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Bars & Pipes Professional: Timing, Syncing and Tempo

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Overview

Bars&Pipes Professional contains sophisticated timing controls. It can run on its own or synchronize with external devices. It can synchronize to external MIDI Clock messages that vary the Tempo or synchronize to external SMPTE time and control the timing with the Tempo Map option.

Bars&Pipes Professional plays with a musical timing resolution of 192 PPQN (Parts Per Quarter Note). Its internal resolution is up to one millisecond at higher tempos.

Changing Tempo

Use the Tempo controls in the Tracks window, the Mini Transport window, or the Transport Controls window to change the initial Tempo. Also, you can use the Tempo Palette window to quickly change the Tempo.

Use the Tempo Map window to create changing Tempos over the course of your music. Real-Time Tracks allow you to create Tracks that ignore Tempo Maps.

Tempo

There are tempo buttons in the Transport Controls window, the Mini-Transport Window, and the Tracks window. They all represent the same Tempo.

Set the tempo, or speed, by clicking on the button and, while holding down the mouse button, dragging the mouse up to increase and down to decrease. You can change the tempo in single increments by single-clicking in the top or bottom half of the numbers.

The Tempo Palette Window

Quickly change the Tempo with the Tempo Palette window. To open the Tempo Palette, select Tempo Palette from the main menu's Windows menu, or double-click on the Tempo Palette icon.


The Tempo Palette lists four preset Tempos: A, B, C, and D. To set the Tempo, click on the preset letter, e.g., A, and the Tempo assumes that value. To change a preset tempo, click on the number and enter the desired tempo.

Tip
You may find it useful to place the Tempo Palette window directly above the Tempo controls (obscuring the Transport Control buttons), and use the "window to back" buttons on the windows to expose or hide the Tempo Palette as needed. This way, you can quickly change tempos while youre working.

The Tempo Map Window

If you are synchronizing with either the internal timer or SMPTE, you can use the Tempo Map window to create a series of tempo change commands to alter the pace of your music. Open the Tempo Map window by selecting Tempo Map from the Windows menu or clicking on the Tempo Map icon.


The Tempo Map window consists of seven control buttons and a graphic display of the Song s tempo over time The graph shows constant tempo in blue tempo changes in red and the tempo at the end of each tempo change in blue The top of the graph displays the measure numbers. Use this window to create and place multiple tempo changes throughout your composition.

Please refer to Tempo Mapping for more information on creating and editing Tempo Maps.

Disabling Tempo Changes

Sometimes, you might want to temporarily disable a tempo map.

To do so, turn off the Use Tempo Map selection in the Timing menu. Bars&Pipes Professional then uses the tempo you have set in the Transport Controls window to determine the Song tempo.

To return to your tempo map, deselect the Use Tempo Map option in the Timing menu.

Real-Time Tracks

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.

Real-time Tracks do not follow Tempo conventions. Instead, they contain events that occur at specific SMPTE times. This is useful when you are scoring for video or Media Madness and need to have certain notes or events occur at specific times.

To change a Track to a real-time Track, double-click on the Track's name in the Tracks window, or click on the Track name with the Magic Wand in the Song Construction or Media Madness windows. This opens the Track name requester.


Click on the real-time button to convert the Track into a real-time Track. Thereafter, each note plays at an absolute hour, minute, and second, independent of the selected tempo. Deselect the button to convert the Track back into a regular Track. Once a Track is in real-time mode, every time you change the Tempo, the Track stretches or shrinks to make sure the events all still occur at the correct SMPTE times.

Real-time Track names appear purple instead of blue when not highlighted, and red when highlighted.

MIDI Clock Synchronization

The simplest, most affordable method to synchronize Bars&Pipes Professional with external sources involves using MIDI Clocks (sometimes called Song Position Pointer).

MIDI Clocks work in the following manner: The MIDI standard includes a set of commands designed to synchronize multiple devices via the MIDI cable. These commands include instructions to start, stop, and reposition playback, as well as Clock tick instructions that Bars&Pipes Professional uses to maintain accurate synchronization.

Designed with music in mind, MIDI Clock ticks correlate directly with Measures, Beats, and Clocks. As each Clock tick comes in via MIDI, Bars&Pipes Professional increments its position in Song time. In this manner, the MIDI Clocks control both the tempo and the position of the piece as it performs.

