me to practise steirische techniques. I would use three rows of buttons which are similar in size and quantity to a three row steirische. A hashed button top would be placed in middle of center row to represent Gleichton.

I used Ableton Live with three instances of Kontakt and Tubesynth.
Each instance of kontakt would use a Best Service Accordion. One for each of Chords , Treble PUSH and Treble PULL and Tubesynth VST to provide Bass.

The Output of Fr1xb midi channel 1 is input to both Treble PUSH and Treble PULL ableton tracks ; Channel 2 goes to Tubesynth and channel 3 goes to Chords.

All notes of Treble PUSH channel must be remapped to match notes that are required when you push in the bellows of a steirische harmonika.
Similarly; a remap is required for Treble PULL channel to match steirische on pull.

Fortunately Kontakt has a builtin remapping capability in it's KSP script programmer which is very easy and quick to program. Just push the button on accordion and note shows up. Type in the note you want and test immediately.

The only other issue is that you need a switch to allow you to choose which of the Treble PUSH or PULL tracks is to be muted. Ableton has a feature where you can map a midi CC from external switch to activate or deactivate a track and you can program it to activate one track and deactivate the other one with one CC (Control Change) I used a midi foot switch (using midi Expression interface from Audiofront)

The switch from one track to other works very quickly and smoothly by just tapping with your foot.

The big advantage to using it to simulate the Steirische is that the Steirische Harmonika is a heavy instrument and the music written for it tends to have long runs on the push and/or pull.
You also avoid the problem of running out of air. You could simulate a push or pull that lasts as long as you want.
I usually use griffschrift tab to play and it usually uses double notes for harmony. Lots of tab is available for free. The alternate bass technique as used on steirische is easy to do with stradella basses. The tubesynth vst simulates helicon tuba.

I have also tried to do it for the club accordion but the music I wanted to play on the on the club tended to require more push and pull changes which made this system less appealing.

This remapping technique also works great if you wanted to try the janko keyboard but would only provide two octaves on Fr1XB. This is similar to number of keys on FR1X (piano keys 26).
 
Cool project!
 
Great news! Looks like you are quite happy with your solution.

A few days ago I startet a thread about using the computer as sound source.

I think your project shows nicely how flexible it can be using a computer as a MIDI processing device. Well, if you can live with the shortcomings and / or sometimes needed workarounds.
Do you use your system even for live performances, or is it more ”experimental” to facilitate learning the Steirische with your given equipment?

It is a pitty that the FR1x doesn”t send a controller when you change bellows direction. Maybe worth to think about it as a DIY project?
Have you thought about monitoring the bellows pressure with a Kontakt KSP script and “switch direction” whenever the bellows pressure drops to zero?

BTW, I remember that there is / has been a diatonic version of the FR1. Don”t know if this means that it did behave like a Steirische.
 
.The only other issue is that you need a switch to allow you to choose which of the Treble PUSH or PULL tracks is to be muted. Ableton has a feature where you can map a midi CC from external switch to activate or deactivate a track and you can program it to activate one track and deactivate the other one with one CC (Control Change) I

I think this also can be done solely within Kontakt KSP. Then you are not tied to a certain host software. Let me know if you need assistance.
 
It is a pitty that the FR1x doesn”t send a controller when you change bellows direction. Maybe worth to think about it as a DIY project?
Have you thought about monitoring the bellows pressure with a Kontakt KSP script and “switch direction” whenever the bellows pressure drops to zero?

BTW, I remember that there is / has been a diatonic version of the FR1. Don”t know if this means that it did behave like a Steirische.
I only use this setup for learning to play steirische tunes. You can play as slow as you want and never worry about running out of air. You can practise a push or pull phrase over and over while actually operating fr1xB bellows in both directions or bellows set for little movement. It would be great if there was a way to determine bellows direction by monitoring the pressure. If you assume the that you change direction every time pressure drops to zero ; you may be out of sync since there is no way to know if it is positive or negative pressure but it might be worth a try. The Roland FR18 (diatonic) already does this and would work fine as a steirische but it does not have stradella bass system.
 
I think this also can be done solely within Kontakt KSP. Then you are not tied to a certain host software. Let me know if you need assistance.
Do you think you can use a stand alone Kontakt with KSP scripts that could do remapping and also facilitate switching between the two mappings and also determine the input channels treble bass and chords and route as required within Kontakt ? I have used the midi out of kontakt to route to other VSts or external modules but I have did it within Ableton.
 
Yes.
I’ll send you a PM with further questions.
I could not get either the Kontakt VST in Reaper or the standalone to work with the fr4x. I'm obviously missing something. Is there a trick? Do you have to up the gain or dynamics somewhere or ??????
 
Tom, it won’t be anything to do with gain (an analogue setting) but most likely that your Reaper is not listening to the midi from your accordion. If you use the standalone Kontak you will have to set these midi channel there. The advantage of using Reaper is the midi setting in Reaper control the VST so you don’t have to set each standalone VST instrument individually.
 
I could not get either the Kontakt VST in Reaper or the standalone to work with the fr4x. I'm obviously missing something. Is there a trick? Do you have to up the gain or dynamics somewhere or ??????

@Tom As I suggested in the other thread where you were asking, activate the „MDI Monitor“ within Kontakt and tell us what events are coming in (copy-paste it here or make a screenshot). Put the monitor to „verbose“ mode to see the whole history of incoming MIDI data. Then it should be easy to diagnose.
 
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@Tom As I suggested in the other thread where you were asking, activate the „MDI Monitor“ within Kontakt and tell us what events are coming in (copy-paste it here or make a screenshot). Put the monitor to „verbose“ mode to see the whole history of incoming MIDI data. Then it should be easy to diagnose.
Thanks Airy! Ok, I'll give this a try later today....
 
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