Hints, Tips & News From The World Of Music Software
More hints and tips from the world of music software.
Program Change messages allow your multitimbral synth to work hard, providing more sounds in the course of a piece of music than if you stuck to the 'one sound, one channel' principle.
The problem everyone comes across sooner or later is where a Program Change is sent on a particular MIDI channel and a note is sent to that channel at the same time: you find that there is a delay, or the note disappears. This is because you are asking the synth to do two things at once - play a note and change the sound - and we are not yet at the stage where a synth can interpret a Program Change command within one millisecond, which is in effect what you are asking it to do (for optimum timing, Notator and Creator will always send a note before a Program Change if they occupy the same pulse, but that does not change the basic problem).
This is not a sequencer or MIDI problem, but a technical one based within the synthesizer, and is rather like you trying to get into a car while the car screams to a halt at the traffic lights (where you are the note, and the car is the synth patch). Ideally the car should have arrived and be at rest when you try to get in: by the same token, the patch ought to be already in place when you send the note. This means that the Program Change command ought to be sent prior to the point you will be needing it, ready to receive the note. In general, you should aim to allow at least a 16th note to elapse between a Program Change and a note intended for that sound. (What happens to a multitimbral synth that is receiving notes and Program Changes over several channels simultaneously is in the lap of the gods, and depends on the manufacturer.)
Creator and Notator allow you to place Program Changes anywhere within a track or within a pattern, by dragging them from the lefthand 'Program' box into the event list and selecting the Program number. The channel you are addressing will be the one set on the main page, in that track's 'Channel' track parameter. These Program Changes are one of C-Lab's 'true' functions, which means they will be sent even if you start (especially in SMPTE or MIDI Sync mode) later than the point where you placed the commands. If you use Program Changes a lot, try using the method of placing all the commands in one pattern that runs on its own throughout the song - say in Chain D of the arrange list - and place the first set of commands during the song's count-in.
Once you know the ground rules of how the Arrange mode works, it's easy to see why certain things happen. One way to lose your way is if you have upbeats set for certain patterns and you are moving patterns about: it is a good idea to cancel all upbeats before you copy patterns within the list, at least until you are fully conversant with the ins and outs of Arrange mode. Reinstate them afterwards.
This useful function can be used for mono or polyphonic playing. If the track contains polyphonic notes, the track must be quantised first before 'Force Legato' is applied.
As we have seen, EDITLINK.PRG is the program where you initially determine the size of your partitions. The actual installation of the partitions, and the point at which the available memory is divided up, is when SOFTLINK.PRG is run after setting Edit Link. The partitions are formed, and if there is any slight internal adjustment to be made, then the last partition's size is altered to 'mop up' the remaining bytes of memory. Edit Link itself cannot recognise accessory programs or RAM disks: if you have installed a large accessory and have requested the full amount of memory in Edit Link, be prepared for these to cause Soft Link to return you to the Edit Link window, because Soft Link - the real "install" - can see that the accessory etc has not been allowed for and that there is too much memory requested. In this case, request less memory than is available until Soft Link loads.
In the event editor, the left and right locators of any of the functions that use them (eg. Segment Copy) can be pre-loaded while still in the event editor with Function keys [F1] and [F2], Click the note at the beginning of the segment in any part of the event editor - hit [1I]; click the last note of the segment - hit [F2]. Now enter 'Segment Copy' (try pressing [Alternate] + [C]!) and finish the operation.
Note how the right locator has been given the end note's position plus one pulse, because you want the end note to be included in the segment. This means that if the segment is to be given the 'Number Of Copies' 'fill' treatment, you must round up the right locator position to the nearest beat or whatever, the reason being that this 'fill' function takes the right (end) locator position of the previous segment as the left (start) locator position of the next segment, and so on.
Instruments that convert physical or acoustic movement into MIDI have always been subject to a certain delay factor between the strum, hit, pluck, or blow and the emission of the sound. These delays can mean that subsequent quantising or grooving are inaccurate. Creator or Notator are no different from any other sequencer in so far as their use cannot magically make these inherent delays disappear, but here is a little trick that gets you around the problem.
Turn off any quantisation and play quarter-notes as accurately as possible to the metronome with your MIDI guitar, etc. Enter that track's event editor and try to assess, in the event list, the average delay in 1/768th notes. Now create a quantised hi-hat track and 'push' (ie. a negative value) its timing using the track's 'Delay' track parameter by the same number of 1/768th notes. Switch off the main metronome and use this new metronome to play along to: you should find that you are in time, because you are taking your timing from a pulse which is 'early'!
After receiving a user suggestion by post and another by phone for features that have not only been present from day one but are absolutely fundamental to Cubase's Visual Song Processing, let's list all the relevant commands. So what are these features? Cubase is unique in its method of display of 'recordings', particularly in the method of user manipulation of the graphics and hence the music.
