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Pico: All Midi Setup

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written by: alasnoaxis

I just bought the Pico with big MIDI CC dreams - I know, it's a great instrument on it's own, but I have spent 5 years+ building one patch in Reaktor that I designed around the way I improvise -- I just want the PICO to deliver MIDIwise to same level of control found in it's native patches - in terms of x-y-z button control and being able to send polyphonic AT messages or individual CTRL CC's, a bi-directional control strip MIDI send, etc.

Is Bidule an answer to this? or will "Workbench" be a better solution?

written by: Quixotic7

Wed, 6 Jan 2010 06:59:41 +0000 GMT

I've had my Pico for a week now, and I am loving it! The SoundFont Piano is one of the best piano sounds I've encountered, Alchemy has a bunch of amazing sounds, and the Physical model instruments sound amazing, I'm very excited for upcoming Physical model instruments! I find the Pico extremely easy to play and my fingers as developing muscle memory very quickly! I simply love the Pico, one of the best midi instruments I ever played!

I am using the Pico with Ableton Live, call me mad, but I would like to have a setup with every instrument as a midi instrument, or One Soundfont, Two Physical Modeled Instruments and 5 Midi Instruments. I would then route these to different Midi channels, and say have 5 instruments in Ableton, and if possible, an instrument that sends out CC's instead of notes to use to control Ableton, or if I had an instrument that sent Mackie Control Messages, I could use this to control banks and all sorts of stuff. If someone could make me a setup like that, that would be awesome, however I do understand the Workbench should be coming out soon, which would give me a lot of options.

I would also like to know how to route the audio from each of the Pico's instruments to an external device. I think this feature is broken in version 1.0.9 though. Anyways, thanks for bringing such a wonderful instrument in to existence!

written by: fzzzy

Wed, 6 Jan 2010 07:52:42 +0000 GMT

To route the audio from the pico's instruments into live, install soundflower. Then hold the main mode key on the pico and press the 4th key on the right, to enter Instrument/FX control. From there hold the secondary mode key (the 1st on the right) and press the Midi and Audio Control key, the 8th on the left. Finally, press the second key on the left, Audio Port Browse. You should see soundflower in the list of audio outputs. Select it. I use the 2 channel one although you might be able to route other devices into live simultaneously if you use the 16 channel one.

Then, in Live, go to Preferences and select the Audio tab. Choose Soundflower as the Audio Input Device. Once you have done this, whatever pico instrument you are playing will play into the record enabled track in live. Great for adding effects to the physical model instruments.

Also, instead of having 5 midi out devices on the pico, you can just use the one midi out and switch between record enabled tracks in live. I have the APC-40, so I just press the record arm button on the midi track I want to record into to switch sending midi from the pico to different live devices.

Using plogue bidule you could have the pico send arbitrary ccs into Live to switch banks and do other fun stuff. The way I would do it is by having Plogue Bidule send OSC to Max for Live, and then set up whatever crazy control scheme I wanted that way. That's because I already know Max well and Max for Live gives quite extensive control over Live. But it would be possible get what you want just using bidule if you know which midi ccs to send.

I love the pico and look forward to the release of the workbench, and ultimately to the open source release, which will REALLY unleash the possibilities of the instrument.

written by: Quixotic7

Wed, 6 Jan 2010 18:35:43 +0000 GMT

Thanks for the info on soundflower, I am getting that setup as I speak. I know you can just switch the record arm to change tracks, but I like arming all the tracks, and having each receive a different midi signal. With my midi keyboard, I have buttons that allow me to quickly switch the midi channel, So I can quickly switch to controlling a bunch of instruments just by switching the midi channel. I could have 16 different sounds loaded in to a Kore instance for example.

My goal with multiple midi instruments on the pico is to quickly switch to controlling different instruments in Ableton like you do with the main mode key. Right now, you can make multiple buses in Audio/Midi's IAC Driver, and assign each bus to a different track. This works great for switching instruments, but takes longer to switch and requires me to look at the EigenBrowser.

I've been trying to map different notes in Ableton to things like scene controls, I press Midi Learn, then select an item and then press a key on the Pico, which should pull up C1, D4, etc... depending on the note I'm playing, but all it seems to pull up is CC1 or Pitch Bend. I can't find any way to manually set these in Ableton, do you know of any better way to map this? It would be pretty sweet to have two buses, with one controlling and one playing.

written by: fzzzy

Wed, 6 Jan 2010 19:19:47 +0000 GMT

Yes, I understand the setup you want. You can get three midi channels with the current release by using Bidule to route the midi sent to the audio unit to whatever arbitrary midi channel you want. That would give you up to 3 midi channels since there are 2 AU slots in the currently released setup.

