Review: Pitch Innovations Fluid Pitch
Fluid Pitch is a MIDI FX plug-in designed to apply pitch-bending intelligently and musically.
Pitch Innovations Fluid Pitch
⊕ Pitch-bending within musical and user-defined scales
⊕ No Last Bend makes legato runs with pitch-bend easier
⊕ No Return Bend removes ‘return to zero’ pitch wheel management
⊕ Microtuning options on a per-note basis
⊖ Manual pitch-bend value setting required for third-party instruments
Just when you thought all of the simple good ideas were used up, Fluid Pitch arrives to quietly, musically and intelligently revise our use of pitch bend. Brilliant.
Price $75 (currently $49)
Contact Pitch Innovations
Pitch Bend wheels have adorned synthesizers since the Minimoog’s debut in 1970. Whether you want the subtle bend of a half or full-tone step, a more dramatic octave-wide sweep or something in between, pitch bend has become a staple performance tool across a wide range of musical genres.
The problem is that some bends make more musical sense than others. If you select a pitch-bend range of 2 and you’re working in C major, upwards bends from C to D and D to E will sound fine. However, an upward bend from E will take you to F♯, usually leading to harmonic clashes.
Fluid Pitch is the brainwave of Pitch Innovations and claims to be the first intelligent Pitch Bend plug-in. Once installed, it nestles comfortably in the folder of your MIDI FX plug-ins (rather than as an audio processing plug-in), and its primary USP is to let you set a musical scale for your pitch-bend changes.
In the example given above, Fluid Pitch would create a half-step pitch bend between E and F, while maintaining a whole tone elsewhere, to keep your pitch moves locked to the key of your track. You can, of course, choose any other root note, while also being able to set a wider pitch bend range of your choice. For example, select D minor as your root note and ‘3’ as the bend range and, you’ll find adjustments are made between major and minor thirds, as necessary.
Other neat features for traditional pitch-bend uses include ‘No Last Bend’. This slickly executed performance function lets you bend upwards or downwards over a note’s duration as normal, but each new note will sound at the key’s pitch, unaffected by the pitch wheel’s state. This setting saves you from managing the pitch bend wheel’s ‘return to zero’ – which can ordinarily be a pain when using synth patches with long release times. Rather impressively, this is handled automatically and musically by the plug-in, and resets on the next keystroke. And all this without overhanging notes unmusically snapping back to their starting pitches.
Overall, the standout feature is true polyphonic pitch-bend, which you can activate for all compatible synths. This intelligently bends multiple notes simultaneously. For example, moving from an A minor chord to an F major chord, with the C in the middle of the first chord bending by a minor third down to an A, while the A and E of the first chord bend by a major third to F and C.
There’s an iOS app to allow you to select bend ranges on the fly, though you can do this with your mouse and the plug-in, too, if you prefer. Fluid Pitch is straightforward and musically superb; the only caveat is that you need to remember to match the pitch-bend range in your synth to Fluid Pitch and ensure that range is wide enough to cope with the note and chord bends you want to perform. Otherwise, this is a fresh, ground-breaking take on pitch bend and a true ‘why hasn’t anyone thought of that before?’ plug-in.
- Scale-locked pitch bending
- Polyphonic pitch bending
- Micro tuning
- Unique pitch bend performance features
- AU, VST, VST3 formats available
- AAX and iOS formats in development
- Windows 10 (64 bit)
- OS X 10.9 and above
- Intel or AMD CPU