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Topic: I need MIDI 101...

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  1. #1

    I need MIDI 101...

    I've moved this reply by Randy from the Listening Area to General Discussion:

    Hi, Michael!

    I'm going to give you some info in response to your new post. Now we're into topics better suited for General Discussion, but this is fine for now. As you continue your work with Garritan and Sonar, more discussion topics and questions are bound to come. I invite you to post those further inquiries in General Discussion where most members hang out and are likely to see your posts.

    Now - going through your post:

    --You're not using volume control correctly. You need to reverse those two controllers to start with - CC7 is for setting the overall volume of an instrument, and CC11 is for control throughout a piece. You'll notice in Sonar that when you use CC7 on a MIDI track, it's controlling the volume slider in ARIA. That's most often a "set and forget" general volume level for the instrument.

    --Then you use CC11 (or CC1) for Expressive volume control of an instrument as it plays throughout a piece. Garritan instruments are programmed to have their timbre change as well as volume when you use CC1 or 11. Lower values have a darker tone, higher values have a brighter tone, like physical instruments when they're played.

    --You don't want to use this instrument performance volume control just for "on the fly adjustments." I believe you mean you're just inserting values when you need the instrument to be louder or softer for a given passage. The intention of the programming, however, is that you use Expressive volume control to perform your music. Here's a screen shot I did recently. This shows the volume data for a flute in a Sonar project. As with all the instruments in this project, the volume is almost constantly fluctuating, just as a live flutist plays his/her instrument. Emulating how physical instruments are played is the basic theory for how to use MIDI software instruments.



    --Velocity - You're setting a starting level? You must be referring to the Velocity setting in the Step Record dialogue. I highly recommend you turn that off. You need your Velocities to also vary throughout a piece. Looking again at that screenshot, you can see the flute's velocities are different for each note. That passage was played on a keyboard, so that variety of velocities is a natural artifact. But I think you're using your keyboard when you use the Step Record mode? Turn that Velocity setting off so it can capture a variety of strengths/levels. Velocity levels can also be edited in the PRV with your mouse.

    --The rest of your post is describing the difference between how Garritan instruments and other MIDI instruments handle velocity. In the standard MIDI spec, velocity is designated to control volume, along with CC11 Expression. So with most software instruments, the harder you hit a key, the louder the note. That's exactly as you described - the EW instrument sounds change "quite dramatically."

    But in Garritan instruments, velocity is only controlling the Attack envelope. The softer you play, the slower/softer the start of the note. The harder you play, the more immediate and sharp the attack. Since you're controlling actual volume separately, with CC1 or 11, you have more control over the instrument. You can have loud notes that start with a soft attack, for instance.

    Ok! As I said earlier, please feel free to keep posting questions and comments over in General Discussion. I look forward to seeing you again.

    Randy

    My reply:

    I thought cc's 1,7 & 11 were basically interchangeable, now I see they're not. I get it now. By using 7 to set the overall volume for an instrument, that will move the slider in Aria. In East West, you can move the slider directly, so using 7 in this way for Aria will be the same as moving each instruments slider in EW. That should get me much more volume for GPO instruments, something that's been a problem for me, esp. for the strings.

    As for using making volume adjustments on the fly, I've been doing so but infrequently. So, should I be doing that basically for every note? That will be a boatload of new events! (visual: finger flapping lips up and down, with accompanying tremelo sound). Skating is a busy piece, it would take me forever. Or is there an easier way? What about volume envelopes?

    Velocity: When I say I set an overall velocity, what I mean is, I've been using the midi effects plug in that comes with Sonar. I try to set a level that gives a nice attack, not to harsh. Now I'm just totally confussed about velocity.

    Using step-record: is there a way to humanize a piece after the fact? If I need to completely start over with Skating, I'm just going to shelve it until I retire. Then I can work on new pieces the right way. I guess I've been too anxious to get results. I should have paid more attention to basic midi 101 concepts. Sigh...

  2. #2

    Re: I need MIDI 101...

    Good to see you over here in General Discussion, Michael. Pasting in my Listening Room message to you is a good starting point. And now I have more things to pass on, replying to what you have on this new thread:

    Quote Originally Posted by michael diemer View Post
    ...should I be doing that basically for every note? That will be a boatload of new events! (visual: finger flapping lips up and down, with accompanying tremelo sound). Skating is a busy piece, it would take me forever...
    Look at the screenshot in my post you quoted. You can see the Flute's CC11 data is constant. I recorded that with the Expression Pedal plugged into my keyboard. I know you don't play keyboard, but I think you're using it to insert your notes? If so, I highly recommend you record CC1 volume control with your Mod Wheel if you have one. In the time it takes to play a piece through once, you can record a volume performance as complex as you want. Or get an Expression Pedal and record CC11, if your keyboard has a plug for that.

