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Hints, Tips & News From The World Of Music Software

Article from Sound On Sound, July 1990

More hints and tips from the world of music software.



The Realtime MIDI Generator (RMG) is a 'tool' that is used to generate non-note events in real time (ie. it spews out data as you move the faders). It is independent of any track, but when you come to record, the data coming out of the RMG is recorded into the track where you left the cursor before entering the RMG (called the 'current track'). The 16 faders on each page of the RMG represent the 16 Channels (not tracks!) on the current MIDI Out port. The action of entering the RMG temporarily places the MIDI Thru function into 'original Channel' mode, meaning that it will not divert the fader data to one particular instrument, but will keep all the Channels independent: moving fader 12 will do something to whatever instrument is set to receive on Channel 12, whether or not the current track is set to 12, 8, or whatever, since the RMG is independent of tracks.

When you come to record RMG fader movements, then it is important to ensure that you are recording in an empty track. This gives you a clear overview of the contents of the track, since it is always better not to mix note and non-note events in a track. The transport controls are active while you are in the RMG: if you click RECORD and the current track already contains data, the RMG will ask you whether you wish to delete the current track's data or merge what you are about to do with the current track's data.

Version 3.0 has a nice new feature in the RMG, which allows you to delete specific Channels. So if you have just recorded the Volume fader movements for a number of Channels, you can redo just one Channel's Volume data by clicking a fader then clicking the special new delete icon; this deletes that fader's data, ready for re-recording.


Using the RMG is a neat way to change your synthesizers' programs 'on the fly', to find which sound works best while the music is playing. Just change the 'STATUS' of the RMG page to 'PROGRAM' and move each fader while the music plays - this transmits each fader's displayed Program number to each synth. When you have found all the sounds, make a snapshot of the fader positions (right-click one of the snapshot boxes). At this point you can decide if you want to record that snapshot into the current track: while in stop mode, scroll the main bar counter to the required position, click 'DROP' (puts you in record mode without starting the sequencer), left-click the snapshot box (which records the fader positions in the current track at the current time position), and lastly click 'DROP' again to restore you to normal mode.

Tip: to set up your synth(s) with sounds before you have recorded your song (especially applicable to multitimbral synths), record a short piece of music in one track and loop it. Switch the track to the first of your Channels, enter the RMG and move that Channel's fader till you find the sound for that Channel. Exit the RMG, switch the track to the next Channel, enter the RMG and find that Channel's sound, and so on. When finished, erase the track and snapshot the fader positions ready for recording. Making a snapshot of the fader positions does not record them for use in a sequence, but merely stores them within the RMG - you must then record that snapshot into a track if you want to use it as part of a sequence.

Note: if you move a Program fader in record mode, the Program Change will be transmitted only when you release the fader, so that you don't inadvertently fill a track with unwanted commands.


To view events at a particular main bar counter position, press the '1' key or click 'CATCH'. How do you get to a particular main bar counter position? Scroll the counter with the mouse, use the '[' or ']' keys, press one of the 'Autolocator' function keys (F3 to F10), or use the new Version 3.0 command, (the key next to 'Backspace') which opens the main bar counter ready for typing in the required position.

The '(' and ')' bracket keys will scroll the display of the score, matrix, and Hyper editors bar-by-bar. 'Shift-(' and 'Shift-)' will move the display beat-by-beat in the matrix and score editors, and 'Alternate-(' or 'Alternate-)' will move the score editor 1/16th-by-1/16th (or whatever the display format is set to).


Each Pattern in Notator has its own set of display parameters (settings which control various aspects of the score display). These are accessed via an individual track's 'Parameter mode' window ('Parameter mode' in the 'Edit' menu, or press the 'X' key) and via the overall 'Display parameters' window (also in the 'Edit' menu). You can set up your various display settings and store them as part of your AUTOLOAD.SON file: this can be done in two possible ways:

(1) To get any NEW TRACK'S display parameters to default to certain values, enter the 'Display parameters' window and set the desired values in the lowest empty track (normally track 16). This will ensure that any new track you use will be set to your favourite display values. Warning: deleting a track has a similar effect, in that its display parameters will be spread to all the empty tracks; if this track had display parameters that were different from the ones you normally default to, correct this and get back to your normal defaults by returning to the 'Display parameters' window and re-entering your favourite values in the lowest empty track.

(2) To get specific tracks to default to specific display values, you will need to initialise each track (press 'Shift-Backspace' or double-click an empty track) and give each track its display parameters. Track initialisation allows you to save a pattern of tracks, each with their display parameters and names, ready for use in future music.


Notator's 'user rests' are in fact MIDI notes 1 or 127. Bear this in mind if ever you transfer data to another sequencer, as you will have to delete them first.