The problem with midi learn is that the keys are so sensitive that they send CC1 or pitch bend almost immediately, so it's probably close to impossible to get the key event as the first event that live sees so that midi learn works properly. Again, you could use bidule to mask out and prevent the CC1 and pitch bend events being sent to Live so that midi learn would actually work properly.

Happy hacking!

written by: barnone

Wed, 6 Jan 2010 23:26:22 +0000 GMT

You can also use the UNDO function in Live to go back through the mappings one at a time until you get back to the one you want.

written by: Quixotic7

Thu, 7 Jan 2010 01:37:51 +0000 GMT

Barnone, that undo trick works like magic! I never would have thought of it, and it is so obvious.

Fzzzy, I am definitely going to look in to Bidule. It's free as a stand alone, but I don't quite feel like dropping $75 dollars to run it as an AU right now. Will Bidule let me sync the tempo with the Pico? Thanks for the help, I got Soundflower up an running, works fine, however I was unable to get the Pico to output to the seperate 16 tracks. Now how would I run say a guitar and a mic plugged in to an audio interface, as well has the Pico?

I was able to get a bus setup to control Ableton, however I would very much prefer Midi CC's, and having each buttons X and Y send seperate CC's too. I would also like to see the Strip Controller work as a pickup deally, instead of jumping to 0 every time I touch it. I can't wait to see what can be done with the WorkBench, and I'm really excited for Open Source!

written by: Quixotic7

Thu, 7 Jan 2010 03:40:29 +0000 GMT

I downloaded Bidule and learned the basics, looks like I don't need the AU version, and I can just take the midi input from IAC bus 1, filter it, output to Bus 2, and use bus 2 in Ableton. I was unable to figure out how to transform the pitch control to a CC. I also was unable to figure out how to make notes send CCs. But it seems fairly useful so far.

For using Soundflower with the input from an audio interface, I found out you can create an Aggregate device in Audio/Midi setup which brings both together quite easily.

written by: fzzzy

Thu, 7 Jan 2010 04:11:52 +0000 GMT

@barnone swet! thanks for the undo tip!

@quixotic7 thanks for the tip about making an aggregate device in audio/midi setup. that's perfect.

it would be better if live supported multiple hardware interfaces like digital performer but oh well.

as far as bidule, I haven't learned it yet so I don't know how programmable it is, but if you tell me what layout you are imagining i can try to make a Max patch that does those transformations that you can run in the free Max Runtime. It would be awesome to control live with the pico.

written by: geert

Thu, 7 Jan 2010 06:57:36 +0000 GMT

@Quixotic7 the advantage of running Bidule as an AU is that you can use it for all the EigenHarp AU instruments also and not only for the midi output. However, it's a good way to try it out. If you tell me what you're trying to do with it, I can see if I can setup the MIDI transformations for you. I've used Bidule quite a lot over the last year.

written by: Quixotic7

Fri, 8 Jan 2010 00:32:59 +0000 GMT

@fzzzy Yes, having Ableton handle multiple audio devices would be better, hopefully I won't run in to much latency issues using Aggregate devices. I really need to get Max for live, quite the powerful tool.

@gbevin, yes that is quite the advantage, however I'm gonna wait til the workbench is released and go from there.

Basically what I want to do, probably is not possible right now. In fact I am pretty sure of it. I want to be able to control track volume, send, and pans in the same way you control the volume levels in the drum loop. Hopefully you'll be able to do a lot of crazy stuff with the work bench because I've got a super control scheme worked out in my mind. Like the instrument/FX control mode, I want a second mode key that will allow you to jump to different pages of controls, volume, sends, pans, device, and transport controls. I would also like bank keys for switching between banks of tracks. I want the keys to work like the drum volume control in which you can tilt them up and down.

Basically some crazy control madness that can't be done now. There's probably away to transform notes to CC's, however I don't think that would be very useful except for triggering clips. I already have full control over live, but it would be awesome to grab my laptop, the pico, head to a coffeeshop or a friends house, and fully control live with the Pico.

written by: geert

Fri, 8 Jan 2010 06:31:33 +0000 GMT

@Quixotic7, I'm pretty certain I can transform the key rocking of the AU unit instruments into MIDI CC messages that correspond to the Mackie protocol using Bidule, which can then drive Live ... or you can send on OSC messages to Live also. I've done that in the past for other things.

