Setup tips & FAQs
Help for using SWAM instruments with the TEC BBC2 breath controller

Hello

I have just purchased "The Saxophones" and I also have the TEC BBC2 breath controller.

I'm looking forward to knowing about the best-recommended settings, tweaks, and tips in order to get the best possible performance and sounding experience when using the TEC BBC2 breath controller and playing the SWAM saxophones virtual instrument.

Asking about that here, because other than demos and "show off" videos i saw on youtube performing by others, there is just no precise technical info about how to properly set up the two things together.

Due to the rare and exotic nature of the hardware combined to the software, there are not many of us online and you feel very much alone in a jungle hood of settings and especially for the cost of both (about 500euros) and this is not a joke. Unfortunately, the manual does not cover setup that is specific to the TEC BBC2 either.

Furthermore, after watching to many of demo videos on youtube people playing swam vst with the tec bbc2 i can tell i was quite surprised that no where (yet) the use of the TEC BBC2 controller was ever mentioned in here on this forum, it felt just like nobody uses it at all. .. and this is really something weird, that's why i decided to start this topic so it can benefit to other users as well.

So far, i have managed to set up the TEC BBC2 and play the saxophone swam instrument. But, now that i'm here this is what i would like to know:

with everything already properly set up and working with default settings in the DAW (studio one v4.x in my case) and when i load up the SWAM instrument (ie Tenor), what setting i should choose at first in the "reset" menu?:
-'default wind controller' or 'default breath controller' ?
(in my case, choosing the "default breath controller" worked well)

-is there anything particular to tweak in the "options" menu?

-what midi controllers are the best suitable to assign to the TEC BBC2 in the "midi mapping" page?

  • in the 'TEControl Breath controller' app tool, what parameters and sliders should be tweaked in the 'breath / bite / nod / tilt' pages in order to obtain the best performing & sounding results when playing the SWAM instrument? (-in my case, everything is left by default)

Could you share the preference / setting files for any of those?

Anything else about playing technique?

Any tips and help are welcome and much appreciated, thanks to anyone willing to help with this very much in advance, and yet with default settings i'm more than satisfied with the result i'm obtaining at the very beginning, i know there is much more to dig out of it.

regards,
Tsolight

Hello I have just purchased "The Saxophones" and I also have the TEC BBC2 breath controller. I'm looking forward to knowing about the best-recommended settings, tweaks, and tips in order to get the best possible performance and sounding experience when using the TEC BBC2 breath controller and playing the SWAM saxophones virtual instrument. Asking about that here, because other than demos and "show off" videos i saw on youtube performing by others, there is just no precise technical info about how to properly set up the two things together. Due to the rare and exotic nature of the hardware combined to the software, there are not many of us online and you feel very much alone in a jungle hood of settings and especially for the cost of both (about 500euros) and this is not a joke. Unfortunately, the manual does not cover setup that is specific to the TEC BBC2 either. Furthermore, after watching to many of demo videos on youtube people playing swam vst with the tec bbc2 i can tell i was quite surprised that no where (yet) the use of the TEC BBC2 controller was ever mentioned in here on this forum, it felt just like nobody uses it at all. .. and this is really something weird, that's why i decided to start this topic so it can benefit to other users as well. So far, i have managed to set up the TEC BBC2 and play the saxophone swam instrument. But, now that i'm here this is what i would like to know: with everything already properly set up and working with default settings in the DAW (studio one v4.x in my case) and when i load up the SWAM instrument (ie Tenor), what setting i should choose at first in the "reset" menu?: -'default wind controller' or 'default breath controller' ? (in my case, choosing the "default breath controller" worked well) -is there anything particular to tweak in the "options" menu? -what midi controllers are the best suitable to assign to the TEC BBC2 in the "midi mapping" page? - in the 'TEControl Breath controller' app tool, what parameters and sliders should be tweaked in the 'breath / bite / nod / tilt' pages in order to obtain the best performing & sounding results when playing the SWAM instrument? (-in my case, everything is left by default) Could you share the preference / setting files for any of those? Anything else about playing technique? Any tips and help are welcome and much appreciated, thanks to anyone willing to help with this very much in advance, and yet with default settings i'm more than satisfied with the result i'm obtaining at the very beginning, i know there is much more to dig out of it. regards, Tsolight
edited Mar 12 '19 at 1:01 pm

