The endless richness of musical expression
Most acoustic instruments do not obey the restricting rules of the 12-key tempered keyboard.
Even keyboard instruments as obvious as pianos do not follow strict mathematical rules for pitch setting (piano ideally needs stretch tuning), some instruments obey particular rules for their tuning such as a relationship to playing strength or local temperature (e.g. accordion). Many instruments have a free tuning capability (e.g. violin, Theremin).
Looking at gesture and triggering, many instruments allow more than one way of initiating the sound (e.g. plucking or bowing strings), many also create a great sound variation according to the way they are played (e.g. hit position on a drum skin or a cymbal).
Some obey complex rules of simultaneous stimuli (harp strings and pedals, hi-hat played with stick and pedal, trumpet combining blow strength, lips action, key play and muffler position)
Conveying the musicality
The CopperLan protocol is designed to take into account all the richness that performing any type of instrument allows. How is it possible?
- To begin with, pitch, triggering and joined impulse/strength can be dealt with separately as well as jointly; pitch is not only about fixed keys but can be anything - Pitch is defined finely enough to avoid audible stepping while offering a range wide enough to go down to LFO modulation speeds;
- Next comes the subtlety of telling if the sound is keyed or triggered (e.g. organ vs. cymbal), initiated from start or continuing; then optionally muffled.
Finally comes the possibility to attach what we call modifiers to extend the meaning of a basic message.
They deal with musical aspects that go beyond the simple hit force and pitch; modifiers can be used to tell how a finger is applied to pluck an electric bass string, where along the string it is playing or describe the progressive action of string muting with the palm of the hand.
For drums, modifiers can define the distance and angle on a skin where the stick strikes.
Multiple modifiers can be updated simultaneously. For a violin, it is possible to update in real time multiple aspects of how the bow is applied, its direction, speed, and pressure.
Musicality thanks to standardization
This level of musicality is part of the basic features of CopperLan. It ensures guaranteed compatibility where any given controller (trumpet, guitar, or any unconventional controller) can play any sound generator with predictable and expressive results.
All data in CopperLan is high-resolution. This is a crucial advantage over well-known stepping issues (concrete steps in continuous control) that can be heard in pitch and modulation changes.
In CopperLan, a simple parameter such as the velocity of a piano key being struck can convey a subtlety that will travel quickly and unaltered.
Let the controlling device be in control
For electronic sounds generation, the many targets in CopperLan and separate information they convey, makes it very easy to create the typical unison sound by just firing several voices simultaneously where a slight pitch detune in each of them is defined by the controlling device.
Similarly, as the per-voice level can be part of the message, positional cross-fade of multiple independent keyboard zones can be generated at the source side instead of being frozen in a preset, part of a definition in the target device.
Polyphonic and independent pitch bending is a basic feature that can be tied for example to the poly-pressure detection on the data-generating device.
Any time related capability can be linked to a clock and any clock can sync any cyclic generator
New musical horizons
Modulation from unrelated (virtual) devices can be synchronized and phase adjusted; this could be used, for instance, to achieve multi-speaker dynamic positioning/morphing according to a reference modulator (that could in turn itself be modulated). This type of feature is not available today in a simple, practical and universal way.
CopperLan's extensive messaging system enables full control of pitch and expression in polyphonic instruments.
Thanks to a unique elastic-clock concept, CopperLan allows an accurate translation between music and notation, allowing a straightforward and accurate printing of even the most shuffled or groovy tracks. Here too the articulation information offers a perfect rendering of score to performance and the reverse.
The parameter linking allows free modulation patching between unrelated devices. Combined with the clock sync capabilities, this feature allows replicating the wild freedom of previous CV/Gate patch synthesizers.