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Gating a Keyboard

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Gating a Keyboard

PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 5:20 am
by Little Jim
Hey guys,

Can anyone help me with gating a keyboard?

I'd really like to use natural sounds--frogs for example--as a signal to trigger a keyboard.

I've started looking into the Drawmer Ds201to facilitate this, but can anyone provide advice as to how to go about this.

Cheers,
Little Jim

Re: Gating a Keyboard

PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 9:40 am
by Wonks
HI and welcome.

Can you throw some context on this? Are the frogs in the wild or say in a glass tank?

Do you want to turn croaks into pitched notes, or trigger a musical sequence?

Do you want a hardware module solution, or is all in a computer OK?

The latter is probably easiest, though you'll need some sort of audio interface to get the sound from a mic (or mics) into the computer. There are various audio to MIDI programs availble, but I'm not quite sure how well they'd cope with croaks.

Re: Gating a Keyboard

PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:21 am
by The Elf
I wonder if a vocoder might be better tool for this? Gating/triggering seems a crude tool. But yes, we need to better understand what you're trying to achieve.

Re: Gating a Keyboard

PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 12:10 pm
by Wonks

Re: Gating a Keyboard

PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 6:21 am
by Little Jim
Thanks guys.

Ok some context. I have various field recordings and I would like to use these as a trigger for an instrument—I’m thinking a keyboard would be easiest.

I’d prefer a hardware solution but open to a computer/software solution.

Cheers,
Little jim

Re: Gating a Keyboard

PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 11:02 am
by Sam Spoons
What do you want to hear as the end result?

Do you intend to gate the field recordings so that the noise the frogs* make sends a trigger to a synth (the gate will silence the ambience between the croaks, but only if the croaks are sufficiently louder than said ambience)?

What will determine the pitch of the triggered sound, or will the keyboard be used to process the croaks (and will they be part of the wanted sound output)?

*in which case the thread title might be better as "Gating a Frog" ;)

Re: Gating a Keyboard

PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 11:07 am
by Wonks
Yes, I too still have no idea what the end result is.

I think computer is probably the only way to go, unless you just want to trigger the same sound over and over again.

Re: Gating a Keyboard

PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 11:16 am
by desmond
Little Jim wrote:I have various field recordings and I would like to use these as a trigger for an instrument—I’m thinking a keyboard would be easiest.

This info is really too vague to understand what you want the outcome to be.

For example it could mean, when a particularly loud bird call happens, it triggers a particular note on a keyboard.
Or it could mean, you want the keyboard to play the individual notes of the bird call, to "sing along" with it.
Or it could mean, a loud bird call opens the gate to let a recorded (and playing) synthesiser part be heard in the mix.
Or something else entirely.

All of these require vastly different tools and technologies to achieve.

If you could describe what you are trying to do, that would better let people try to help...

Re: Gating a Keyboard

PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 11:43 am
by Little Jim
To answer more accurately, I would like the field sounds to pulse through the chord being played. I know in the 80s that drum machines were often fed through a Drawmer DS201 and then into a keyboard to give the chord being played a rhythm. Bon Iver, on the song Holyfields fed a noise generator into a keyboard and again it gives the notes or chords a rhythm, a pulse.



https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/so ... tAgovZkwa/

Re: Gating a Keyboard

PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 11:48 am
by The Elf
I'm similarly at a loss as to what you're trying to achieve.

Do you want a musical (for example a piano) note to play each time a sound above a certain threshold triggers it? Do you expect that note to somehow reflect the pitch of the triggering sound? Do you expect the triggered sound to have characteristics of the triggering sound (hence my suggestion of a vocoder)?

Or is this simply one isolated sound triggering another? Or do you *really* mean 'gating', where you want to side-chain a noise gate to open up a sustained sound triggered by your source sounds?

Do you have an example of something similar you're trying to emulate?

Oops! Forum postings that cross in the night!

Re: Gating a Keyboard

PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:01 pm
by BJG145
Little Jim wrote:To answer more accurately, I would like the field sounds to pulse through the chord being played. I know in the 80s that drum machines were often fed through a Drawmer DS201 and then into a keyboard to give the chord being played a rhythm. Bon Iver, on the song Holyfields fed a noise generator into a keyboard and again it gives the notes or chords a rhythm, a pulse.

https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/so ... tAgovZkwa/

Whereabouts is the example in that episode...? Do the sounds you want to produce have any relationship to the input source, other than volume...?

It sounds like maybe the effect you're after is something like the one described in the section Triggering from your sequencer in this article by Mike Senior and Paul White...?

https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques ... ues-part-2

Re: Gating a Keyboard

PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:12 pm
by Dave B
So what you are describing is where a chord was played on a keyboard (synth usually) and no sound was made until a trigger pulse was sent from a channel on a drum machine (typically the hi hat).

So you have a recording of various animal noises sparking off at certain points and you want to use that instead of the drum machine - yes?

Hardware is fine - and simple and cheap. You can pick up a DS201 (or 501) quite cheaply these days and any gate with a side chain input will do. I would be tempted to use an aux from a mixer to send to the side chain input. The gate would be between the keyboard outs and any mixer and the side chain input would then be used to open the gate and allow the keyboard sounds to pass to the mixer. It's also worth considering that an effects you want may have to come after the keyboard has been triggered which would mean using a post-fade send to the effects on the keyboard channel of the mixer.

If you are flush and would like a one-stop shop, I think that the Yamaha Montage series might be able to take a feed from the audio and use it as a gate trigger for it's internal processing. So you might be able to do it all in one unit, but it would be expensive and I'd be checking where the gating occurs in the signal path (again, you'd want it post synth engine output but pre effects and I don't know enough about the Montage signal path to comment further).

If that's all right, what information would you like?

Re: Gating a Keyboard

PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:17 pm
by Wonks
Looks like the frog audio is to be used as a side-chain for a gate on a synth sound.

If so, then yes, you can do it with a hardware module. The Drawmer DS201 still seems to be the unit that's best suited to this purpose. There are lower-cost units that have a simple expander/gate function, but I feel you'd need the much larger degree of control that the Drawmer gives you to make it work well.

Frog sounds go in the sidechain input and the synth through the main input. The two gates can be stereo linked, if the synth output is being used in stereo. Use the high and low pass filters to focus the frog sounds to avoid unnecessary triggering (though you can always clean up the audio file first before use to cut out unnecessary background noise - you are only using this sound as a trigger).

As the Drawmer is around £550 new, it would be a lot cheaper to do this in software, as most DAWs will provide a gate/expander plug-in as part of their standard modules, and if not, then there are various free or low cost gate plugs available.

Re: Gating a Keyboard

PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:27 pm
by The Elf
OK, side-chained gate it is!

To avoid going bankrupt (and to get the job done in ten minutes from me typing this posting!) I'd definitely go the software route.

Download Cockos Reaper here: http://reaper.fm/download.php

...and follow this tutorial for side-chaining: https://youtu.be/E9gZNXUlNms

I really would consider a vocoder, though - it would make a good effect!