Live toolkit: All Disting EX algorithm parameters mapped to MIDI clips

One of the more powerful ways of working with the Disting EX's algorithms is by sending parameter changes via MIDI, and this power is expanded when those changes can be precisely dialed in, repeated, and automated. One way of accomplishing this is using MIDI clips in Ableton Live.

In the previous post I detailed how to use Live as a complex MIDI router to forward parameter changes between MIDI controllers, TouchOSC, and the Disting EX. The focus there was describing how MIDI routing plays out in various scenarios, and the Live set included in that post provided some examples of using MIDI clips to send parameter changes from Live. 

But now I deliver the coup de grĂ¢ce: a package of Live sets that includes MIDI clips for all parameters for every Disting EX Single Mode and Dual Mode algorithm! Grab it here:

Live sets package: Disting EX - All algorithms and All   [changelog]

The version number indicates the Disting EX firmware version that these sets support. I'll continue to update this package as algorithms are added or changed.

The rest of this post describes how the Live sets are organized and provides suggestions for how/why you might want to use them.

Features and layout

There are a modest (but growing) number of Single Mode algorithms (with large numbers of parameters), and a huge number of Dual Mode algorithms (with small numbers of parameters). So I decided the Single Mode algorithms would each have their own Live set, and the Dual Mode algorithms would be batched based on their letter grouping (e.g. the A- algorithms are in one set; the B- algorithms are in one set, etc). Once you familiarize yourself with the sets' layouts, you can of course group the algorithms however you like.

Within the sets, each algorithm is represented as a white MIDI track group that includes:
  • A primary MIDI track containing 1) a one-shot clip to activate that algorithm on the Disting EX and 2) some number of looping clips that corresponds to each parameter supported by the algorithm. Each clip progresses through the valid CC values for its particular parameter, beginning and ending at the parameter's default value.
  • Example clips that send MIDI notes for algorithms that support it
  • Record-enabled MIDI tracks to capture messages from algorithms that send MIDI
  • Dual Mode algorithm tracks include algorithm-specific clips for remote controlling Z (which overrides the Z knob), as well as a one-shot clip to "Free Z"
    • A collapsed track that snoops the parameter changes from the primary track and sends them to TouchOSC Bridge for use by the Disting EX Editor. Can be ignored or deleted if you don't use TouchOSC.
    • A collapsed track that includes vertically sequenced one-shot clips for quickly setting the Disting EX Editor's controls to the algorithm's defaults. Just press the first Play button at the top of the stack of purple clips, and the sequence will blast through the parameters. Can be ignored or deleted if you don't use TouchOSC.
    • All written content about each algorithm from the Disting EX and Disting Mk4 manuals is included as context-sensitive Info Text, visible at the lower left of the screen when you hover your pointer over various elements in the Live set. To toggle Info View in Live, press [Shift + ?] or enable it from the View menu. 

    As with other Live sets that I've included in my Live Toolkit posts, you'll need to update the track I/O for each track in the set to match your hardware setup. Additionally, these sets depend on the free CC Converter M4L device, which I discussed in the previous post here.

    The sets continue the color scheme established in the previous post, where the track group color represents the source of MIDI communication, and the track and clip color represents the MIDI destination.

    • Maroon = MIDI capture in Live
    • Dark grey = Controllers
    • Aqua = Disting EX
    • Purple = Disting EX Editor
    • White = MIDI generated in Live
    • Yellow = Audio outputs
    • Orange = README (mouse-over)

    And a special case:

    • Red = Clips where a specific CC value (rather than a continuously variable change) should be sent. This is to avoid MIDI feedback loops as described here. Note that this only applies when using Single Mode algorithms with the Disting EX Editor.


    Below is a screenshot from the Single Mode Granulator set. Within the white track group there are actually two "Granulator" tracks (Why two in this case? See Usage tips at the end of this post). The Info Text for each clip contains detail from the manual for that parameter, and appears in the Info View pane at the lower left corner of the screen.

    Since this algorithm supports MIDI Notes, to the right of the main algorithm tracks is a sample clip with some notes to trigger audio in Granulator's buffer.

    The purple Editor tracks to the right are collapsed since you don't really need to interact with them, except when pressing the Play button on the first purple clip in the "Reset Editor" track.

    To the left of the algorithm tracks are a number of orange mouseover READMEs in clip slots. These contain the rest of the information from the manual about this algorithm. Their text also appears in the Info View pane.

    Below is a screenshot from the set for Dual Mode Group M algorithms. Since the manual is comparatively brief in its discussion of these algorithms, their descriptions and I/O details are tucked away as Info Text in the title bar for the primary algorithm track.

    Unique to the Dual Mode algorithms, the Z knob usually has some function that can be remotely controlled. This is treated in the set like any other parameter, with the inclusion of a clip to restore control at the Z knob. In some cases Z behaves differently depending on other parameter settings, and if needed there will be multiple Z clips that send behavior-specific values.

    Some suggested uses

    • Access parameters beyond the quantity afforded by the Disting EX's CV inputs
    • Use as a starting point for creating complex automated parameter changes
    • Examine working MIDI Note examples, especially where certain parameter settings are required
    • Look up context-sensitive details by mousing over Tracks and Clips to view their Info Text, including:
      • Algorithm description and I/O details
      • Min/max/default parameter values and descriptions
      • Tables and other information from the manuals
    • Capture and tweak a performance of parameter changes, and then play it back as automation
    • Use as a reference for all algorithm parameters/values and their associated CCs/values
    • Drag or copy algorithm configurations into other Live sets
    • Use as an educational tool to hear/see the effects of parameter changes while they loop
    • Rearrange algorithms into new Live sets to group them however you like
    • Quickly reset the Disting EX Editor controls to default parameter values
    • Use as an alternate method for creating/storing Disting EX parameter presets

    Usage tips

    • Single Mode algorithm tracks are configured for MIDI channel 1. Dual Mode algorithm tracks are configured with odd-numbered algorithms on MIDI channel 1 (left side), and even-numbered algorithms on MIDI channel 2 (right side). To change these assignments, simply change the MIDI channel on the track to match the channel set on your Disting EX.
    • The Disting EX reserves CC#64, so parameters from 64 on up are offset by 1 when being addressed via MIDI CC (this only applies to Single Mode algorithms). To hide this shift, CC Converter devices are inserted on those tracks. The clips for CCs >64 are split up (odds and evens) across two tracks to prevent the stacked device instances from incrementing the CCs beyond a single shift. For affected algorithms the collapsed Editor tracks are doubled as well.
    • If the Info Text is longer than the height of the Info View pane, drag the horizontal bar above the pane upward until all of the text is visible. If the horizontal bar won't move, first toggle to Clip View (Shift + Tab).
    • Info Text notes throughout the sets refer to parameters interchangeably by their CC# or as P4, P23, etc. This is mostly a symptom of my evolving preferences over time. Sorry about that.
    • The simplest way to quickly set the parameters to their defaults on the Disting EX is to choose a different algorithm and then switch back. But if you don't want to do that, another way is to temporarily change the "Reset Editor" track's output (which normally points to TouchOSC Bridge) to point to your Disting EX instead. Then play the first sequenced clip in the "Reset Editor" track. The clips will iterate through the parameters, setting them to their defaults.
    • Ancillary to the features described above, each set contains a few MIDI routing track groups (called Disting EX to...Editor to..., and Controller to...). I found it convenient to have these around for testing purposes, and I decided to leave them in. They can be safely deleted if you don't need them.