The Kontakt Mapping Editor
In today’s tutorial, we will discuss how to use the Kontakt Mapping Editor to map samples and manage zones.
The Kontakt Mapping Editor
Samples, the audio files that Kontakt plays, are defined in Zones. These Zones are placed on a keyboard and the velocity range the zone should respond to is set. Additional Zone properties such as volume, pan or tune can be set as well. To map samples and access these Zone parameters we use the Mapping Editor.
To open the Mapping Editor, click the button labeled Mapping Editor (below the Instrument Header). Clicking the button again will hide the Mapping Editor.
The Mapping Editor consists of three parts. A control strip that provide access to various utility functions, a status line that displays the parameters of the currently selected Zone and the Zone Grid…a two-dimensional grid with a keyboard.
Navigating the Zone Grid
Scroll bars at the right and lower border allow you to move the view around, as well as zoom vertically and horizontally by clicking the “-” and “+” buttons; the “-” and “+” keys on your number pad will do the same. Alternatively, you can quickly zoom into a specific region by holding the Alt key while clicking and dragging the mouse on the grid; this will open a “rubber band” selection frame, which will fill up the whole view with its selected area when you release the mouse button. To zoom out again, just click somewhere on the grid while holding the Alt key. When you play a note on your MIDI keyboard, a small red marker should appear above the corresponding key of the onscreen keyboard, with higher velocities being indicated with a higher position in the grid.
To map Samples to Zones, drag one or multiple Samples from the Browser or your desktop into the Zone grid of the Mapping Editor. While dragging, a highlighted region will tell you where Kontakt will place the Zone(s) on the keyboard. When you release the mouse button, the Zones will be created. If you change your mind and don’t want to add new Zones, just move your mouse outside the Mapping Editor and release the button.
The way Kontakt will distribute the new Zone(s) will depend on your mouse position and whether you are dragging one or multiple Samples.
Dragging a single Sample into the Zone Grid will create a Zone that spans the entire velocity range and will be placed on one or several adjacent keys. When you move the mouse all the way to the bottom of the grid, the Zone will be assigned to a single key. Moving the mouse upwards will gradually enlarge the keyboard range of the Zone, until it spans the entire keyboard when you’re at the top of the grid.
Dragging multiple Samples into the Zone grid will create a corresponding number of adjacent, non-overlapping Zones, starting with the key at your horizontal mouse position. And just like when you drag single Samples, the vertical mouse position will adjust the size of each Zone’s key range. When you move your mouse all the way to the top of the grid, all Samples will be layered in overlapping Zones that span the whole key range.
Dragging multiple Samples onto a key of the keyboard below the grid will create a corresponding number of Zones that evenly divide the velocity range on that key. This makes for a convenient way to quickly create velocity switches.
Note that when you drag multiple samples from the Browser into the Mapping Editor, the sort order in which they appeared in the Browser will also determine the order in which the Zones will be placed. For instance, if you would like to create an eight-way velocity switch out of samples named “Harp-D1-1.wav” through “Harp-D3-8.wav”, you should make sure that the Samples list in the Browser is sorted by name in ascending order before you select and drag the Samples into the Mapping Editor.
In addition to Samples, you can also drag one or multiple sliced loops into the Mapping Editor to place them on the keyboard. In this case, the newly created Zones won’t belong to the currently selected Group; instead, a new Group will be created for each Loop with its Source Module set to Beat Machine mode.
Samples can also be mapped automatically, but we will talk about the Auto-Mapping feature in a future tutorial.
Each Zone contains the following parameters that can be modified via the Status Bar or Graphically within the Zone Grid:
-Keyboard Range: This is the range of adjacent notes on your keyboard in which the Zone will respond.
-Velocity Range: This is the range of velocity in which the Zone will respond.
-Root Key: This is the “source” key at which the referenced Sample was recorded.
-Volume: This parameter lets you specify a volume offset for each Zone. The default volume setting of all Zones is 0 dB.
-Pan: This parameter allows you to place each Zone independently within the stereo panorama.
-Tune: This parameter lets you change the tuning of a Zone within a range of +/- 36 semitones.
Note that the last three parameters are intended for non-destructive correction of Samples which differ in volume, panorama position, or tuning. They work in relation to the identically named parameters of the Source and Amplifier modules. To modulate these parameters on a per-Zone basis you would use Zone Envelopes which is something we will discuss in another tutorial.
