Review: SkiSwitcher 2 for Logic Pro X

Keyswitching in Logic Pro X just got a whole lot easier thanks to Peter Schwartz's Logic Environment, SkiSwitcher 2. Jay Asher finds out if this is an essential tool for MIDI scoring Logic Pro users.  

One feature that Cubase has that Logic Pro X lacks is the ability to load a multi with different articulations for an instrument and record onto one track switching them in real time. 

Wait a minute, Jay, isn’t that what keyswitching is for? Sure BUT….

  1. Not all libraries come with a lot of keyswitch patches, like EastWest’s Hollywood Orchestra.
  2. Keyswitch chasing is problematic. If I start at measure 1 with a keyswitch note for legato and keyswitch to pizzicato at measure 5, if I stop Logic and play from measure 3, I will still hear pizzicato even though I want to hear be legato, because it will not see the original keyswitch note.
  3. Unless you go out of your way to hide them, doable but an extra consideration, your Score Editor is now full of keyswitch trigger notes.

Well, now there are several solutions to deal with this, but my favorite is one that I have been using for years that is only now available to the general public. It is Peter Schwartz’s Environment Macro called the SkiSwitcher. The released SkiSwitcher 2 also utilizes Logic Pro X’s MIDI Scripter plug-in to enhance the user experience. 

The SkiSwitcher uses trigger notes or program changes to change MIDI channels that you assign to different articulations with single articulation patches, or different articulations in a patch that has multiple articulations. This means that you hear the correct articulations from playback anywhere in the project with zero hiccups and no extra visible notes. Editing them becomes really easy in any of Logic Pro’s MIDI Editors. 

The Scripter scripts give you the ability to custom name the switches in the various scripts and gives you visual feedback as to which articulation you are currently hearing, with the script open.

You can perform the articulation changes in real time from your main keyboard or from a second inexpensive small keyboard expressly for that purpose.  

What You Get

The heart and soul of this is the SkiSwitcher 2 Environment Macro. It is easy to integrate into your projects and works flawlessly. The manual explains how to integrate it into your projects from an included Logic Pro X project. (It also works with instruments loaded in Vienna Ensemble Pro connected to Logic Pro.) 

You also get several Scripter scripts for Articulation display. There is a Multi-Purpose script for multis comprised of single articulation patches and for libraries that have keyswitches, and a Small Footprint strictly for articulation name display with multi-timbral instruments.  There is a variation of this script called the Split Keyswitch Map for instruments with some keyswitches in the low bass range and others in high treble range. And very recently, Peter added a script specifically for Cinematic Strings II, which has a rather unique keyswitching map and also expands on its capabilities.

There are even optional scripts for Logic Pro and Kontakt that allow you to use Peter’s Control Unification feature both in Logic Pro and directly in Kontakt. 

How It Works

Let’s start with a multi that has no keyswitch patches by the developer loaded. In Pic 1, you can see that I have loaded six articulations from the Hollywood Strings Violin 1 instrument, assigned from MIDI channels 1-6. 

Pic 1

Pic 1

In Pic 2, notice that I have several choices to use the main keyboard, a second keyboard, program changes or simply bypassing the macro. I have left it to use the main keyboard and assigned the articulation note triggers from a low of C0 to a high of F1, six notes for six articulations.

Pic 2

Pic 2

I then play in a simple part that you see in the Score Editor in Pic 3, hitting the trigger notes when I want to change articulations and as you can see in the Event List in that same pic, the notes are assigned to the correct MIDI channels for the desired articulations. Easy, and again, whichever measure I start playback from, I hear the correct articulation!

Pic 3

Pic 3

Want some visual feedback to see which articulation is playing at a given point in the project?  In Pic 4, you can see that I have opened the Scripter plug-in and loaded the SkiSwitcher M(ulti)P(urpose) Script set to Multi-Timbral.

Pic 4

Pic 4

If I begin playback, the line that says Channel/Articulation changes from ch2:Articulation1 to ch2:Articulation 2, etc. Well, that doesn’t tell me much, does it?  

But if I click on Open Script in Editor, I now see what I see in Pic 5, allowing me to name the articulations, as is clearly explained in the instructions directly above the red articulation names. 

Pic 5

Pic 5

In Pic 6, you can see that I have done exactly that, and once I click Run Script, and close the Script Editor as the MIDI channels change during playback, I see the articulation names. I can then name  it and save it.

Pic 6

Pic 6

Let’s try a different scenario. Here in Pic 7, I have loaded up a Kontakt instrument, the French Horns from Kirk Hunter’s Concert Brass 2, an “all articulations in one” patch. For most instruments, I do not even need a script if I don’t want it, but this one is a little different and this is where Peter’s Split KSMap script is invaluable.

Pic 7

Pic 7

There are two different ranges of keyswitches in this instrument. You can see that the low range starts with B0 to trigger a “quick Rip” and continues up to trigger DivisiLive, Blend Divisions, and 4 section sizes, a total of 8 changes. The articulation changes however begin with C#6 and progress up to F#6. 

So in Pic 8, I have the Split KSMap script enabled with the lower range beginning at B-1, not B0 because unlike Logic’s default, Kirk is using the Roland convention of C4 rather than C3 as middle C.  The Split Point for the higher articulation is set to C#5. I can then of course open the script and name the articulations.  

Pic 8

Pic 8

The Hybrid option in the Split KSMap allows one to mix keyswitch patches with non-keyswitch patches in the same multi, with the proviso that the keyswitch patches must come first.

The documentation that is included is excellent and easy to understand and for those of you who prefer videos, they are also on the website. 

Pros: Does what it says it does flawlessly, easy to learn and inexpensive.

Cons: None

Cost: $49 US 

Web: http://www.skiswitcher.com 

Jay is a Los Angeles-based composer, songwriter, arranger and orchestrator, conductor, keyboardist, as well as vocalist. As a composer, he is best known for scoring the New World Television series Zorro. Among the films and TV movies he has arranged, orchestrated and/or conducted are Paramount Pictures' Blame It On Rio Read More

Discussion

Want to join the discussion?

Create an account or login to get started!