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WARBL software version:
The pressure sensor can be used to mimic the way that whistles, flutes, and some bagpipes can be "overblown" to reach the second octave. To use this feature, select "1. Breath Mode (two octaves)" or "2. Bag Mode (two octaves)". The two have slightly different response to pressure, and each can have a different octave threshold, which controls how difficult it is to reach the second octave. Octave thresholds of about 25 and 75 are suggested for playing with the breath and bag, respectively. Note that as you progress higher on the scale, it becomes increasingly more difficult to jump to the second octave. A higher octave threshold gives you more precise octave control, but can also make it difficult to reach the highest notes in the second octave.
For playing a single octave with either breath or a bag, select "3. Single Octave Mode". This is useful for mimicking a great highland bagpipe practice chanter.
You can also choose not to use the pressure sensor at all. Selecting "4. Bagless Mode" will allow you to use a button press to start and stop the sound. You will be limited to one octave. Note: You must also configure a button to use the "Play/stop (bagless mode)" command if you choose this mode.
Please see the WARBL manual for more information about the pressure sensor behavior and using a bag.
The current pressure sensor reading is also shown, in the units inches of water.
WARBL mimics open-tone hole instruments by sensing the distance of your fingers from the holes and using this information to bend notes downward. It can detect your fingers a maximum of about 1 cm (~1/2") from the holes. You can reduce this distance using the slider if you don't want to have to remove your fingers as far from the holes to turn off the pitch bend. The downside is that you'll have less precision in bending notes.
If "1. Slide and vibrato" is checked, lowering the finger over the highest uncovered hole will gradually flatten the current note down to the next lower note on the scale, much like on a real instrument. Lowering fingers over any other open holes will flatten the note to a lesser extent, which is useful for vibrato. If a finger over a "vibrato" hole is lowered all the way but the new fingering pattern doesn't change the current note, the pitch bend is reset to zero.The pitch bend contributed by each hole is cumulative, meaning that lowering fingers over multiple holes simultaneously will flatten the note more than lowering just one finger.
If "2. Vibrato only" is checked, the highest uncovered hole is treated he same as the rest, so lowering a finger over it will flatten the note somewhat, but not enough to slide all the way down to the next note on the scale. With some apps, this gives a cleaner sound, especially when playing fast passages. You can still flatten the current note more by lowering multiple fingers over open holes if you'd like.
If "3. No pitch bend" is selected, no pitch-bend information is sent. This is best for very clean fast passages, or for mimicking other instruments like accordians where note bending sounds unnatural.
The three buttons can be programmed to perform different actions. This is useful for sending special commands to MIDI apps or customizing the ability to switch modes.
If a button click is configured to send MIDI note on/note off messages, the normal behavior is to alternate between sending note on and note off messages each time the button is "clicked" (the action actually occurs when the button is released). There is also the option to choose "momentary" behavior, meaning that the button will send a note on message when pressed and a note off message when released. This is useful if you only want a note to be on when the button is held down, for example for mimicking uilleann pipe regulators. Note: If "momentary" is selected, other actions using that same button will be disabled, because it's not possible to differentiate other intentions from a momentary press.
Please note that CC messages 102-119 on channel 7 are reserved for the Configuration Tool, so WARBL cannot be programmed to send additional messages in this range.
The "secret" button commands are a few additional hard-coded actions that involve covering certain tone holes while clicking button 1. These can be useful if normal button actions are used for other functions. They allow you to control bagpipe drones in some apps, as well as giving you an alternative way of changing pitch bend and fingering modes. Please see section 8 of the user manual for more information.
The optical sensors may occasionally need to be calibrated, for example when the device is new, if a new person is playing the device, or the sensors are a bit dirty. If the calibration is far off or you want to calibrate quickly, you can begin by clicking "Begin auto-calibration". The LED on WARBL will turn on and you'll have ten seconds to lightly place your fingers over all the tone holes. Pressing harder on each tone hole will make it more difficult to "cover" after auto-calibration. After this the calibration should be reasonably close. Note that the bell sensor will only be calibrated if it is currently plugged in. If this is the case, rest the bell sensor on whatever surface you intend to use with it while also covering the tone holes with your fingers. Note that auto-calibration is always saved immediately; it is not necessary to click "Save calibration" afterward.
Normally, auto-calibration will be unnecessary, and you can just fine-tune each sensor individually. Clicking the up arrow will make it easier to "cover" the tone hole, while clicking the down arrow will make it more difficult. Note that when you plug in WARBL, values for each sensor will always read zero, and any changes will be relative to the current calibration. Changes to individual sensors will take place immediately so you can test them as you are changing them, but you must click "Save calibration" for the changes to be saved. Otherwise the calibration will be reset when WARBL is unplugged.
Because of the continuous nature of optical sensors, it is necessary to have some hysteresis, meaning that it is slightly easier to "cover" a hole than it is to "uncover" it. This prevents unwanted oscillations where the note changes rapidly if your finger is at the threshold of covering a hole. A value of around 20 is suggested for hysteresis and normally you won't need to change this. However, you can increase it if you hear unwanted oscillations as you cover or uncover holes. Conversely, you can decrease it if you want the quickest possible response and don't mind some occasional oscillations.
The Configuration Tool connects to WARBL using MIDI protocol to let you control settings. It is necessary to use a browser that supports Web MIDI, which currently includes Chrome and Opera on Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook, or Android. You can also use Firefox or Safari on Mac if you install the WEB MIDI extension. Safari on iOS unfortunately does not yet support Web MIDI, but on iOS devices you can use the free Web MIDI Browser app. Simply navigate to this page within the app, and select "Enable SYSEX" in the settings. You may also want to bookmark this page for later use.
WARBL has three "instruments" available for use at any time. Each instrument consists of a fingering pattern and a set of associated settings. You can select different fingering patterns for each instrument, or you can select the same fingering pattern for more than one instrument. For example, if you only want to use tin whistle fingering, you can select that option for all three instruments, but still have three different sets of settings available at any time. You may want to have the buttons configured differently for each instrument, for example, or have different breath and/or pitch-bend settings.
Selecting the tab for each instrument allows you to change the settings for that instrument. You can apply changes to settings to the current instrument, or you can choose to apply them to all three instruments. This can be useful if you want to make three instruments that are the same except for minor differences (which can be changed after applying the initial settings to all three instruments). You can also restore the original factory settings. Please note that WARBL responds immediately to changes to settings, but if you don't save save them, those changes will be lost when you unplug WARBL.
The Configuration Tool can produce simple square wave sounds if you click the volume icon in the upper-left corner. The sound will not respond to pitch-bend commands, but can be useful for testing other settings. It's also possible to have other MIDI apps running at the same time, which is preferable and will give you higher-quality sound.
NOTE: The optical sensor calibration is separate from all other settings, and is not affected by any other changes. Restoring factory settings also will not affect the calibration, because there are no "initial settings" for the calibration. Each device is calibrated once after being assembled.