Instruction manual - Pizzicato 3.6.2 EN830 - Revision of 2013/05/29


Composition Pro

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Composition tools - Virtual keyboards

Subjects covered:

Watch also the following video:

Virtual keyboards [Professional] [Composition Pro]

The purpose of a virtual keyboard is to expand the playing possibilities of a single musical keyboard and to make it possible to play several instruments with only one keyboard. This principle is common in most synthesizers and is often called a performance. It is a preset of various sounds programmed on the keyboard and that may be used together in a performance.

A virtual keyboard is a musical object that may contain several instruments. It takes its input from a MIDI input port connected to a musical keyboard. If you do not have a musical keyboard connected to your computer, you may still use the virtual keyboard but it will be more limited, mainly because the mouse is not easily handled to play on a keyboard displayed on the screen.

To show how a virtual keyboard is build and used, we will create one as an example.

This is the dialog definition of a virtual keyboard. All values are set to their default values. No instrument is defined yet. For our example, we would like to have one octave of acoustic bass instrument. To add it, we will find it in the basic instruments of the left upper tree of the conductor view and drag it on the keyboard.

The instrument specifications of the acoustic bass instrument have been copied into the keyboard. The brown keys are the keys included in the standard bass instrument. You may play on this keyboard by clicking on it or by using your MIDI keyboard. Notice that when you play notes beyond the limits, no sound is played. The colored notes are the notes where the keyboard will answer for this instrument. If you want to drag another instrument but keep the same range, just drag it while holding down the CTRL key.

Here is the explanation for the various parts of this dialog.

The above two parameters are global for all instruments of the keyboard (here above, there is only one instrument defined, we will add other instruments further).

The following parameters are specific for each instrument defined in the virtual keyboard. They are displayed for the current instrument (as selected by the Instrument menu).

  • No influence of the incoming velocity: all notes are set for instance to a velocity value of 100. You may hit the keyboard very hard or very lightly, the resulting force of the note will be the same:

  • The full range of incoming velocities are adapted in a small range from 80 to 110. It will attenuate the range of velocities you play:

Let us continue with our example. We now have a bass playing on the first octave of the keyboard. We will add on the same range a vibes note that will be played 3 octaves higher than the bass note.

Our example is now complete. You may click on the "-" button just below the keyboard, on the left. This button switches between the edit mode (where you can modify and add instruments as we did here) and the playing mode (in which you see all instrument ranges and can play with it). The virtual keyboard becomes:

Notice that you can open and use several virtual keyboards at the same time. The virtual keyboard is active as soon as it is open. When you close it, it does not play anymore. You can active it again with a double click on its icon, in this case inside your document.

You may now play with it and compose music!

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Composition Pro