MPK Series - Assigning Independent Tracks to Pads and Keys Simultaneously

akai mpk25Do you want to be able to trigger drum samples using the pads on the MPK series controller keyboard, while simultaneously playing a bassline or melody on the keys?  This article provides insight on the basic concept of how this type of configuration works, along with a few examples of applying it in your DAW.
 

Concept

The idea here is rather simple.  Make the drum pads trigger drum sounds, while being able to simultaneously play notes of a different instrument using the keyboard.  As basic as this may sound, there are a few things to note, and some settings to adjust to make it happen.

Suppose you load up a drum patch on the first track of your sequencer.  If you arm the drum track, you get sounds when striking the pads, and also when pressing the keys.  Now, you create an instrument track, load your favorite synth, and switch the record-ready button to this track.  In this arrangement, both the keys and pads now trigger the synthesizer.  

The thing to be mindful of is that by default, the controller and your software will generally be communicating over a common global MIDI channel.  Think of this as "the software is listening to everything the controller is saying".  Simple enabling both tracks to record will essentially stack the sounds, triggering both the drum and the synth track regardless of whether striking a pad or a key.  

So, how can we play both at the same time without interfering with each other?
 

Setup Overview

Setting this up is actually much easier than it may sound.  Note the steps below, and see examples in the following section.

  • Choose the preset that best matches the software application being used.  If your software is not listed, you may want to begin with one of the Generic presets.  If you would like to create your own, the Vyzex Preset Editor can be found on one the controller's respective product pages.
     
  • Assign the appropriate MIDI channel as the input for each destination track.  This will be found in the track's I/O settings.
     
  • Record-enable both tracks.  The drum track should now only respond to the pads, and the synth can be played using the keys.  

Examples

With so many DAWs available today, your platform may look a bit different, however the concept will be the same.  Here we demonstrate this setup using Ableton Live 9.  We'll be looking into adding more examples in various applications in a future update.

Ableton Live 9
  1. Press the PRESET button on the MPK controller, and use the VALUEdial to select the LiveLite preset if not already set.  To confirm your selection, press the VALUE dial like a button.
     
  2. Create two Instrument tracks in the software, the first with a synth loaded, the second with your drum kit.
     
  3. In the MIDI From section (with the I/O view enabled), set the synth track to receive on Ch. 1, and the drum track on Ch. 2
     
  4. Arm both tracks for recording (if simply performing and not recording, you could alternately change the Monitor mode to "In"), and start playing!

    akai mpk series midi ch

 

 

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