To view and change the parameters of a Zone, first select it in the Zone Grid of the Mapping Editor by clicking on it. All parameters of the currently selected Zone will now be displayed in the status bar above the Zone grid. You can change a parameter by clicking on its value and dragging your mouse upwards or downwards. While this is the only way to change the volume, pan and tune parameters of a Zone, there are several ways to adjust its keyboard range, velocity range, or root key.
You can change the keyboard and velocity range of a Zone, as well as its root key, graphically within the Zone grid of the Mapping Editor by:
-Clicking into a Zone and moving the mouse horizontally will move the whole Zone across the keyboard. Using the left and right cursor keys while holding Ctrl (Command on Macs) will move the currently selected Zone(s) across the keyboard.
-Clicking on the left or right border of a Zone (the mouse cursor will change when it’s right on the border) and dragging it horizontally, thereby changing the horizontal size of the Zone, will change that Zone’s keyboard range. Using the left and right cursor keys while holding Shift and Ctrl (Command on Macs) will adjust the high key limit of the selected Zone’s key range.
-Clicking on the upper or lower border of a Zone and dragging it vertically will change this Zone’s velocity range. Using the up and down cursor keys while holding Ctrl (Command on Macs) will move the velocity range of the currently selected Zone(s) by two velocity steps; holding Shift and Ctrl will change their upper velocity limits.
-Clicking on the yellow key on the keyboard below the Zone grid and dragging it horizontally will change the Zone’s root key.
-Ctrl-clicking and dragging while your mouse is on the left or right border of a Zone will create a Zone crossfade. We’ll talk about Zone crossfades in a moment.
-Alt-clicking and dragging will open a “rubber band” zoom frame; when you release the mouse button, the contents inside the selection frame will zoom in to fill the whole pane. To zoom out again, just Alt-click somewhere on the grid.
You can select multiple Zones by clicking on them while holding the Shift key, or clicking on an empty space of the grid and dragging the mouse to open a “rubber band” selection (when you hold Shift, you can open the selection frame at any point, also on Zones).
Tip: If multiple Zones overlap and you can’t reach one that’s hidden behind another, try holding the Ctrl key (Command on Macs) while clicking inside them repeatedly; this will cycle through all Zones you’re pointing at.
By using the cursor keys while holding Shift, you can add adjacent Zones to your current selection. This way, you can use the described methods to move or modify the Zones in unison; the status bar, however, will only show values that are identical across all selected Zones when multiple Zones are selected.
A third alternative that lets you change the keyboard and velocity ranges of a Zone in an intuitive way is using your MIDI keyboard. After you have selected a Zone in the Zone grid of the Mapping Editor, enable the Set Key Range via Midi or the Set Velocity Range via Midi by clicking on the corresponding button. The button with a horizontal arrow lets you change the keyboard range, the one with a vertical arrow lets you change the velocity range. Now, play two keys on your keyboard; it doesn’t matter whether you play them at the same time or in succession. Depending which of the two buttons you have enabled, Kontakt will use the note numbers and the velocity of both notes as endpoints for the Zone’s new keyboard and/or velocity range.
The control strip is located at the top of the Mapping Editor and consists of two rows of controls. This is where you can find most utility functions for managing and editing your Zones.
-Edit Menu: This button opens a drop-down menu with utility functions that operate on all currently selected Zones. We will cover the details a little later.
-List View: This button switches the Zone grid to an alternate view mode that displays all Groups and their contained Zones in a hierarchical list structure at the left side. When you’re in list view, you can expand or collapse all Groups at once by holding Shift when you click on an expand/collapse button.
List View is useful when you are working with a large number of Zones that overlap in large areas as Zones that are hidden behind others can be difficult to select and edit in the normal view. The downside of the list view is that it doesn’t convey any information about the velocity ranges; the only way to modify these is by editing them numerically in the status bar after you have selected a Zone. Just like the default view, the list view can be moved around with the scrollbars and zoomed with either the zoom buttons or by clicking and dragging a “rubber band” zoom frame while holding the Alt key.
-Select Zone via MIDI: If this button is enabled, any incoming MIDI note will automatically select any Zone(s) that match its note number and velocity. The function works similarly to the Select by MIDI feature of the Group Editor.
-Auto-Spread Zone Key Ranges: This function automatically fills “holes” in your key mapping by successively extending the key range of each selected Zone to both sides until it “touches” its neighbors. The algorithm ignores the root keys of the selected Zones; it simply uses the current key range as a starting point for extension. If you want the root keys to be accounted for, use the Auto-Spread Key Ranges via Root Key function instead. The Auto-Spread Zone Key Ranges function is also available in the Edit menu.