Hi @tsolight,

the reasons why in the User Manual there is no specific settings for TEControl BBC2 are multiple:

1) we support A LOT of expressive controllers: standard expression pedal controllers, breath controllers, several wind controllers (AKAI EWI, Aodyo Sylphyo, Yamaha WX, EVI, Roland Aerophone), Seaboard, LinnStrument, Touché, Joué, Sensel, Leap Motion, MIDI Guitars, and so on... it would be impossible to provide a configuration for each of them and keep them constantly up to date.

2) any user is free to assign the MIDI CCs coming from his controller that best suits his own playing style. E.g. someone can assign Tilt gesture to Vibrato Rate, someone else to Growl.

In my opinion, you have done the right thing: asking here in the Community.

As for the Default presets (i.e. "Reset" button), "Breath Controller" is intended for most Breath Controllers in their default configuration, like TEControl BC or BBC2. "Wind Controller" is intended for Electronic Wind Instruments, like AKAI EWI, Yamaha WX, Roland Aerophone, Aodyo Sylphyo, etc.

As for the "MIDI mapping" page: look at your BBC2 utility program. It tells you what MIDI CCs have been assigned to Breath (default CC2 -> Expression), Bite (default CC1 -> Vibrato), Tilt and Nod gestures.
Check or select what MIDI CCs have been assigned to Tilt and Nod, set the same CC numbers to the parameter you want to control through Tilt and Nod (e.g. Growl or Vibrato Rate).

Best!

Hi @tsolight, the reasons why in the User Manual there is no specific settings for TEControl BBC2 are multiple: 1) we support A LOT of expressive controllers: standard expression pedal controllers, breath controllers, several wind controllers (AKAI EWI, Aodyo Sylphyo, Yamaha WX, EVI, Roland Aerophone), Seaboard, LinnStrument, Touché, Joué, Sensel, Leap Motion, MIDI Guitars, and so on... it would be impossible to provide a configuration for each of them and keep them constantly up to date. 2) any user is free to assign the MIDI CCs coming from his controller that best suits his own playing style. E.g. someone can assign Tilt gesture to Vibrato Rate, someone else to Growl. In my opinion, you have done the right thing: asking here in the Community. As for the Default presets (i.e. "Reset" button), "Breath Controller" is intended for most Breath Controllers in their default configuration, like TEControl BC or BBC2. "Wind Controller" is intended for Electronic Wind Instruments, like AKAI EWI, Yamaha WX, Roland Aerophone, Aodyo Sylphyo, etc. As for the "MIDI mapping" page: look at your BBC2 utility program. It tells you what MIDI CCs have been assigned to Breath (default CC2 -> Expression), Bite (default CC1 -> Vibrato), Tilt and Nod gestures. Check or select what MIDI CCs have been assigned to Tilt and Nod, set the same CC numbers to the parameter you want to control through Tilt and Nod (e.g. Growl or Vibrato Rate). Best!

I don't have the Sax, but I do have the flute.

My controller setup is

breath -> Expression
bite -> Growl
Nod -> pitchbend
tilt -> Vibrato speed
after Touch -> Vibrato depth
wheel -> Flutter tong

You should be able to find several messages of mine (and others) in the Audio Modeling and the Sample Modeling forums regarding playing Swam instruments with the TEC BBCv2.

