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Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software
#3022228 01/06/20 04:23 AM
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I should like MIDI guitar. I play guitar, I know my way around synth programming, I play keyboards, and I'm always looking for ways to extend the guitar into other sonic realms.

But here's the problem: synthesizers are triggered by switches. Velocity sensing, yes. Aftertouch...sometimes, although it's often more like afterswitch. Poly aftertouch...well, maybe, but for now, file under "good luck with that."

Guitar strings aren't switches.

I always thought Roland had the recipe right with the GR-300 - no MIDI! It did hex processing of the guitar, without latency, and responded like a guitar. Brilliant. Then Roland went into MIDI-land, and yes, we could get more sounds. But it was at the expense of expressiveness, glitching, massive cleaning up with MIDI sequencing, latency, tracking issues, and expense. Thankfully they're steering back in the right direction (well, at least in my opinion) with the SY-300.

The closest I've come to really liking MIDI guitar is the You Rock Guitar, which musicians didn't take seriously because it looked like a game controller, and consumers didn't wrap their heads around because, well, it was a MIDI guitar. I'm not sure it's being made any more. It didn't use strings, didn't respond to pitch bend, and felt weird. But it tracked and responded consistently. It worked really well for treating the guitar like a keyboard you could play with guitar muscle memory, but it wasn't a guitar.

Jam Origin is a plug-in or standalone program that takes polyphonic guitar audio and converts it into MIDI, including pitch bend. You don't need a special pickup, you don't need a special guitar, you just plug in and go. It's made in Denmark by, apparently, a bunch of really smart mad scientists who also get some degree of support from the Danish government.

The company doesn't build up unrealistic expectations. They say it's not perfect, and they urge you to try the demo before you buy. So I did. First, it does more than just guitar-to-MIDI; it has some really interesting effects, and comes bundled with a few instruments. You can load impulses, and your own plug-ins as master effects. Second, AFAIC it tracks as well - if not better - than a standard-issue MIDI guitar with a hardware hex pickup. I was definitely taken aback.

I bought the program a couple days ago, because they were still running their special where you could get the guitar and bass version at a 2-for-1 $99 price. That's a righteous price for a hardwareless MIDI guitar.

Oh, you want to know what it looks like? Sure, here's the stand-alone version.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

You'll find out more as I find out more. Please feel free to comment, ask questions, and participate in the discussion...don't be shy.

Last edited by Anderton; 01/06/20 04:24 AM.
Re: Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software
Anderton #3022234 01/06/20 05:01 AM
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I am quite blown away by this software, obviously a clean playing style is necessary and some synths/patches are more compatible than others. If you haven't seen it, Paul Bielotowitcz' demo is just unbelieveable. I will be working on integrating it into a hybrid rig so that I can use real tubes, some modeling and midi guitar... just need Nembrini to also make IOS stuff. Bringing my ipad to NAMM, should be fun.

Re: Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software
Anderton #3022270 01/06/20 05:17 PM
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I tried the demo some time ago, it's probably still on my drive.

I'll have to take another look and keep an eye out for sales...


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Re: Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software
sysexguy #3022282 01/06/20 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by sysexguy
I am quite blown away by this software, obviously a clean playing style is necessary


Yes, and it seems especially important to avoid post-sequencing cleanup. Frankly, though, I get away with more than I expected. I thought it would be super-touchy.

Quote
...and some synths/patches are more compatible than others.


It seems MIDI guitar is always happiest with pads more than percussive patches. Perhaps the biggest limitation with Jam Origin is that it can't do mono mode, where each string goes over its own channel - some synths, especially the older Yamaha FM synths like the TX802 and TX81Z, performed so well under those circumstances. But of course, that would require a hex pickup, and what I like so much about Jam Origin is that I can just plug and play.

Re: Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software
Anderton #3022357 01/07/20 05:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Anderton


It seems MIDI guitar is always happiest with pads more than percussive patches. Perhaps the biggest limitation with Jam Origin is that it can't do mono mode, where each string goes over its own channel - some synths, especially the older Yamaha FM synths like the TX802 and TX81Z, performed so well under those circumstances. But of course, that would require a hex pickup, and what I like so much about Jam Origin is that I can just plug and play.


I agree, the advantage of one channel per string is any pitch bend on one string won't affect the others, With JO one must watch that. I like mixing in a bit of raw guitar with the percussive sounds, helps blur the latency and improve the feel.

Re: Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software
Anderton #3022363 01/07/20 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Anderton
Originally Posted by sysexguy
I am quite blown away by this software, obviously a clean playing style is necessary


Yes, and it seems especially important to avoid post-sequencing cleanup. Frankly, though, I get away with more than I expected. I thought it would be super-touchy.

