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Hints, Tips & News From The World Of Music Software

Article from Sound On Sound, January 1991

More hints and tips from the world of music software.



Although Creator and Notator will run on an Atari computer with a colour monitor, this cannot be recommended since the colour display refreshes itself more slowly than the (far better) official high resolution Atari SM124 monochrome monitor, giving the impression that you are running through custard while you are working (the MIDI transmission speed remains unaffected, however). The speed of the C-Lab programs was optimised for the SM124, so if you have a colour monitor and have never tried the monochrome one, do so now. Another good reason for having the SM124 is that the new Page Preview feature in Notator Version 3.0 cannot do its job properly with the medium resolution of a colour monitor, since the graphics involved are so fine.


There has been a slight change in the way 'Force Legato' works in Version 3.0. Now, if notes already overlap, their lengths will be left untouched instead of being shortened. If you wish to obtain the same effect as on previous versions, use 'Overlap Correction' first, then 'Force Legato'.

In general, it is best to quantise the track first before using 'Force Legato', then unquantise afterwards if you wish. The reason for this is to prevent the function seeing the notes in (what you intended to be) a chord as individual notes, which would lead to undesired results.


If there are true (quantised) chords in the track, 'Overlap Correction' will ask whether you wish to have these chords deleted. If yes, then only the lowest note of each chord is left.


This new window shows, at a glance, what patterns are free etc. To exit the window without selecting a pattern, press Return. A tick alongside a pattern indicates that it is used in more than one Arrange chain.


If you are in the fortunate position of using a hard disk in your work, then you will have transferred the Notator program to one of the hard disk's partitions. However, the new Fonts function defaults to looking at Drive A for the fonts disk that comes supplied with the new version. This means that you may find that your program looks at Drive A for the fonts that you will have already transferred to the hard disk (Drive C). To stop the program doing this, load the program as usual then select or re-select one font in the new Font window. Change its Directory address to the correct folder and Drive, then click 'OK' and resave the AUTOLOAD.SON file.


The subject of text fonts (typefaces) is potentially massive, and depending on how far you want to go, rewarding... and time-consuming! It is up to you as to how much you learn: there are a number of font editors on the market. So far as Notator is concerned, the information required to operate the new downloadable fonts is supplied in the new operating manual. The principle of Notator's font management is as follows: each font file is inserted into a 'slot', each slot is inserted into a 'style', and each style can be assigned to various text and lyric events.


Notator's new Diatonic Insert function will speed up the process of entering notes on to the stave with the mouse, because it allows notes to be entered in the current key only (no sharps or flats). This is the normal situation. Switching the function on and off is the same as switching 'Snap' on and off (while entering the note with one of the mouse buttons, click the other mouse button). When the function is disabled, any note may be entered.


When you have done your composing and are in the process of editing the layout of the pages before printing, 'Local Format' on/off and 'Fix Format' are of help. The idea behind formatting is a) to allow the user to overrule the automatic choice of the program, and b) to fix the number of bars per line so that it doesn't change anymore (normally, as you know, the number of bars per line is flexible according to the number of notes in a bar).

The overruling of the automatic choice is done by clicking in the Page Preview staves. A click in the stave enters a special Pseudo event in the event list, which tells that stave that it should fix itself at the current number of bars. When 'Fix Format' is switched off, increasing/decreasing the number of bars in a stave affects all the bars in the staves that lie after that stave. This is the normal situation, when you are editing from the beginning to the end in an orderly fashion. But if you then go back and click in a stave in the middle of the piece, after having formatted the whole of the piece, this will erase all the subsequent Pseudo events and you'll have to start again! To cope with this situation, switch 'Local Format' on when re-editing an already-formatted piece, which restricts the 'knock-on' effect of increasing/decreasing bars in a stave to the following stave only.

'Fix Format' is the function which enters the 'fixing' Pseudo event into the event list for every stave in the current page. The 'Bars Per Line' function will not alter staves that are 'protected' by the Pseudo event, providing they neighbour each other.

As a general rule-of-thumb, it is normally possible to fit more bars on to each line than the program allows by default, but the space-saving advantage is outweighed, in long pieces, by the time it takes to click in each stave to increase the number of bars.



Cubase has several methods of quantising notes, from the predictable mathematically-based functions that produce the strict-timed results of OVER Q and NOTE ON quantise, to some unique quantising features as well. To my mind the most useful is ITERATIVE QUANTIZE, and this has been my favourite since its appearance on Pro24 many years ago. (Some Cubase owners have said that we really should have put ITERATIVE QUANTIZE on Pro24! Well it's been there all the time, and still is I believe, at the top right hand corner of the note-grid on the GRID edit page. Look for the little [Q] in a box.)

