Virtual Bassist MELLOW can perform either as a bass player or as a bass instrument, and you can switch between those two at any time.
In PLAYER Mode, you can play chords or notes and select phrases and this way control the performance of the built-in bass player. In PLAYER Mode, you also have the option to play the notes yourself and have just the groove and phrasing provided by the player, or to play chords and let the player perform melodic riffs and figures matching that chord (Melodic Mode).
In INSTRUMENT Mode, Virtual Bassist MELLOW emulates a super-realistic electric bass guitar that you can play on your MIDI keyboard.
Note that the Interactive Keyboard and its MIDI note assignments are very different in INSTRUMENT and PLAYER mode. Also, certain parameters such as Latch, Key, Timing Parameters and Melodic Mode are only needed in PLAYER Mode and therefore hidden in INSTRUMENT mode to avoid clutter and confusion.
Which mode for what?
Player Mode, Melodic On: Use this mode when you want to enjoy the superrealistic performance of a real bass player with very simple input from yourself. Here, you control Virtual Bassist MELLOW using chords – e.g. from a piano track or by just holding chords, and you create a vivid, real performance switching phrases in the Common or Style areas of the Interactive Keyboard. Virtual Bassist MELLOW will create a bass performance with melodic riffs and hits (depending on style) always matching the input chord.
Player Mode, Melodic Off: Use this mode if you want to enjoy the superrealistic phrasing of Virtual Bassist MELLOW but control the notes yourself, e.g. because you have particular melodic lines in mind.
Instrument Mode: This mode is perfect if you are a prolific keyboard player and want to play the bass live, or if you just want to throw in a riff or note here and there.
The Interactive Keyboard is both a display of received MIDI notes and an actually functional on-screen keyboard – with the only exception that notes you play on the Interactive Keyboard are not recorded into your DAW. The layout and functionality of the Interactive Keyboard changes between PLAYER and INSTRUMENT modes as shown below.
Interactive Keyboard in PLAYER Mode
Interactive Keyboard in INSTRUMENT Mode
This Icon opens the Timing Menu
Only in Player Mode, you will find a menu icon in the top right corner of the user interface. Click it to open a selection of Timing parameters that you can use to adjust your Virtual Bassist MELLOWs performance to your song.
The Speed switch lets you halve (0.5x) or double (2x) Virtual Bassist MELLOW’s tempo relative to the song tempo.
This function, often also called “Shuffle”, delays the off-beats. Virtual Bassist MELLOW will automatically switch the Swing resolution to 8th or 16th note depending on the selected Style.
At maximum position, the off-beat will have the same timing as the last note of a triplet.
Use this control to match the timing of Virtual Bassist MELLOW to a shuffled or triplet-based song.
Not all phrases contain 8th or 16th note off-beats. In these cases, the Swing control has no effect.
You can tweak the feel of your bass player’s performance either towards relaxed or rushed using this control:
- As you move the slider to the left, the player will play off-beats slightly earlier, leading to a rushed or driving feel.
- In the opposite direction, off-beats will be slightly delayed, creating a laidback or relaxed feel.
Feel has a stronger effect when listened to against other tracks. If you’re not sure what it does, try playing a drum loop along with Virtual Bassist MELLOW and tweak the control. You will notice that the off-beats will play earlier or later than the off-beat drums (usually hi-hats or snares) as you turn the control.
Like a real human, your session player in Virtual Bassist MELLOW plays ever so slightly around the quantized note grid. You can vary how “human” you want those phrases to be played:
- In the center position of the Timing slider, phrases are played with their original timing. If you’re unsure, leave the slider there.
- Towards the left or “tight” position, the phrases will get more and more quantized, until they match the quantize grid exactly. Use this setting for example when using Virtual Bassist MELLOW along with drum machines or generally in sequenced, electronic music.
- Moving the slider towards the right or “Loose” position intensifies the timing variations – the bass performance sounds intentionally human.