I've already intercepted all the key and controller information in Bidule and am sending them out as discrete MIDI CC messages to control AU instruments that don't allow host automation of all knobs, and for which the parameters assignment in EigenD thus doesn't work. Sadly though, there's a standing bug in EigenD where the key rocking doesn't properly reset back to the zero position when you've gone several times into different direction. This results in it being stuck at the maximum eventually.

written by: fzzzy

Fri, 8 Jan 2010 06:38:51 +0000 GMT

Yeah, I just noticed that bug too. I have bidule sending OSC to Max, and the pitch bend is basically useless because it doesn't center properly. Hopefully that gets fixed soon.

Also, the Strip controller parameter never goes negative, so that's not useful for pitch bend either, and the Absolute strip position doesn't seem to work at all... guess I should send bug reports for those...

written by: geert

Fri, 8 Jan 2010 07:05:56 +0000 GMT

Yeah, best submit it through the bug report, which will allow them to more easy track it down and to gauge how many people find it important :-)

written by: Quixotic7

Fri, 8 Jan 2010 22:35:42 +0000 GMT

Sending to OSC instead of midi is the way to go since it has a higher resolution. Mackie control messages could potentially be pretty powerful, the trouble is that the Key rocking does not send out separate messages for each key like it does with the EigenD instruments. There may not be enough midi CCs to do this, perhaps make an OSC instrument? We need a way so that each key can be setup so that each of the 3 axis send out information on it's on control. As well as different methods of sending that info i.e. rocking left adds to value, rocking right subtracts, but when you stop rocking, it doesn't jump back, and pitchbend style where it does jump back.

Right now the strip controller is useless for midi, and I did notice that the pitch and modulation don't center properly. Unfortunately I can't send bug reports through EigenD 1.0.9, it seems broken.

written by: fzzzy

Sat, 9 Jan 2010 00:14:45 +0000 GMT

Making an OSC daemon is the first thing I am going to do when EigenLabs open sources the USB protocol. In fact I was even doing some USB sniffing the other day to see about reverse engineering it, but it's not worth the effort, the open source release is too close.

The OSC protocol would be really simple:

from pico to software:

//press x y [0|1]
//pressure x y [0..1.0]
//roll x y [-1.0..1.0]
//yaw x y [-1.0..1.0]
//strip x y [-1.0..1.0]
//breath x y [-1.0..1.0]

not sure how to handle the mode switch and octave switch buttons, perhaps like this:

//modepress x y [0|1]

from the software to the pico:

//led x y [0|1|2|3]

0 being off, 1 being amber, 2 being red, 3 being green

Whatever network protocol eigenlabs implements should definitely be implemented on top of OSC. There's no reason for them to invent their own byte layout. Any extra features added like timestamping for jitter correction can be implemented on top of OSC. OSC is just a generic format for describing messages, it should definitely be leveraged.

Do you think the jump back/don't jump back preference should be settable per key/input source, or just for the whole instrument? That sounds like a great feature.

Hopefully they troll the forums for bug reports as well as using the bug reporter, since the bug reporter is broken right now :-)

written by: fzzzy

Sat, 9 Jan 2010 00:17:13 +0000 GMT

Whoops. The forum doesn't properly html escape the input. The // would have your pico's name inside, as set in the OSC daemon UI. Just like the monome.

written by: tefman3d

Sat, 9 Jan 2010 03:04:36 +0000 GMT


are you a Max/MSP guy? If you are does the usb external Hi work if you just plug in a Pico?
It used to work for an amazing array of USB controllers....... right into max/msp. Well....

Probably not cause the Pico has got some handshake it does with EigenD to turn it on......

Just musing/hacking in my head.


written by: fzzzy

Sat, 9 Jan 2010 06:04:23 +0000 GMT

That's a great idea, and I wish it worked, but unfortunately the pico doesn't show up as a HI device. It was worth checking though :-)

written by: geert

Sat, 9 Jan 2010 09:40:59 +0000 GMT

Quixotic7 said:
the trouble is that the Key rocking does not send out separate messages for each key like it does with the EigenD instruments.

True, forgot about that when I replied before :-/

written by: axiomcrux

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 14:15:00 +0000 GMT

Ive been trying to use the x-y- and pressure for each key to control things in the audio units, as well as the strip and breath control. Even in the midi controller version I cant seem to get data for much of the data that this thing could provide. Mainly im interested in the pressure, as I love how sensitive and articulate it can be. In audio units I cant seem to get anything other then pitchbend and velocity... I really want to use this incredible little device for all its wonderful abilities but at the moment the software end of things is driving me nuts.. Im good with max/msp and I tried finding out if HI or midi cc's for pressure came through but no luck yet...

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