Quote
...and some synths/patches are more compatible than others.


It seems MIDI guitar is always happiest with pads more than percussive patches. Perhaps the biggest limitation with Jam Origin is that it can't do mono mode, where each string goes over its own channel - some synths, especially the older Yamaha FM synths like the TX802 and TX81Z, performed so well under those circumstances. But of course, that would require a hex pickup, and what I like so much about Jam Origin is that I can just plug and play.


Now you've got me thinking. Fishman Triple Play has the hexaphonic pickup and the software allows assigning plugins to strings. If you could make 6 functioning copies of Jam Origin with different names you could probably have the mono instances per string. Evil plan, I know...


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Re: Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software
Anderton #3022394 01/07/20 04:12 PM
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While guitar is not my primary instrument, I did experiment with a Roland GM-70. I configured the guitar to "Nashville tuning" - lowest three strings pitched to octave higher then transpose those channels down one octave over MIDI . While it solved the latency issue with lower pitches, the use of the unprocessed guitar was limited. I was hoping to use it to play strummed acoustic guitar from my Kurzweil rompler; while the samples where high class, the strumming never sounded right. Seems that a strummed acoustic guitar needs much more than independent sampled strings.

A few months ago I acquired a fixer-upper ARP Avatar guitar synthesizer. We all know how well that worked. My intention is to convert it into a MIDI controlled Odyssey "expander module" by removing the unreliable guitar interface. I'm stretching my EE skills by shoehorning a bunch of additions such as normalled patchpoint jacks (like the ARP 2600) and a clone of the ARP Sequencer. The PSU has plenty of reserve current to handle the load and there's lots of empty space for adding the circuits.

Guitar pitch-to-MIDI (or any pitch conversion of guitar) has always been an engineering challenge. The timbre of a guitar string is VERY dynamic. I don't think anybody has perfected it yet. Try and make sense of the ARP converter in their patent (it is filed under "paul derocco" not ARP).

Last edited by The Real MC; 01/07/20 04:13 PM.
Re: Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software
Anderton #3022404 01/07/20 05:15 PM
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The engineering isn't just about the strings, but also handling the data. JO is a little unusual in that it's an effects plug-in with a MIDI output, that appears in instrument tracks as a MIDI input. However, setup is not always intuitively obvious - there's a setup page for various DAWs, and you might want to check it out vis-à-vis your DAW. One issue I noticed in Studio One is that although MIDI gets from the plug-in to the instrument track, as soon as Studio One goes into record, it won't record pitch bend (although pitch bend gets through to the instrument if you're not recording). I've alerted PreSonus to this, but there's an easy workaround, at least when using the PreSonus Studio 192 interface: you can run JO in stand-alone mode, which means you can then assign the MIDI output to whatever you want (when used as a plug-in, it the MIDI out hardwires to the host). Assigning it to loopMIDI allows sending the loopMIDI out to Studio One, which can then record all MIDI data into a track. I was surprised that Studio One and JO could both be running under ASIO at the same time, but it works fine. I haven't tested this on the Mac yet, so it might work there.

Re: Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software
Anderton #3022501 01/08/20 07:28 AM
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Okay...this is where the rubber meets the road: What kind of data does Jam Origin produce, and how glitchy is it?

Here's a screen shot of a raw MIDI track. I wasn't playing with total abandon, or playing in an overly clean way...sort of a middle of the road for testing.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

I'm not sure how well you'll be able to see it, but there are lots of very short notes. These mess with the tracking, and produce that "glitchy" MIDI guitar sound. But, check out what happens when you delete notes shorter than a certain amount...the notes in blue will be deleted, the notes in white will stay.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

...and here's what it looks like after deleting the short notes. As the old saying goes, "it cleans up nicely." The notes aren't quantized or anything, so it could definitely be cleaned up further. But the tracking response of the synth was way, way better with those short note fragments excised.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

I don't think Studio One has a "delete all notes below a certain velocity" command like there is for note length. I'll bug them about that.

Now, I did have a "doh" moment. I couldn't understand why, after cleaning up the MIDI track, there were still tracking issues. Well, the instrument was still responding to Jam Origin's output. As soon as I told the instrument to listen to only the MIDI track, not Jam Origin's output, all was well.

