Music & Tech & Posts by José Luis Miralles

Multiple MPE instances with roli and Ableton

Are you trying to use ROLI’s hardware (Blocks, Lightpad or Seaboard) or other MPE instrument in Ableton Live?

This is your step-by-step guide to create an instrument rack with multiple MPE instances.

MPE-what?

MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE) is the biggest change in electronic sound since the invention of the synthesizer. Dozens of hardware and software companies have now joined this movement to make music creation tools more expressive.

ROLI

MPE is a new specification based on MIDI, the universal protocol for electronic music. MPE allows digital instruments to behave more like acoustic instruments in terms of spontaneous, polyphonic sound control. So players modulate parameters like timbre, pitch, and amplitude — all at the same time.

MPE and Ableton Now

But unfortunately, Ableton Live (at the time of this post the latest stable Ableton version is 10.1) doesn’t support yet natively MPE.

What is possible to do with Roli Hardware & Ableton without any preparation:

STEP-bystep guide

1. What do you need

  • Ableton Live (tested on 10:1, but should work from 9.7)
  • Roli Dashboard (Roli’s free software)
  • Roli Equator (the Roli’s free synth engine)
  • MPE_Util (get it here)

2. IF you only want one instance

If you only want one instance you can see this video demonstrating how to use the MPE_Util script to configure everything in seconds.

3. IF YOU WANT an instrument rack of MPE’s synths

3.1 Install the MPE_Util

Ableton’s instructions for using and installing 3rd party Control Surfaces: https://help.ableton.com/hc/en-us/articles/209072009-How-to-install-a-third-party-Remote-Script

Download the latest release, or clone git or download zip from github: (https://github.com/juhot/MPE_Util) and get the MPE_Util -dir to Live’s MIDI Remote Scripts dir (if your folder is named with github stuff, e.g. “MPE_Util-master”, rename it to “MPE_Util”). Afterwards, script’s dir should look like as in the linked picture:

Start Live, go to settings, and on Link MIDI tab select MPE_Util as a Control Surface on a free slot. You should see a message at the bottom of the screen saying “MPE Util loaded!”.

3.2 configure roli’s dashboard

Make sure you Seaboard or Lightpad is set to “multichanel mode”.

3.3 Configure midi preferences in ableton

In Link/MIDI tab in Ableton Preferences; you should enable the midi ports of your Roli hardware. And also you should load the MPE_Util in your control surfaces.

3.4 Create a midi track in ableton with instrument rack

Put “instrument rack” in a Midi Track.

3.5 LOAD YOUR FIRST EQUATOR VST IN THE INSTRUMENT RACK

3.6 load your second equator vst in the instrument rack

3.7 Change all the midi settings from every VST

You should change for every equator VST you insert in the rack the midi setting. In the MPE Modo from On to Off.

3.8 load the MPE_util

Put in action the MPE_Util, simple rename your midi track adding at the end

 -creatempe

After that you can view how this scrip autocreates multiple midi channels.

3.9 Group The tracks

For a better experience, now you can group the new tracks. Remember to group from the first newly created track to the last, excluding the GhostMidiInput.

3.10 Create a Second group of tracks for the second VST

Just copy/paste the group tracks before the GhostMidiInput.

3.11 MAP the CHAIN in Instrument RACK

First, open and chain the two instances.

Secondly, map it to the first macro.

3.12 Configure On/OFF VST

After configuring the macro, you should configure the toggle On/Off of every VST instance.

First, map the on/off to the same macro.

And then, configure the range according to your chain.

3.13 CONFIGURE the “MIDI TO” of the tracks

Now you need to some tedious mousing.

First go to you first group of tracks and check if everything is armed. Then set in the first track of the group the “Midi to” to: “Instrument Rack | Equator | 1-Equator”; the second to “….2-Equator” and so on until de 16th.

After that you need to go to the second group of tracks and do the same (from 1 to 16), but now starting in the second group of “equators”.

AND THAT'S EVERYTHING!

Now you can use any number of instances (just repeat the process of the second group) of MPE and change presets with a macro.

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