Using the keyboard overlay to simulate acoustic instruments

Hi, everyone! I noticed that almost 90% of the Sensel Morph videos is about playing beats or making noise. There are very few performances of people using the keyboard overlay to play melodies, like Roli does with the Seaboard Block device. That makes me wonder if the keyboard overlay is less expressive than the Seaboard, since there are a lot of videos of players using it even to simulate orchestra instruments (and it sounds really nice), just to show how the controller is usefull for musicians who want to make soundtracks.

Does anyone have this impression too?

I know what you mean, however you’ll notice that in a majority of videos today – they’re primarily beats, pad/texture layers, or experimental blips and bloops. The reason is, those styles are very approachable since most tools (daws, vsts, hardware) allow them to be played fairly easily with no experience, a bit of learning, and some creativity. And with more of all 3, one can become quite skilled at creating engaging music with zero music theory or ‘piano practice’ of the past. Course that doesn’t hurt either…

I grew up with the latter, and create primarily piano and vocals in different styles – from ballads to cinematics, and find the Morph fits my workflow and experimental mind perfectly by utilizing it more as automation controls than piano playing. I don’t find the Roli or Morph to be good at ‘classic piano’. The Roli would have the edge there due to a more traditional layout, and the morph is superior with no competition in customization. However both suffice equally for MPE expressions needed in any style of music.


Thank you very much! What about using the keyboard overlay to play virtual instruments like acoustic guitar, violin, flute and the like? Have you ever used it like that?

For example:

Glad to help! Yes, quite easily – in fact I’m finally grabbing a SWAM string (torn between double bass and cello) and if I like it may wait till they offer the whole suite at a discount. I don’t really need them, however the tradeoff of pure realism for expressive playability on the morphs will be absolutely worth the investment of time. I’m a huge fan of modeled mixed with live instruments, and similar to Pianoteq (which has been my bread and butter for years) the modeling improves over time.

Keep in mind, I use the piano overlay on my right hand, and only when I feel the mico tuning (based on finger placement) or manual vibrato of the sound adds to what I’m trying to achieve (great for analog and some modeled instruments). I rarely find expression, release speed or aftertouch useful (on the right hand) considering the left hand always has the pads and sliders of my custom innovator and is overkill – like having 8 or more of those variable MPE assignments at once.

1 Like

Thanks again, Psuper!

I use mine set up for mpe with swam instruments, it’s uber expressive! I’ll make a video soon :slight_smile:


I wanted to like the Morph so much but I’m in the category of being a little disappointed in at least my ability to play it in a more ‘musical’ context. I worked with the keyboard overlay for several days and even tried the Buchla overlay a little.

I think for ‘chordal’ playing and expressiveness, the Roli Seaboard (I use the Seaboard Block) is still the best option. For ‘lead line’ playing, I use the ‘Velocity Keyboard’ app on an iPad Pro. It has a ‘Linnstrument’ type layout (requested many times by Sensel users in this forum) AND has velocity sensitivity on an iPad … truly a remarkable technical achievement. I agree that the SWAM instruments can sound really good with a good interface like this. And, the Impact Soundworks guitars are my VST of choice for lead line guitar playing.

Just another opinion for consideration … and, yes … I’d love to see the Sensel folk develop a ‘Linnstrument-like’ overlay for the device. Without individual pad lighting, it would suffer in comparison to the Linnstrument or Velocity Keyboard (on the iPad) … but would still be a nice alternative.


Thank you very much!

I had ROLI before the Morph, and i still prefer the second just because i can map it to my very taste and use it with hardware instruments. There is a huge room for customization. On the other side, i find the piano overlay a bit uncomfortable compared to ROLI boards, which in my opinion has the most pleasant and precise interface in terms of ‘‘classic’’ expressiveness. If i was a good keyboardist i think i would have kept ROLI just for MPE. In any case i’d still go for another Morph with piano overlay and have quick control over 4 octaves.

Twitter RSS Facebook