For comparison, here's a screen shot of how Melodyne Editor converted the guitar into MIDI. Of course, Melodyne isn't optimized for guitar, so it's more likely to produce artifacts outside of the guitar note range. Melodyne Editor is a fantastic tool, and it's one of the most important plug-ins in my studio. But if you only want MIDI guitar, Jam Origin will do a better job.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

I'm still finding out what does and doesn't work. For example, I didn't try anything with pitch bend, monophonic tracking, the MIDI effects, and so on. But clearly, the next step is to find out from Dave where I can post audio examples!

Bottom line so far is although Jam Origin is indeed your basic glitchy MIDI guitar converter, and no it's not perfect, simply doing a mass removal of notes less than a certain duration or velocity really, really cleaned up the part. With a little editing, and relatively clean playing, this does the job.

Re: Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software
Anderton #3022542 01/08/20 04:04 PM
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I wonder how much MIDI 2.0 could be leveraged to even better capture and transmit expressiveness.


Dan

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.
Re: Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software
J. Dead #3022571 01/08/20 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by J. Dead
I wonder how much MIDI 2.0 could be leveraged to even better capture and transmit expressiveness.


With keyboard-type controllers, it could make a huge difference - it would make what the LinnStrument and ROLI keyboards do standardized and accessible. But for guitar, I think the problem lies more with the string analysis that happens prior to MIDI. If the analysis makes an error, MIDI 2.0 would just make it a more precise error smile

However, MIDI real-time plug-ins might be good, because they could remove low-velocity and short-duration notes on the fly. Maybe Jam Origin should consider building something like that into the program - "don't transmit notes shorter than X amount or with velocities below X amount."

Re: Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software
Anderton #3022593 01/08/20 08:22 PM
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Follow-up on the Studio One comment...their devs checked it out, and were able to record pitch bend when pulled directly from Jam Origin. So I'll investigate further, and so will they...maybe there's some unexpectedly misset preference.

Re: Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software
Anderton #3022636 01/09/20 02:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Anderton
But for guitar, I think the problem lies more with the string analysis that happens prior to MIDI. If the analysis makes an error, MIDI 2.0 would just make it a more precise error smile


I get that. I was thinking more along the lines of using alternate precision controllers to do per note bends instead of pitch bend bending everything, as well as perhaps capturing things like harmonic content and using additional controls to transmit. Of course the core analysis has to be there, I was thinking more along the lines of what to do with it after that in terms of getting a result that can do something meaningful with the information.


Dan

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.
Re: Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software
Anderton #3022712 01/09/20 07:01 PM
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Ah, I see where you're going with that. Ultimately the biggest problem with MIDI guitar is false positives - notes that weren't intended and such. I can't think of anything offhand that would know how to deal with those, other than what I mentioned about filtering out data based on particular criteria.

But what could fit with where you're going is creating more guitar-like alternate controllers. Perhaps there could be something "string-like" that wasn't a traditional guitar string, but felt and bent like it, and could produce more accurate data that a standard guitar could. IIRC there were some MIDI guitar designs that used the string contacting the fret as a switch, but the drawback was then it was ONLY a switch, there could be no bending or any of the usual expressive gestures. IF something could measure tension variations on the string after fretting, and feed that to something that could convert it into MIDI data, then you might be able to have reliable switching and bending.

Re: Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software
Anderton #3022772 01/09/20 09:40 PM
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Update on the Studio One situation: There's a really simple workaround, just record into two instrument tracks - one set for your instrument, the other set for an External Instrument. The one set to the external instrument will pass through all MIDI data to the track, which you can then use to drive your virtual instrument.

Much thanks to the PreSonus software developers for figuring this out! They've also opened a ticket to eliminate filtering of MIDI data being generated by an audio effect plug-in.

Re: Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software
Anderton #3022803 01/09/20 11:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Anderton
Update on the Studio One situation: There's a really simple workaround, just record into two instrument tracks - one set for your instrument, the other set for an External Instrument. The one set to the external instrument will pass through all MIDI data to the track, which you can then use to drive your virtual instrument.

Much thanks to the PreSonus software developers for figuring this out! They've also opened a ticket to eliminate filtering of MIDI data being generated by an audio effect plug-in.

..and therein lies one of the coolest aspects of interactive reviews. thu

dB

Re: Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software
Dave Bryce #3022863 01/10/20 05:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave Bryce
...and therein lies one of the coolest aspects of interactive reviews. thu

And the even cooler aspect is I don't stop. After further experiments, it seems the issue relates primarily to VST3 synthesizers, not VST2. In fact with a really ancient synthesizer - Cakewalk's Dimension Pro - I was able to record pitch bend data in a track while monitoring it. I continue to feed data to the PreSonus guys, and will now start investigating behavior in other DAWs.

