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Bars & Pipes Professional: Advanced Sequencing

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In Chapters 3 through 7, we learned the basics of multi-track recording and composition with Bars&Pipes Professional. Now it's time to jump back in and complete our exploration with some more advanced concepts.

Most of this chapter pertains to the Tracks window. The Tracks window is the central focus of multi-track sequencing in Bars&Pipes Professional. If it's not open now, open the Tracks window by double-clicking on its icon and close all other windows.


Sometimes it's nice to be able to grab a collection of Tracks at once and perform an operation on them as a whole. For example, you might want to isolate all of your string Tracks and Toolize them together. Or, you might want to mute everything but the percussion Tracks so you can hear them out of context.

Use Bars&Pipes Professionals Groups mechanism to organize the Tracks that comprise your Song into Groups. A Group is a collection of Tracks that can be accessed as a unit. When a Track belongs to a Group, it's called a member Track. With Groups, you can Mute or Solo several Tracks on playback, which helps you isolate parts of your Song, or Toolize several Tracks at once, or execute many of the operations found in the Edit menu. You can create as many as eight Groups.

The Group buttons at the top of the Tracks window organize and control access to the Groups.

The numbered buttons, the Group Selectors, represent each of the eight Groups. Click on a Group Selector to activate its Group. Click again to deactivate. Use the Group button, to the right, when creating or changing the members of a Group.

Creating Groups

To create a Group, enter into Group Edit mode by clicking on the Group Button. Then click on one of the Group Selectors.

Click on all of the Tracks that you want to belong to the Group. Notice that each Member Track is drawn highlighted. Click a second time on a Track to remove it from the Group. Click on the Group Button again to deactivate Group Edit mode.

From now on, whenever you activate the particular Group Selector, your defined Group is selected.

Editing A Group

You can reorganize a Group at any time.

To enter into Group Edit mode, depress the Group button and the Group Selector button for the Group you'd like to change. While the Group button remains active, you may toggle Tracks in and out of the Group by clicking on them. When you're done, click on the Group button to deactivate Group Edit mode.

You can place a Track in several Groups at once. This can be very useful.

Creating A Temporary Group

Often, it's useful to quickly create a temporary Group, especially when used in conjunction with the Group menu (discussed later in this chapter.) To create a temporary Group, hold down a shift key on the Amiga keyboard and click on several Tracks. Each Track that you click on becomes a member of the temporary Group.

Once you finish working with the temporary Group, deselect it by clicking once on any Track.

Group Mode

Clicking on one of the Group selector buttons places you in Group mode. In Group mode, the Track menu becomes the Group menu, and operates on every Track in the Group (see the Track and Group menus later in this chapter.)

Group Mode And The Graphic Editor

Groups allow you to view a Track of music in the Graphic Editor's Hybrid Staff and Piano Roll with other Tracks in the background. This useful feature allows you to compare the timing of notes on one Track with the timing of notes on another.

First, create or select a Group. Once in Group mode, open the Graphic Editor for a member Track of the Group. The notes of the other Tracks in the Group display as grey background notes. You cannot directly edit these notes.

When you open more than one Graphic Edit window simultaneously and both Tracks are members of the same Group, the notes in the foreground of one Edit window appear in the background of the second Edit window, and vice versa.

Editing notes in one of these windows does not automatically update the background of the other window. The background notes of the other window updates only after the first window closes or updates the Track with the Update command Then, the second window's background notes update upon the next window refresh of the second window.

Soloing and Muting

The Solo button is the leftmost button at the top of the Tracks window. The Solo button controls the Solo and Mute state of the currently selected Track or Group. Click on Solo once to solo the highlighted Track or Group. Click again to mute the Track or Group. Click one more time to return the Track or Group to its normal state.

Soloing A Track Or Group

Sometimes, you may want to hear only one Track or Group at a time. Click on the Solo button to isolate the selected Track or Group. This command mutes all remaining Tracks. Notice that their Mute/Thru/Play Only faucets switch to the Mute settings.

Muting A Track Or Group

It can also be useful to mute the selected Track or Group. Click a second time on the Solo button and the selected Track or Group becomes mute, while all other Tracks turn on. The selected Track or Group's Mute/Thru/Play Only faucets switch to the Mute setting while the remaining Tracks' faucets return to their normal states.

Click on the Solo button a third time to return the Track or Group to Normal mode.

The Track Name Requester

Open the Track Name requester by double-clicking on its name in the far left of the Tracks window.

You can also open the Track Name requester by selecting the Wand in the Song Construction or Media Madness windows and clicking on the Track name.

