18 June 2010

Sequencer Tips file:///C%7C/Web%20Sites/%7Bshort%20description%20of%20image%7D

Turn it on - Sounds obvious, but while you playing around with your keyboards, sound doodling, setting up, anytime, have the sequencer turned on and recording. How often have you played a little sequence or melody, try to recreate later and it doesn't sound the same by the time you've booted the sequencer up. Avoid this painful discovery by leaving the record button on, if nothing turns up then fine, just delete it again. However if that moment of inspiration comes along, you have it for posterity.

Just starting out ? - It can be easier to learn by messing around with a ready made sequence and editing it. Modern sequencer programs can be a bit daunting at first, and learning your way round them can be a little disheartning if what sound your producing sounds dreadful. Download a MIDI file of something you like, and mess around with it to produce your version. It'll sound good while your learning.

Copying Sequences - One of the advantages of sequencers is that you can create a bar or two, and copy it throughout your track without having to play another note. This is also a way of making very repetitive tracks as well. To add interest change something on every 2nd, 4th, 8th or 16th bar. Alter the velocity of a note, change the kick sound, just something, creates movement and interest for the listener without altering the feel of the track to any great extent.

Recording Methods - The most common way of using a sequencer is just like a tape recorder, you play your keyboard and record it into the sequencer for later editing. Especially if your keyboard technique isn't all it could be, try something different. Step time, or recording at 25% or 50% speed.

Using your sequencer as a mixer - Can't afford that automated mixer just yet. Use MIDI volume messages to alter the volume on each track. Fade sounds in and out, drop volumes during the chorus, without having to touch the mixer at all. Most sequencers have the facility to draw (or use templates) to add volume ramps or curves

Thin out data - . Many of the new synths allow you to record knob and fader movements to MIDI, as well as the more usual pitch bend, modulation, velocity and after touch. The problem with all this is that it creates a lot of MIDI data, this can cause probems, especially if you have a complicated MIDI setup. Many sequencers have a "Thin Controller Data Function", this takes out all the duplicate events. This can drastically reduce the amount of events flowing round your setup.

MIDI FX - Delay - Copy a track or series of bars to a new track, but after pasting in pull the notes foward so they sound a fraction after the original. Experiment with the delay to get the effect you like. Try building up 4 or 5 layers like this to thicken up the sound and produce complex sounds.

MIDI FX - Flanging - Copy a track or section of a track, make sure they are on different MIDI channels, and on one of the tracks add a little pitch bend. Depending on the amount of pitch bend you add you can get some interesting effects.

MIDI FX - Pitch shift - Copy a track or section of a track and transpose the pitch, usually up or down an octave works best, but try others to experiement. Doubles up your sound and can easily create thickened and more powerful sounding notes.

Big Sounds - If you've the polyphony and multi-timbrality to create huge bass or lead sounds. Create a bass or lead line then make a number of copies of it, then on each extra track change the sound, to one similar, but different. You might create that killer monster sound you've been looking for, remove, add or substitute sounds to try out variations.

Invest in a MIDI interface - Once your setup expands past the most basic stage then a multi-input and output MIDI interface will make creating music a whole lot easier. If you've more than one Keyboard more than one MIDI input will allow you to record from either at any time. Having multiple outs allows you to make full use of the multi-timbrality on all your equipment without having to worry about muting MIDI channels etc. Always buy for the future to allow for extra expansion later.

Instant Recall - Can't remember what patches you set your synthesizers up for on all your different tracks ?. Do a SYSEX dump at the beginning of your track to record how your instruments were set up.

Nothing works - You set up your gear, press record or play and silence, things to try:-

  • If your using a computer, reboot from cold - not just restart - this can fix a whole manner of weird things.
  • Check the volume settings on all your equipment and make sure the sequencer MIDI volume isn't set to zero.
  • Try using different leads, you may have a rogue one.
  • Check the MIDI channels on your synth - change them to Omni, or a different number and try that.
  • If your synth has a MIDI receive light and its flashing, then you know the data is at least getting there, if the volume isn't set to zero then its something with the synth thats up.
  • If your using a soundcard as a MIDI interface check that its working OK, and try setting it just to point to the internal sounds, if that works then you know thats not causing the problem.
  • Check the sequencers send and receive filters - they might be filtering out notes.
  • Check that the MIDI in and out sockets are actually working, try plugging the MIDI out of one synth into another rather than the sequencer, and vice versa. Again just narrowing down the options.
  • If any of your equipment has a panic button - press that - might work.




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