Meanwhile...I've also found that tracking improves dramatically when I pull down the volume on the guitar. Next stop is trying dynamics processing prior to Jam Origin. What if I cut out those low velocity notes BEFORE they even get detected by the plug-in? That would be even better than cleaning up afterward!

Bottom line so far: it's MIDI guitar, it sucks. But the more I learn, the less sucky it gets...which is encouraging.



Re: Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software
Anderton #3023624 01/14/20 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Anderton
Originally Posted by Dave Bryce
...and therein lies one of the coolest aspects of interactive reviews. thu

And the even cooler aspect is I don't stop. After further experiments, it seems the issue relates primarily to VST3 synthesizers, not VST2. In fact with a really ancient synthesizer - Cakewalk's Dimension Pro - I was able to record pitch bend data in a track while monitoring it. I continue to feed data to the PreSonus guys, and will now start investigating behavior in other DAWs.

Meanwhile...I've also found that tracking improves dramatically when I pull down the volume on the guitar. Next stop is trying dynamics processing prior to Jam Origin. What if I cut out those low velocity notes BEFORE they even get detected by the plug-in? That would be even better than cleaning up afterward!

Bottom line so far: it's MIDI guitar, it sucks. But the more I learn, the less sucky it gets...which is encouraging.




Since JO is looking for the primary frequency, maybe try rolling the tone control off to elimate higher frequency information. Also, I would try the neck pickup and you want low noise so a humbucker.

I'm just thread surfing at this point, haven't had time to mess about with much.


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Re: Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software
Anderton #3023668 01/15/20 01:15 AM
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Yup, I've tried different pickups, tone control settings, etc. So far being conservative with the input level really helps.

However, I am about to encounter the kryptonite of interactive reviews - the NAMM show!! I'll get back into the studio as soon as I can and move on to next steps, including the bass version, the effects, and other features.

Re: Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software
Anderton #3023670 01/15/20 01:19 AM
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Have fun at NAMM

It's been a LONG time since I went.
I want to go to LA one more time to see the Getty but I can't say I've missed it.


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Re: Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software
Anderton #3025107 01/22/20 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Anderton


Meanwhile...I've also found that tracking improves dramatically when I pull down the volume on the guitar. Next stop is trying dynamics processing prior to Jam Origin. What if I cut out those low velocity notes BEFORE they even get detected by the plug-in? That would be even better than cleaning up afterward!



I found using a bridge single coil with it a massive high pass almost to 300hz, peak cut at the pickup resonance, into a clipper, into an L1 type compressor made a drastic difference in consistency with it (I think they incorporated some of that in the last release, I know it has presets for single/humbucking now, right?).

They need DAW specific installers, it's super confusing initially to set up.


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Re: Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software
Anderton #3026510 01/29/20 07:38 AM
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Okay, I'm back...took longer to debrief from NAMM than usual.

Chip, I'm going to have to get into pre-processing guitar...I think that may be key to getting consistent results.

Anyway, I was hoping to give a useful, fairly lengthy report, but it was more like an exercise in frustration. Here's why.

I started off using Jam Origin in Cakewalk, because of the reasons mentioned earlier involving pitch bend and Studio One with VST 3 instruments. However, although it worked as it was supposed to in the sense that the Jam Origin sent data to the soft synth, and the soft synth played, I ran into a lot of crashing problems. Was it Jam Origin? Cakewalk? The instruments I was using? The phase of the moon? Who knows...but when I tried to do edits in Cakewalk, and sometimes in Jam Origin...crash city.

I also tried using slide guitar - nope, that doesn't work. Bend affects only one string, even with Jam Origin in polyphonic mode. Interestingly, it also seems that pitch bend responds more reliably in polyphonic mode than in monophonic mode (as long as you limit bending to one string). But eventually, the crashing issues got to the point where I couldn't make what I felt was progress...

So, I figured I'd try the workaround of using Jam Origin in stand-alone mode, feeding into Studio One with loopMIDI. Well, the workaround worked far better, and I started working with that to see if I could find the "sweet spot" for good response to MIDI guitar.

I never did find the sweet spot, but that doesn't mean I won't keep looking! Regardless, here are some observations.

