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Bars & Pipes Professional: Recording

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Recording Checklist

Before we begin recording, let's make sure that everything is ready to go.

Select The New Song Command

Select New from the Song menu. This command clears the Tracks and PipeLines of all data and Tools, except the MIDI In and MIDI Out Tools.

You can set Bars&Pipes Professional to load a custom environment whenever you select the New menu option. Simply set the Tracks and Tools the way you'd like them to be when you need a fresh slate, then select the Save As Default menu command from the Song menu.

Verify The MIDI In Tool

The MIDI In Tool absolutely must be installed in order to record from a MIDI source. The MIDI In Tool can only be placed at the beginning of the Input PipeLine:

It's the MIDI In Tool's job to listen to the MIDI In port, and send the MIDI data down the PipeLine to be processed by other Tools and recorded in the Sequencer. If you don't see a MIDI In Tool at the input of each Track, load it in just like you did with the MIDI Out Tool in the last chapter.

Configure The Metronome

The Metronome provides a solid reference click to help you keep time while recording. It can also give you a count-down click for a few measures before recording, so that you have time to prepare. If you'd like, the Metronome can also click during playback.

You can set Bars&Pipes Professional's Metronome to play out of the Amiga's internal sounds, flash the screen, and/or play out of your MIDI instrument.

To open the Metronome window, double-click on the Metronome icon or select Metronome from the Windows menu. Like all Bars&Pipes Professional windows, you may leave this window open and change its parameters as the music plays.

Please refer to The Metronome, for further details.

Set Your Keyboard's Local On/Off Switch

If you have a single keyboard connected to your computer, so that MIDI Out of the keyboard is connected to the MIDI In on the computer and MIDI Out on the computer is connected to the MIDI in on the keyboard, you may want to use the keyboard's "local off" feature.

Many keyboards support a local on/off switch. Here's why:

When the local setting is switched on, the sound producing hardware of your keyboard performs as soon as you press a piano key. Meanwhile, the keyboard also sends a MIDI note command down the MIDI cable. This can create a problem when the keyboard is connected to a computer. The computer receives the MIDI note, then sends it back to the keyboard via the second MIDI cable. Unfortunately, this tells the keyboard to play the same note a second time, stacked on top of the first.

When local is switched off, the sound producing hardware in your keyboard only responds to MIDI notes coming from the computer. It doesn't make a sound when you press a key. However, it still sends the note via MIDI to your computer which sends the note back via the second MIDI cable into the sound producing hardware which can now respond.

Test Run

Click on the Input Selector of Track 2.

The Input Selector is the grey box to the right of the Track name. A red arrow should appear in the box. This indicates that all MIDI input should flow down Track 2.

If the red arrow doesn't appear, you probably don't have the MIDI In Tool Installed in Track 2.

With your keyboard's local setting on, play a key. If your keyboard is multi-timbral, and is set up to receive on MIDI channe1 2, and MIDI channel 2 is set up to play a different patch than MIDI channel 1, you should hear two distinct sounds simultaneously.

This is because your keyboard's sound producing hardware is receiving the command to play from two sources. One, pressing a key on your keyboard tells your sound hardware to play on MIDI channel 1. Two, the MIDI information sent out of the MIDI out, goes through Bars&Pipes Professional's Track 2, and returns to the sound producing hardware on MIDI channel 2.

Now, turn your keyboard's local off and play a key. You'll only hear the MIDI channel 2 patch. This is because the sound producing hardware is only receiving the command to play from MIDI, and not directly from the key press itself.

When recording or overdubbing multi-timbrally, it is best to set your keyboard's local off.

Recording Two Tracks

Although Bars&Pipes Professional is a sophisticated music environment, you'll find that you can accomplish wondrous things simply by recording a few Tracks. Let's walk through the steps of the recording process:

Step One: Turn On The Metronome

If you haven't already done so, turn on the Metronome from the Metronome window. If you record with the Metronome, you'll find it much easier to edit your music later on, because the notes will line up properly with the measures and beats.

Test the Metronome by clicking on the Play button.

You should hear the metronome's click. If not, please refer to the Metronome to learn how to set up Bars&Pipes Professional's metronome.

Step Two: Set The Tempo

While testing the Metronome, click on the Tempo display in the Tracks or Transport window and drag it with the mouse.

Drag up to increase the tempo, drag down to decrease the tempo. You can also click once in the top half of the tempo button to increase the tempo by one or click once in the bottom half of the button to decrease by one. Once you've settled on a comfortable tempo, click on the Stop button.