-Auto-Spread Velocity Ranges: This function works similarly to Auto-Spread Zone Key Ranges, but operates on the velocity range of each selected Zone instead of the key range. This function is also available in the Edit menu.
-Auto-Map Selected: When you click on this button, the Auto-Mapping feature will change the parameters and placement of each selected Zone according to information it has derived from the Sample’s filename. This function is also available in the Edit menu.
-Auto-Spread Key Ranges via Root Key: This function works similarly to the Auto-Spread Zone Key Ranges command with the exception of performing the the smallest possible maximum transposition that can occur in each Zone by accounting for the root keys and trying to keep them in the center of their respective Zone. This function is also available in the Edit menu.
-Resolve Overlapping Key Ranges: This function eliminates key range overlaps between the selected Zones by successively shrinking the key range of each Zone until it doesn’t overlap its neighbor anymore. The function performs the smallest possible amount of transposition by accounting for the root keys and tries to keep them in the center of their respective zone. This function is also available in the Edit menu and via the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-R (Cmd-R on Macs).
-Resolve Overlapping Velocity Ranges: This function works similarly to the Resolve Overlapping Key Ranges command, but operates on the velocity ranges of the selected Zones. It’s also available in the Edit menu and via the keyboard shortcut Shift-Ctrl-R (Shift-Cmd-R on Macs).
-Set Key Range via MIDI: If this button is enabled and a Zone is selected, Kontakt will use the next two incoming MIDI notes as the endpoints of a new key range for the selected Zone.
-Set Velocity Range via MIDI: If this button is enabled and a Zone is selected, Kontakt will use the velocities of the next two incoming MIDI notes as the endpoints of a new velocity range for the selected Zone.
-Lock Zones: When this button is enabled, the key and velocity ranges of all Zones will be protected from being changed graphically inside the Zone grid.
-Solo Zones: This button will mute all Zones in your Instrument except the currently selected one(s). Once activated, the solo function will follow your selection, so you can quickly check out the contents of specific Zone(s).
-Select. Groups Only: When this button is activated, the Mapping Editor will only show Zones that belong to the currently selected Group. To help you keep the overview, other Zones will be displayed dimly in the background, but won’t be available for selection or editing. Note: In Kontakt 5, Zones that do not belong to the currently selected Group are not displayed dimly in the background. I’m not sure if this feature has been removed or it is a bug.
-Autosel. Groups: When this button is enabled, the Group selection will follow your Zone selection.
-Sample Field: This text field displays the filename of the Sample that’s assigned to the currently selected Zone. When you hover the mouse pointer over this field, Kontakt will also display the full path to the Sample file. Using the arrow buttons on the right side of the field, you can assign a new Sample to the selected Zone; the buttons will switch to the previous or next Sample within the folder of the current one.
The Edit Menu
This drop-down menu contains utility functions that operate on the currently selected Zones. In addition to clipboard commands and functions that allow you to re-assign Zones to different Groups, it also contains a range of batch functions that are designed to operate on multiple Zones, commands for controlling the Authentic Expression Technology and some options that affect the display and editing behavior of the Mapping Editor.
-Cut Zone(s): Moves the selected Zones to the clipboard for later use, removing them from the Zone grid in the process. Using the clipboard, you can move Zones from one Instrument to another, even across different Kontakt instances.
-Copy Zone(s): Copies the selected Zones to the clipboard.
-Duplicate Zone(s): Creates identical copies of the selected Zones. These copies will be placed on top of the originals and will be selected after the process. The keyboard shortcut for this function is Ctrl-D (Cmd-D on Macs).
-Paste Zone(s): Inserts the contents of the Zone clipboard into the Mapping Editor. The Zones will appear in the same place they were cut or copied from.
-Delete Zone(s): Removes the selected Zones from the Mapping Editor.
-Exchange Sample: Opens a file chooser dialog that lets you assign a new Sample to the selected Zone. This operation will keep the other Zone parameters, such as key and velocity ranges, intact.
-Select all Zones: Selects all Zones in your Instrument, including those in Groups other than the currently selected one, even if the Select. Groups Only button is enabled.
-Deselect all Zones: Clears all active Zone selections.
-Move Zone(s) to New Empty Group: Creates a new Group with default settings and re-assigns all currently selected Zones to it. Use this function if you want to separate a number of Zones from your current Group and use them to build a new Group from scratch.