When Latch is activated, once you press a key in the Chord range, Virtual Bassist MELLOW will keep playing until you press the Stop key.
When Latch is off, Virtual Bassist MELLOW only plays as long as you hold at least one key in the Chord range. Latch is convenient when testing or setting up sounds, and is more practical if you build a track by manually entering notes into your MIDI track.
You can use an optional Sustain Pedal as a temporary Latch. Lifting the sustain pedal unlatches any notes that are no longer held, even if the Latch switch is still on.
Here you choose a STYLE – the selection of phrases accessible via the Style Phrases range on the keyboard.
A STYLE in Virtual Bassist MELLOW is like a collection of particular phrases that you ask your bass player to play. Styles are the “rhythmic vocabulary” of Virtual Bassist MELLOW, which is why we have included 41 sets.
You can select styles by either clicking the arrows of the Style Selector to skip to the previous/next style, or by clicking the name of the current Style to bring up the full list.
Every Style is a set of seven looping phrases, two intros and three fills. You can trigger them from the Style Phrases area of the Interactive or MIDI keyboard. In most Styles, Phrases are ordered by intensity/density from left to right.
The right section of the keyboard is the one that actually starts and stops the bass performance and determines the notes or melodies your bass player will play.
Instead of playing actual notes, you just select the root note or chord the bass player will perform as a phrase.
Virtual Bassist MELLOW features a built-in chord recognition. The following paragraph will tell you exactly which chords are supported and how to play them.
Naturally, Virtual Bassist MELLOW does not play any chords of course. The chord recognition is only relevant in Melodic mode (see below), where it considers the chord you press for matching melodic figures, licks and riffs to the current chord.
This is also useful when you use the MIDI track of a Virtual Guitarist to control your Virtual Bassist.
Melodic Mode, which you select using the switch above the right edge of the Interactive Keyboard, is only available in PLAYER mode. The switch defines whether Virtual Bassist MELLOW will play melodic figures or just follow the notes you play on the keyboard:
- If you’re a good keyboard player and/or know exactly which notes you want Virtual Bassist MELLOW to play, switch melodic mode off and play those notes yourself, while the PLAYER provides the phrasing.
- Turn Melodic Mode on and just hold chords or root notes to enjoy the built-in melodic functionality – individually for every phrase. Make sure to read about the KEY functionality in context with chords!
Insight: Key and chord recognition The Player mode in Virtual Bassist is designed to play realistic, musical bass lines matching the current chords and key of the song, including typical diatonic and pentatonic riffs and figures resulting from the playing technique. There is a lot of intelligence behind this that you are not required to understand in order to make full use of it. If you’re interested, this paragraph provides a little basic insight into the harmonic and melodic workings of Virtual Bassist MELLOW.
If you have used one of our Virtual Guitarists, you will notice differences in Virtual Bassist:
- Virtual Guitarists play only notes that are part of the current chord
- Virtual Bassists may play notes that are not part of the current chord, maybe not even of the current scale. These can be melody or passage notes that are essential for musically interesting bass performances.
- Therefore, the Key selector has a different logic than you will be used to from the Virtual Guitarists: While it is a “chord selection filter” in the Virtual Guitarists, it can even extend the range of chords and notes, and help improving melodic figures and passage notes in Virtual Bassist. It can even be automated.
True to our ease-of-use and failure-free paradigms, usually you won’t have to think about the inner workings of how a UJAM Virtual Musician does their job.
If you’re not inclined to bother about music theory (or if you feel like you don’t understand it enough), a simple approach can be:
- Play Virtual Bassist just like you would play your Virtual Guitarist, even in Melodic Mode.
- In case the style you’ve chosen plays melodic figures and you experience a harmonic clash, additionally set the KEY parameter to your song’s key and the problem should be gone!
Key Icon with current key displayed
This parameter is only relevant in Melodic mode. It is essential in ensuring that melodic passages played by Virtual Bassist MELLOW always work well with the rest of your musical context.