    BUT, you can draw all that data in also. In Sonar, you just sweep your cursor through the CC1 or CC11 controller pane you've inserted, and draw in a way you see in that screenshot. I'm still using Sonar 8.5- In that version, the Ctrl key needs to be held down at the same time in order to draw sweeps like that, and the Snap has to be off, or your drawing will be quantized. I'm not sure how that works in X1.
    Quote Originally Posted by michael diemer View Post
    Velocity: When I say I set an overall velocity, what I mean is, I've been using the midi effects plug in that comes with Sonar. I try to set a level that gives a nice attack, not to harsh. Now I'm just totally confussed about velocity.
    Right, I know you're using the Step Record option. You can uncheck the Velocity value so that instead of some predetermined amount that will be the same for all notes, it will record the velocity depending on how hard you hit your keys.

    Back in The Piano Roll View, you can edit velocities as much as you want. Turn OFF "Controller handles" so you can swoop through the Velocity Pane, lowering and raising your values according to what's needed. Having all the Velocities the same value doesn't work - As with using all aspects of MIDI, you need to think in terms of what real instruments do - And no instrument except an organ, a harpsichord - maybe a few stray others, produces the same velocity over and over.
    Quote Originally Posted by michael diemer View Post

    Using step-record: is there a way to humanize a piece after the fact?...
    Certainly there's a way. Back in PRV, the heart of MIDI in Sonar (and any DAW software) - you have all sorts of options. With Snap off, you can move notes any amount you want in either direction. Real musicians never play notes absolutely precisely on the beat. So mess those start times up.

    ALSO, look up CAL in your Sonar Help file. These are little scripts that can help you out - There are CAL routines which can instantly mess up the start times of an entire track at a time if you want.

    Randy

  3. #3

    Re: I need MIDI 101...

    Thanks Randy for your help in determining why I'm having trouble posting. If this goes through, then my efforts to address this have been successful. I adjusted my pop-up blocker.

    Anyway, I've been trying to humanize Skating. I'm experimenting with adjusting velocity and start times, using the velocity and quantize plug-ins, as well as the Cal script. Early results are encouraging, but of course it needs fine-tuning. When I have something I think is enough of an improvement, I'll post it.

    Thanks for all your support, you're the best moderator of any forum I've been on, by far. Yes, I do frequent other forums, namely, Sounds Online and the Composers's Forum. It's interesting to note that I'm getting the same feedback everywhere: the music is good but it sounds too computerized. One cat on SO, though, told me to abandon all other sounds but East West! No way that's going to happen. Both GPO and EWQL have their strenghts and weakneses, but I feel I need both. I do use more GPO than anything, probably about 65 %. The woods especially are superior.

    Well that does it for now,

  4. #4

    Re: I need MIDI 101...

    Hi Michael, this article I wrote here:

    http://www.midi-orchestration.net/p/...midi-tips.html

    Might have some useful information for you there.

    I don't really update this blog beyond that - such is my time.

    I'd also experiment with swapping out tracks between the different libraries to see what works best. Like all libraries there are advantages and disadvantages, and I favour some over others obviously based on results. Ease of use plays a role too, and GPO is so easy to use, a great help.

    On the humanization of the performance, as was mentioned you have velocity, mod wheel data, expression and keyswitch articulations - use them all as best you can. Volume I would only set initially if possible and leave it alone, using expression afterwards. Well, that's how I do things anyway.
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  5. #5

    Re: I need MIDI 101...

    Quote Originally Posted by Plowking View Post
    Hi Michael, this article I wrote here:

    http://www.midi-orchestration.net/p/...midi-tips.html

    Might have some useful information for you there.

    I don't really update this blog beyond that - such is my time.

    I'd also experiment with swapping out tracks between the different libraries to see what works best. Like all libraries there are advantages and disadvantages, and I favour some over others obviously based on results. Ease of use plays a role too, and GPO is so easy to use, a great help.

    On the humanization of the performance, as was mentioned you have velocity, mod wheel data, expression and keyswitch articulations - use them all as best you can. Volume I would only set initially if possible and leave it alone, using expression afterwards. Well, that's how I do things anyway.
    Thank you Plowking. As you can see, I've been working extensively with the incredibly helpful admin. of this forum. One thing he pointed out is that, I have been using CC7 and CC11 in reverse to how they ought to be used. (I thought they were interchangeable). I have yet to address this. right now I'm working on re-panning and humanizing velocity and start times with Sonar plug-ins. My midi keyboard is very basic, no modwheel. I think it is velocity responsive, but I tried for some reason to counteract this when entering the notes, so the velocities are all very simliar. Further, my keyboard skills are poor, and always will be, due to some motor deficincies on my part. So I have to use step-record, which of course renders the "performance" that much less alive. So, I have a steep hill to climb. It's somewhat depressing, as I have put so much effort in to my works, only to be told they sound inferior, and I see no easy way to change this. But I'll muddle through somehow, and if the fates allow, maybe I'll get there someday, to that fabled land of midi mastery, where everything sounds like it was done by a real orchestra, and people will actually listen to it. Maybe I'll even have some time left to compose new music!

  6. #6

    Re: I need MIDI 101...

