Keyboard Programming Explained
Most musicals today include keyboard or synth parts requiring programming to properly 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 orchestral arrangement, or for sound effects. Each of these indications are programmed as "patches", a term originating from the patching of cables between different inputs and output on synthesizers to produce the different sounds, and each patch must be created, designed, and organized such that 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, in a score 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 be able to play the correct type of glissando in real time with the proper pedal settings to sound like an authentic performance of a real harp. Another example would be if an unusual or unique sound is required that doesn't already exist as a virtual instrument that can be sourced or purchased somewhere, such as in the opening number of "Matilda" which calls for a School Violin which is supposed 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