Pros/cons: keyswitches vs separate patches for every articulation?

Discussion in 'Newbie Questions' started by Coriolis, Apr 26, 2019.

  1. Coriolis

    Coriolis New Member

    Apr 18, 2019
    What are the pros and cons of having a single instrument with keyswitches for articulations, compared to having separate patches for every articulation?
  2. babylonwaves

    babylonwaves Senior Member

    May 9, 2015
    key switches itself never did it for me. so i used separate tracks for each art for a long time. but then, articulation sets and expression maps changed the game because you can write a line and then decide on a note level which articulation plays. and, you don't clutter your score with low notes.

    yes, i'm biased and i develop products for that purpose-
  3. Dewdman42

    Dewdman42 Senior Member

    Oct 28, 2016
    Because of articulation sets, expression maps and re articulate, the days of having to use a separate midi track for each articulation or littering your track with key switch events, are mostly a thing of the past. Using the mechanisms that are available today, you can mostly write to a single midi track and avoid embedding key switches directly into your score.

    There are pros and cons to both types of sample libraries....singular key switchable vs one patch per articulation.

    I think with separate patches for each articulation you sometimes get a little more ability to adjust the level of each articulation, and in some cases you can play around with the latency of each articulation easily too. When its all in a self contained key switch driven patch, then you're a bit at the mercy of the library developer to hope the articulation levels are consistent, and latency between articulations almost certainly will not be. So separate patches has some real advantage. But its also a little more involved to figure out how to write to that. You can use channelizing methods with articulation sets and expression maps to still write to a single midi track and have the midi channelized to each separate patch, which still gives you the ability to easily adjust levels and not quite as easily, but still doable, adjust latency of each articulation too. But you have to set that up yourself, there is a little more work to do that, versus key switched patches.

    Keyswitch patches are a lot easier to to call up and just play, hit the key switches and hear the articulations change, and its very easy to use, and you don't have to know anything about which patch has which articulation, etc.. And sometimes the library developers do clever things with key switching that would be difficult or impossible with separate articulations on separate patches. But you just lose some control over the details that way. Depends a lot on the library.
    gpwilliams, Alexandre, rudi and 2 others like this.
  4. James H

    James H 01001000 01101001

    Dec 20, 2018
    Also when looping a region, the previous keyswitch not getting triggered was always a pain.
  5. Satorious

    Satorious Member

    Oct 30, 2013
    Keyswitches aren't super-intuitive to me as they differ depending on which library is being used. I tend to split articulations up into separate patches. That said if you are scoring and have to keep re-timing things - key-switches can help make that process easier to manage (it depends how much you want to isolate some of the individual flourishes really).
  6. Wolfie2112

    Wolfie2112 Senior Member

    I never use key switches, unless it's for something like Sonokinetic libraries. I prefer each articulation to be its own instance, on its own track. I might see this differently if I were a composer who wrote using notation software, or I were preparing a score for an orchestra.
  7. Phil81

    Phil81 Active Member

    Jan 29, 2019
    Cubase comes in pretty handy when working several midi tracks (one for each articulation) since it lets you see all notes at once. There's also the possibility of merging them into one MIDI file.
  8. shawnsingh

    shawnsingh Active Member

    Jun 2, 2018
    I like the ability to "microswitch" between articulations as a way of trying different note attacks and tuning the performance of each instrument. E.g. what happens if we use sustain instead of portato, or marcato... Each one can work as a semi short articulation like a quarter note, but with a different performance character. Or another example, what happens when you want a phrase to have short and long notes together... It becomes a nightmare to keep moving notes across tracks.

    It's totally reasonable if people compose differently and don't care to microswitch articulations like I do. But for people who do switch all the time between articulations, do any of you still prefer separate tracks instead of keyswitches? I'm curious to hear how it's not a frustrating nightmare for you folks :)
    dsblais, Ben, Henu and 1 other person like this.
  9. Ben

    Ben Active Member

    Dec 22, 2017
    This would also interest me. This is also one of the reasons I use keyswitches instead of expression maps.
    shawnsingh likes this.
  10. Wolfie2112

    Wolfie2112 Senior Member

    Isn't using Expression Maps the huge advantage of using key switch patches?
    goalie composer and shawnsingh like this.
  11. Ben

    Ben Active Member

    Dec 22, 2017
    If I want to create Expression maps, I have to create way to many to make it work with my template. But maybe I did not understand the concept of exp. maps correctly.
    shawnsingh likes this.
  12. MartinH.