Sending MIDI Clocks

To synchronize an extemal MIDI device with Bars&Pipes Professional, first set the MIDI device to which you would like MIDI Clocks sent. For instance, if you have the Triple Play Plus MIDI interface, you can choose to have MIDI Clocks sent out of the Triple Play MIDI Out 1, 2, or 3. To select the MIDI device, choose Set MIDI Clock Tool... from the Timing menu. A requester opens.


Click on the Tool displayed after the MIDI Tool: prompt to cycle through the available Tools. Select the appropriate Tool and click on Okay.

Note
Only Tools that send out of a MIDI port are accessible from the Set MIDI Clock Tool requester. If there is no MIDI Out Tool loaded, you need to install a MIDI Out Tool to continue.

Then, select Send MIDI Clocks from the Timing menu. This command instructs Bars&Pipes Professional to send MIDI Clock events as well as Start, Stop, Continue, and Song Position events.

Recording A MIDI Clocks Synchronization Track

If you are synchronizing Bars&Pipes Professional to a device such as a drum machine that creates its own tempo map, you can skip over this section. However, if you plan to synchronize Bars&Pipes Professional to an audio or video recorder with MIDI Clocks, you'll need to lay down a MIDI Clocks sync Track on tape first.

To lay down a sync Track, do the following:

If you need a Tempo Map for your Song, create it. This will be used to record the timing.

Note
Instant tempo changes do not work well with MIDI Clocks. Always slope your tempo changes somewhat to improve precision while syncing to MIDI Clocks.
  1. Activate Send MIDI Clocks in the Timing menu.
  2. Prepare your tape deck and/or your MIDI Clock interface.
  3. Start recording with your tape deck as you start the Bars&Pipes Professional Sequencer.
  4. When you finish, you should have a MIDI Clock stripe on your tape. All the timing information, include the Tempo Map is embedded in the strip. You can now use the tape to slave Bars&Pipes Professional to your audio or video production.

Synchronizing To MIDI Clocks

To synchronize with an external MIDI device that transmits MIDI Clock events, select the option Synchronize to MIDI Clocks in the Timing menu.

The Synchronize to MIDI Clocks command disables Bars&Pipes Professional's internal timer and slaves it to MIDI Clocks coming in the MIDI interface attached to your Amiga. The incoming MIDI messages determine both the Tempo and Song Position.

Tip
To help the synchronization happen quickly and effortlessly, set the Tempo to a value reasonably close to intended Incoming Tempo prior to starting.

If you have more than one MIDI input device, you don't have to set MIDI Clocks to enter the device of your choice. All MIDI Input Tools automatically route MIDI Clock messages to Bars&Pipes Professional's timing mechanism.

However, be careful not to have MIDI Clocks coming in at the same time on multiple MIDI inputs. For instance, you would not want to receive MIDI Clocks on the One-Stop Music Shop's MIDI In at the same time as on the standard serial MIDI interface's MIDI In.

Start from your MIDI Clock source, e.g. a drum machine or tape deck. Bars&Pipes Professional automatically jumps to the proper location and plays. You can even record while synchronized. Just put the Transport Controls into Record mode, then start from the MIDI Clock source.

When Bars&Pipes Professional synchronizes with MIDI Clocks, it disables the Lead-In feature (no countdown before starting).

Tip
Use MIDI Clock synchronization to dump a performance from another Sequencer into Bars&Pipes Professional. First, enable Bars&Pipes Professional's Multiple Ins Preference. This activates input on all Tracks on a channel by channel basis. Then, enable the Synchronize to MIDI Clocks option. Place all Tracks as well as the Transport Controls in Record Mode. Start the external Sequencer. Bars&Pipes Professional locks to the external Sequencer and records the entire performance on up to sixteen individual Tracks. Sometimes, for extra accuracy, it helps to record the transfer at a slow tempo.

SMPTE (MIDI Time Code)

If you require synchronization to an external device in real-time instead of music time, a second option, SMPTE time code, comes into play. SMPTE time code specifies the time in hours, minutes, seconds and frames, with no correlation to music time or tempo.

