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Topic: Seeking advice

  1. #1

    Question Seeking advice


    Create an orchestral piece with a sequencer and samples is very loooooooong and haaaaaaard.

    I'd like to find a tool as a sketchpad where cells could be put and moved in bars on any track.
    Those cells would be reusable midi patterns we store in a library.
    You know a tool we could call something like OOC (object oriented composing)

    So if in the morning a new song arise from anywhere we could create some cells, reuse cells from the library and fill the sketchpad in various combinations till the canvas is completed. The last step would be to save the piece in midi format and load this in the sequencer for subsequent refinement.

    Am I silly or this "Cells" software is already on market ?


  2. #2
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Dallas, Texas
    I don't think you're silly at all. I have been begging sequencer makers to stop thinking of sequencers as delightfully automated tape recorders (which they already are quite advanced at being), and to start thinking of them as composer tools, complete with library bins, transposition/interpolation tools, etc.

    The basic toolsets are there already, but not in an easily usable form. I think Lee's idea is pretty good--about the best you can do. Any of the major sequencers will be capable of this kind of workstyle, where you use one "project" to create ideas, and drag them into another to construct the piece.

    The entire sequencer industry went to hell in a handbasket when it became the rage to add audio engines and the all-purpose "DAW" was created. All MIDI innovation skidded to a halt for years. Hopefully, now that the audio engines are all super-advanced, the sequencer manufacturers will turn their attention to the actual composing process. This is the uncharted territory, and the area where advancement could radically benefit end users.

    I have been doing my part, and begging where people will hear me. The only way to get sequencer features pushed through, in my experience, is for LOTS of people to be requesting them. Perhaps others in the group could help lobby for these kinds of features. I'd sure use them.

    Best regards,

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Serge
    I'd like to find a tool as a sketchpad where cells could be put and moved in bars on any track.

    Those cells would be reusable midi patterns we store in a library.
    You know a tool we could call something like OOC (object oriented composing)

    Am I silly or this "Cells" software is already on market ?
    How about


    The guy stopped developing it some time ago, because no one seemed interested in it.

    I've picked up the impression that many of the really innovative midi-based computer-assisted composition programs came and went with the heyday of the Atari and never made their way over to Windows. Some time ago I bought a Windows port of an old Atari program, called Quaderno (www.quaderno.com), that would probably also qualify as a "cell"-based composing tool, but I'm only about 20 years behind in exploring all the various toys I've bought or downloaded in the last couple of years, so I can't say much about it.

    Once upon a time IBM was sponsoring work on a tool called MusicSketcher, which I've also played around with; but the tool never got to the point of actually letting you create your own "riff blocks"; you were stuck with the canned ones that came with the development version. You can find out more about it here:



  4. #4
    Yeah, just what the world needs, an even easier way to come up with kick [nss][nss][nss] orchestral music. Bring it on, let's see how much more we can dumb things down before we all put each other out of business.

    Sorry, but that's the plain truth. But who am I kidding, this stuff is coming and Apple will probably bring it to us!

  5. #5
    Lee, Oksi
    Many thanks for your advice and links.

    Bruce, you could send this to companies...

    I had a dream,

    I was building midi patterns in "Cells" from one song to other.
    For a new composition I retrieved my patterns from my library, created many variations and built my sketchpad with all those variations.

    The sketchpad looked like the interface of Battery from Native instruments which use something like cells.

    In this sketchpad, each cell was representing a bar in the track. Each track was containing many cells. I double clicked a cell and the piano roll showed the pattern. I modified the pattern and saved it in the library. I also dragged cells in other tracks to check how it sounded with other instruments.

    I also created blocks of cells and moved them in the sketchpad.


    Well, have done it myself by emailing the request to misters Cakewalk, Native and Yamaha (Yamaha because their QY100 gear is close to this concept).

    Since i'm well known in my village (somewhere in huge north of Québec) things should move faster in the industry now...


  6. #6

    Re: Seeking advice


    Sonic Foundry did what you're describing some time ago, but they did it with time stretched audio, and called it Acid.

    You arrange your riff library on disk in folders in little one or two bar blocks, and audition, drag and drop each cell onto a multitrack grid to create a composition.

    At the time, Acid couldn't do much in terms of Midi.

    Now Acid has better (but not great) midi facilities, you could probably do whatt you want in it.

    You may miss some of the other more sophisticated editing tools available in the leading DAWs though.

  7. #7

    Re: Seeking advice

    Thanks Chadwick.

    I checked the docs about Acid and will try the Demo.


  8. #8

    Re: Seeking advice

    I forgot Ableton's "Live" - it's like Acid on steroids...


    From their hype:

    In Live 4, you will find a complete and inspiring approach to MIDI sequencing, pattern recording, drag-and-drop sampling, virtual instruments (!) and MIDI hardware support. They have also made substantial extensions and enhancements to existing functionality, including such features as swing/groove for audio and MIDI clips, a powerful new channel-routing scheme, simplified recording, sample reverse, and several exciting new creative options for the Session View.

    MIDI Tracks, Effects, and Instruments

    MIDI sequencing in Live has been designed to get the user started within seconds. Software instruments appear in Live's built-in browser. Dragging an instrument from the browser into the mixer creates a MIDI track with that instrument, ready to play and record. MIDI effects and audio effects can be instantly dragged into the same track, without dealing with menus or abstract routing concepts. The signal flow within the track is intuitively set up by drag-and-drop. The Track View provides instant access to all controls of the instrument and the effects in the track.

    MIDI Clips

    MIDI clips are created by recording or by dragging in standard MIDI files from Live's browser. Notes can be viewed, created and edited in the Clip View's note editor. When draw mode is engaged, the note editor behaves like a drum pattern interface, where a pattern step is set or cleared by a single click, and flams are crated by dragging across multiple steps. Unlike static drum grid or step sequencer interfaces, Live's flexible grid allows the user to change the step resolution at any time, for instance from straight to triplet notes.

    MIDI clips, as audio clips, have their own loop settings. MIDI controller movements are represented as clip envelopes, which can be unlocked from the notes for creating independent movement. The same real-time options apply to MIDI clips as to audio clips: one can launch MIDI clips at any time, with real-time quantization preventing rhythmical error. MIDI clips can be assigned to computer keys or MIDI note ranges for jamming with musical phrases. MIDI clips can also be exported from Live as Standard MIDI files.

    MIDI Recording and Patterns

    Patterns can be built-up on the fly by overdubbing MIDI onto clips while they play in a loop. In conjunction with the integrated new 'Impulse' percussion-sampling instrument, Live exhibits the spontaneous creation options that are normally associated with hardware groove boxes. One can in fact use the computer keyboard to play Impulse's percussions and create grooves from the laptop alone. Standard multitrack linear-Arrangement MIDI recording and overdubbing is available as well.

  9. #9

    Re: Seeking advice

    I apologize for mentioning this when I'm not sure I know what I'm talking about, but isn't Project 5 supposed to work this way? Since there are so many Sonar users here, I thought I'd ask...

  10. #10

    Re: Seeking advice


    Live talks about non-linear sequencing and improvisation tool. The session view and arrangement view screenshots really appear like something I'm looking for, in a vertical viewing presentation, even better. It's presented as a musical sketchpad (Yeah sketchpad !). Perhaps a killing product and we don't need a master degree (Like Acid) to work with.


    Thanks, Sonar 5 is my next place to explore but I don't expect to much.


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