-Michael

I don't have the Sax, but I do have the flute. My controller setup is breath -> Expression bite -> Growl Nod -> pitchbend tilt -> Vibrato speed after Touch -> Vibrato depth wheel -> Flutter tong You should be able to find several messages of mine (and others) in the Audio Modeling and the Sample Modeling forums regarding playing Swam instruments with the TEC BBCv2. -Michael

Hi @tsolight

Maybe the reason why there aren't a whole lot of ressources on setting up SWAM instruments with a BBC2 is because most people who own one are already pretty familiar with MIDI instruments. Everyone has a unique set-up and different preferences in terms of controllers and playing style so it's overall a pretty solitary journey I would say...but I can understand it can be a bit overwhelming when first starting out. Here I'll share a little bit about my set-up and preferences for controlling SWAM instruments (and pretty much any instrument in general, as I like to keep it as consistent as possible from one instrument to another).

First, concerning which CC to assign to the BBC2, it's simply a matter of personal preference. There are however a few CC values that are standard within the industry and so by default many instruments will respond to these in a specific way (ie: pretty much all instruments will respond to CC64 as a sustain pedal, and you can't change that...). Here's the official list of CC mappings . Note however that for most of them you will have the option to change the mapping to your liking inside the instrument, so don't worry too much about using CC numbers which are reserved for some standard function. I personally use CC2 for breath (it can save you a few seconds of tweaking for instruments which support breath control...smile ) and CC3, 4 and 5 for bite, tilt and nod, so it's easier to remember as they are grouped together.

Concerning the mappings, I bought a BBC2 along with all SWAM instruments about a year ago, and I would say to this point my set-up is pretty much well integrated and will most likely remain more or less the same for many years. Here are my personal preferences as well as a few notes about why I chose them :

  • Breath : Volume/Pressure/Expression (however you like to call it)
    This one is pretty straight-forward right? The breath is the most precise and intuitive controller of your instruments you can get. It changes everything once you start using it. I also configured all of my sample-based instruments so I can use it for any patch with sustain.

  • Bite : Vibrato depth/amount
    This one is probably the most underrated control IMO (not that it's very often "rated", but...). Like @mschnell, I started out using the bite for distorsion effects such as growl or flutter, which makes sense considering the physical gesture you're making. However, after a few months of playing with the BBC2, I realized just how precise, intuitive and "unobstructive" it is :
    Precise : if you bite at the very edge of the mouth piece, you'll find that it's harder to reach the higher values than if you bite further down. This way, you can place your teeth more at the edge if you're looking for a more subtle vibrato or place them further down if you want more obvious vibrato. I also find you can very smoothly fade in and out the vibrato, much more than with aftertouch.
    Intuitive : the gesture is so easy to make, it was physically integrated into my playing in a matter of days after I changed its mapping for vibrato.
    "Unobstructive" : what I mean by that is that the gesture doesn't restrain any other gesture in any way. As virtual instruments become more and more complex and playable, the number of physical gestures you need to make in order to really get the best out of them also increases, and the less these gestures interfere with one another, the better. The bite gives my fingers even more freedom to play the way they want to.

  • Tilt : Vibrato rate/speed
    The tilt is very useful for bipolar parameters, meaning parameters which default state would be in the middle, rather than the bottom or top (ie : pitch bend). This is perfect for vibrato speed as you want to find a default speed which you'll use most of the time and have the possibility to decrease it or increase it easily. Just like the two previous gestures, it's also very "unobstructive" and can be quite precise.
    For fun, try experimenting using the tilt as a pitch bend. You can get pretty interesting effects out of it. Not very practical for standard playing but pretty cool for interesting effects.

  • Nod : Transition time
    The nod's main weak point is that it's pretty obstructive because you need to take your eyes away from the keys. I first started using it as vibrato depth because I thought it made sense to use both tilt and nod as vibrato control, but I ended up not using vibrato all that much because I had to stop looking at the keys to do it and it's also a tiring motion to do with your head. I now find that it can be useful for portamentos because they're pretty infrequent and they slow down the playing so I have time to stop looking at the keys, and the physical gesture kind of naturally reflects the musical motion too.

  • Aftertouch : Growl
    I never was able to get much precision out of aftertouch, so for me this is almost like an on/off control. I don't like to use it all that much so I keep it for more infrequent controls. Therefore, with SWAM instruments I use it for growl. The motion of pressing even harder down on the keys also naturally reflects some sort of saturating/forceful motion.

