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MIDI velocity handling

Tobias Doerffel-2
Hi,

I'm about to deal with https://github.com/LMMS/lmms/issues/280 however
we have a little problem here. Notes at volume 100% equal MIDI events
with maximum velocity (127). For notes above 100% we can't map the
volume properly to a MIDI velocity. This leads to problems in two
areas: test notes in piano roll which are sent to the instrument track
as MIDI events and MIDI-based instruments. In both cases we can't play
notes louder than 100%. The question now is how to fix that. IMHO
there are three possible solutions:

- map volume 100% to MIDI velocity=63 and volume 200% to velocity 127.
This would make no difference for the test notes as the MIDI velocity
is mapped back to a volume with the same formula later. For MIDI-based
instruments this would lead to sound at half the volume which could be
normalized again in InstrumentTrack::processAudioBuffer() (v_scale is
doubled if n == NULL). In terms of volume things would be the same as
before except that we have a correct behaviour for notes with volume
up to 200%. The only drawback here is that instruments may sound
different at velocity=50% - imagine a good piano soundfont which would
play a less bright sound.

- make test note playback work at arbitrary volumes with a
workaround/additional information and cap velocity at 127 for
MIDI-based instruments. This would mean that any notes on e.g. an
Sf2player or VST instrument track will have a maximum volume of 100%
even if you set a higher value in piano roll.

- remove support for setting a volume > 100% for notes in piano roll
at all. Existing projects would load regularly so compatibility would
be kept. This would be the cleanest solution.

Any opinions?

Toby

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Re: MIDI velocity handling

Tres Finocchiaro
For me, note volume is a very minor compatibility issue when migrating a project to the new version, if that helps.  It's quick to fix volume via knob or fx channel, so if there were any negative impacts to backwards compatibility, I find volume to be relatively minor of one.  The largest impact would be instruments that specifically stack FX processors that change sounds dramatically depending on volume (i.e. Erazzor.xpf).

-Tres



On Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 4:36 PM, Tobias Doerffel <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi,

I'm about to deal with https://github.com/LMMS/lmms/issues/280 however
we have a little problem here. Notes at volume 100% equal MIDI events
with maximum velocity (127). For notes above 100% we can't map the
volume properly to a MIDI velocity. This leads to problems in two
areas: test notes in piano roll which are sent to the instrument track
as MIDI events and MIDI-based instruments. In both cases we can't play
notes louder than 100%. The question now is how to fix that. IMHO
there are three possible solutions:

- map volume 100% to MIDI velocity=63 and volume 200% to velocity 127.
This would make no difference for the test notes as the MIDI velocity
is mapped back to a volume with the same formula later. For MIDI-based
instruments this would lead to sound at half the volume which could be
normalized again in InstrumentTrack::processAudioBuffer() (v_scale is
doubled if n == NULL). In terms of volume things would be the same as
before except that we have a correct behaviour for notes with volume
up to 200%. The only drawback here is that instruments may sound
different at velocity=50% - imagine a good piano soundfont which would
play a less bright sound.

- make test note playback work at arbitrary volumes with a
workaround/additional information and cap velocity at 127 for
MIDI-based instruments. This would mean that any notes on e.g. an
Sf2player or VST instrument track will have a maximum volume of 100%
even if you set a higher value in piano roll.

- remove support for setting a volume > 100% for notes in piano roll
at all. Existing projects would load regularly so compatibility would
be kept. This would be the cleanest solution.

Any opinions?

Toby

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Re: MIDI velocity handling

diiz
In reply to this post by Tobias Doerffel-2
On 02/26/2014 11:36 PM, Tobias Doerffel wrote:
>
> - remove support for setting a volume > 100% for notes in piano roll
> at all. Existing projects would load regularly so compatibility would
> be kept. This would be the cleanest solution.
>
> Any opinions?
>

Would this mean, that the volumes in existing projects would be mapped
with a 0.5 factor, so that a volume of 200% in an old project would be
set to 100%?

We'd still basically have the same scale, but the numbers would be
different? What about the accuracy of the scale, would that be preserved?

One thing that should be an important consideration in making the
decision: are the note volumes stored as floating point or integer
values currently? If it's integers, then a smaller scale would be bad,
because we'd lose accuracy, and 0-100 in integers isn't even as accurate
as the MIDI velocity scale (and maps unevenly to it).

