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Keyboard Programming Explained
Most musicals today include keyboard parts requiring programming to perform the score. In these keyboard scores are indications for instruments and sounds that may be unique to electronic keyboards and synths, enhancements to the orchestral sound of the live musicians, covering missing live instruments whether by the intent of the orchestrator or due to a reduced arrangement, or for sound effects. Each indication is programmed as "patches", a term originating from the patching of cables between different inputs/output on synthesizers to produce the sounds, and each patch must be created, designed, and organized so they can be used on demand and/or chronologically through a performance. For example, a score may indicate to use Flute in the right hand and Bass Clarinet in the left hand as patch #1, then Piano for a few bars as patch #2, then Harp as patch #3, and so on. There can be 50 to 500 patches, or more, depending on the show. Scores may also require more complicated programming, for example, harp glissandos may need to be pre-recorded as a "trigger" at the correct tempo or using a plug-in to play the correct glissando in real time with proper pedal settings to sound like an authentic performance. Another example is if a unique sound is required that doesn't already exist as a virtual instrument that can be sourced or purchased, such as in "Matilda" which calls for a School Violin to sound like a student playing the violin with poor technique. To create this unique sound, I rented a violin, recorded myself playing badly, and created a custom, playable virtual instrument for that patch in the show.
Recommendations & Requirements
01. Apple Computer
OS X 10.11 or later • SSD • 8 GB of RAM • MainStage 3
88-key weighted • USB or MIDI connectivity • Modulation and Pitch wheels/controls (usually required) • Ports for Sustain (CC64), Volume (CC7), and Patch Change (assignable) pedals
03. Audio Interface
Learn more here.
Sustain • Volume • Patch Change