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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Ableton Live 10 > THE WORLD OF MPE CONTROLLER (MULTIDIMENSIONAL POLYPHONIC EXPRESSION)

THE WORLD OF MPE CONTROLLER (MULTIDIMENSIONAL POLYPHONIC EXPRESSION)

These days, it’s easier than ever to completely control the expression of your MIDI data with a wide variety of often quirky, somewhat futuristic creative instruments. Erin Barra delves deep into the world of MPE controllers…

TECHNIQUE MPE CONTROLLERS

01 Roger Linn, developer of the Linn Drum, the MPC series, the Linnstrument as well as many other pieces of technology

In my never-ending quest to access and explore expressive technology, I want to focus on MPE data. I was first introduced to MPE in late 2015 when I started messing around with a ROLI Seaboard and then, a few months later, found myself creating tutorial video content for that same company. Shortly thereafter, I had the pleasure of befriending Roger Linn, who created the MPE-driven LinnStrument, as well as many other pivotal pieces of tech we all know and love, and had several lengthy conversations with him about MPE and music. Lately, I’ve been seeing even more MPE-driven technology, such as the Instrument 1 by Artiphon, as well as other hardware and software developers becoming MPE compatible. There’s obviously a trend happening here and it’s one I’m simultaneously fascinated and frustrated by.

As an educator, one of the things that I find frustrating is the learning curve in understanding and controlling MPE driven tech, so the first question I’d like to address here is: ‘What is MPE?’ MPE stands for Multidimensional Polyphonic Expression, although the MIDI Manufacturers Association (MMA) seems to be calling it MIDI Polyphonic Expression. One of the obstacles in understanding MPE is that, in order to grasp it, you have to also grasp the basics of how the MIDI protocol itself works. If you’re like me, you never really bothered to learn how MIDI data gets sent from your controller to your hardware and software instruments, because like a mobile phone, it just works. But then the day comes when you find yourself needing to send or receive MIDI data on different channels and you spend the next three hours combing the internet for answers…

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