One possibility would be to just change the scale to 0-127, so that we
could map it accurately to MIDI velocities. This might make sense
especially if we're planning on implementing support for more external
instrument types in the future, such as LinuxVST, which also use MIDI...
and MIDI is still, despite being kind of outdated, an industry standard.

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Re: MIDI velocity handling

Tobias Doerffel-2
2014-02-26 23:06 GMT+01:00 Vesa <[hidden email]>:
> Would this mean, that the volumes in existing projects would be mapped
> with a 0.5 factor, so that a volume of 200% in an old project would be
> set to 100%?

With solution 3, nothing would change except that you can't change the
volume to values > 100% anymore. Notes at volume > 100% will preserve
their volumes but as soon as you touch the volumes, they would be
capped to 100%.

> One thing that should be an important consideration in making the
> decision: are the note volumes stored as floating point or integer
> values currently?

AFAIR integers. Anyways would you need more accuracy? You can control
the instrument track's overall volume with floating point accuracy.

> One possibility would be to just change the scale to 0-127, so that we
> could map it accurately to MIDI velocities.

Would be cool but very likely would break lots of things. We shouldn't
do this at this stage.

Toby

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Re: MIDI velocity handling

diiz
On 02/27/2014 12:35 AM, Tobias Doerffel wrote:
>> 2014-02-26 23:06 GMT+01:00 Vesa <[hidden email]>:
>>> Would this mean, that the volumes in existing projects would be mapped
>>> with a 0.5 factor, so that a volume of 200% in an old project would be
>>> set to 100%?
>> With solution 3, nothing would change except that you can't change the
>> volume to values > 100% anymore. Notes at volume > 100% will preserve
>> their volumes but as soon as you touch the volumes, they would be
>> capped to 100%.
>>
Then I'm against it. I don't think this kind of limitation of
functionality is good... where higher volumes are possible, but you
can't use them anymore. Think if you have a very long project, you've
started working on it in the old version, and you have lots of volumes
above 100... now you update to the new version and want to continue
working on the project - so in order to keep the volumes consistent, you
have to go and manually adjust all the volumes to below 100... not good.
And if that scenario is too unlikely - what about an older track where
you just want to make a small change? But the volumes you want to change
are above 100, so if you want to make the change, you have to change all
the volumes, because you can no longer edit >100 volumes... so a small
change turns into a big one. Not good.

I think I'd favour solution #1 - keep the 0-200 scale, map 200 to 127
for MIDI instruments. If we're concerned about the default volume
sounding "weird" - well, I don't think that's much of an issue: some
instruments already use MIDI 64 as the default volume (synth1 comes to
mind) so it wouldn't be all that odd. I think it's actually good, if you
start off making a pattern with the default volume, and suddenly you
want some louder notes, you can increase the velocity...

Also, this way the MIDI instruments behaviour is consistent with the
non-MIDI instruments. Both default to middle volume, but allow you to
adjust it either higher or lower.


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Re: MIDI velocity handling

diiz
On 02/27/2014 12:58 AM, Vesa wrote:
> I think I'd favour solution #1 - keep the 0-200 scale, map 200 to 127
> for MIDI instruments.

Addendum: if we're concerned about backwards compatibility - let's just
do it so that old tracks get translated into the new volume scale, so
that for MIDI instruments, note volumes get doubled when you load the
project.

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Re: MIDI velocity handling

Nikko Rocksalot

Option 3 sounds best to me as a user, as it seems like it would be the most transparent to me. The idea of mapping everything as 0-127 a LA midi does sound like the best option in the long run, as not doing so from the start seems to be the cause of this issue.



On Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 5:07 PM, Vesa <[hidden email]> wrote:

On 02/27/2014 12:58 AM, Vesa wrote:
> I think I'd favour solution #1 - keep the 0-200 scale, map 200 to 127
> for MIDI instruments.

Addendum: if we're concerned about backwards compatibility - let's just
do it so that old tracks get translated into the new volume scale, so
that for MIDI instruments, note volumes get doubled when you load the
project.

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Re: MIDI velocity handling

Stian Jørgensrud
In reply to this post by Tobias Doerffel-2
Will no instrument plugins be able to play above 100% volume or is it just when you have activated MIDI or just Sf2 and VeSTige?

