Traktor Midi Mapping: How to Make Instant Gratification Style Effects & Play Them Musically

Flashflooder here, your friendly neighborhood Midi Mapper and today we are going to demystify the ever so popular Instant Gratification mapping. Now if you’ll take a trip down memory lane you’ll remember that I explained how to midi map your own supercombos a long while ago but that was the extra gravy on top of the mashed potatoes that was the original O.G. Instant Gratification mapping. And today feels like a potatoes kind of day, so we are going to dive into the core concept of that mapping which was intuitive, fun, cool, and (most importantly) consistent sounding one push button style effects. Read on to learn how to MIDI map these button friendly effects yourself and also learn a sneaky trick for how to play a row of the same effect buttons musically without skipping a beat.

While it may not seem like a whole lot is going on when you play one of these button effects aside from an effect turning on and off, do not be fooled! For each of these button presses there are at least seven Traktor mapping commands and often more in the case of more complex interdependent mappings to get your effects sounding just how you like ‘em and expect them to be. The mapping commands that you’ll be using (and getting real familiar with) for each button are:

  • Button 1/2/3 or Unit On (Effect On)
  • Effect 1/2/3 Selector
  • Knob 1/2/3 (Effect Parameter)
  • Dry/Wet Adjust (FX Unit)
  • FX Unit 1/2/3 On (Routing On desired deck and Off others)
  • FX Unit Mode Selector

Some of these commands may seem unintuitive and unnecessary at first but trust me; they will come in handy, especially if you are using a mapping like this in tandem with others or are one to occasionally get on the old laptop keyboard and mouse to make some ad hoc changes in Traktor as you DJ. The reason for this is consistency. You don’t want to be thinking about all the details of what is going on in your FX banks of Traktor as you DJ, you just want to feel the music and trigger the perfect effects to accentuate and isolate those sonic moments that can take any old DJ mix and turn it into a journey through sound. Ok, so that might be a bit dramatic (we’re not all Armin, Sasha, Digweed, or whoever else you feel takes you on musical journeys) but you get what I mean.

So getting back to the mapping side of things, the consistency that we’ve been discussing is a reference to the tedious nature of being sure that whenever you press an effect button, you are making sure that it sets the effect type to that which is desired, sets the effect rate to exactly what is desired, sets the effect bank dry/wet to exactly the right mix, sets the FX bank onto the desired effect (and importantly off any others to avoid any awkward sounding unexpected effects on any other tracks you might simultaneously have in the mix), and sets the FX bank to the proper mode (which is especially important ever since Traktor went away from separate mapping commands for Single and Group effects in favor of simply global Button and Knob commands). Once you combine all of these elements you have the one push instant gratification style button effect, which should sound exactly to your liking, every time.

When you take a second to think about the need for all of these commands in tandem it should make sense (and keep you from needing to stare at your laptop while playing), but the one command that might not is the FX Unit routing on and off of your decks. While it may be tempting to save yourself some time by mapping one command for the FX Unit On to your desired deck with a button “Hold” Interaction Mode, this may create some off kilter sounding effects. This is especially apparent with tempo based effects and the reason why is that when you have mapping commands that are triggered simultaneously in Traktor there is no current way to manage the order of operations for these simultaneous commands (although it would be an amazingly powerful feature….ahem, NI). Basically this means that when you push the effect button you don’t exactly know whether the effect is going to turn on or be applied to the deck first and the very slight time delay between these commands can cause the effect to sound a bit out of phase, which is generally undesirable. So (long winded explanation aside) we get around this by using Direct commands to route the FX Unit On the desired deck and Off all other decks to keep the effect sounding consistent and in phase with the beat. In the explanation video you’ll note that I only made FX unit off commands for Deck B as if I was intending to make a two deck mapping; however, if you use more than two decks you should add the extra FX unit off commands for those as well (and it’s always better to be safe than sorry). As a side note, keeping the FX banks routed on your selected deck rather than constantly “hold”ing them on and off also allows for some nice trailing sounds with more atmospheric effects like delays and reverbs.

So now that you know the format for how to make instant gratification style effects, we can move on to a sneaky trick I’ve been using since creating the original IG mapping, which is the ability to play multiple of the same IG style effects in a row musically without issue. While it’s something you probably never realized was even going on in the background, this was a key development to making the infamous row of beatmashers playable both on their own and with supercombo effects, when present. Basically, what’s happening is that since all of the Beatmasher effect on (i.e., button 1) commands are “Hold” interaction mode commands, they turn on the effect when you hold down any of the buttons and turn the effect off whenever you release any of the buttons. Now did you catch that? The key part was right at the end there. If you are jamming out to your beatmashers going back and forth between various rates and ever have two fingers on two different buttons, as soon as the first finger lifts off the button trigger, the effect turns off. Although this may not seem like a huge issue when thinking about it, if you grab any MIDI controller with buttons next to each other and try playing them quickly/musically in sequence (seriously, try it out) you’ll inevitably find moments where you have at least two fingers held down at once. So instead of remembering to be sure that you release the first button right before you hold down the second button (which could also create a small unintended effect gap) or making sure not to release any of the buttons until you want the effect to turn off, you can just use a simple modifier trick to keep track of how many buttons are being held down at one time and adding modifier conditions to change exactly when the effect will turn on or off.