MIDI Time Code is a protocol for communicating SMPTE time via MIDI. MIDI Time Code events specify the time in hours, minutes, seconds, and frames. By listening to MIDI Time Code, Bars&Pipes Professional can ascertain where in the sequenced piece it currently is. Use MIDI Time Code to synchronize with video hardware, as well as audio and video tape recorders.

To use Time Code with music, create a Tempo Map within Bars&Pipes Professional to specify the music tempo at different points in time. Then assign the desired SMPTE Offset in hours, minutes, seconds, and frames. In this manner, Bars&Pipes Professional's Tempo Map and SMPTE Offset combine to translate real-time into music time.

Bars&Pipes Professional supports SMPTE in two ways: through menu options and Accessories. In the Main menu, the Timing menu options SMPTE Format.., and SMPTE Offset.., allow you to set these two aspects of SMPTE (more on these below.)

The MTC Accessory allows synchronization to most SMPTE boxes. The SyncPro Accessory interfaces directly with Blue Ribbon's SyncPro sync box. (Please see the Accessories chapter for more details)

SMPTE Sync Options

The following SMPTE synchronization options can be found in the Timing menu:

SMPTE Format...
When using MIDI Time Code, set the SMPTE format in the SMPTE Format... option. This option determines how many frames per second (FPS) Bars&Pipes Professional displays in SMPTE time.
Note
If you are synchronizing to an external SMPTE source, it automatically sets the SMPTE format. Under such circumstances there is no need to set the format.
Four SMPTE frame rates are available:
  • 24 FPS - This is the standard frame rate used with motion picture film.
  • 25 FPS - This is the standard frame rate used with European television, video, and film.
  • 30 FPS (Drop Frame) - This is the standard frame rate for American color video today. The frame rate for color video is actually 29.97 FPS. If you use Non-Drop Frame, at the end of one hour, there will be 108 frames less than expected. Drop Frame corrects this deficiency by systematically dropping 108 frames per hour, so that at the end of an hour, the total number of frames will still be 108 frames short, but the frame numbers will be correct. However, Drop Frame should only be used when necessary because of the inaccuracies caused by the dropped frame.
  • 30 FPS (Non-Drop Frame) - This is the standard frame rate for black and white television.
SMPTE Offset...
If you synchronize your music to SMPTE, your music rarely begins at the time 0:0:0.0. Instead, the beginning is most likely between a few seconds to several hours later. If you are scoring a film or video, each composition certainly starts at a different point in SMPTE time.


To adjust the SMPTE Offset, open the SMPTE Offset requester by selecting SMPTE Offset... in the Timing menu. Enter the Song's starting time in SMPTE format; Hours, Minutes, Seconds, and Frames. Bars&Pipes Professional plays your music when the SMPTE source, perhaps a video recorder or multi-track recorder, reaches this point in SMPTE time. Click on Okay to accept your settings and Cancel, to abort them.
If you start the SMPTE source at a point after the SMPTE Offset, Bars&Pipes Professional automatically calculates the Song position based on the current SMPTE time, starting the Song somewhere in the middle.
Display SMPTE Offset
By default, Bars&Pipes Professional adds the SMPTE Offset to the Song time to display the SMPTE time; however, if you'd rather see the Song time without the SMPTE offset added, deselect Display SMPTE Offset in the Timing menu.

Syncing To SMPTE

In order to synchronize Bars&Pipes Professional to SMPTE, you'll need a SMPTE to MIDI Time Code converter such as SyncPro.

Note
Because we've designed synchronization in as an Accessory, Bars&Pipes Professional easily supports third party SMPTE synchronization boxes. In addition, the Accessory mechanism provides for synchronization with other software. Programs like Real 3D and Imagine currently control Bars&Pipes Professional as if they were SMPTE sources. Please see the Accessories drawer on your Bars&Pipes Professional distribution disks for more on these and other options.

Either the SyncPro or MTC Accessory should be loaded in the Accessory window. Please refer to the Accessories chapter for more information.

Tip
Sometimes, Bars&Pipes Professional may not start exactly when the SMPTE time coming from your SMPTE Interface reaches the SMPTE Offset. As a result, the very first MIDI events may not play. To avoid this, place a blank measure at the beginning of each Song. An easy way to do this is set the Edit Flags in the Tracks window to encompass the first measure and select Insert from the Edit menu.