Firstly, starting with the Arrange page and the problems that User1 was having. He created long patterns for each track, as long as the song needed to be, and then overdubbed the music onto them. If he wanted a bit from 'here' over 'there', he would use the Copy Range menu command to copy the contents of a track (defined by the L+R locators) to the place where he wanted it to be (defined by the song marker).
If the 'recordings' had been made separately between the Left and Right Locators, or snipped afterwards with the scissors, the manipulations would be a breeze to do.
Any 'recording' on a Track is called a Part; if you want it anywhere else, touch it with the mouse and drag it there. Simple. So you actually wanted a copy? Hold the Alternate or Control key down while you drag it. What if there was more than one Part to move/copy? Just hold down the Shift key and any number of individual Parts can be selected if they are touched with the mouse pointer. Any selected Part can be deselected if it is touched again while Shift is being held. Release the Shift key, and if you now try and move any of the selected Parts, all the others are moved/copied as well.
The Parts don't have to be in simple vertical columns. You could select the drums from the first verse, the bass and pad sounds from the pre-chorus fill etc, and move them to any Time and/or Track and they would maintain their relative positions.
There are yet more ways of selecting specific Parts. If hold the left mouse button down where there is no Part, and drag a box on the screen, all Parts that are surrounded or bisected are selected. There is a variation on this command: if Shift is held, the dragbox can be started anywhere, including on a Part. It is possible to select a whole block of Parts with the dragbox command and then deselect some of them with the mouse button while holding down the Shift key.
Lastly, if Shift is held and you double-click on any Part with the left mouse button, all the Parts on that Track will become selected.
Remember that these are just the mouse-oriented commands and don't represent the limit of what can be Cut/Copied/Pasted etc with the Menu functions.
Tip: If you want the whole song to happen four bars later because you need to record 120dB cowbells to get the drummer in on time for his/her overdubs etc, then either select every Part by one of the above methods and drag them, or press [Control] A and drag the lot.
Selecting Parts and notes on Cubase's screen is not only the start of our move/copy operations but the beginning of many data manipulations, because if the Transpose Parts function is chosen, all selected Parts will be transposed; if Logical Edit is chosen, all selected parts will be modified by the Logical Editor, etc...
There are always exception to rules, however: If no Parts are selected, the Logical Edit (for example) will affect all the Parts on the current Record Track. If you wanted to copy a Track, there is no need to: select all the Parts on that Track, hold the Alternate key and drag them to a new Track. Just grab the Track Name and drag it to a new position while holding Alternate or Control.
The second user suggestion was that it would be great if the 'Part' operations were extended to the Key Edit screen. His reaction when told that they were always present was most interesting, ranging from disbelief to acute embarrassment in under 10 seconds!
On all Note Edit screens, notes can be graphically selected by clicking on them with the mouse. Any selected notes can be moved/copied by touching the selected note and dragging it to the new time/pitch required. This user didn't know about the multiple selections of notes.
The multiple selection procedures are nearly the same as on Cubase's Arrange page. Hold the Shift key down and all the notes touched become selected. Any selected note that is incorrectly selected can be deselected again by touching it once more while holding down the Shift key. Having released the Shift key, touch any selected note and drag the block of selected notes to any position you wish. Remember: if the Alternate key is held, you will be making copies rather than moving notes.
Additionally, if the mouse is moved to a place with no notes and the left mouse button is pressed and the mouse moved, a box is drawn on the screen. All notes that surrounded or bisected are selected. Copy/Move these as before by touching and moving any of the selected notes. Yet again, the Menu options Cut/Copy/Paste are entirely additional to those of the mouse operations.
When the mouse operations are being used, there are times when the graphics on the screen are too small to grab accurately. This is when the Zoom functions can be used.
Anyone who has used GEM windows will be familiar with the concept of slide bars and the arrows that are commonly on the end of them. Steinberg use very similar window functions but with some important differences. Atari's GEM system rarely used the right mouse button. The right button in Cubase, when clicked on these arrows, will change the horizontal (time) resolution and the vertical (graphic size - not available on Score Edit) resolution, making it very easy to point and grab Parts or events. Pressing the up arrow button and right mouse button together, contracts the display and the down arrow + right mouse button dilates it. The left arrow + right mouse button squashes the time domain of the screen, and the right arrow + right mouse button expands it.
The action of switching any track to Drum Map will protect it from transposition. Even 'Select All' and 'Transpose Parts' will not then change your Drum Out notes. This leads on to the Group Parts. If the Track (or individual Part) that contains the drums is switched to Drum Map and then the Parts combined into a Group Part, double-clicking on the Group Part on a Group Track in order to use the Realtime Group Transpose box will have no effect on the drums.
We now have STE compatible versions for Cubase, Pro24, Twelve and all the main editors. If you have an STE, just send your Master disk to Evenlode Soundworks and we will update you with the STE version.
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