I am strongly against removing support for >100%, at least for all plugins. I would go for option 2, or even better, option 4.

Option 4
- volume >100% uses a regular amplifier, in combination with option 2. So the user would have the exact same options as before, but above 100% you aren't changing MIDI velocity, you are changing volume gain.

Yes you could just add a regular amplifier on that instrument, but if we go with option 2 the old songs don't sound the same anymore if you don't add an amp. I would say an alternative which changes the way songs sound isn't really backward compatibility, you are loosing information from your song!
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Re: MIDI velocity handling

diiz
On 03/01/2014 12:50 PM, Stian Jørgensrud wrote:

> Will no instrument plugins be able to play above 100% volume or is it just
> when you have activated MIDI or just Sf2 and VeSTige?
>
> I am strongly against removing support for >100%, at least for all plugins.
> I would go for option 2, or even better, option 4.
>
> Option 4
> - volume >100% uses a regular amplifier, in combination with option 2. So
> the user would have the exact same options as before, but above 100% you
> aren't changing MIDI velocity, you are changing volume gain.
>
> Yes you could just add a regular amplifier on that instrument, but if we go
> with option 2 the old songs don't sound the same anymore if you don't add an
> amp. I would say an alternative which changes the way songs sound isn't
> really backward compatibility, you are loosing information from your song!
>

This option 4 is not possible to implement, since MIDI-based instruments
only provide a single audio stream, and thus it's impossible to do any
per-note amplification on them.

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Re: MIDI velocity handling

diiz
In reply to this post by Tobias Doerffel-2
Thinking about this again, I'm starting to think it'd be best to just
keep native instrument volume as it is (0-200), keep the MIDI velocity
mapping at 100=127, and cap the velocity at 127.

This would mean that for MIDI instruments, volumes between 100-200 would
be exactly the same, but that's a minor issue. MIDI instruments already
don't support many things that native instruments do support (per-note
pitch bends...), and this way, >100 volumes would just be another thing
that aren't supported by MIDI-instruments.

This would to me seem to be the easiest solution for now - MIDI
instruments keep the default 127 velocity (no soundfonts sounding less
bright by default), native instruments retain the ability to amplify
notes beyond 100, it's a win-win.

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Re: MIDI velocity handling

Bill Y.
Couldn't we offer something like a normalize toggle that when checked scales midi input to fit the 200% range, but when uncheck scales only to 100%? That way people can choose how they want to deal with the problem on a per instrument basis.


On Thu, Mar 6, 2014 at 2:06 AM, Vesa <[hidden email]> wrote:
Thinking about this again, I'm starting to think it'd be best to just
keep native instrument volume as it is (0-200), keep the MIDI velocity
mapping at 100=127, and cap the velocity at 127.

This would mean that for MIDI instruments, volumes between 100-200 would
be exactly the same, but that's a minor issue. MIDI instruments already
don't support many things that native instruments do support (per-note
pitch bends...), and this way, >100 volumes would just be another thing
that aren't supported by MIDI-instruments.

This would to me seem to be the easiest solution for now - MIDI
instruments keep the default 127 velocity (no soundfonts sounding less
bright by default), native instruments retain the ability to amplify
notes beyond 100, it's a win-win.

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Re: MIDI velocity handling

Stian Jørgensrud
In reply to this post by diiz
Agreed. Thit is the best option apart from option 4: Simulating 200% by boosting above 100 with an amp.

diiz wrote
Thinking about this again, I'm starting to think it'd be best to just
keep native instrument volume as it is (0-200), keep the MIDI velocity
mapping at 100=127, and cap the velocity at 127.

This would mean that for MIDI instruments, volumes between 100-200 would
be exactly the same, but that's a minor issue. MIDI instruments already
don't support many things that native instruments do support (per-note
pitch bends...), and this way, >100 volumes would just be another thing
that aren't supported by MIDI-instruments.

This would to me seem to be the easiest solution for now - MIDI
instruments keep the default 127 velocity (no soundfonts sounding less
bright by default), native instruments retain the ability to amplify
notes beyond 100, it's a win-win.
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Re: MIDI velocity handling

Bill Y.
Here is the thing. Midi is a two way street.. If some one uses LMMS as their sequencer, and makes volume changes in LMMS then sends that sequence data back out over midi, the music volume will clip. This would be highly undesirable. Instead it would be better to have the option to normalize the midi volumes so the external instrument can reproduce the actual track. The physical volume of the external device can then be adjusted to compensate. From a recording standpoint  if your track is mixed with a 1-20% volume scale, and then try and record a new midi tack, if it comes in at 100% it could be adjusted after, but it would be nice if you could play relative to the existing data, because it could impact how a person plays. Thus having a toggle for normalizing/over-driving the midi volume in my opinion is the best option that way the user can choose how they want to deal with the issue.