You can alter velocity and time positions (in pulses) direct from the score. These are MIDI parameters, of course, and do not affect the score display. Select the note(s) to be altered (often a chord) by 'lassooing' or clicking the desired notes on the stave, holding down the 'Control' key and moving the mouse left-right for time, or up-down for velocity. You can select either velocity change or time by clicking the mouse buttons.



Merging of two tracks can be achieved easily with Sequencer One using the 'Block' operations menu (see page 27 of the User Guide). The idea in a nutshell is to 'Cut' one of the tracks out, and then 'Paste' it on top of the other.

The first thing to do is set the record mode to 'Overdub', as this also applies to the block operations. You can do this by clicking on the 'Overdub' button, which is located below the tempo in the tape deck controls window. This button is black with white text when overdub mode is active. Selecting overdub mode will mean that paste operations are not destructive to MIDI data already on the track you wish to paste into.

Next, you should ensure that limit mode is not on, so that operations apply to the whole length of the song. Click on the 'Limit' button above the MIDI meters in the tape deck controls panel. This button is white with black writing when limit mode is off.

Then, make one of the two tracks to be merged the current track. This is done by clicking on the track number (or in the space to the right of it if you are on the Track List screen). Move the mouse up to the 'Block' menu heading, and select 'Cut'. The current track will then be cut out and placed in the clipboard. You should then make the other track to be merged the current track, by clicking on its track number. Check that the song position counter is set to beat one of bar one (you can do this by double-clicking on the 'Rewind' icon in the controls window), and select 'Paste' on the 'Block' menu. The contents of the clipboard will then be merged with the current track.


In the CMpanion and 4D Companion editors, the Tone displayed on the Tone Edit screen may sometimes seem to be at odds with the information given on the Multi Config Edit screen. This has puzzled several people calling our Helpline this month. Do not panic! The display mismatch is intentional, and is due to a built-in safeguard, designed to prevent you losing a Tone which you may have just created.

Alterations made on the Multi Config screen, which change the Tone in the current Part, do not automatically cause the Tone on the Tone Edit screen to be changed. Imagine if you had just designed a Tone (forgetting to save it to the library or to disk), and then you accidentally selected a new Tone for the current Timbre on the Config Edit screen. If this edit resulted in the Tone on the Tone Edit screen also being switched, then you would have lost your work.

To carry on editing in this situation, all you need to do is dump the current Tone back to the instrument (use the 'MIDI' button on the Tone screen). If, however, you wish to edit the newly selected Tone, you can fetch it from the instrument (use the 'MIDI' button), or read the same Tone from the computer's memory using the 'Mem' button. See page 27 of the User Guide for a full explanation.



Cubase contains various device drivers for hardware support. These are contained in the MROS folder. A device driver is a simple idea: instead of writing, in the main body of the program, all the routines for hardware support, they are separated and loaded if needed. This modular idea is very useful and saves a great deal of memory. That is how we managed to add loads of features including a whole MIDI Manager system and increase the number of available notes, all in the upgrade from V1.0 to V1.5.

You do need a method of telling Cubase which drivers are necessary and which are not. If they were all to load by default, then the gain would be absolutely zero. If you have a look in the MROS folder you will find the MROS program itself, called MROS2 02, and the device drivers. They are not semantically cryptic (illogically named) either but bear the titles FOSTEX.DR, SMP24.DR, etc. These represent disabled drivers; to make them active, the filename extension needs to be xxxxxx.DRV and not xxxxxx.DR. This change can be performed with the SHOW INFO command on the Atari desktop. We decided that the people with an aversion to the raw end of the GEM desktop needed some help.

The INSTALL.PRG has been included to do one simple job - to look in the MROS folder, display what's there, and automatically place or remove the 'V' suffix from the end of the filename extension. Once set, there is no need to use the INSTALL.PRG again, unless you change your hardware, or make another copy of your Master disk. To clear up the doubts about the INSTALL.PRG, it does not install Cubase; it sets up the MROS folder to suit your hardware, and stays set.

Anyone trying to use INSTALL.PRG should watch out for one trick. The MROS drivers are used by the MROS system as it installs itself in the Atari. MROS is present, even if you quit Cubase, until the Atari is turned off. This is how multi-programs can all talk to each other (and pass the time of day... literally). MROS, once present, is immovable, and keeps the device drivers that it was initially loaded with, and will not load again until no MROS is found next time it tries.

Imagine the situation where you load Cubase (which installs MROS) with the wrong drivers active in your MROS folder. So you quit Cubase (MROS stays resident), change the device drivers, and load Cubase. But there's no change! That's because MROS is already in memory. As a rule, whenever you use the INSTALL.PRG, perform a 'hard' restart - and that doesn't mean pushing that cute little button on the back of the Atari; use the big chunky one for mains power, and count to 10 before switching the Atari back on.

