Hints, Tips & News From The World Of Music Software
More hints, tips, and update news from the world of music software.
If your Atari does odd things occasionally then the following tip may help you. When you save the desktop on the Atari, a file is written to the default directory. The file is named 'DESKTOP.INF'. Unfortunately, this file is not necessarily compatible between machines, and can cause some very strange problems. Typically, the machine might run slow or garbage filenames may appear on the desktop. If the 'DESKTOP.INF' file on your disk was not generated on your machine then delete it, restart the machine, set up the desktop as you wish and then save it.
If at any time you need to restart the machine, it is best to switch it off and allow 10 or 15 seconds before switching it back on. Unlike using the 'soft reset' button on the rear panel, this will ensure the machine is properly restarted.
Some people are confused about how to configure a workstation synthesizer like the Korg M1 to work with an external computer sequencer. Stick to the arrangement suggested in the Trackman manual. Set the keyboard to transmit on channel 1 and set up the voices to receive across a range of channels (say, 1 to 8); this way Trackman can rechannel the MIDI data for you and you only need change track on your computer to select another voice.
You will need to use your synthesizer in the appropriate mode. For instance, on an M1 use it in 'Combi' mode when working with an external sequencer. If you try to use it in 'Seq' mode you will be dealing with multi-channel MIDI data, which gets rather confusing.
If your workstation has MIDI 'Local Off', use this to disconnect the keyboard from the synth section and let Trackman handle all the MIDI data routing. If the keyboard does not have a 'Local Off' then you could disable reception of MIDI channel 1 instead. This way the keyboard sends on channel 1 but receives nothing locally (because it's on channels 2 and up) and Trackman can again handle the rechannelling for you.
Here are a few tips to help you get the edit pages of Pro24 to show you what you need to see: The grid edit screen is still the definitive graphical edit screen for visualising the rhythmic nature of the music recorded. The tight relationship between the position of the blocks on the screen lends itself to editing with confidence rather than trusting your compositions to a machine's logical rules. This is why two bars are shown across the full grid window. The two bar section can be any two bar section. If the note you want to edit is one over the 'join' of two windows, it can be centralised by clicking on the zone limits marked 'L' and 'R' at the top of the grid itself.
Another way of navigating the display is to click on the 'Pos' box above the numerical entries on the grid edit and type in a number. The grid screen will jump to the first event it can find on or after that point. Alternatively, the screen will scroll when in play mode if the space bar is pressed. The rules are such that pressing the space bar again will stop the scrolling at the next events to be played.
Both of these functions have their counterparts on the score edit page.
Many people have not yet discovered one of the most innovative features of Pro24: the Iterative Quantise. It is probably because of that word 'Iterative'. Look for the little Q in a box on the grid display. Think of it as a soft-quantise rather than the usual mechanical hard quantise. This function is not on the menu with others as it really replaced them in most cases. But what does it do?
It pulls the notes from where they are towards the hard quantised position. The quantise value still matters but it will take several intermediate steps to achieve it.
So what is so special about this feature? Well, the result is that your performance is stretched nearer to 'correctness' in controllable stages, all while the pattern is playing - that is why it is not on the menu, for speed. This is very different to humanising a part. Hard quantising and then randomisation does not achieve the same thing.
This month, a little more on the Arrange mode of Creator and Notator, beginning with a bit of advice on the Arrange chains: the chains are called A, B, C and D. These letters have nothing to do with the MIDI ports which are also named by the same letters. It is just a fact of life that the chains and the MIDI ports have the same names, and it does not indicate that they are somehow connected: you can use all four chains without having to use Export since using chain B, say, does not mean you are using port B. Which port you are using is determined by the 'CHANNEL' track parameter.
In common with 'Pattern Length' which we looked at last month, the transpose value which you set in the little box below the Arrange window can be set for each entry in the Arrange list: each separate pattern can have its own transpose value to the extent that pattern 1, say, at the beginning of the song can be left untransposed, but can be transposed up two semitones when it re-occurs halfway through the song.
The Arrange transpose value is a value which is added to any transpose value you may already have in your track parameters: if a track has been transposed down an octave, the use of two semitones of transpose upwards in that pattern means that the final transposition of the track is only 10 semitones down, instead of 12.
