MPE out messages not being read as intended by external synth

I am trying to use Ribbons as an MPE controller over WIFI to control various soft synths on my Mac. However, the messages are not getting through as intended.

  1. All notes on the slave instruments start snapped to their default pitch, even though I have Ribbons configured not to snap on note-on;
  2. No dynamic information seems to be getting through at all. All notes start at the same volume and don’t change, no matter what I do on the Y axis;
  3. Moving my fingers along the X axis does change the pitches of the notes, but only very slightly: just under a semitone across the 2.5 octaves of Ribbons’s screen. However, the notes do bend independently in different directions, which means that the communication is definitely by MPE and not standard MIDI.

I have tried various soft synths, such as Pianoteq, Ableton Wavetable, and a Reaktor 6 instrument, but the all behave the same. How can I get Ribbons and the MPE slaves to communicate correctly?

Hey @santa!

Thanks for writing in… it’s been a while since I tested this!

Checking it out now in Ableton with Wavetable. There were def a few settings I needed to play with to get it going.

First thing I noticed in is that I needed to enable “MPE” on the MIDI input port.
Screen Shot 2022-11-25 at 10.24.36 AM

To get the Y-axis to volume, I needed to setup the MPE matrix in Wavetable to connect the “press” to control amplitude.
Screen Shot 2022-11-25 at 10.28.05 AM

In Ribbons, I went into the MIDI settings and turn “MPE Channel Pressure Source” to “Y-Axis”

In addition to disabling the auto-snap on note-on, I turned “snapping” all the way down on the KEYS page.

With those settings, I am getting pretty good results!

Hopefully that helps?

Thanks for the reply. Unfortunately I now can’t test this because my iPad (not in no longer sees my Mac as a MIDI device, even though I have the Mac set to advertising itself in Audio Midi Setup.

And just in case it is connected to this problem, I can no longer set the Midi output to Classic mode. When I set it to Classic mode in MIDI Output Configuration, press “Done” and then return to MIDI Output Configuration, I find that it has returned to MPE mode. Should I post that as a separate issue?

No need to post again re: the mode issue. I suspect that it isn’t truly reverting to the MPE mode, but that the display is wrong when you switch back to the view. Let me know if that lines up with your experience.

I am pretty deep in another project right now, so it’s unlikely I’ll get to fix that bug any time very soon.

On your Mac - you may need to make a new network session?

Screen Shot 2022-11-25 at 11.28.17 AM

I’ve managed to connect by wifi, but that’s not what I really want, due to the latency. Yesterday a my Mac appeared on the iPad, separately from the network MIDI session, as a Bluetooth device. Today it doesn’t. But at least the network session works well enough to test this stuff.

I tried connecting to both Ableton Wavetable, Surge XT, and Pianoteq, all running in Live, but I now seem to be stuck in Classic mode, even though the display says otherwise. Yesterday it wasn’t like that. I was definitely getting smooth and polyphonic pitch bend, albeit minuscule. I have enabled MPE input for the network session in Live’s preferences, but MPE definitely isn’t happening.

Ah ok, yeah they bluetooth setup is different. And since Ribbons doesn’t actually have the UI to enable bluetooth, you’ll need to enable it from a different app that does support it. Silly, I know! Patterning does have that interface in case you need it

If Live isn’t allowing you MPE mode, then pitch bend is not going to work correctly.

In MPE mode, the pitch bend range should be set to 48 semitones automatically.

In classic mode, you would set the pitch range in wavetable and ribbons to be the same amount, eg. 12 semitones. If the two numbers aren’t the same, it won’t have the correct bend range.

there’s also IDAM to send MIDI over a USB cable. That would have no or little latency

I was mistaken about Live not allowing MPE input. I was looking at the outputs, not the inputs. I have now checked MPE for the network session input, but MPE is still not happening.

Ok, thanks, I will try to check it out later today. I don’t have Ableton in front of me anymore.

Maybe try turning MIDI output mode off, closing the window, and then turning on MPE mode.

I uninstalled and reinstalled Ribbons. Now the MPE is working properly! So thanks very much for your help with that.

That does bring up another question though:
How can I archive my patches so that they can be reinstalled after reinstalling the software?

Being an old app, it uses “iTunes File Sharing” and isn’t visible in “Files.” However, you can simply plug in your phone or iPad to a Mac, navigate to the files tab on the device, and find the Ribbons folder there. There is a single file, called “presets” that stores the presets for Ribbons.

Screen Shot 2022-11-26 at 2.09.51 PM

Thanks so much for all the help!

It took me a long while to finally work out what IDAM is and how to use it to stream audio from the iPad to the Mac via USB, and then to discover that a MIDI connection was bundled with it. But I think I’ve got it now.

I invested €15 in a sale-price license for iMazing so I can quickly back up all my various iPad app settings files in human-readable format.