You may also set the tempo with the Tempo Tap Tool. Please refer to the Music Tools chapter for more Information.

Step Three: Activate The Input Selector

Click on the Input Selector for the Track you want to record. The Input Selectors are the gray boxes in front of the MIDI In Tools.

When you click on the Input Selector, a red arrow appears.

If the red arrow doesn't appear, you'll need to load in the MIDI In Tool and select New from the Song menu.

Step Four: Set The Track's Record/Play/Merge Selector

Click on the Track's Record/Play /Merge Select button until it displays a red "R", to put the Track in Record mode.

A red "R" indicates that it is in Record mode. A blue "P" indicates Play mode, while a red "M" indicates merge mode.

Step Five: Place The Track In Thru Mode

By default, Bars&Pipes Professional places each Track in Thru Mode. To switch among Thru, Mute, and Play Only, click on the faucet to the right of the Sequencer display.

When a Track is in Thru mode (depicted by a faucet with two connections on the left) you can hear notes played via your MIDI sound module or keyboard as you play them into the Sequencer.

When a Track is in Play Only mode, notes input from the keyboard can't be heard.

If you are using only one keyboard and it does not support Local Off, you might want to record with the faucets in Play Only instead of Thru mode.

Step Six: Select The Output Channel

Depending on which MIDI instrument you use, set the Output Channel so that the synthesizer or device responds with the proper instrument.

The Output Channel selector is to the right of the Output PipeLine:

To select the Output Channel, click down with the mouse and drag it to the desired channel number in the pop-up menu.

The MIDI Out Tool must be the last Tool in the PipeLine; otherwise, the notes wont be sent out the MIDI cable.

Test your selection by playing a note on your MIDI keyboard. Notes enter the MIDI Tool on the left side of the PipeLine, pass through the Sequencer, and exit the MIDI Out Tool direct to the instrument indicated by the selected Output Channel.

Make sure that you're thoroughly familiar with how to operate your MIDI synthesizer in particular, how to set the MIDI channels for receiving.

Step Seven: Put The Sequencer In Record

Click on the Record button in the Transport Controls window or at the top of the Tracks window to activate the Sequencer Record mechanism.

You can use the "R" key on your Amlga keyboard to toggle in and out of Sequencer Record mode.

In Sequencer Record mode, all Tracks that have their Record Select buttons set to "R" record the MIDI music flowing in their Input PipeLines, replacing whatever was there previously. Tracks set to P continue to perform, without recording. Tracks set to M play while recording, merging the new performance with the previous material already in the Track.

It is important to understand the distinction between the Sequencer Record and Track Record modes: When you click on the Record button at the top of the Tracks window, Bars&Pipes Professional enters Sequencer Record mode. Only then can a Track in Track Record mode be overwritten. Otherwise, it simply acts as if it were in Play mode.

When you start Bars&Pipes Professional with either the Start or Play buttons after activating Record mode, Bars&Pipes Professional records MIDI data into the Tracks in Track Record or Merge modes.

This two-step operation is analogous to pressing the Record and Play buttons simultaneously on a hardware multi-track recorder.

Track Record mode allows you to determine which Tracks actually record MIDI data. Only tracks with their R/P/M selectors set to Record or Merge modes actually record when Bars&Pipes Professional Is put Into sequencer record mode. This feature allows you to determine which Tracks actually record MIDI data and which Tracks only play back.

Understanding the relationship between the Track Record mode and the Input Selector is important. Please keep in mind the following points:

  • The Input Selector indicates which Track is currently selected for keyboard input.
  • The Input Selector must be set to the same Track on which you want to record, and that Track must be placed in Track Record mode.
  • If you first set the Input Selector for a given Track, and then set that same Track to Track Record mode, changing the Input Selector to another Track also changes the new Track to Track Record mode, and cancels Track Record mode in the previous Track.
  • It's a good idea to get into the habit of selecting your options in the Tracks Window from left to right, since Bars&Pipes Professional was designed from the ground up to present you with all information logically as it would be encountered if you were viewing a flow chart.

Step Eight: Start Recording

To begin recording, click on the Start button.

You can also use the Insert key on the numeric keypad on your Amlga keyboard. The Insert key is the same as the zero (0) key.

When you are finished recording, click on the Stop button or press the Enter key on the numeric keypad on your Amiga keyboard.

Notice that the Sequencer Record button turns off, but the Track Record button stays on. This is a safety feature. It enables you to Immediately review your recording without fear of erasing it.