    Quote Originally Posted by michael diemer View Post
    ...I have to use step-record, which of course renders the "performance" that much less alive...
    Hello again, Michael - We've been around the block several times already on various topics - Hope you got my most recent private message? -

    I pulled out that quote above because I still want to encourage you to work in the Piano Roll View without that step-record app running. I think I pointed out that there was a recent thread where that was a big topic - What I got from that conversation was that the ability to use a keyboard for inserting the notes was the big attraction, something you can't do in the PRV on its own. But otherwise - I feel there's a distinct disadvantage of using that step-record.

    In the PRV, you can insert notes directly, and with the Snap off, you're not stuck having them stick to quantized values. You can place them ahead or behind the beat - You can easily change the length, velocities, draw in all the data. I just think you would have a better time working directly there. Remember you can grab large groups of notes at a time if you want, and drag them - it's not as if you have to tweak every single note.

    Hope you see my point and try that.

    Randy

  7. #7

    Re: I need MIDI 101...

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post
    Hello again, Michael - We've been around the block several times already on various topics - Hope you got my most recent private message? -

    I pulled out that quote above because I still want to encourage you to work in the Piano Roll View without that step-record app running. I think I pointed out that there was a recent thread where that was a big topic - What I got from that conversation was that the ability to use a keyboard for inserting the notes was the big attraction, something you can't do in the PRV on its own. But otherwise - I feel there's a distinct disadvantage of using that step-record.

    In the PRV, you can insert notes directly, and with the Snap off, you're not stuck having them stick to quantized values. You can place them ahead or behind the beat - You can easily change the length, velocities, draw in all the data. I just think you would have a better time working directly there. Remember you can grab large groups of notes at a time if you want, and drag them - it's not as if you have to tweak every single note.

    Hope you see my point and try that.

    Randy
    Hi Randy, I've gotten all your messages, and continue to appreciate how hard you work at trying to nudge us in the right direction. I'll figure out the PRV at some point, I have by no means given up on it. Actually, I haven't even started on it. It's such a different way of doing things, and I have no clue how to begin. But I'll get there. For now, I'm experimenting with less drastic measures, and may repost Skating soon if I feel it's sufficiently improved to warrant a listen. but I know in the long run I need to come up with a new way to revise my pieces. Somebody on another forum suggested I just buy a decent keyboard, and start over from the begining, but that presupposes that I have decent keyboard skills, which I don't. Maybe when when I retire, I will be relaxed enough and have enough time and patience to do that, but for now I'm stuck with these after the fact measures. Maybe I'll check out some tutorials on PRV when I get a chance.

    Thanks again,

  8. #8

    Re: I need MIDI 101...

    I hope I am not sticking my nose where it doesn't belong but I have some of the same issues as you do Michael. I use Sonar X1 I am not sure what version you are using. But I do not play keyboard and have to step enter the notes as well. What I do is remove the snap to grid settings and move the now time pointer by hand thereby introducing randomness into the notes stop and start times. By using step entry mode the velocities are recorded and I naturally enter the notes with different velocities.

    But more importantly, I am a recent convert to Piano Roll View. It can be done. I do my sketching with pencil and paper and have always used notation software, even the limited notation view in Sonar. But I have recently become more interested in the rendering of my compositions and I am a believer in PRV. For awhile I used staff view when step entering the notes to keep that familiar manuscript look in front of me. But I have even done away with that middle step and enter the notes directly into PRV.

    I have no mod wheel on my keyboard either and I draw all the CC1 data in by hand. Once you get the hang of it it goes pretty smoothly. Below is a link to a thread where Randy helped me with an issue. It may not be right on point but it covers some of the issues we both seem to be experiencing.

    http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/...out-Randomness

  9. #9

    Re: I need MIDI 101...

    I love viewing notation, but have no option in the DAW I use, and so I have found that after a bit of practice I can now read PRV as though it was notation. What I mean is that I can look at it and play lines from it as though I was reading music from a staff.

    This basically speeds up PRV editing even more because you adjust to the idea that you still looking at something a bit more (like notation).

    I also do that no snapping when manually entering notes, turn off the snapping and use slightly loose placements. It humanises what you're entering at the very moment of entering it, instead of the chore of having to revisit and start moving notes again.

    I too enter a lot of mod data by drawing. Sometimes I even just use angled lines rather than curves all the time. The results you get however you do it will be what counts. I get great results by mixing most methods. I usually only play lines on my own music. For recreations I've done I mostly draw in my data.
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  10. #10

    Re: I need MIDI 101...

    Quote Originally Posted by Plowking View Post
    I love viewing notation, but have no option in the DAW I use, and so I have found that after a bit of practice I can now read PRV as though it was notation.
    Yes. Also, I do not know about anyone else, but for me PRV provides a more intuitive view of orchestral texture.

    Quote Originally Posted by Plowking View Post
    I also do that no snapping when manually entering notes, turn off the snapping and use slightly loose placements. It humanises what you're entering at the very moment of entering it, instead of the chore of having to revisit and start moving notes again.
    This was what I was trying to get at but Plowking said it much better.

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