* The more percussive the sound, the more problematic the response due to false triggers.
* Pads work well. If you want to do a new age album with MIDI guitar, you probably can smile
* Macros that delete notes below certain lengths and velocities can really help clean things up. Cakewalk has a deglitch function, which is very useful. So, I created a "deglitch MIDI guitar" macro in Studio One. I'm still figuring out the optimum threshold for nuking notes with respect to length and velocity; it's likely to change after I try more pre-processing, as Chip suggested. Once I get the recipe down, I'll describe what I've figured out so far.
* Nothing that detects pitch from a guitar likes thumb picks. They all seem to like fairly light flat picks, which of course, isn't what I use smile

At this point, in real life I'd sort of put using Jam Origin with guitar on the back burner, pull it out every now and then, and play with it to see if I could get things working well...after all, I play keyboard, and it's a lot easier just to hit some keys than to try to figure out how to turn guitar into MIDI-friendly switches. But, this is a VIP review! So I'm going to keep pursuing this until I figure out how to get the best results. At this point, it's a challenge, and I don't give up easily.

I might take a detour into using the bass version for a bit, because it seems to me that would be inherently more suitable to MIDI conversion. Stay tuned...

Re: Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software
Chip McDonald #3026870 01/31/20 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Chip McDonald
I found using a bridge single coil with it a massive high pass almost to 300hz, peak cut at the pickup resonance, into a clipper, into an L1 type compressor made a drastic difference in consistency with it


I think you're on to something here. I need to experiment more, but that highpass at 300 Hz really seems to help. I found 12 dB/octave a good choice for a slope...what about you?

Re: Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software
Anderton #3027172 02/01/20 10:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Anderton


I might take a detour into using the bass version for a bit, because it seems to me that would be inherently more suitable to MIDI conversion. Stay tuned...



Isn't physics against you here? It takes longer for a lower pitched string to cycle for pitch detection than a higher pitched one, true?
Seems like a mini guitar tuned to A might be a better choice?

A Nashville tuned guitar might track better as well.


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Re: Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software
KuruPrionz #3027238 02/02/20 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by KuruPrionz

Isn't physics against you here? It takes longer for a lower pitched string to cycle for pitch detection than a higher pitched one, true?
Seems like a mini guitar tuned to A might be a better choice?[quote]You're right, but I was thinking more about the tracking stability than the pitch detection latency. Hmm...

[quote]A Nashville tuned guitar might track better as well.
Worth trying, for sure. But there is an option for the tuning you're using, and Nashville tuning isn't one of them (open tunings, DADGAD, dropped D, etc.). I don't know if the algorithm will detect octave-higher notes.

Re: Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software
Anderton #3027308 02/03/20 08:57 AM
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So...thought I'd try the Bass plug-in. First of all, be aware that it doesn't work with 5-string bass.

I started with Studio One, using both their built-in instruments and external ones. This worked as long as I didn't use VST3 instruments, which (as noted previously) required running MIDI Bass stand-alone, and using loopMIDI to get MIDI data into Studio One. Even then, though, the MIDI Bass program is ridiculously sensitive. I can't help but wonder if it's designed for tapping, not plucking. If you just run your fingers lightly along the strings, you get all kinds of triggers. The program generated outputs with the bass just leaning against a table. Thinking it might be a Studio One issue, I tried Cakewalk, which does let MIDI Bass work with VST3s...well, at least somewhat, because it crashed too often to let me take the screen shot I wanted to take that showed latency. (Usually the crashes happened after altering a parameter in Cakewalk or MIDI Bass.) Wondering if it was me, I tried using the setup with Magix ACID Pro. It worked about the same as Studio One.

Eventually I gravitated back to Studio One, since bass works with the bundled instruments, which made it easier to test. Then I started getting creative with inserting effects before MIDI Bass. Adding the Studio One Gate helped, working with the gate parameter in MIDI Bass helped, and varying the MIDI Bass Gain parameter helped as well. However, none of this produced what I would call a fun playing experience, due to all the false triggers and extraneous notes. If I was very careful about muting strings as I played them, it was better.

However, to be fair, once I went into Studio One's MIDI editor and deleted all note below a certain velocity and length, I had an actual bass part. There was still the issue of latency, which ranged from 20 to (more typically) 40-50 ms (click on the attachment thumbnail to see the full size screen shot, which shows the difference between an audio note attack and MIDI note-on). Again, not a fun playing experience, but with quantization the bass part became useable.

The bottom line: it's likely I'll not use the bass program, because even though I'm not the world's greatest keyboard player, my keyboard playing limitations are easier to deal with than the limitations of trying to turn bass into MIDI. But, what I learned while trying to make MIDI Bass work might help with MIDI Guitar, so I'm going to re-visit that next.

Attached Files
Jam Origin Bass.jpg (39.29 KB, 18 downloads)
Latency with MIDI Bass.
Last edited by Anderton; 02/03/20 08:58 AM.

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