Getting to Know Sculpture’s Control Envelopes

Among Sculpture’s control sources are two envelopes. In traditional synthesizer designs, envelopes are used to control amplitude and filter levels over time.

By comparison, Sculpture’s envelopes are somewhat special as they can be used as:

Figure. Controller envelopes.

Using Sculpture’s Envelope Display

The envelope curve is shown in the display to the lower right of the Sculpture interface. The envelope display is active only if the envelope functionality is engaged (Mode buttons are set to either Env or Ctrl+Env).

Figure. (Controller) Envelope display.
  • The overall time/length of the envelope is indicated by the numerical entry at the top right of the window (2400 ms in the graphic).

  • The maximum time/length of the envelope is 48 bars/40 seconds.

  • The lines on the background grid are placed 100 milliseconds apart.

  • The background lines are placed 1000 ms apart when very long envelope times are displayed. In sync mode, this is displayed as 1 quarter.

  • The envelope is zoomed automatically after you release the mouse button. This displays the entire envelope at the highest possible resolution. You can disable/enable this feature by clicking the Autozoom button—the small magnifying glass.

  • Autozoom is automatically disabled when you perform a manual zoom—by clicking the envelope display background, and dragging horizontally. As a reference, the current display width is displayed by the numerical entry at the top right of the display. You can re-engage automatic zooming by clicking the Autozoom button.

  • If you click the handles (nodes) or lines between the nodes in the envelope display, the current envelope segment will be highlighted. A small help tag also indicates the millisecond value of the current segment.

Sculpture Envelope Parameters

The following parameters are active only if the envelope functionality is engaged (Mode buttons set to either Env or Ctrl+Env).

  • A-Time Velosens slider: Sets the velocity sensitivity for the attack phase of the envelope. Positive values reduce the attack time at lower velocities. Negative values reduce the attack time at higher velocities.
    Figure. A-Time Velosens slider.
  • Timescale field: Scales the duration of the entire envelope between 10% (ten times faster) and 1000% (ten times slower). This also affects the appearance of the envelope curve displayed as it is shortened (sped up) or lengthened (slowed down).
  • Sustain Mode menu: Defines the behavior of the envelope while a note is held. Choices are Sustain mode (default), Finish mode, or one of three loop modes (Loop Forward, Loop Backward, Loop Alternate). See Looping Sculpture Envelopes
  • Sync and ms buttons: Select either a free-running envelope (with segment times displayed in milliseconds) or a tempo-synced envelope with note value options, such as 1/8th or 1/4.
    Figure. Sync and ms buttons.

    Note: Switching between values forces a recalculation of times to the nearest note value or ms time, respectively, based on the current project tempo.

  • Compare button: Toggles between the original recording and the edited version.

    Note: This is available as an option only if an envelope curve has actually been recorded and edited.

  • VariMod-Source and Amount: Available only for recorded envelopes. Controls the strength of envelope variation with a user-defined modulation source.
    • Source options include Off, Velocity Concave, Velocity, Velocity Convex, KeyScale, Ctrl A, and Ctrl B.

    • Variation in the envelopes means the deviation of a recorded envelope path from straight interconnecting lines between the points. After you record an envelope, you can reduce or exaggerate the amplitude-jitter (variation) of the recording by Command-dragging the curves between points down (to reduce) or up (to exaggerate).

Working with Sculpture Envelope Nodes

When an envelope is first opened, a default envelope curve is automatically created for each envelope. Click the (Mode) Env button to view it.

You will see a few handles (nodes) placed—from left to right—along a straight line within the envelope. These are indicators of the following parameters.

  • Node 1: Start level. Cannot be repositioned.
  • Node 2: Attack time position/level.
  • Node 3: Loop time position/level.
  • Node 4: Sustain time position/level.
  • Node 5: End time position/level.

As you move the cursor along the line, or hover over the nodes, the current envelope segment is highlighted.

You can create your own envelopes manually by manipulating the nodes and lines, or you can record an envelope, as discussed in Recording Sculpture Envelopes.

To adjust the time between nodes
  • Click the desired handle, and drag it left or right.

As you do so, the overall length of the envelope changes—with all following nodes being moved. When you release the mouse button, the envelope display automatically zooms to show the entire envelope.

