Thursday, 10 February 2011

Traktor MIDI Mapping: Modifier Basics

A guide to the basic theory and workings of modifiers.


  1. You understand how to connect your MIDI controller to Traktor
  2. You understand how to map Traktor's controls to your MIDI controller

INTRODUCTION - "My awesomeness switch is stuck on amateur!"

Okay, so you bought your VCI-100, your X1, your lying sack of sh- Sorry, Novation Launchpad, your Mixtrack pro, whatever your flavour and reasons, you have a MIDI controller.  You have Traktor, and you think "Gee golly gosh, I'm gonna be getting more poon than Ron Jeremy!"  Or something along those lines.  You've watched the videos of people using their controllers to literally make digital sex, and you now have the equipment to do it yourself...

What the...

... But for the life of you, you just can't do anything beyond the basics!  If this is you, you're in the boat I was in 4 months ago (I want it back by the way).  Like many aspiring DJ's, I had big ideas in my head of how I would arrange and mash music like it was putty in my hands.  Instead I found it to be more like a fragile, emotionally damaged teenage girl.  You can make it do whatever you want, but there's just something holding you back.  In that case, it's moral values, in this case it's having to put effort into what other people do so 'easily'.


Skip to 4 months later, I'm mapping some sonic nukes without a hitch or effort and I'm seeing hundreds of people bitching and moaning on forums and blogs because they're too lazy to learn how to do this stuff themselves.  When I searched for help, I found there was no easy to find comprehensive guide on Traktor, just bits and bats from old blog posts.  So, I decided this should be the place.  Prepare to learn about modifiers Son, you're gonna need your vitamin B.

THE IF STATMENT - "If I said you had a nice body, would you hold it against me?"

I come from an educational background of maths and computers, so admittedly understanding modifiers was not really a task for me.  If you've heard a bit of computing lingo yourself, or just watch too many hacking movies, you may have heard the term "IF statements".  There are a few kinds of statements, and they stem from boolean algebra and logical calculus.
"WOAH WOAH WOAH Vader, outta those last 5 words, 4 were way out of my paygrade" I hear you cry.  Well my thick-headed friends, not to worry, you only need to learn IF statements and no calculus(and in another post I'll talk about AND statements, but thats another story for another time)

The IF statement is exactly what it says on the tin, an operation that happens depending on the condition of something else.  In this case, it's Traktors modifiers.  here's an example of an IF statement in real life.

"John is a lying bastard.  Whatever he says is a lie, guaranteed, every time.  However, if he's with his friend Michael, who tells the truth as much as he lies, he changes his attitude.  It turns out that John is aware Michael is lying, he will actually tell the truth!"

Knowing this, we can map this out in an IF statement like so:

Michael is A and John is B

IF A = TRUE, then B = FALSE
IF A = FALSE, then B = TRUE
else B = FALSE

If you get it, then a winner is you, go get yourself a treat, if you didn't, get yourself (and me) a treat anyways, logical calculus is the most boring thing in the world, and I'd rather not do it hungry.
You probably understand the IF bit, but the ELSE bit might be throwing you off.  Notice earlier how I said about John being a total asshole who always fibs?  Well you've got to remember Michael isn't always around, in that case there's no IF statement for when he's alone.  So in those cases, John (B) is ALWAYS false.

John.  He saw Metallica back in '86, and invited them back to his nuclear powered tree house, but the radiation distorted all the pictures so he can't prove it ever happened.  "Fackin' gutted mate!".

"Right, got it.  Now can you teach me about modifiers?" Well, snotty prick at the back of class,  Assume instead of true or false, you have 1 and 0 (half the people reading this will go "Wait a minute, thats what all those 1's and 0's mean!?") and instead of just 1 and 0, you have 0 all the way up to 7 (so 8 possible values).

Now replace John and Michael with Mod1 and Mod2 (Short for modifier 1 and modifier 2, respectively) and TA-DA!  You understand the theory of modifiers!

