John Valentine
Surge: Grand Piano 2021

Contents

Grand Piano 2021

To find Grand Piano 2021 in Surge XT, navigate to John Valentine > Keys > Grand Piano 2021.

This patch simulates a string using the Karplus-Strong algorithm, excited by a hammer and finished by sustain pedal and damper. It's responsive to velocity, sustain, and eight other macro controllers that define the characteristics of the piano:

MacroMIDI CCNameDescription
141ResonanceEmphasizes a specific frequency band for each note.
242BrightnessAffects filters, resonance, exciters, and attack profile.
343Tuning ageConsistently detunes strings that contribute to each note, to mimic how a piano sounds if it is not regularly tuned and maintained.
444Honky tonkPrecisely detunes the string pairs/multiples of each note.
545Quietest forceChanges the dynamic range of the instrument.
646HammerControls how much the hammer sound contributes to the overall sound, similar in effect to placing microphones closer to the hammers. It also affects how the string is excited, and how the power dissipates.
747Damper returnControls how much the mechanisms of lifting a note or sustain contribute to the overall sound. Not suitable for very fast playing.
848ReverbControls room ambience and some of the ring-out characteristics.

Typically these macros are set once at the start of a performance, rather than adjusted during the performance, because that's how a real piano is configured.

The piano responds well to articulations. Because the sound is synthesized rather than sampled, expression is continuous rather than banded or stepped like sampled pianos. This has other advantages: you don't need the storage and memory to store samples, and the sound is adjustable in Surge, to give the characteristics you want, whether piano-like or divergent. The macros above are designed to give the adjustments that I foresee are most needed for a wide range of piano types and repair conditions.

Configuration hints

  1. To make the piano more sonorous, increase the Mix or Size of the AW FX.
  2. If you perform live, and your CPU can't handle enough polyphony (24 or more is ideal), then set the Scene mode to Single, to play just Scene A.

Demo 1: Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 (Liszt)

This demonstrates the dynamic range of the piano, across a range of notes and playing styles.

Demo 2: Tubular Bells II: Sentinel

This demonstrates a modified piano, with emphasis on hammers, and fast decay of the resonances. All other sounds are made with custom patches on Surge.

Demo 3: Medetation from Taïse (Massenet)

The piano here is not the star of the show, but provides a steady accompaniment.

Grand Piano 2021 (Accompaniment)

To find Grand Piano 2021 (Accompaniment) in Surge XT, navigate to John Valentine > Keys > Grand Piano 2021 Accompaniment.

This piano works like the Grand Piano 2021 patch, with a clearer sound to help it mix well with other instruments, and configuration options to suit a regular perfect piano.

It's lively to play and responsive to touch, so the Quietest force macro, along with gain control, can help make playing more uniform, or lift the quieter notes above a noise floor and bring your note velocities into the useful headroom of your mix.

MacroMIDI CCNameDescription
141BrightnessAffects filters, resonance, exciters, and attack profile.
242Quietest forceIncrease this for a louder sound and narrower dynamic range.
343HammerControls how much the hammer sound contributes to the overall sound, similar in effect to placing microphones closer to the hammers. It also affects how the string is excited, and how the power dissipates.
444Ring BoostSounds like the microphone is placed closer to the ringing parts of the strings.
545Ring decay lengthMakes the strings ring for longer when they remain undamped.
646Damper returnControls how much the mechanisms of lifting a note or sustain contribute to the overall sound. Best suited to slow playing.
747BodyIntroduces resonances for the instrument body.
848ReverbControls room ambience and some of the ring-out characteristics.

Demo 1: Later Tonight

The piano here is the main focus of the piece, with a variant for the solo. Other instruments are our Cello 2021 and synth string patches, with some bass from a variant of the Nylon Acoustic Guitar.