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Pico: The scroll keys are a waste

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written by: fzzzy

It's too bad they didn't put two strip controllers on the pico like they did on the alpha. Then one could be dedicated to scrolling and one could be dedicated to bends.

written by: steveelbows

Mon, 16 Nov 2009 22:43:03 +0000 GMT

I can see what you are trying to offer with these keys, and I can see why they are active at all times because the browser can be active at any time, not just when the pico is in a mode which tells the browser what list to show.

But really these keys are wasted on this function most of the time, and I dont actually find them very good for scrolling through lists anyway. If you can come up with a way to toggle their function between scroll and using them as normal note/controller keys, that would be most excellent.

I love the pico hardware so much that I cannot help but make these requests!

written by: scrussey

Tue, 17 Nov 2009 09:34:26 +0000 GMT

I agree...
I have resorted to using my mouse to scroll as for some reason the scroll key doesn't seem very responsive

written by: steveelbows

Wed, 18 Nov 2009 08:57:05 +0000 GMT

I remain bemused and sad about these keys, especially as the description of the Pico on your website says 18 playing keys.

written by: john

Wed, 18 Nov 2009 19:44:43 +0000 GMT

They are actually actually the same as the other 16 keys. The factory setup 1 that we ship had that particular fingering pattern in two groups of 8 as it's the way I found most comfortable to play the instrument. In that fingering pattern those last two keys feel a bit superfluous so we used them to control the browser scrolling, there's certainly nothing fixed about that arrangement, and it doesn't take software mods to change it just one of our musicians to spend a while building a different setup.

We will be making some setups (our musician team make these using our Workbench software) that make all 18 keys into performance keys. In particular we'll be making some setups that allow you to play two instruments at once, or turn drummer voices on and off at the same time as playing another instrument. We just haven't yet figured out the best way to do this, in keygroup layout. And we wanted players to get started with a simple setup before we went too mad with the complexity (and if anyone here thinks the the current setup is complex, they need to see Dave's normal performance setup, its insanely hard to understand, he's been playing an Alpha for a year and has left me well behind)

All suggestions for different key layouts very welcome, fire away!

written by: steveelbows

Wed, 18 Nov 2009 20:11:22 +0000 GMT

Thanks, thats great to hear. I knew the keys were the same as the others and that it was a software config issue, and that actually made me more frustrated knowing that the potential was there but was just out of my reach.

Is there a plan to release the workbench software at some point? As Ive said elsewhere Im more geek than musician, and after many years of frustration or impatience with other instruments that follow traditional paradigms, Ive decided to make the Pico (and maybe even the alpha in 2010) the instrument that I actually take the time to learn. In some ways this means Im not the right person to ask about different key layouts, although I suppose it also means Im unimpaired by any preconcienved notions about how instrument fingering will work. Im not even sure I will end up holding the Pico in the way the videos show, Im having quite a lot of fun laying it across my lap and noodling around, and when I do hold it like a wind instrument I rather enjoy bashing both keys on a row at the same time with an outstretched finger.

Im sorry if I've sounded a bit negative on the forum at times because Im actually overjoyed with the Pico, but of course this leads to the imagination running wild and wanting to do all sorts of things that factory setup 1 does not seem to offer at this point. Plus although I guess Im not quite supposed to think of the Pico as a controller, Ive been spoilt by the end-user-configurability of various midi controllers in recent years, hence my interest in Workbench.


written by: john

Wed, 18 Nov 2009 20:51:11 +0000 GMT

Hi Steve

Well, you sound like the perfect candidate for the Workbench software. It was originally the main GUI for EigenD, so its quite complete, if rather lacking in cosmetics. We changed tack very rapidly (we're trying hard to listen to our customers here) after Robin Bigwood, who reviewed it for Sound On Sound, reviewed the Alpha. Robin is a really nice chap, and very technically able as well as being a seriously good musician (one of the UK's best harpsichord players). When he first encountered the Workbench he was, to put it mildly, astonished. His first reaction, in week one, was unprintable (well, not really, he's very polite, but you know what I mean). Then, after a lesson from Dave and some struggle he got it. He told us he completely understood its power and what we meant by it, but that we would really struggle to communicate that to the wider world. If you imagine all the issues people are having with the new browser right now, but mulitplied by 100, you get close. It is very radical, an environment driven by a pseudo natural language command language spoken by playing note sequences that define words. Its hard to learn, and awesome when mastered, and enables one to do things in seconds, live, that just could never be done by a GUI. Sharp sharp learning curve though. And we have precisely zero tutorial information ready for it, hence keeping it out of the way until next year. It really is the heart of the Eigenharp though.

If you're interested, we're getting together a hardcore group of Eigenharp users to start using it help us evolve the tuition materials early next year, and try to make the learning curve rather gentler. Let me know if you fancy having a go.


written by: steveelbows

Thu, 19 Nov 2009 12:05:31 +0000 GMT

Thanks for the detailed info. It sounds like something I would be very interested in, although there is also a fair chance I might not quite be able to get my head round it. I think Ive seen bits of the pseudo natural language in the browser and log files, and it both intrigues and alarms me!

Would it actually be practical to speak this language using the limited number of keys on the Pico or would it be a significant hurdle compared to doing it on the alpha?

Perhaps the scripting stuff that has been mentioned elsewhere on the forum would be a better place for me to start, but Im open to anything.

written by: geert

Thu, 19 Nov 2009 18:36:57 +0000 GMT

Hi John,

I'm very interested in the Workbench. I've been a software developer and a musician for more than 20 years and like complex software. I've been very active in open-source over the years in various languages, environments and projects (I'm one of the core team that created Gentoo Linux for instance) and love figuring stuff out myself.

Anyway, if you do send it out to a select group, please take me into consideration.



written by: john

Thu, 19 Nov 2009 18:53:37 +0000 GMT


We will mark you down as being willing to be tortured in the pursuit of software testing then! I don't think its going to be suitable for beta release until mid Jan, but if that comes sooner I'll let you know.


written by: geert

Fri, 20 Nov 2009 06:43:42 +0000 GMT

Hi again,

The scroll key behavior is indeed not usable at the moment. What thinking about it I was actually wondering if it wouldn't be better to use the strip controller to move up and down in the browser. This could be combined with the active keys that are useless while the configuration mode is on, to select which browser panel you're scrolling in. Double-tapping the relevant octave key would then make a selection, freeing up the two bottom playing keys for other uses.

What do you think?


written by: kodi68

Wed, 6 Jan 2010 17:57:22 +0000 GMT

I'm also not a huge fan of the scrolling key. Even trying to change the way I use it has varying results.

1. Allow for customized key sensitivity
2. Allow for "jumping" directories using left/right axis

If the workbench has a way of setting sensitivity (for all keys, not just the scrolling key) that'd be really cool.

written by: barnone

Wed, 6 Jan 2010 18:14:29 +0000 GMT

>What thinking about it I was actually wondering if it wouldn't be better to use the strip controller to move up and down in the browser. This could be combined

I'm totally with you on this. I also posted a similar idea in the Alpha thread because all scrollng values controlled by rocking the keys could use strip controller option and I think it would be much better and more precise.

written by: fzzzy

Wed, 6 Jan 2010 19:21:16 +0000 GMT

It's too bad they didn't put two strip controllers on the pico like they did on the alpha. Then one could be dedicated to scrolling and one could be dedicated to bends.

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