No, but feel free to think so.  SYNCIA BUTTONUS!

YOUR FIRST MODIFIER - "Why's it all long and hard?"

The thing people don't get about modifiers is that on their own they do nothing.  They only work given other commands, and in that sense, you create what I call "Modifier Systems".  Other people will have other names for it, but other people can suck my nuts.  So, lets get cracking on making your first modifier system.

For this tutorial, we're going to create the most basic modifier system that EVERYONE should have on their setup, even if they're only using a keyboard (In fact especially if you use the keyboard, because it has the actual key on it!) Yes, I'm talking about the magical button doubler...


Oh you shiftiest of shifters.  I'm assuming your controller has a play/pause button mapped out?  If not, put your gear on eBay and find another hobby.  Anyways, find an unused button on your controller.  If you don't have one, you probably had to compromise your ideas to fit them all onto one controller, but thanks to the shift key, you're gonna be sorted!  So, get a button that doesn't do anything,  Go to your Traktor controller mapping, and Add In... Modifier > Modifier #1.  Press learn and assign your shift button, then make sure type of controller is Button and interaction mode is Direct.  Then in button options, set to value 1.

Now, make sure learn isn't highlighted, and press your shift key, and look at the Modifier State section at the top.  "OMIGOD IT GOES 1 THEN 0 THEN 1 THEN 0 DEN1DEN0DEN1DEN0" And so on.  Great, but this doesn't do anything.  SO!  Go to Add In... Cue/Loops > Cup (Cue Play).  Now, highlight learn, and press the same button that corresponds to play/pause.  Set it up exactly as you would if you were setting that button up on it's own button, ignoring the fact the button is already in use.  HOLD IT!  The bit you may have guessed by now, you need to change the Modifier Conditions.  In the first box, in the modifier drop down, choose 1, and in value, choose 1.  This is the IF statement.

Traktor processes midi controls like such:

Button A is pressed, IF mod1=1 then do action B

So, deselect learn, hold shift and try that bad boy out!

Let me guess, didn't work out like you planned right?  Obviously I knew that, hawhawhaw.  End of lesson fags, good luck!

Just kidding.  If you haven't decided to use your brain (Which annoyingly, will be almost everyone) the reason is glaringly obvious, one of "those" bugs that when you realise you go "Oh for fu- How did I not figure that out."

A good place to start when problem solving is looking at whats right in front of you.

The problem is Traktor has your play/pause mapped to that button still.  Remember that ELSE statement from earlier?  You never told Traktor to NOT press play/pause if the shift key is pressed.  So what must we do?  As a great meerkat once told me, simples!  Just find your play/pause button, and make sure mod1 = 0.  Now the play/pause function will only activate if mod1 = 0 (AKA the shift key is not pressed).

See, I omitted information earlier when I demonstrated how Traktor processes controls, the full thing would have been

Button A is pressed, do action A
IF mod1 = 1 then do action B

See?  However now it's:

Button A is pressed, IF mod1 = 0 then do action A
IF mod1 = 1 then do action B

Knowing that, do you think you can successfully map out your shift functions?  Here's some exercises!


  1. Map out the rest of your Controller.
  2. Add another shift key with seperate functions (Hint: do not need to use a mod other than Mod1)

For this articles challenge, I want you to create two shift buttons, that when pressed together, let you use a fourth set of functions (effectively, a third shift key).  You WILL have to use another modifier for this, and you will have to use Modifier Conditions on the Modifier Add Ins themselves.  Remember, if you struggle, just try and break ti down to the bare bones IF statements.  If you find it too hard (It may sound simple to some, but there's one little bug that arises often) don't worry, I'll cover this in the next modifier lesson.

Peace out, enjoy your multiple thousands of key layouts until I return!



  2. I found out Excercise 2 the hard way...

  3. Dude god bless you for not only having street fighter as your background but for also having a bitching tutorial for modifiers

  4. Good guide, better language.
    Congrats on life.


  6. Hey.
    I have a problem with one mapping... Someone can help me ?