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#507887 - 03/09/23 06:19 AM In praise of the swell pedal…
Diki Offline


Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 14211
Loc: NW Florida
I hear quite a few user demos with quite uneven lead lines, particularly when using sustained sounds like strings, brass, organ etc.. Every now and again, a long note will sort of disappear, or sometimes stick out like a sore thumb.

There’s a way around this… go old school!

Back in the home organ days, there were no velocity sensitive sounds, your only volume control was that swell pedal. And for sustained sounds, it led to much more evenness in the lead line. You could swell up, or down, maybe even pop one note out a bit if you wanted, but in general, your line was nice and smooth, sitting on top of the backing without disappearing ever.

So, if you find yourself in this situation after listening to yourself on a recording (you probably won’t notice the uneven notes until playback!), try turning velocity sensitivity for the lead sound off (many arrangers will allow you to set a fixed velocity, you can adjust this until the lead sound’s timbre is where you want it) and make sure your expression pedal is enabled for that Part. You DO have an expression pedal, right?!

You’ll hear much better evenness on that lead sound now…. Particularly strings or sustained synth or organ sounds, that swell pedal can make all the difference! Remember, velocity sensitive synths weren’t that common until the 90’s. Turn off the velocity, you get more of that 80’s sound, all notes in a chord being all the same strength etc..

Give it a whirl if you’re not already doing this.

Another little tip is for when you’re layering strings with piano, or a soft pad, things like that. Leave the piano velocity sensitive, and make sure the expression pedal is turned off for that Part. Now set the strings/pad to no velocity but expression pedal on. This can get you to easily bring the strings or pad up to support the piano without any notes swamping the piano or disappearing.

You can also get a similar effect by restricting the velocity strength and range of the strings/pad while the piano is still full range. You get really good support to the piano when playing softly, but the strings/pad won’t jump out and get in the way if you pop a piano note hard!

Just remember, on music older than the 90’s, it’s likely that the original sound had no velocity and the player controlled it with a swell pedal. No school like the old school! 🎹😎
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An arranger is just a tool. What matters is what you build with it..!

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#507889 - 03/09/23 06:28 AM Re: In praise of the swell pedal… [Re: Diki]
abacus Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/21/05
Posts: 5355
Loc: English Riviera, UK
If your keyboard has dynamic pre-set settings look for organ dynamics and use that combined with the swell.

This may help

Bill

[video:youtube]https://youtu.be/1KBiPLzLDcU?t=2657[/video]
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English Riviera:
Live entertainment, Real Ale, Great Scenery, Great Beaches, why would anyone want to live anywhere else (I�m definitely staying put).

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#507891 - 03/09/23 07:58 AM Re: In praise of the swell pedal… [Re: Diki]
Diki Offline


Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 14211
Loc: NW Florida
My Roland offers three dynamic curves (with Low as the least dynamic) and then Fixed, with a choice of 1-127 as the fixed velocity level.

Unfortunately, no user editable velocity curves.

Also, for each individual Part, a minimum and maximum value for the expression pedal.

But still pretty much all you need. 🎹
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An arranger is just a tool. What matters is what you build with it..!

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