On Thu, Mar 6, 2014 at 5:33 PM, Stian Jørgensrud <[hidden email]> wrote:
Agreed. Thit is the best option apart from option 4: Simulating 200% by
boosting above 100 with an amp.


diiz wrote
> Thinking about this again, I'm starting to think it'd be best to just
> keep native instrument volume as it is (0-200), keep the MIDI velocity
> mapping at 100=127, and cap the velocity at 127.
>
> This would mean that for MIDI instruments, volumes between 100-200 would
> be exactly the same, but that's a minor issue. MIDI instruments already
> don't support many things that native instruments do support (per-note
> pitch bends...), and this way, >100 volumes would just be another thing
> that aren't supported by MIDI-instruments.
>
> This would to me seem to be the easiest solution for now - MIDI
> instruments keep the default 127 velocity (no soundfonts sounding less
> bright by default), native instruments retain the ability to amplify
> notes beyond 100, it's a win-win.





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Re: MIDI velocity handling

Bill Y.
sorry, that should read 1-200% volume scale*


On Thu, Mar 6, 2014 at 6:38 PM, Bill Y. <[hidden email]> wrote:
Here is the thing. Midi is a two way street.. If some one uses LMMS as their sequencer, and makes volume changes in LMMS then sends that sequence data back out over midi, the music volume will clip. This would be highly undesirable. Instead it would be better to have the option to normalize the midi volumes so the external instrument can reproduce the actual track. The physical volume of the external device can then be adjusted to compensate. From a recording standpoint  if your track is mixed with a 1-20% volume scale, and then try and record a new midi tack, if it comes in at 100% it could be adjusted after, but it would be nice if you could play relative to the existing data, because it could impact how a person plays. Thus having a toggle for normalizing/over-driving the midi volume in my opinion is the best option that way the user can choose how they want to deal with the issue.


On Thu, Mar 6, 2014 at 5:33 PM, Stian Jørgensrud <[hidden email]> wrote:
Agreed. Thit is the best option apart from option 4: Simulating 200% by
boosting above 100 with an amp.


diiz wrote
> Thinking about this again, I'm starting to think it'd be best to just
> keep native instrument volume as it is (0-200), keep the MIDI velocity
> mapping at 100=127, and cap the velocity at 127.
>
> This would mean that for MIDI instruments, volumes between 100-200 would
> be exactly the same, but that's a minor issue. MIDI instruments already
> don't support many things that native instruments do support (per-note
> pitch bends...), and this way, >100 volumes would just be another thing
> that aren't supported by MIDI-instruments.
>
> This would to me seem to be the easiest solution for now - MIDI
> instruments keep the default 127 velocity (no soundfonts sounding less
> bright by default), native instruments retain the ability to amplify
> notes beyond 100, it's a win-win.





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Re: MIDI velocity handling

diiz
In reply to this post by Stian Jørgensrud
On 03/07/2014 12:33 AM, Stian Jørgensrud wrote:

> Agreed. Thit is the best option apart from option 4: Simulating 200% by
> boosting above 100 with an amp.
>
>
> diiz wrote
>> Thinking about this again, I'm starting to think it'd be best to just
>> keep native instrument volume as it is (0-200), keep the MIDI velocity
>> mapping at 100=127, and cap the velocity at 127.
>>
>> This would mean that for MIDI instruments, volumes between 100-200 would
>> be exactly the same, but that's a minor issue. MIDI instruments already
>> don't support many things that native instruments do support (per-note
>> pitch bends...), and this way, >100 volumes would just be another thing
>> that aren't supported by MIDI-instruments.
>>
>> This would to me seem to be the easiest solution for now - MIDI
>> instruments keep the default 127 velocity (no soundfonts sounding less
>> bright by default), native instruments retain the ability to amplify
>> notes beyond 100, it's a win-win.
>>

Then it's the best option, because again... option 4 is impossible.

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