  • Expression pedal : Flutter
    Pedals can be pretty useful once you get used to playing with them. I personally use it for various controls depending on the instrument. Like with SWAM Strings I use it for bow pressure and with all wind instruments I use for flutter effect.

  • Mod wheel : Breath Noise
    I don't like the mod wheel all that much because I don't find it intuitive to control. Some keyboard musicians managed to integrate the gesture quite well in their playing, but imo that's because they didn't have any better solutions such as the BBC2. In my case, I keep it for parameters which you'll generally want to tweak according to the passage you're playing (in other words, something which will slightly alter the timbre of the instrument). You could assign this to Formant, Harmonic Structure, Key Noise or Breath Noise for example...I find that I like to play with the breath noise once in a while depending on the character of the passage I'm playing.

As for other SWAM-specific parameters, I would definitely recommend setting the Attack Sensitivity to Expression rather than velocity. I first started out using Velocity but the more I got used to using the breath (I never played any wind instruments before) the more I realized that it's the most precise control there is and that's what should be controlling the attack. Therefore I also assign Expression Trigger Mode to Fast so that the breath can trigger and stop notes. Here you can download the preset I use for SWAM Saxophones so you can have a look at other settings too.
BBC2 - The Classical.swam

Lastly, here's how I tweak the settings of my BBC2:

  • Breath : I leave it as is. It gives you the widest possible range of expression. If you find your muscles get tired, just practice more and develop those muscles!

  • Bite : slight down-curve to have more precision in the lower range

  • Nod : I like the minimum value to start when my head is parallel to the ground so I don't worry about values going up and down when I'm playing

  • Tilt : notice that the curve gets finer in the middle and coarser at both extremes. This way I can achieve higher precision in the middle range of vibrato depth while also being able to reach more extreme values at both ends.

6060a183ce7ae

The best advice I can give you, however, is to play the instruments in as much musical contexts as you can and see how the instrument responds and how your body responds too. Create a selection of songs/pieces you like to jam with and play a little bit every night just for fun and you'll start to figure out which parameters you naturally like to play with and which ones you end up not really using. That's all very personal preferences. It's good to have some sort of logical thinking behind the mappings, but the physical experimentation will probably guide your decisions even more. And that will most likely take quite a bit of time to really end up with something stable and integrated. Hopefully, some of my advices will have shorten that time a little bit.

Have fun playing!