Even without the Key being set, Virtual Bassist will automatically match melodic figures to the current root note or chord you’re playing.
However, unlike in the Virtual Guitarists, melodic figures played by Virtual Bassist MELLOW may use notes outside the actual chord, and these can clash with the musical context if not played in the right Key. This is what this parameter is meant for.
- Click the clef icon to open the KEY menu. When closed, the currently selected key is always displayed next to the clef.
- Open the KEY menu and set your song’s key. Virtual Bassist MELLOW’s player will choose melodic and passage notes correctly from the combination of the recognized chord and the set key.
If your song modulates or changes to a different key, you can automate the key parameter to follow, or use MIDI Learn to assign it to a MIDI Controller and control it in real-time!
The chord recognition scheme of Virtual Bassist MELLOW is pretty straightforward and intuitive – it basically plays the chord you play (even if you’re just holding one note) or the next possible chord if that’s not available.
The following chords are recognized:
As described above, the chord recognition also considers the KEY if you have set one.
Chord recognition and KEY are only relevant in Melodic mode!
The lower left of the MIDI keyboard (C♯0 – B1) is reserved for a collection of socalled Common Phrases. These phrases are “hard-wired” and won’t change with the STYLE selection. Common Phrases complement the Style Phrases by patterns that are more generic and applicable to multiple contexts.
Note that “black” keys of the right Common Phrase octave (C1-B1) trigger Intros and Fills – unlike the other phrases, those will play only once and then revert to the previously selected phrase.
Common Phrase are even identical for all Virtual Bassists, so you can record performances with ROYAL for example and later switch to ROWDY or MELLOW.
Phrases are what you make of them. Virtual Bassist MELLOW lets you switch phrases in real-time without interrupting the performance. That’s a great way to create dynamic and interesting phrasings of your own.
The lowest key of the Common Phrase range (C1) is the Silent key – it will keep playback running, just with an empty phrase. Use it create temporary gaps without restarting phrases.
Keys in the C2-Bb2 range play phrases of the currently selected Style. White keys play regular cyclic phrases, while black keys trigger Intros (C# and D#) as well as Fills (F#, G#, A#).
- Press black keys once to trigger the respective Intro or Fill.
- Sometimes, these will start a little later in the bar. They will play once and then automatically fall back to the previous cyclic phrase.
Style phrases start with the lowest density/intensity on C2 and get more agitated as you move towards B♭3.
Know you always have these Style Phrases plus the Common Phrases at your immediate disposal.
The highest key of the Style Range – B3 – is the Stop key. In Latch mode, pressing this key will stop playback.
Realtime Controls in Player Mode
In Player Mode, the two wheels have distinct functions to let you create a more dynamic performance:
- The Pitchwheel will be labeled Force and control the dynamic intensity of the bass. Turn it down for softer passages, turn it up to create accents.
- The Modulation Wheel lets you gradually dampen the string, creating a shorter, more percussive sound.
Like all titles from our Virtual Musician range, Virtual Bassist MELLOW is designed to deliver absolutely realistic performances as if played by a real musician on a real instrument. No compromise.
If you are a skilled player and know how to play the typical phrasings and riffs of a bass, we highly recommend INSTRUMENT Mode.
However, if you’re not a skilled keyboard player, chances are that you are way better off using PLAYER Mode. Like the name says, Instrument Mode lets you play the bass instrument. Actually, Instrument Mode is active in PLAYER mode too – it is the bass model that gets played by the Player.
We wouldn’t be surprised if playing Virtual Bassist MELLOW in INSTRUMENT mode felt like your keyboard were hooked up to a mechanism playing the physical bass.
This is because a Virtual Bassist is not just a multisample, but a real model that emulates all the behaviors of a physical bass guitar. Unwanted “unrealism” of a conventional sampled bass won’t be found in Virtual Bassist MELLOW – such as machine-gun effect when repeating notes, unnatural note-offs or pitching/transposition artifacts.