Step Nine: View The Recording

When you stop recording, Bars&Pipes Professional redraws the Sequencer display with the current measure in the center and the Song Position Flag over it. It displays notes as blue lines in selected Tracks and as yellow lines in unselected Tracks.

To view an earlier section, drag the scroll bar below the Sequence section of the Tracks to the left, or to scroll one measure at a time, click on the left arrow.

To view a later section, drag the scroll bar to the right or click on the right arrow.

Step Ten: Play The Recording

Because the Sequencer Record button is no longer activated, you can safely play back your recording even though the Track is still in Record mode. Tracks in Record mode will not record or be erased if the Sequencer is in Sequencer Play mode.

If you have trouble with playback, refer to Playing A Demo Songfile.

To play from the beginning, click on the Start button or press the Insert key on the numeric keypad on your Amiga keyboard.

To play from the current Song position, click on the Play button or use the Enter key on the numeric keypad on your Amiga keyboard.

You can also use the Start and Play buttons in a similar fashion when Bars&Pipes Professional is in Sequencer Record mode, in order to record from the beginning of the composition or from the current Song position, respectively.

If you are dissatisfied with what you hear, you can record a second time by clicking on Sequencer Record, then clicking on Start.

Step Eleven: Record A Second Track

Once you are finished with your first Track, click on the Input Selector of another Track to record. The "R" in the first Track should change to a "P" to indicate Play mode, while the "P" in the new Track should change to "R" to indicate Record mode.

This may not happen if the first Track's Input Selector was not selected. You can change the "R" to a "P" In the first Track and the "P" to an "R" In the second Track manually in this case. Just click on the button.

Click on the Record button in the Transport Controls, then click on Start. Your first Track starts to play. Play along with it as the Sequencer records your performance on the second Track.

When you are finished recording, click on the Stop button and take the second Track out of Track Record mode. Next, click on the Start button to play both Tracks from the beginning.

You have now accomplished basic multi-track recording.

Step Twelve: Save Your Song

Now that you've composed some music, let's save it to disk.

Select Save As from the Song menu. Point the File Requester to the appropriate directory where you want to save your Song. Then enter a name for your Song and hit return, or click on the Save button.

Advanced Recording Topics

The rest of this chapter covers more sophisticated aspects of recording that you may not need initially but will appreciate as time goes by. Feel free to skim these topics and check back when the need warrants.

Multiple In Recording

There are times that you need to record multiple MIDI channels simultaneously. For instance, you might want to simultaneously record yourself on one Track and someone else on another Track. Or, you might want to transfer several Tracks from another MIDI Sequencer into Bars&Pipes Professional.

In either case, choose Multiple In from the Main menu's Preference menu. This turns the Input Selectors on each Track into MIDI channel selectors. Click on these selectors to choose which MIDI channel should enter into each Track. Now all Tracks act as inputs but each Track only receives MIDI events set for its particular channel.

When Multiple In isn't selected, all events, regardless of MIDI channel, are sent to the Track with the active Input Selector.

Manual Punching In And Out

Suppose you record a Track and discover one section that needs to be fixed. It would be a waste to record the entire Track just to get one phrase right. Bars&Pipes Professional solves this by letting you enter and leave record mode on the fly. This is called "punching in" and "punching out". Punch In switches Bars&Pipes Professional from playback to recording, Punch Out switches back to playback.

To switch from playback to record (punch in) at any point while the Song is playing, click on the Record button in the Transport controls. At this point, the music playing on all Tracks that are currently in record mode stops and the Tracks start recording. Switch back to playback (punch out) by clicking again on the Record button and the Tracks resume playing. You can continue to punch in and out as many times as is necessary. When you finally stop the performance and play it again from the top, all of the "punched" sections are erased and replaced with the new recording.

Automatic Punching In And Out

Manual punching in and out has its limitations. If you are working alone, you'd need two arms to play and a third to punch in and out. Bars&Pipes Professional provides that third arm with the Punch In and Punch Out Flags.

Bars&Pipes Professional's Punch In and Out Flags automatically switch the Sequencer in and out of Record mode at preset locations.

To use the Punch In and Out Flags, move them to the boundaries of the section you'd like to record.

To move a Flag, first drag the scroll bar at the bottom to display the desired section, then drag the flag itself to the desired location.

You can also set flags directly with the Set Flags window, accessed from the Windows menu.

When you drag flags, Bars&Pipes Professional aligns them with time boundaries. Set the alignment with the Alignment option in the Preferences menu.

Once you've positioned the Flags, click on the Punch In/Out button in the Transport Controls window. (Open the Transport Controls window by double-clicking on its icon, or choosing Transport from the Windows menu.)