Hi @tsolight Maybe the reason why there aren't a whole lot of ressources on setting up SWAM instruments with a BBC2 is because most people who own one are already pretty familiar with MIDI instruments. Everyone has a unique set-up and different preferences in terms of controllers and playing style so it's overall a pretty solitary journey I would say...but I can understand it can be a bit overwhelming when first starting out. Here I'll share a little bit about my set-up and preferences for controlling SWAM instruments (and pretty much any instrument in general, as I like to keep it as consistent as possible from one instrument to another). First, concerning which CC to assign to the BBC2, it's simply a matter of personal preference. There are however a few CC values that are standard within the industry and so by default many instruments will respond to these in a specific way (ie: pretty much all instruments will respond to CC64 as a sustain pedal, and you can't change that...). [Here's the official list of CC mappings](https://professionalcomposers.com/midi-cc-list/) . Note however that for most of them you will have the option to change the mapping to your liking inside the instrument, so don't worry too much about using CC numbers which are reserved for some standard function. I personally use CC2 for breath (it can save you a few seconds of tweaking for instruments which support breath control...;) ) and CC3, 4 and 5 for bite, tilt and nod, so it's easier to remember as they are grouped together. Concerning the mappings, I bought a BBC2 along with all SWAM instruments about a year ago, and I would say to this point my set-up is pretty much well integrated and will most likely remain more or less the same for many years. Here are my personal preferences as well as a few notes about why I chose them : - Breath : Volume/Pressure/Expression (however you like to call it) This one is pretty straight-forward right? The breath is the most precise and intuitive controller of your instruments you can get. It changes everything once you start using it. I also configured all of my sample-based instruments so I can use it for any patch with sustain. - Bite : Vibrato depth/amount This one is probably the most underrated control IMO (not that it's very often "rated", but...). Like @mschnell, I started out using the bite for distorsion effects such as growl or flutter, which makes sense considering the physical gesture you're making. However, after a few months of playing with the BBC2, I realized just how precise, intuitive and "unobstructive" it is : Precise : if you bite at the very edge of the mouth piece, you'll find that it's harder to reach the higher values than if you bite further down. This way, you can place your teeth more at the edge if you're looking for a more subtle vibrato or place them further down if you want more obvious vibrato. I also find you can very smoothly fade in and out the vibrato, much more than with aftertouch. Intuitive : the gesture is so easy to make, it was physically integrated into my playing in a matter of days after I changed its mapping for vibrato. "Unobstructive" : what I mean by that is that the gesture doesn't restrain any other gesture in any way. As virtual instruments become more and more complex and playable, the number of physical gestures you need to make in order to really get the best out of them also increases, and the less these gestures interfere with one another, the better. The bite gives my fingers even more freedom to play the way they want to. - Tilt : Vibrato rate/speed The tilt is very useful for bipolar parameters, meaning parameters which default state would be in the middle, rather than the bottom or top (ie : pitch bend). This is perfect for vibrato speed as you want to find a default speed which you'll use most of the time and have the possibility to decrease it or increase it easily. Just like the two previous gestures, it's also very "unobstructive" and can be quite precise. For fun, try experimenting using the tilt as a pitch bend. You can get pretty interesting effects out of it. Not very practical for standard playing but pretty cool for interesting effects. - Nod : Transition time The nod's main weak point is that it's pretty obstructive because you need to take your eyes away from the keys. I first started using it as vibrato depth because I thought it made sense to use both tilt and nod as vibrato control, but I ended up not using vibrato all that much because I had to stop looking at the keys to do it and it's also a tiring motion to do with your head. I now find that it can be useful for portamentos because they're pretty infrequent and they slow down the playing so I have time to stop looking at the keys, and the physical gesture kind of naturally reflects the musical motion too. - Aftertouch : Growl I never was able to get much precision out of aftertouch, so for me this is almost like an on/off control. I don't like to use it all that much so I keep it for more infrequent controls. Therefore, with SWAM instruments I use it for growl. The motion of pressing even harder down on the keys also naturally reflects some sort of saturating/forceful motion. - Expression pedal : Flutter Pedals can be pretty useful once you get used to playing with them. I personally use it for various controls depending on the instrument. Like with SWAM Strings I use it for bow pressure and with all wind instruments I use for flutter effect. - Mod wheel : Breath Noise I don't like the mod wheel all that much because I don't find it intuitive to control. Some keyboard musicians managed to integrate the gesture quite well in their playing, but imo that's because they didn't have any better solutions such as the BBC2. In my case, I keep it for parameters which you'll generally want to tweak according to the passage you're playing (in other words, something which will slightly alter the timbre of the instrument). You could assign this to Formant, Harmonic Structure, Key Noise or Breath Noise for example...I find that I like to play with the breath noise once in a while depending on the character of the passage I'm playing. As for other SWAM-specific parameters, I would definitely recommend setting the Attack Sensitivity to Expression rather than velocity. I first started out using Velocity but the more I got used to using the breath (I never played any wind instruments before) the more I realized that it's the most precise control there is and that's what should be controlling the attack. Therefore I also assign Expression Trigger Mode to Fast so that the breath can trigger and stop notes. Here you can download the preset I use for SWAM Saxophones so you can have a look at other settings too. [BBC2 - The Classical.swam](serve/attachment&path=6060a1eeb76b6) Lastly, here's how I tweak the settings of my BBC2: - Breath : I leave it as is. It gives you the widest possible range of expression. If you find your muscles get tired, just practice more and develop those muscles! - Bite : slight down-curve to have more precision in the lower range - Nod : I like the minimum value to start when my head is parallel to the ground so I don't worry about values going up and down when I'm playing - Tilt : notice that the curve gets finer in the middle and coarser at both extremes. This way I can achieve higher precision in the middle range of vibrato depth while also being able to reach more extreme values at both ends. ![6060a183ce7ae](serve/attachment&path=6060a183ce7ae) The best advice I can give you, however, is to play the instruments in as much musical contexts as you can and see how the instrument responds and how your body responds too. Create a selection of songs/pieces you like to jam with and play a little bit every night just for fun and you'll start to figure out which parameters you naturally like to play with and which ones you end up not really using. That's all very personal preferences. It's good to have some sort of logical thinking behind the mappings, but the physical experimentation will probably guide your decisions even more. And that will most likely take quite a bit of time to really end up with something stable and integrated. Hopefully, some of my advices will have shorten that time a little bit. Have fun playing!