Use the Track Name requester to change the name, enter notes, and set the Real-Time property of each Track. The following features are found in the Track Name requester:

Change the Track Name by editing the Name: field.
You may also enter a brief note about the Track in the Notes: field.
The real-time button determines whether or not the Track is in real-time or Song-time mode. By default, Tracks operate in Song-time mode. In Song-time mode, increasing the Song's tempo causes notes to play faster. Each note plays on a particular measure, beat and clock, not at an absolute hour, minute and second.
In some cases, however, certain events must happen at times independent of the Song's tempo, such as sound effects in a film score. The sound effects must synchronize with their real-time screen counterparts. Such a situation calls for real-time mode. To lock a Track into real-time mode, click on the real-time button. Thereafter, each note plays at an absolute hour, minute, and second, independent of the selected tempo.
Since tempo changes cannot affect the timing of events in real-time Tracks, they change the position of the events in the Tracks instead. For example, if an event occurs at measure 2 in a real-time Track, doubling up the tempo should make that event play twice as soon. To avoid that, the event shifts further down to measure 3, to effectively play at the exact same time in seconds and frames.
Real-time Track names appear purple instead of blue in the Tracks window. They still highlight as a red color.
Okay & Cancel
Click on the Okay button to accept the changes, or click on Cancel to ignore them.

Rearranging Tracks

You can rearrange the list of Tracks any way you like. To do so, use the two arrow buttons that are to the right of the Group button.

The Track Up button, on top, moves the highlighted Track up one in the list. The Track Down button, on bottom, moves it down one.

Double-click on the Track Up or Track Down button to jump the selected Track to the top or bottom of the display, respectively.

The Track Menu

The Track menu, accessed from the Tracks, Song Construction, and Media Madness windows, contains operations that primarily apply to the currently selected Track in the Tracks display.

If a Group is currently selected, the Track menu becomes the Group menu. Many of the commands in the Track menu change to accommodate multiple Tracks instead of one. Notice that when an individual Track is highlighted, the menu items Load Group, Share Input, and Gather Group are disabled in the Track menu. These options exist purely for the Group menu.

Before using the Track menu, be sure to select the Track of your choice by clicking on it. The following commands are found in the Track menu:

The New command creates a new Track. If a Track is highlighted, the New command creates a new Track directly underneath the highlighted Track. Otherwise, it places the new Track at the bottom of all of the Tracks.
The new Track has, by default, standard MIDI In and MIDI Out Tools (if they are in the ToolBox.)
Alternatively, if you've prepared a default Track and saved it with the Save As Default command, New loads the default Track and installs it.
The new Track is automatically highlighted and its Input Arrow activated.
The Copy command creates a duplicate of the selected Track and places it directly beneath the selected Track.
The Merge command mixes the contents of two Tracks together, placing the results in the second Track.
To use the Merge command, select the first Track, then pick the Merge command.
Notice that the Title bar of the Tracks window displays the command, Select the Merge Track:. Click on the second Track to merge the Tracks, or click on the background of the screen to abort the Merge operation.
Bars&Pipes Professional adds the events from the first Track into the second Track, leaving the first Track as it was originally.
The Delete command removes the selected Track. A requester verifies the operation. Use Delete with care. Once you delete a Track, you cannot bring it back.
Load Track...
The Load Track... command loads a Track from disk. When you select this command, the file requester opens. Use it to select a Track for loading. Of course, in order to use the Load Track command, you must have a previously saved Track to load.
Load Group...
The Load Group... command is only available when in Group mode. To enter into Group mode, select one of the Group buttons, or hold down a shift key while clicking on multiple Tracks. Please see the Load Group command in the next section, The Group menu, below.
Save Track...
The Save Track... command saves the selected Track to disk. The file requester opens. Use it to select or create a file in which to save your Track.
Save As Default
The Save As Default command saves the selected Track to disk as "New.Track" in the Bars&Pipes Professional directory. Once you've saved a default Track, the New command loads this Track instead of creating a standard blank Track with standard MIDI In and Out Tools.
If you're working with MIDI connectors other than the standard MIDI In and Out, create a blank Track, install the MIDI Tools of your choice (for example, the One-Stop Music Shop's,) place any additional Tools that you'd usually add to your PipeLines (Quantize, General MIDI, etch) and save the Track with the Save As Default command. From then on, when you select the New command, the previously prepared Track loads.
The Erase command erases the Track, emptying it of its contents. The Track itself is not deleted, just erased. The Erase command leave Tools in the PipeLines unharmed.
The Toolize command processes all notes in the currently selected Track with the currently selected Tool in the ToolPad. Please see Tools, for more information.
This command is ghosted if there is no active Tool in the ToolPad.
The Time-Shift... command moves everything in the selected Track forward or backward in time. When you select the command, Bars&Pipes Professional opens the Time Shift requester.

Enter the shift distance in measures, beats and clocks after the Shift: prompt. For example, "0.01.0" moves the time by zero measures, one beat, and no clocks. Click on the Forward button to move the music forward in time. Click on the Backward button to move the music backward in time.
Be careful time-shifting backwards. Notes at the beginning of the Track collect at the very beginning because they can't have negative performance times.
Click Okay to confirm or Cancel to leave the Track unchanged.
The Propagate command in conjunction with the A-B-A feature of the Song Construction window, copies changes made to the first instance of each section to all other instances of those sections (for the selected Track only).
This command is ghosted if the A-B-A feature has not been utilized.
Please see Song Construction, for more information.
The Print command opens the print requester to print the Track. (Please see Printing Notation.)
Before Printing a Track, you should set up the Notation parameters by first opening the Graphic Editor for the Track.