Doing so activates the Punch In and Out and sets the Sequencer to start four measures before the Punch In point.

If you'd rather start elsewhere, use the Rewind, Fast Forward, or Auto-Locate buttons to relocate the Position Marker after clicking on the Punch In/Out button.

After you've positioned the Flags, start the Sequencer. At the Punch In point; the Sequencer Record button automatically depresses and all Tracks in Track Record mode switch from playback to recording. At the Punch Out point, these same Track revert to playback.

Double-clicking on the Punch In/Out button both moves the Song Position marker back four measures and starts the Sequencer automatically.

To Punch In only, drag the Punch Out flag to the far right, which places it at the end of the Song. To Punch Out only, drag the Punch In Flag all the way to the left, which places it the beginning of the Song's first measure.

If you select the Clean Cuts command in the Preferences menu, Bars&Pipes Professional will start recording at the Punch In flag. Any notes that were started in the measure prior to the Punch In flag will be truncated. Notes that end after the Punch Out flag will be truncated, as well.

If you do not select the Clean Cuts command in the Preferences menu, notes that you play before the Punch In flag will not be truncated or recorded at all in the Punch area. Notes that you hold past the Punch Out flag will not be cut off at the Punch Out flag.

Merge Recording

When you place a Track into Merge mode instead of Record mode, newly recorded events will be merged with the current contents of the Track.

Merge mode is designated by a red "M" in the Track.

Unlike Record mode, Merge mode does not erase the MIDI events that are already in the Track. Instead, it mixes the existing notes with the newly recorded MIDI events. Merge mode may also be used with the Punch In/Out function.

Loop Recording

The Loop button in the Transport Controls activates the Loop Mode recording function.

With Loop Mode, you can record one section of your Track over and over. Use the Loop Mode button in conjunction with the Loop Flags.

Position the Loop Flags on the boundaries of the section you'd like to loop. Then click on the Loop button, which in turn opens the Loop Record requester. Bars&Pipes Professional automatically places the Song Position Marker at the start of the looped section and activates the Sequencer Record button.

To begin recording, click on the Play button in the Loop Record requester. Bars&Pipes Professional plays the section marked by the Loop Flags eight times. This gives you eight opportunities to record in the looped section.

When the eighth loop finishes playing, or when you've clicked on the Stop button in the Loop Record Requester, another requester opens. This, the Loop Choice or Select A Section requester, allows you to choose which of the eight repetitions to keep. If you change your mind, select Cancel to abort the Loop Recording process.

The Loop Choice requester represents the eight versions recorded during Loop Mode by buttons numbered one through eight. Click on each number to hear its particular version. When you settle on a choice, click Okay to accept it. Bars&Pipes Professional retains only the selected version, discarding the other seven versions. If you are unhappy with all eight versions, select Cancel to discard all of them.

For a different kind of loop recording, please read about the Pattern Tool in Chapter 27.

The Record Activation Window

The Record Activation window allows you to globally filter MIDI events when recording with MIDI In Tools. Furthermore, prerecorded MIDI events can be selectively left alone while others are recorded on top of them.

Open the Record Activation window by choosing the Record Activation option in the Main menu's Windows menu. A window similar to a MIDI In Tool's Control window opens.

Highlight the MIDI Events you want to record, and deactivate the MIDI Events you want to ignore. Events appearing in red are recorded, while unhighlighted events appearing in blue are filtered out.

Bars&Pipes Professional will remove filtered events before they enter the Sequencer. It will not, however, remove existing events of the same type that have previously been recorded into the Track.

Here's a quick example: Let's assume that you have recorded a sequence on Track 4 that includes pitch bends and control changes. If you want to rerecord the notes on the Track, but leave the pitch bends and control changes intact, choose to ignore (deactivate) Pitch Bend and Control Change in the Record Activation window. When you rerecord Track 4, the new notes will be recorded, while the pitch bends and control changes will be left alone.

Stuck Notes

If you experience stuck, or "hung", notes, click on the Stop button in the Transport Controls window. This sends the MIDI All Notes Off command through all Tracks to each Track output. As a result, most MIDI instruments turn off their voices.

Clogged Pipeline

It is possible to create a "logjam" in the PipeLines. For example, if MIDI enters and exits the same PipeLine, and the MIDI synthesizer returns the notes it receives to Bars&Pipes Professional, a feedback loop results.

At this point, none of the Transport Controls are operable. If this "logjam" occurs, press the Escape key on your Amiga keyboard. You may need to press Escape several times to completely clear the PipeLine.