Steinberg Software Page
The third instalment of our column devoted entirely to Steinberg software, written and compiled exclusively for SOS by Steinberg's experts.
Welcome to a new experiment: the Steinberg Software Page. Each month in Sound On Sound we will bring you the latest news of current and forthcoming versions of your software, some 'in-house' tips and tricks on its use, and will discuss computer-based MIDI sequencing systems in general. It is our hope that everyone using a computer to assist them with their musical productions will find our subjects of interest, whatever software they use. Read on and respond!
Steinberg's configurable Switcher program for the Atari ST, which this magazine distributes via the SOS Shareware scheme, is available for only £7. It is not copy-protected in any way. You can use it quite successfully with most software packages for the ST. If you have the Steinberg Key Expander, you can even switch between software of a different dongle!
"Great," you say, "but how on earth do I use it?" Yes, in their haste to release this rare beast (a 'freebie'), Steinberg forgot to include a 'README' file on the disk with the software. Users have had to rely on their intuition in order to figure out the program! To amend matters, here are some instructions:
1. The Switcher program should be loaded before any other program you plan to run on the computer. Load it by double-clicking on the SWITCHER.PRG icon in the relevant disk directory.
2. The software will open onto the Configuration Page. Arranged before you are the memory allocation controls for up to 10 memory segments, within which the selected programs are going to operate. You should allocate memory segments sequentially, starting with 1 and working upwards numerically (but actually down the screen).
3. Each segment control contains a File line (the program name), a Memory Assignment (in Kbytes), a Channel number, and a Program Change number. Start by allocating some memory. The classic Right button/Up, Left button/Down formula works here; just hold the relevant mouse button while the cursor is over the number. Pro-24 needs about 645K to work, most of the Synthworks editors require at least 1024K because of their Library feature. The Soundworks sample editors are pretty flexible, but if you work on long samples you will run into memory problems unless you allocate at least 800K. You can hold down the Atari's
4. To assign a particular software package to a given segment, you should now insert its disk into the disk drive and then double-click on the File line, just to the left of the memory size allocation. A GEM File Selector window will open, which should contain the name of the software which you want to run in that segment (if it doesn't, check that you have the right disk!). Double-click on the name, or click on the name and then 'OK' the window. Now the Switcher program knows which software to run in that segment. Now that you've done the first program, go ahead and do the rest!
5. If you are wondering about the Channel Assignments and Program Change potential, this relates to the Switcher's ability to broadcast the appropriate MIDI Program Change command (on the MIDI channel you select) out of the Atari's MIDI Out port, whenever you select a different memory segment. This allows you to utilise the useful facility found on most MIDI patchbays - remote selection of patch matrix memories. You can select the appropriate MIDI matrix patch to suit the needs of the particular software package and your system. Again, the Right/Up, Left/Down button formula applies for actually selecting the values with the mouse.
6. Having set up your memory allocation configuration you can save the set-up onto disk, so that you don't have to do it all again!. To do this, select 'Save' on the bottom right of the Configuration Page and then follow the normal procedure for saving a file. Having arranged your memory set-up, you can now 'OK' the Configuration Page and move on to the Switcher itself.
7. You load the program you wish to run by either clicking the mouse on the program's box or by pressing the appropriate
8. The software will load in the normal way. If you are using the Steinberg Key Expander, the program will automatically find its own key (this part will not work with other dongle-protected software; you will have to select that key using the 'Select' button).
9. To exit that program, on the Atari keyboard press both
10. On a final note, if you can't be bothered to quit all the programs you have loaded, and you are sure you've finished all your work, the Atari's power off switch is the fastest route to clearing up!
Select this option from the Track menu with some current project you are working on already loaded into your Pro-24 sequencer. If you then click on the Start box, Pro-24 will commence playing your song and await any alterations in tempo which you feel are fitting. Change the tempo by moving the ubiquitous data entry slider on the right-hand side of the screen with your mouse. When you have completed your adjustments, just click on the Stop box. Pro-24 will assimilate the tempo changes you have made and place a list of the changes and their relevant song positions into the Mastertrack for detailed editing.
To hear your song played back with the variations in timing, just turn the Mastertrack on. You can very easily make detailed changes to the timing alterations in the Mastertrack listing, where you will also find the facility to erase your changes altogether!
It sounds a bit corny, but try 'pushing' your choruses ahead of the beat. For dramatic effect, dramatically alter that tempo! You can create a really orchestral effect by simply introducing tempo changes of the order of 35 BPM into your music at the correct points. Beware the metronome! If you are looking for that 'dead-on-the-beat' feel, re-read last month's column on MIDI timing messages. When recording your drums to tape, do each one individually on a separate pass - or get yourself an SMP24!
We talked a lot about timing last month, but left out a crucial new type of MIDI timing information, MIDI Time Code (MTC). This type of MIDI message carries information about the current SMPTE time, and is updated every quarter-frame. As such, it utilises about 10% of the MIDI bandwidth to transmit information which, in the right hands, can be very useful indeed. MTC is not the same as MIDI Clock, Start, Stop, Continue, and Song Position Pointers. MTC's quarter-frame accuracy precludes its use for direct synchronisation of musical information, but it does provide sufficient accuracy for mixing and other event-orientated applications, because the 'real time' itself is encoded in the message.
The Steinberg DMP7 Desktop Mixing software, for instance, relies on this code for its dynamic control over the mixer. The nature of the MIDI message enables the software to drop you into the correct mix, by utilising the timing information in conjunction with a 'snapshot' or 'cinematic' type of data collection technique. This logs set-ups of the DMP7's 205 parameters according to SMPTE time values. In the future we should see more products which will operate in conjunction with this type of MIDI message.
We had to smile when a journalist thought the Pro-24 Mixdown and Tempo Recording features were new to Version 3.0. Our research attributes these introductions to Version 1.3 in fact! (An early Steinberg response to user response.) Yet we ran into a long-time user of Pro-24 who had never even used Mixdown! Let alone creatively. Here are some tips: Try mixing your whole song into a single pattern and then chop it into new sections using the Split function (which is new to Version 3.0). To regain the sort of ease of editing you associate with single MIDI channel edits, just Remix the appropriate MIDI channels back out of the mix. When you do so, reset the Destination to the beginning of that section.
This sort of approach allows you a great deal of editing freedom, especially when used in conjunction with Sequence Mode. Give all the patterns on the newly mixed down Track 'Names'. Then turn all of the appropriate Tracks to Sequence Mode. Finally, use the named patterns Track as the basis for your Song Arrangement. Working this way lets you try out variations of your basic song structure very easily, promoting experimentation.
• The MIDI Out socket on Atari ST computers is non-standard. Use only the middle three pin connections of the regular 5-pin MIDI plug, or treat yourself to a good quality Klotz MIDI lead.
• There is no onscreen indication of the Atari keyboard's CAPS LOCK key having been pressed when running Pro-24 or indeed any other Steinberg program. Many software functions change their behaviour when this key has been pressed, so if things don't act as you would expect them to, check this out.
This page has been written and compiled for SOS by Evenlode Soundworks, the UK distributors of Steinberg software.