The Group Menu

The Group menu is active when the Tracks window is in Group mode. To enter Group mode, click on one of the Group buttons or hold down a shift key while clicking on multiple Tracks.

Notice that the menu items Copy and Merge are disabled in the Group menu. They are only active in the Track menu.

Although you can only create Groups from the Tracks window, the Group menu is also available from the Song Construction and Media Madness windows, in case you need to use the Group editing features.

The following commands are found in the Group menu:

The New command creates a new Track and places it in the Group. The new Track receives standard MIDI In and Out Tools.
The Delete command removes the Group as a whole. Use this command with care! A requester asks you to verify the command.
Load Track...
The Load Track... command loads a Track from disk and places it in the Group.
Load Group...
The Load Group... command loads a Group from disk and adds it to the currently selected Group.
Save Group...
The Save Group... command saves the member Tracks of a Group to disk.
You can reload the Group into a different Group number with the Load Group command.
The Erase command deletes all events in the Group. The Erase command does note delete the Tracks in the Group, just their contents.
The Toolize command takes the currently selected Tool in the ToolPad and applies it to every event in each Track member of the Group.
This command is ghosted if there is no Tool selected in the ToolPad.
The Time-Shift command offsets the timing of the Group by a specified amount. Please see the Time-Shift command in the Track menu for more information.
In conjunction with the Song Construction window's A-B-A feature, the Propagate command copies changes to the first instance of each section to all other instances of those sections for the entire Group. This command is ghosted if the A-B-A feature has not been utilized.
Share Input
The Share Input command connects the PipeLines of all Tracks in the Group so that any input to the top Track goes to the other Tracks as well. The Share Input command uses the Merge In and Branch Out Tools to accomplish this, so make sure they are installed in the ToolBox for this command to function.
Gather Group
The Gather Group command reorganizes the Tracks window display so that all the Tracks in the selected Group are adjacent to each other.
The Print command prints only the Tracks in the selected Group. (Please see Printing Notation). Before Printing, be sure to set up the notation in each Track by opening each Track's Graphic Editor first.

The Master Time Signature

The Tracks window displays measure numbers and Time Signature Changes in the Flag Strip, directly above the Sequence display in the Tracks window.

The Tracks window displays each measure number unless a Time Signature Change occurs, in which case it displays the new Time Signature instead. These Time Signature Changes are the same Time Signature Changes accessed in the Master Parameters window.

Since each Track can have its own Time Signature, it is possible that some Tracks in your Song do not line up exactly with the Global Time Signatures.

From within the Graphic Edit windows of these Tracks, you can use the Export and Import commands from the Master Parameters menu to exchange Time Signatures between Tracks and the Master Parameters Time Signatures.

To insert, remove, or change a Time Signature, double-click on the measure with which you want to work. The Time Signature requester opens.

Selecting A Time Signature

Bars&Pipes Professional provides six standard Time Signatures, as well as a method to define custom Time Signatures The six buttons across the top of this requester feature the pre-defined Time Signatures. Click on your preference to select it.

If you don't find one that meets your needs, create your own by first typing the values for the Time Signature after the Other: prompt. Then click on Other to select it.

It is important that you first enter the values, and then click on the Other button to activate it. Clicking the Other button first, and then typing in the values won't work.

Placing The Time Signature On A Specific Measure

By default, Bars&Pipes Professional displays the measure in which the Time Signature change occurs after the "Signature begins on measure:" prompt. Change the measure by editing this number.

Adding A Time Signature

Adding: To add a Time Signature change, select the Time Signature and click on Okay to accept it.

Removing A Time Signature

Removing: To remove a Time Signature change, enter the Time Signature requester by double-clicking on the Time Signature you'd like to remove; click on the No Signature Change button; then select Okay.

Changing A Time Signature

Changing: To alter an existing Time Signature change, double-click on the Time Signature displayed above the Sequencer; then select a new Time Signature.

You can alter when a Time Signature change occurs by editing the measure number after the Signature Begins on Measure: prompt. Once you change the Time Signature to your liking, click on Okay to accept the change, or Cancel, to disregard it.

Selecting The Previous Or Next Time Signature Change

To go to the previous Time Signature change, click on the left arrow button in the Time Signature requester. The arrow finds the Time Signature prior to the one you are viewing and displays it, so that you can edit it. The right arrow button scans forward to the next Time Signature change.

Automatic Removal Of Identical Time Signatures

If you create two adjacent, identical Time Signatures, Bars&Pipes Professional removes the second one. To illustrate, if you have 6/8 on measure 5, then place 6/8 on measure 4, Bars&Pipes Professional discards the 6/8 on measure 5.