-Move Zone(s) to New Clone Group: Creates a new Group that replicates the settings of the Group to which the first selected Zone is assigned, then re-assigns all currently selected Zones to it. This process won’t change the functionality of your Instrument, as the new Group will behave exactly as the old one did; however, it allows you to change parameters of the new Group separately from the original Group.
-Move to Existing Group: This entry opens a sub-menu that contains a list of all Groups in your current Instrument; by selecting one of them, all currently selected Zones will be moved to this Group.
-Move Each Zone to Its Own Group (Empty): This function works similarly to the Move Zone(s) to New Empty Group command, but instead of creating a single Group and moving all selected Zones into it, it will create a separate, empty Group for each Zone.
-Move Each Zone to Its Own Group (Clone): This function works similarly to the Move Zone(s) to New Clone Group command, but will create a separate Group for each Zone, which replicates the settings of the original Group.
-Batch Tools: This entry opens a sub-menu with utility functions designed to operate on multiple Zones. We will discuss this in detail shortly.
-Create AET Morph Layer: Opens a dialog that lets you analyze the Samples of the selected Zones and save them to a new Morph Layer. These layers constitute the basic building blocks of the Authentic Expression Technology introduced in Kontakt 4. I will be sure to cover AET in detail in a future tutorial.
-Open AET Morph Map Editor: Opens a dialog that lets you combine one or more Morph Layers into a Morph Map.
-Auto Add AET Velocity Morph: This is a convenient function that carries out all necessary steps of building a standard velocity morph across the selected Zones for you.
The following seven entries are options that affect the operation of the Mapping Editor. You can toggle them by choosing them from the menu; if an option is currently active, this is indicated with a small diamond icon next to it.
-Auto Move Root Key: When enabled, moving a Zone will move its root key along with it.
-Show Sample Names: If enabled, the filenames of the assigned Samples will be displayed within the rectangles that represent each Zone in the Zone grid. Note that the name will be hidden when a Zone rectangle is too small; if you’d still like to see it, try zooming in until the name appears.
-Map Mode: These five settings affect how the Mapping Editor will behave when you drag multiple Samples from the Browser into the Zone grid:
-Chromatic: This is the default setting. The Mapping Editor will create adjacent Zones across both black and white keys, with the vertical mouse position adjusting the size of each Zone.
-White Keys Only: New Zones will be assigned to single, adjacent white keys.
-Black Keys Only: New Zones will be assigned to single, adjacent black keys.
-Snap to White Keys: This mode works similarly to Chromatic, but the Mapping Editor will place the low key of each Zone on a white key.
-Snap to Black Keys: The low key of each Zone will be placed on a black key.
-Auto Map – Setup: Opens the setup dialog that lets you identify the tokens of Sample filenames for later Auto-Mapping.
-Auto Map Selected: Changes the parameters of each selected Zone using the current Auto-Mapping settings.
-Auto-Spread Zone Key Ranges, Auto-Spread Key Ranges via Root Keys, Auto-Spread Velocity Ranges, Resolve Overlapping Key Ranges, Resolve Overlapping Velocity Ranges: These entries replicate the functions of the corresponding buttons in the control strip.
In addition to functions that place root keys in relation to the respective Zone borders, the Batch Tools menu includes several utility operations that let you create crossfades between Zones. I will be sure to cover how to create and use crossfades in a future tutorial.
-Auto-Apply X-Fades (Key): Creates crossfades between all selected Zones whose key ranges overlap to some extent. Active crossfades will be indicated with a shaded area between Zones; if this makes your Zone grid look too cluttered, try zooming in or switching into List View.
Tip: You can manually create crossfades by Ctrl-clicking and dragging the left or right border of a Zone.
-Auto-Apply X-Fades (Velocity): Creates crossfades between all selected Zones whose velocity ranges overlap to some extent.
-Remove X-Fades (Key): Removes all key range crossfades from the selected Zones, if any, which reverts them to normal overlapped Zones.
-Remove X-Fades (Velocity): Removes all velocity range crossfades from the selected Zones, if any.
-Move Root Key(s) to Lower Border: Moves the root key of each selected Zone to the lowest note in the key range.
-Move Root Key(s) to Center: Moves the root key of each selected Zone to the center of the Zone’s key range.
-Move Root Key(s) to Upper Border: Moves the root key of each selected Zone to the highest note in the key range
So hopefully you have a better understanding of all the functions of the Kontakt Mapping Editor and will be able to edit and manage your Zones more effectively.
Until next time…now go make some music.