Note: You cannot move a node beyond the position of the preceding node. You can, however, move nodes beyond the position of the following node—even beyond the right side of the envelope display—effectively lengthening both the envelope segment and the overall envelope.

To adjust the level of each node
  • Click the desired handle, and drag it up or down.

To adjust the shape of the curve between nodes
  • For simple (nonrecorded) envelopes:  Click directly on the line that connects them, and drag up or down.

  • For recorded envelopes, which may have a more complex curve between nodes, Control-drag the curve.

Experiment with each node/parameter to get a feel for its operation. You’ll find that the envelopes are very intuitive to use.

Copying Sculpture Envelopes with the Shortcut Menu

Control-click the envelope buttons or the envelope display background to open a shortcut menu, which contains Copy, Paste, and Clear commands. These allow you to copy and paste envelopes between Envelopes 1 and 2, between settings, or between multiple open Sculpture instances. The Clear command deletes the selected envelope.

Looping Sculpture Envelopes

The envelope can—like any envelope—run in one-shot mode (the envelope phases run for as long as the note is held). It can also run through each phase several times or in an infinite cycle, much like an LFO. You can achieve this through the use of loops.

Loops can be synchronized to the project tempo automatically by using the sync and ms buttons.

When you are in any of the loop modes, the loop always cycles between user-defined envelope handles that indicate the Loop start point (L icon), and the Sustain point (S icon). These handles can be dragged to the preferred position.

  • When set to Finish, the envelope runs in one-shot mode from beginning to end—even if the note is released before all envelope phases have completed. The other loop parameters are disabled.

  • When set to Loop Forward, the envelope runs to the Sustain point, and begins to periodically repeat the section between the Loop and Sustain points—always in a forward direction.

  • When set to Loop Backward, the envelope runs to the Sustain point, and begins to periodically repeat the section between the Sustain and Loop points—always in a backward direction.

  • When set to Loop Alternate, the envelope runs to the Sustain point, then periodically returns to the Loop point and back to the Sustain point, alternating in both a backward and forward direction.

Note: If the Loop point lies behind the Sustain point, the loop will start after the key is released.

Recording Sculpture Envelopes

Before proceeding, it is important to note that you can only record the movements of the assigned MIDI controller. MIDI controller assignments for the envelopes must be set in the MIDI Controller Assignment section at the bottom of the Sculpture interface (see Assigning MIDI Controllers in Sculpture).

Figure. MIDI Controller Assignment section.
  • R(ecord) button: Enables—“arms”—the envelope record functionality. To stop—or “disarm”—recording, click the R button a second time, or use the trigger mode function described below.
    Figure. R(ecord) button.
  • Record Trigger Mode menu: Used to choose different record trigger modes to start recording (when R(ecord) is active):
    Figure. Record Trigger Mode menu.
    • NoteOn: Recording starts when a note is played.
    • Note + Ctrl Movement: Recording starts when MIDI control change messages (for the assigned controllers, see Assigning MIDI Controllers in Sculpture) arrive while a note is held.
    • Note + Sustain Pedal: Recording starts when the sustain pedal is depressed while a note is held.
To record an envelope
  1. Set the Record Trigger Mode to the desired mode (Note+Ctrl, for example).

  2. Enable record by clicking the R button.

  3. Play, and hold, a key—and start moving the controllers assigned to envelope controls 1 and/or 2 (modulation wheel, for example).

To stop an envelope recording
Do one of the following:
  • Manually disengage the record button (R) by clicking it.

  • Release all voices.

  • Play a new note after releasing all keys.

Note: When a controller movement has been recorded, R(ecord) is automatically set to off and Mode is set to Env. This ensures that only the recorded movement is active, regardless of the stop position of the recorded controller.

To play a recorded envelope
  • Play a key to begin polyphonic playback of the recorded envelope.

Note: The Mode parameter must be set to Env and the R(ecord) parameter must be set to off.

You can also activate both the Env and Ctrl buttons of the Mode parameter, as this allows you to use controllers assigned to Ctrl Env1 or Ctrl Env2 to manipulate the envelope in real time, alongside playback of the recorded envelope.

Note: When both Env and Ctrl are activated, however, the controller value is added to the envelope output, resulting in a modulation offset.

To prepare a recorded envelope for editing
  • The envelope segments and handles are set automatically after recording, so drag the vertical lines that intersect the handles to enable editing.

Note: This will not change the shape of the envelope.