But what is ITERATIVE QUANTIZE? Well, the formal definition of 'iterative' is 'process by parts'. In the context of Cubase's ITERATIVE QUANTIZE this means that the notes will move from their present position towards the position that they would jump to if traditionally quantised, everytime you click on the ITERATIVE QUANTIZE menu. The term 'towards' is deliberately vague here, because you can adjust the rules used in the process. The STRENGTH of pull towards the absolute quantise position can be set from 0% to 100%, ie. from no quantisation at all to a conventional quantisation. One other control over this quantise function is the DON'T Q parameter. All this does is inhibit any further movement towards an absolute quantise position if a note is within a DON'T Q number of PPQN clocks. The function looks at each note in turn, so it doesn't mean that when one note has reached its limiting point all the others will stop moving. You will find the STRENGTH and DON'T Q controls in the EDIT QUANTIZE dialogue box.

You will have noticed in this description of ITERATIVE QUANTIZE that movements are described in relation to the absolute quantise position. That is what you set with the quantise value box. ITERATIVE QUANTIZE is not an automatic 'put the notes in the right place and write a good hook' function. If you set the quantise value to whole bars and then click on ITERATIVE QUANTIZE, your 16th note based leadline is not going to sound too good, but if you had set the quantise value to 16th notes and then clicked on the same menu function, you would have heard the notes move towards the absolute quantise values. And because this is Cubase, one press of the UNDO function returns your piece to its original state.

Cubase has another quantising trick up its sleeve, in the shape of the GROOVES. These provide a method of moving notes around to fit a FEEL that you can design yourself — or you can simply use one of those supplied with Cubase. With a standard quantise function, the notes jump to the nearest interval of time defined by the quantise value. With GROOVES you define where the intervals are.


If you have had a chance to look at the IPS on Cubase 2.0 you will probably already have an idea what it is all about. Some of the ICONs, though correctly described in the manual, have names that could be misleading. I refer to the LFO's on the IPS screen, more specifically the conventional waveforms (ramp up, triangle, ramp down and so on). It is important to understand what these are actually doing. When a PART is copied into the IPS, it is a good idea to hard quantise it. The IPS will use the notes or groups of notes as steps within the Phrase, and the LFOs govern which step is going to be played. 'Ramp up' starts with the events on step 0 and works its way through to the end, whereas 'ramp down' does exactly the reverse.

There are LFOs for each element in the IPS, and all are quite independent. For example, the LFO in the PITCH module could be set to 'ramp up', which would cause the notes to be played a step at a time, from the start of the Phrase to the end. The LFO in the RHYTHM module would use the gaps between the notes as the rhythm, starting at the end of the Phrase and working through to the beginning if the waveform was 'ramp down'. To complete this very simple picture, if the the LFO in the DYNAMICS module is set to 'triangle', it will cycle through the events forward and backwards, mapping the velocity of the events at each step to the notes generated by the PITCH and RHYTHM modules.

I would heartily recommend that you learn about the IPS by following these simple steps:

i) Record a short polyphonic rhythmic PART.
ii) Quantise it to about 16th notes.
iii) Copy it to the IPS.
iv) Go to IPS, select that Phrase at the Phrase Input.
v) Click on ACTIVE, INIT, then turn off IPS B.

You will now hear the Phrase play every time you play a note on your keyboard (if not, check the MIDI Input and Output boxes). Now experiment with the controls one at a time, turning controls on to see what effect they have. Remember to turn off everything you select as you move on, to keep things simple. Remember, the controls are interactive, that's the whole point.

To finish on the IPS for this month, because I'm sure it will come up again, note that the little [s] on the Interpreter hasn't made it into the Manual yet, although it is mentioned on every README file. It enables the Sustain pedal input to operate the HOLD function.


When a Pro24 file is imported into Cubase, all the outputs for the tracks will be set to NO DEV. This is because Pro24 has no idea about the available outputs of an MROS system. All you have to do set the outputs according to your preference, and save the piece as a Song or Arrangement. So, if you bring a Pro24 file into Cubase and it appears to be playing, but there is no MIDI output even though all the meters are working normally, here is your reason. This does not affect MIDI channels — these are interpreted from the Pro24 file.

More from these topics

Previous Article in this issue

Adventures In MIDILand

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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.

The current copyright owner/s of this content may differ from the originally published copyright notice.
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Sound On Sound - Jan 1991





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> Adventures In MIDILand

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