The simplest way to achieve this is to use a single modifier and have each button (of this group of the same effects) to increment the modifier when the button is held down and to decrement the modifier when the button is released (which is also known as the invert command so the command is applied on the Midi Off signal from the button rather than the Midi On signal). As shown in the video example, the modifier you select will be at 0 with no buttons held and go up sequentially to 1, 2, 3, and finally to 4 when all four buttons are held down. With the same logic, as you release each button the modifier value goes down by 1 until going back to its original state of 0 when none of the buttons are being held down. If for some reason you can’t get invert commands to work on your controller you can also do the same process with four different modifiers that each just “hold” directly to 1 when each corresponding button is pressed down and then will automatically go back to 0 when released.

So now that we know how to set up some modifier commands to track how many buttons are being held down in our single IG effect row, we need to add some modifier conditions to our existing effect/button on commands so that they work when you are holding one button down. To do this, we are going to go to each effect/button on command and add a modifier condition of whatever modifier you used to track the button presses (M2 as shown in the example video) and set it to 0. This will turn the effect on when you don’t have any buttons held. We are also going to need to duplicate all of these effect/button on commands and make another with the modifier condition equal to 1. This condition is for the case when you only have one button left held and release it to turn off the effect.

Pretty cool, huh? That very well could have been something that you never realized was going on in these mappings but it definitely has a profound effect on being able to play the effects musically, the way your brain and hands naturally intend to. And remember, this concept is not specific to the Midi Fighter but can be applied to any MIDI controller from just 2 buttons up to 7 buttons in the case you want to be able to play that many different rates or styles of one selected effect. And in case you were wondering, the reason that 7 is the limit is that Traktor MIDI modifiers only have integer values ranging from 0 to 7, remember?

So with all that said and done, it’s time to take this knowledge and put it to good MIDI mapping use! While you may conceptually understand this and follow along with the video fine, it is not uncommon to find that the work to set up a mapping with this many commands can be daunting enough on its own to deter one to ever start a mapping, much less bug test, and iterate upon it until reaching a level of personal perfection. With that all in mind, I’ve decided to give you guys and gals a little treat: a free one deck Instant Gratification style mapping that will work seamlessly with any Midi Fighter, and can remapped to work with any other 16 button Midi controller. This has the bottom two rows each controlling one effect and using the nifty little trick shared above, while the top two rows control 8 other one push “Instant Gratification” style effects. I quickly put together some effects that I personally like but the whole reason I’m giving it away with this article is so you go into the controller manager, test out a bunch of different effects/rates (this is where the real fun and creativity is) and make the mapping your own unique instant gratification mapping by editing all the pre-made commands now that you know why each is there and what exactly they do. You’ll want to note though that this mapping is only for Deck A, so if you’ll need to duplicate it, make some FX routing tweaks, and remap the controls if you want it to work for Decks A and B, or even all four. Alternatively, you can use modifiers to enable you to switch which deck you are controlling with this mapping but that is another task entirely and not one we are going to get into here.  Also as an extra helper, I commented each command of the mapping with a button number (going from 1 in the bottom left to 16 in the top right, going across and up) so you can sort by comments in the Controller Manager to easily edit all the commands for each button, one at a time.

And who knows? Before you realize it, you may have created your dream mapping! So enjoy the mapping template but also don’t be afraid to start a mapping from scratch now that you have all this Traktor mapping knowledge at your fingertips and have more than a few tricks up your sleeve (in addition to whatever else you keep in your sleeves). Plus, if you really love your mapping and want to share the awesomeness with others, feel free to post the MAPS link to yours in the comments below and as always, feel free to shout out any comments, questions, or future mapping article ideas as well. Thanks!

In case you want an example of what the free “How to Instant Grat” Mapping Template does, look no further than below

4 thoughts on “Traktor Midi Mapping: How to Make Instant Gratification Style Effects & Play Them Musically

  1. Hi Chris,

    Your tutorial was very helpfull and I´m currently programming my personal mapping using a Vestax VCI-400, 4 decks, 4 effects, switchabel decks C and D to rmx decks together with a maschine controller (mk1) and/or Ipad for the rmx decks if selected. My problem is that traktor executes the commands mapped to one physical button in a (for me) not known sequence. Is there any method to tell traktor the correct sequence of commands to avoid e.g. that the effect unit will not turn on at the first press of a multible mapped button. For Hold mode this seems to work better, but I´ve also programmed some Toggle effects (for track tranistions, e.g. slow flanger, subtle delay and reverb) and the only solution that Ißve found so far was to invert the unit on command. If not used to it that the effect will be switched on when releasing the button this could be some sort of a problem and not very intuitive. Do you know around this? Xtreme mapping is no alternative as I´m on Win7.
    Greetz to San Francisco from Vienna
    Habakuk

    • Hi Habakuk, there’s no consistent way I am aware of to control the Traktor order of operations for simultaneously occurring commands. I know there must be some level logic to it but nothing I have been able to replicate always works. On older versions I found that the order you mapped things sometimes influenced it and so I would always be careful to have backup files when making edits. I wish I knew and it would be nice if they created a way to control this, especially for switching fx instantaneously.

      • Hi Chris,

        Thx for your reply. This is a little bit frustrating, especially if you switch between effect presets and some of them get not triggered correctly (you have to trigger them once moreto get the desired result).I´ll try another approach and program a blank mapping from scratch without sorting any columns while programming nor afterwards. Unfortunately I´m on PC -> no extreme mapping available.
        I´ll keep you updated!

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