Hints, Tips & News From The World Of Music Software
Last month we mentioned making the choice between buying an Atari 1040ST and a Mega 4ST. C-Lab are beginning to define what their new Soft Link Multi Application Manager will be able to do, and you should look out for press releases for information. The particular thing to note is that Soft Link is capable of operating with any manufacturer's Atari-based product. In many cases Notator SL and Creator SL will cohabit with other programs without any further programming. In a few cases, the authors of programs may have to do a tiny amount of work to ensure that their products conform to the existing Atari MIDI standard routine. This is a purely internal job and does not affect the performance or character of the program, but it then allows the programs to operate in the 'multi-program environment' offered by the C-Lab Soft Link.
There are many ways of controlling the tempo of Notator or Creator: it depends on the situation as to which method you use.
- MANUAL SYNC: switching to manual sync mode, as we explained last month, allows the program to extract the tempo of your playing to give a real 'human feel' to the music - how sensitive it is to your changes of tempo is set in the Realtime Tempo Interpreter window. The result can be recorded along with the music and can simultaneously or subsequently be the source of a Unitor Sync Reference for SMPTE syncing to tape. You can alternatively tap a note of your MIDI instrument to provide tempo information via MIDI (which, by the way, includes a count-in if you wish), or you may use Human Touch with an acoustic input to provide the tempo information in real time.
- INTERNAL SYNC: here you can control the tempo value either by direct or indirect manipulation.
Direct manipulation of the tempo display while recording will inject P-USER 1 (absolute tempo) events into the current track to the nearest 1/100th bpm. This is achieved by: (a) using the mouse buttons to scroll the display; (b) using the 'mouse slider' feature in conjunction with the [Control] key (see page 25 of the manual). Additional use of [Shift] will allow jumps to new settings; (c) using the new menu flag 'mouse-as-slider', which converts the mouse into a fader (see page 681 of the manual). These three methods are part of the 'Screen Recording' ability of the program (which includes recording of real-time mutes).
Indirect manipulation of the tempo display while recording includes the massive Realtime Transform capability of Notator and Creator. One example would be the use of the master keyboard's pitch wheel or volume foot pedal to control tempo, where the program instantly converts the incoming pitch wheel/Controller 7 data into P-USER 1 data.
Another idea would be to 'TransCopy' (in the Transform window) notes into P-USER 1 data after the recording: this would allow control over the smoothness of the tempo change, as would use of the 'Autofade' feature in the Transform window (of which more next month).
The Fit-time Calculator allows specific tempo changes to be inserted in a piece at specific time positions, and is self-explanatory. It can also be used to inject tempo changes to the nearest 1/100th bpm in your music: just ensure that you set the left-hand locator at the time position you want the change to occur and scroll the tempo to the desired value; the P-USER 1 tempo command will be injected into the current track without having to go into record mode.
You can, of course, drag P-USER 1 and P-USER 2 (relative tempo) events into the event editor from the left-hand event list partbox for specific changes at specific time positions, though you may find that the Fit-time Calculator is now more convenient for doing this. P-USER 2 commands allow you to add or subtract a certain amount from the current tempo, and can only be entered in the event editor.
- MIDI SYNC: here the sequence tempo is set by the controlling device and will overrule any tempo changes in Notator or Creator. The tempo display will 'warble' around the incoming tempo, though this has no effect on the actual tempo which is locked solid to the incoming external MIDI Clocks.
- SMPTE SYNC: with Unitor in control, any internal tempo changes are accepted. See last month's piece and the manual for more details. In SMPTE sync mode, the program is able to resolve the tempo to the nearest 1/10000th bpm to allow it to take full advantage of the SMPTE bit-precise Unitor.
Part of the C-Lab concept is to offer the appropriate function for the specific job in hand. This is why you will often find many ways of achieving the same result, whether it be in the realm of tempo, recording, editing, muting and so on. Nothing beats hands-on experimenting to find the most appropriate method which works for you and your music.
At Hollis Research we have concluded that 'README' files are a rather unsatisfactory way of documenting software improvements. To correct this we have produced a printed version of the Trackman changes made to date, complete with relevant extracts from this Software Support column. Your copy should arrive before this edition of SOS is published. In the unlikely event that you do not receive it, please contact us and we will attend to it promptly.
This month's column explains how to use the pages within our MIDIman universal editor as 'presets'. First, think about the type of parameters you want to remember for a setup. A good starting point would be the patch changes, pans and volumes for a group of eight MIDI channels. This is handy for most multitimbral setups. Load the standard MIDIMIX.PAN control file and select the first page. These are the controls for the first eight MIDI channels.
We are going to make three more copies of this panel. First click on the Edit box so that it is ticked. Now click and drag the first page selector and drop it on the second page. That's it, the page has been copied. Do it again for pages three and four. We now have four identical pages. It would be helpful to label these, so double-click on each page selector in turn and give it some relevant name.
Select each page in turn and set the patches, pans and volumes as required. Click SAVE to keep a copy of your control panels and all the current settings. When you need to recall a setup, simply select a page then click SEND. Every control setting on the page will be sent to the appropriate device. This 'pages as presets' trick is also useful with MIDI-controlled reverb units and to remember changes to factory presets on a synth like the MT32, which has no store button.
Satellite is a desk accessory that comes free with Steinberg's new programs Cubase and Avalon. It reads the BANK files from all Steinberg voice editors and displays all the voice names. Two important points: you do not need the key/dongle of the editor program to be present nor do you need to load the editor software itself.
As you click on the name of the sound it is transmitted to the synth via the MIDI route you selected without stopping the sequencer. We could have left it at that, useful as it is, but there are eight software sliders on the screen that allow you to perform global edits on the selected sound, in real time without stopping the sequencer. There are controls for Attack, Release, Brightness, Fatness, Gristle etc.
A particularly clever facility is the fact that you can open a pipeline to Cubase and glue the System Exclusive dump of the voice to the record track on the sequencer. It appears as a short pattern that can be moved around if necessary and is even given the name of the sound as defined in the editor. Satellite can also glue multiple MIDI dumps from disk to the Cubase song configuration. Up to 50 dumps can be sent to specific MIDI outputs on starting a song.
Finally, the Dump Utility functions (generic MIDI storage) are on Satellite. These again are much expanded over the facilities in Pro24. There are 32 saveable 'Macros' for storing dump requests, and it will handle the creative use of the MIDI standard adopted by certain manufacturers. Even the buffer size is variable up to 53K - big enough even for complete Yamaha RX5 and Korg M1 dumps.
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