Another advantage of the modular nature of the device drivers is that changes can be made to them without having to rewrite the whole program. Here is an example of exactly one of those occasions. The FOSTEX.DRV for the Fostex R8/MTC1 tape recorder/MIDI interface combination has had to be changed in response to the new MTC1 software upgrade. Before the present Fostex R8 users panic and swap their current R8 driver, let me say that this will not affect the old MTC1. But if you buy an MTC1 now, depending on how long it was in stock, then you will need the new Fostex driver. This new driver is 1,941 bytes long, if you want to check via the desktop (use the view files as text menu option) which one you have.


Cubase works fine with all the current large screen monitors available for the Atari ST, but due to an incompatibility of the Atari driver, the following files in the CUBASE.DAT folder have to be renamed in order to run Cubase with an Atari SM194 large screen. To do so, change the name of the file QUICK.SCR to QUICK.XXX and the file VDI.SCR to QUICK.SCR before using the Atari monitor. This is accomplished with the SHOW INFO command on the Atari desktop. Take a look at the enclosed screen dump of Version 2.0, taken from the Taxan/Matscreen A3 monitor.


There are two methods of using the Locators on Cubase that can save a great deal of time. Firstly, you can store 10 pairs of locator settings, one under each of the Function keys, [F1] to [F10], on the computer keyboard. These can then be used to instantly reprogramme the Left and Right Locators. This feature could be used to define certain often used sections in a song, like the beginning and end of each verse.

Set the Left and Right Locators to the desired values with any of the usual methods, numerical or graphical. Hold down [SHIFT] and press the chosen Function key. The Left and Right Locators are now stored under that key. All you have to do to recall any of these settings is press the corresponding Function key and the Locators will be immediately set to the programmed positions.

Another method is to use the ALTERNATE [P] command. This sets the Locators around the selected Parts. If the double-click with [SHIFT] on a Part selects all the Parts on that track, and then you press ALT [P], the Left and Right Locators assume the maximum and minimum times of the selected Parts ready for MIXDOWN.

A variation of this is to do a SELECT ALL on the Parts and then ALT [P] followed by MIXDOWN. In this case, you should be sure that all the song exists in the mixed down Parts, whether you can see its limits on the screen or not.

Lastly, if a collection of Parts, distributed across tracks as well as time, is examined on the Key, Drum or Score editors, it can be very useful to execute an ALT [P] command. This will make the Play function cycle exactly around the zone you are editing, if CYCLE is on, and you will not have to worry about rewinding etc.


Cubase will allow you to record mutes in several ways; either record a single mute operation on the track list, the overall effect of the preprogrammed mutes on the Function keys, or to add versatility, record the solo status. This will allow automated muting on some or all tracks during an Arrangement.

Steinberg supply Cubase with the RECORD TEMPO/MUTES ticked. I would recommend that you turn this off and resave your DEF.SET file on disk. This will disable the facility until you need it. Otherwise, you may befall the trap that some users have set themselves by having spurious mutes recorded all over the place. If you keep them on one track, they are much easier to edit on the Grid Editor.

So what of the people who have mutes that they don't want on a track with ordinary MIDI data? The easiest thing to do is look at the offending Part on the Grid Editor and use the Display Filters (see page 20-7 of manual) to mask off all data types. Remember that the Filter is on if the letters are shown in lower case. This will only leave the 'Special' events on the screen, and mutes are special events. Now it will be so much easier to erase the mute events with the Rubber Tool. This method of masking events has many other uses, and is most helpful when editing the position of a series of Program Changes in a Part when the notes are masked.


The owner's manuals of various MIDI equipment often contain the actual format to the various System Exclusive messages that they can send or receive. While it is fairly obvious to the reader when the data is shown in Binary form (all 0s and 1s), it may not be immediately obvious when the numbering system is in Decimal or Hexadecimal. For example, the hexadecimal number 30 is actually 48 in decimal. We only mention this for those people who use the MIDI Manager to send System Exclusive data, who think it's our fault that they were not born with 16 fingers!

If the equipment manual, for the MIDI device you are trying to control with MIDI Manager, contains lists of messages in hexadecimal, then the numbers 0 to 9 and letters A to F will be used. You can type these straight into Cubase. If you see a digit combination of 79 and above, with no alpha characters, it must be in decimal. You can use the look-up table on page 22b-37/8 of the manual to help you convert it to a hexadecimal number.

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Sansui MDR7 MIDI/Tape Synchroniser

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Sounding Off

Publisher: Sound On Sound - SOS Publications Ltd.
The contents of this magazine are re-published here with the kind permission of SOS Publications Ltd.

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Sound On Sound - Jul 1990


Previous article in this issue:

> Sansui MDR7 MIDI/Tape Synchr...

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> Sounding Off

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