    MartinH. Senior Member

    Jun 16, 2018
    For now with MetArk1 I use different single articulation patches per instrument section and use the midi channels to set per-note articulation switching. I have standardized the most common ones, so sustain is channel 1, legato channel 2, then increasingly shorter notes on channel 3 to 5. That way I can even move midi data between different sections without making changes to keyswitches. Becomes annoying though when you need to edit CC1 data on channels other than ch1, but that's still less annoying than having to scroll to reach keyswitch notes and move them together with played notes etc.. One drawback of my method: past channel 5 I can't remember what the channels do and have to open Kontakt to check. That probably could be solved better (maybe with reaticulate), but I didn't bother to really look into it yet.
    shawnsingh likes this.
  13. Saxer

    Saxer Senior Member

    Mar 30, 2008
    Meanwhile I like to use key switches (since Logic's articulation system). Though I still like to have CC driven articulations like legatos/sustains/trems on a different track than one shot velocity controlled articulations.

    But the instruments I like most doesn't need key switches at all. Performance Samples, Musicalsampling, Samplemodeling, Audiomodeling.
    Last edited: May 2, 2019
    DANIELE, MartinH. and shawnsingh like this.
  14. Henu

    Henu Senior Member

    Nov 17, 2017
    This is exactly why I cannot use separate articulations on separate tracks. For any sort of realism, this microshifting is crucial in order to actually use the library in it's full capacity. I do it like @MartinH. , having single articulations within one Kontakt instance on separate midi channels and use the same channels for the common articulations as well. The articulation map in Cubase is just using midi channel instead of a keyswitch, but otherwise it's doing what articulation map is supposed to do.
    MartinH. and shawnsingh like this.
  15. Dex

    Dex Member

    Nov 21, 2017
    One thing I haven’t figured out how to do yet is how to do everything on grid on one midi track (either via keyswitching or different midi channels) when different articulations need different timing offsets. There are tons of libraries where the legato patches need 80 ms of predelay while the shorts don’t need any, for instance.
    goalie composer likes this.
  16. Dewdman42

    Dewdman42 Senior Member

    Oct 28, 2016
    That's one of the reasons to NOT embed actual keyswitches on your tracks and rather use an articulation management solution that generates the key switches on the fly as the actual notes are sent.
  17. Per Boysen

    Per Boysen New Member

    Dec 5, 2012
    When I play KS patches I like to use a MIDI pedalboard with eight pedal switches to jump between articulations while playing melody notes with hands. The pedalboard also has an expression pedal, but I prefer using breath control for dynamics.
  18. Dex

    Dex Member

    Nov 21, 2017
    So a proper articulation manager would delay the midi for each articulation appropriately? I admit I haven't looked into articulation managers much yet. I'm using Reaper and all we have is reaticulate, which is still in alpha and which I've only done a little bit of reading about.
    Last edited: May 5, 2019
  19. Dewdman42

    Dewdman42 Senior Member

    Oct 28, 2016
    I don’t know if any of them yet handle the latency per articulation or not. You asked about how to make sure the keyswitches will always be in front of the notes.

    But what they generally do is insert keyswitches right in front of the notes at the time the note is being sent.

    Theoretically if you had some other mechanism which is delaying the notes of each articulation according to known latency then the articulation management would still make sure to insert the keyswitches right in front of each note.

    Maybe someday we will have improved articulation management systems that also can be configured to delay the notes in addition to inserting keyswitches right in front of the notes.
    JohannesR likes this.
  20. JohannesR

    JohannesR Active Member

    Sep 30, 2011
    Los Angeles
    This! If key switches could work in the time domain as well.

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