Playing tip: Unlike many other instruments, realistic, grooving bass performances rely heavily not only on the correct onset of notes, but also on their end! A succession of long bass notes with no pause in between is easy to play on strings, but hard on a MIDI keyboard. In these cases, try recording your bass performance at half the original tempo – chances are this will still sound more realistic than note-length editing.
Key Switches in Instrument Mode
In Instrument Mode, the lowest octave of the Interactive Keyboard lets you switch on Legato behavior and play a few essential noises for a more lively performance:
- Slides: The keys from C0 to E0 pre-select different slides that are perfect for “pre-intros”. Hold one of those keys and then play keys in the note range to trigger those slides.
- Legato Mode: You can switch the legato slide behavior in the note range on and off in realtime by using the keys C#0 (off) and F#0 (on).
- Dead Notes: The A0 and B0 keys trigger Dead Notes – Dead Notes are “noteless attacks” that are used as a playing technique in-rhythm to make the bass phrase sound more percussive.
- “Silent” Dead Note: In addition to the above-mentioned Dead Notes, the G0 key doesn’t trigger a Dead Note but toggles the Main Keyboard to play Dead Notes with the played Key.
- Full Stop: The Key Bb0 plays a Full Stop.
Realtime Controls in Instrument Mode
In Instrument Mode, the Pitchwheel will function as exactly that with a note range of 2 semitones, whereas the Modulation Wheel lets you gradually dampen the string, creating a shorter, more percussive sound.
Insight: The “Bass Model”
In all Virtual Bassists, there is a mechanism at work under the hood that ensures realistic behavior of the bass instrument.
This is important as we don’t want to require our users to be intimate experts of the inner workings of a bass guitar, nor don’t we want to require you to know exactly what notes to play when, when to switch strings, or trigger slides or articulation noises manually.
In this paragraph, we’ll give you a little bit of insight into how this mechanism works.
If you’re in a hurry, skip it and read it later, because you don’t need this knowledge to make full use of Virtual Bassist (that’s the whole point). It’s hopefully interesting nonetheless.
When you play a certain MIDI Note, Virtual Bassist will automatically pick a certain string. Here’s strings versus MIDI Notes in detail:
- E: 28 – 34 (26 – 34 in Drop D Mode)
- A: 35 - 39
- D: 40 - 45 • G: 46 – 63
When you play an interval greater than 4 semitones, Virtual Bassist will change to a different string and play an extra note. Like a real bass, you can create up to 4 note polyphony.
Intervals between 1 and 4 semitones are regarded as a change of fret on the same string and played monophonically.
There isn’t a fixed logic to position change. The Bass Model automatically calculates the position of a note from the previous note played. This means a preference of “realistic sound” over “realistic playing behavior”.
Legato Energy Level
The energy level of a legato note is not only dependent on the MIDI velocity, but also on the energy of the previously sounding note – taking its initial velocity and length into account.
- A note is a note is a note, but some notes are different depending on their context – velocity, previous sounding note and so on. Here are a few examples – try them out in Instrument Mode to get a better feel for what happens:
- Slides: Whenever a subsequent note is played louder than the previous one and its pitch is only one or two semitones apart, Virtual Bassist will not play a new note, but a slide (in reality, this is the finger of the player moving one or two frets on the fret board, increasing the energy of the sounding string).
- Hammer Ons/Pull-Offs: Likewise, if the subsequent note’s velocity is lower, Virtual Bassist will play a Hammer-On if the note is one or two semitones higher, and a Pull-Off if it’s lower. Hammer-On and Pull-Off are descriptive terms for what the finger on the fretboard does.
- Neither a Slide, Hammer-On or Pull-Off is played if the notes cross the note range limit of a string – in this case a new note is played on the neighbor string.
- Note-Offs are dynamically different depending on the remaining energy of the string and at which point of time into the sounding note it is stopped – there are staccato Note-Offs and legato Note Offs.
If you are unfamiliar with those terms and playing techniques but want to understand them, google them to find lots of explanations and videos on the web.