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MIDI Busker

Acoustic Guitar MIDI Patterns

I don't know about you, but being able to play guitar, whether well or badly, doesn't seem to help me much when it comes to writing convincing acoustic guitar-type parts into a MIDI sequencer, via a MIDI keyboard. More often than not, even transferring a part worked out on a real guitar into a sequencer results in a sound more reminiscent of a robotic harpsichord. With strummed chords especially, so much happens between the beats, and it's a slow process trying to imitate the flow of up and down strokes, let alone chord voicings that are convincingly guitarlike. Surely there's an easier way?

These same thoughts must have occurred to the purveyors of MIDI Busker, a collection of MIDI File Format patterns created to give the MIDI-ised impression of an acoustic guitarist. A variety of patterns featuring strummed chord types have been supplied with the assistance of one Robbie Gladwell, playing his MIDI guitar into Steinberg's Cubase on an Atari, where the patterns were fine-tuned, with a minimum of quantisation. The result is very promising indeed.

The patterns, which cover a useful if not exhaustive range of styles, are supplied as MIDI Files, to load into just about any software sequencer and many current hardware sequencers. There are four files of accented strumming; four of folk strumming in 3/4 and four in 4/4; one country in 4/4 and another country in 3/4; blues rock; two fingerpicking files; two straight strumming; two ballad strumming; and two vamps.

The files of accented strumming are dubbed Accent 1A, Accent 1B, Accent 2A and Accent 2B. Group A files contain a selection of common chord types — major, minor, major 7, minor 7 and dominant 7 — while group B covers less common chords such as major and minor 9, suspended chords, diminished and augmented, major and minor 6 and 7 flat 5.

These chord types are available on a number of tracks (18 in the case of 1A). The general idea is that you cut, copy and paste sections of the strumming to create complete guitar parts. Each track — or chord shape — can be transposed, as if you were playing barre chords or using a capo, to give you the full range of chords. All the other files are arranged in a similar way to the accented strumming ones.

Basically, if you know your way around your sequencer, you'll find MIDI Busker a doddle to use. The patterns sound very convincing, since all the nuances have been left in — watch the quantise button, though, since those important nuances could easily be lost. The manual — a READ.ME file on the main disk — is very helpful, with hints and tips for using MIDI Busker with Cubase, Notator and Hybrid Arts sequencing packages.

MIDI Busker is a great, almost lateral, idea, and at under £15 is definitely priced to sell; the only other way I can think of getting the kind of effects on offer with MIDI equipment is by adding an Oberheim Strummer or by using a MIDI guitar, neither of which is quite as cost-effective as sticking a disk into your computer. If you're in need of realistic guitar parts in your sequencer, MIDI Busker is well worth trying.

Further Information
MIDI Busker £14.95 including VAT and P&P.

Station Records, (Contact Details).

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Rhino C-DAT Chromatic Digital Auto Tuner

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Tascam G100 Guitar Amplifier

Recording Musician - Copyright: SOS Publications Ltd.
The contents of this magazine are re-published here with the kind permission of SOS Publications Ltd.


Recording Musician - Mar 1993

Donated & scanned by: Mike Gorman

Review by Derek Johnson

Previous article in this issue:

> Rhino C-DAT Chromatic Digita...

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