You can prevent MIDI channels from being transposed by the Arrange transpose value, by selecting the relevant channels under menu 'Options: Disable Transpose'; this is very useful to prevent drum tracks from being transposed along with the rest of a song.
There is a global command which allows the transposition of the whole arrangement, or part of it: when in the main page, [Shift]+[T] on the computer keyboard will copy the current Arrange pattern's transpose value to all the subsequent patterns in the arrangement. Note that currently, this value will replace any transpose value already set in another pattern - it will not be added to this value.
There are many uses for being able to transpose whole parts of a song: for example, where a song was prepared for a vocalist whose preferred range is in a different key. Whatever the reason for transposing, we can give you a useful tip: if you intend recording in a pattern which is subject to an Arrange transpose value, it can make sense to 'normalise' all the tracks in the pattern by the amount of the Arrange transpose, and then remove the Arrange transpose. For example, the pattern you intend recording in has an Arrange transpose value of '+2': enter a value of '2' in all the tracks of that pattern (use [Shift] while changing the Track Transpose - this will autocopy the value to all the other tracks). Now remove the '+2' value from the Arrange transpose box. You will have the same effect as before, but recording will be easier because you will not have to offset your pitch, which you would have had to do had you kept the Arrange transpose.
The Synchronisation window of Creator and Notator 2.1 has a new box called 'Create Using Tempo Of...' This allows you to very easily use tempo commands which you have entered in one track, to control the overall sequence tempo even when slaved to SMPTE. You can change the tempo commands ('P-USER 1') at any time, so long as you click on this 'Create...' icon again to renew the sync reference. You must use a tempo track which runs throughout the song, of course. Having said that, this Version 2.1 enhancement is a great improvement. More next month.
Here is one example, adding music to a video, which combines Creator's User-Defined Groove, its ability to display event time positions in SMPTE frames, and Unitor...
Let's say you have a track containing quantised drums which you have already recorded; the drums start at 1 1 1 1. You recorded these before even seeing the video. Without going into the details of Unitor, you will have set the appropriate start time for that cue - say, 10:07:15:00 - to allow Program Changes to be sent before the cue. You have to make the drums start playing at a specific cut in the film, say, at SMPTE 10:07:19:24. You therefore click on 'Position As Frames' in the 'Flags' menu to show your drum note positions in terms of SMPTE frames, then go into the event editor, click 'Insert Mode' on and scroll the first drum note until it shows 10:07:19:24; all the other notes will have moved as well because you had 'Insert Mode' on.
You'll like this: because the drums were already quantised, they remain that way, even though you have moved the track back in time to fit the desired cut, the difference being that instead of starting at a nice round beginning of a bar, they start (and you can see this for yourself by switching off 'Position As Frames') at 3 2 4 34... and all the notes are sitting on the '34' ticks position, because they are all quantised.
At this point, you need to add some other music to flesh out the action, but you need to view the film while you play, and yet it needs to be in time with the drums: a seemingly impossible task, since you have, by moving the drums to fit the film, lost all chance of using the standard Quantise templates - these templates work only if you play to the metronome, and at 3 2 4 34 you are well out of time with the metronome! Despair?
Not at all: User-Defined quantisation to the rescue! You play your other tracks as accurately as possible with the drums while watching the video. You then go to 'Groove Design' in the 'Quantise' menu, set the drum track's pattern and track number in the 'Type 1' line, return to the main page, and set Groove value 'Us 1' into all the other tracks. You are thereby instructing these 'slave' tracks to take their new timing from the drum template.
And that's it! There are, as you might expect from such a sophisticated feature, a number of extra factors to bear in mind, but what you have above is the general mode of working if you find yourself in the situation described.
To digress a while: have you ever wondered why quantisation is so important in sequencing? One of the main reasons has to be that music sequencing has traditionally been a relatively solitary occupation, where one musician adds one track after another to make up a song: he is not able to tell what his own human timing was like on the previous track, and so quantising each track becomes the only way he can ensure some sort of timing continuity throughout the song. If sequencing musicians were able to benefit from body language and eye contact with fellow musicians, the need for strict quantisation would be reduced. (To help in the return towards a more 'live' approach in MIDI music, C-Lab's Unitor SMPTE synchroniser allows a true three-way MIDI merge, enabling three musicians to play and record at the same time.
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