Makes a lot of sense !
IMHO Pitch bend makes a lot of sense regarding a "natural" feeling. and I really like using it with NOD (was well with SWAM as with sample based instruments)
I did not yet mention, that I use a plugin that splits the pitch bend wheel in two CC controllers for up and down movement. Assigning this to Growl and Flutter also is very usable.
IMHO transition time is best handled by SWAM itself responding to velocity. Also works nicely with my Audio Modeling instruments.
-Michael

Makes a lot of sense ! IMHO Pitch bend makes a lot of sense regarding a "natural" feeling. and I really like using it with NOD (was well with SWAM as with sample based instruments) I did not yet mention, that I use a plugin that splits the pitch bend wheel in two CC controllers for up and down movement. Assigning this to Growl and Flutter also is very usable. IMHO transition time is best handled by SWAM itself responding to velocity. Also works nicely with my Audio Modeling instruments. -Michael

I have played various wind controllers since the 80's and purchased the TEC Bite2 about 5 years ago in hopes of learning the keyboard and using it. I was happy controlling SWAM ios with the AE10. After reading this thread I decided to experiment more with it as I am improving on the keys. I also have started using my ipad pro 1st gen for midi since SWAM and GeoSWAM on ios. As I was setting things up my bite sensor stoped working so I set nod to control vibrato and tilt to control growl. I used the breath preset on the SWAM brass which I have layered in AUM along with GEOSWAM Tenor. GeoSWAM has no breath preset so I map cc2 to app vol. I have Galileo Organ 2 for playing chords and then when I blow into the TEC I get the horn section on one of the intervals of the chords. Also you can tongue the horn section independently of the keyboard once the note on is activated by the keyboard. It gives the illusion that the horns are playing chords instead of unison if you have the right sound mix in AUM. Using both the XKey 37 air to send CP over channel 2 which is required for GEOSWAM. Also have a KMI K-Board Pro MPE 4 octave board.

I have played various wind controllers since the 80's and purchased the TEC Bite2 about 5 years ago in hopes of learning the keyboard and using it. I was happy controlling SWAM ios with the AE10. After reading this thread I decided to experiment more with it as I am improving on the keys. I also have started using my ipad pro 1st gen for midi since SWAM and GeoSWAM on ios. As I was setting things up my bite sensor stoped working so I set nod to control vibrato and tilt to control growl. I used the breath preset on the SWAM brass which I have layered in AUM along with GEOSWAM Tenor. GeoSWAM has no breath preset so I map cc2 to app vol. I have Galileo Organ 2 for playing chords and then when I blow into the TEC I get the horn section on one of the intervals of the chords. Also you can tongue the horn section independently of the keyboard once the note on is activated by the keyboard. It gives the illusion that the horns are playing chords instead of unison if you have the right sound mix in AUM. Using both the XKey 37 air to send CP over channel 2 which is required for GEOSWAM. Also have a KMI K-Board Pro MPE 4 octave board.
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