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#151423 - 02/23/12 07:04 AM Can you please share an overview of channels and typical applications in RB ?
Joe V Offline
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Registered: 02/19/06
Posts: 819
Loc: NYC
Hi all,

I've come a long way into creating a MIDI studio, thanks to RB. I've learned most of what I know about MIDI through reading the PGMusic documentation. The documentation is excellent (kudos to the tech writers), but there are still some big gaps in my knowledge.

In particular, as a learning project, I'm trying to set RB to play a song using 3 or 4 different VSTi's for different tracks, and then, record myself through MIDI in soloing.

I still often get confused in understanding how to set up midi channels vs RB tracks. What are some of the way channels are used in RB/BB, and what do I need to keep in mind when setting up my RB files for both playing and recording MIDI at the same time ? I could really use some detailed scenarios to help me understand.

Thanks in advance,
Joe V.

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#151424 - 02/23/12 02:19 PM Re: Can you please share an overview of channels and typical applications in RB ? [Re: Joe V]
jazzmammal Online   content
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Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 5533
Loc: Redondo Beach, Ca.
Hi Joe, you're asking stuff that should be 3 or 4 different threads. Each one demands it's own detailed explanation.

Start with "midi channels vs RB tracks". They're all RB tracks. RB is an audio/midi recorder and sequencer. Each of the 48 tracks can be set up as audio or midi, you're choice. If it's midi then you're concerned with channels if it's audio then no, it's just the track number.

Set up mutiple VSTi's. Typically you start with your default synth, usually GM but it doesn't have to be. That assigns one synth to all midi tracks. Then right click in the track name area and see the Port list, select a port and put a different synth in there. That will assign that synth to that track. It's gets tricky to decide whether or not to use a default synth and just go port by port or not. Several ways to do this. You usually want to be careful to not set up separate instances of the same synth, that uses up a ton of computer resources.

Record yourself. First you have to select whatever you're using for midi input in the Midi Devices window. That could be your internal soundcard, an external interface or if you have a USB controller, the controller itself. You assign that input to an empty track and assign a port and synth to that track. The controller will then select the patch you want to play. You highlight that one track only and hit the record button, wait for the countdown to finish and start playing.

Hope this is enough to get your started and look this up in the help files too.

Bob
_________________________
Win 7 64 bit, AMD Phenom 6 core, 1TB HD, 4 Gigs Ram, Roland Sonic Cell, Garritan JABB, Hypercanvas, Sampletank

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#151425 - 02/23/12 06:30 PM Re: Can you please share an overview of channels and typical applications in RB ? [Re: jazzmammal]
Joe V Offline
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Registered: 02/19/06
Posts: 819
Loc: NYC
Thanks jazzmammal. I'm happy to say I understand you're answer - but I don't think I would understand it without having read documentation and tinkered with the RB program AND some vsti's on and off for 2 years now !

For what it's worth - here is my understanding so far. Perhaps it will help others.

Here's what really threw me - the RB keyboard. If I am correct, the RB keyboard can NOT be used to record Midi in RB (at least, not easily without lots of configuration with an accompanying VSTi)

For the longest time, I was trying to record midi from the RB keyboard without my MIDI IN set up - this silly assumption because I somehow managed (stumbled upon) how to set up some VSTi's that have their own keyboards, and was then able to record in RB from the VSTi keyboard as it made sounds and play back through RB - not really aware of all the configuration settings I had managed to 'align' to allow this. Of course, when you tinker and stumble on a working configuration, the initial elating feeling is soon replaced by the realization that you can not REPRODUCE this scenario at will.

For those of you having similar obstacles in onfiguring your VSTi ins/outs, just remember, think of the MIDI IN as a complete and distinct entity from the MIDI OUT - and if you want to be able to play and hear your VSTi while recording it, you must set BOTH MIDI IN and MIDI out properly in terms of MIDI CHANNELS, which must be set properly and match both in the RB "Midi" track AND the VSTi MIDI channel.


Also - Tracks are confusing because RB tracks can be EITHER Midi or Audio - which makes sense musically, but once you switch from one to the other, they are entirely different animals (in most respects) in terms of how they are set up and used. Once an RB midi TRACK is created - you have the choice of effectively recording from that single RB midi TRACK to any one of 16 MIDI channels - and each "MIDI CHANNEL" - not to be confused with a RB "midi" TRACK, really FUNCTIONS in a similar way to our typical conceptual understanding of the word 'track'.

Now, how and why to choose which MIDI CHANNEL you're going to record to is the part where I need more understanding (because of course, it depends what you plan to do later). I'm guessing if you have multiple MIDI MIDI instruments you want to record at the same time (e.g. jamming with your friends - one with a guitar synth and one with a Yamaha keyboard controller playing VSTi sounds through you're RB), you want to record to different MIDI channels (and of course, different RB midi TRACKS), so you can easily edit and tweek the MIDI data recorded from each instrument (guitar synth and keyboard) independently.

Now, I suppose you could easily accidentally record DIFFERENT instruments to the SAME MIDI Channel, using different RB Midi TRACKS, if you're not looking to avoid this situation and work by yourself in writing/recording - especially because the default channel set on each track is the same (MIDI channel ZERO - 0). Not sure why this makes sense as a default, because most VSTi's require you to choose a channel between 1 and 16. Once data from multiple RB "Midi" TRACKS is recorded to the SAME Midi CHANNEL, I'm guessing it can be harder to manipulate.

...perhaps someone understands the recent 'aha' I've had, and explain what I am trying to explain more eloquently. But in writing it out, the real hard lesson is in learning the many different technical parts (hence jazzman said my question should be in multiple threads) to what seems like a straightforward USE case, which is:

Use Case: An RB user would like to play and hear his VSTi's virtual keyboard (e.g. a keyboard displayed on the VSTi plugin) in real time, hear the output live in real time as RB is recording it, and play back the recorded MIDI data, to hear his performance.

Again - a common use case, with what was for me a very steep learning curve. Perhaps RB help should include such a tutorial, since I'm sure many users expect to easily be able to do this in a DAW and someone with very little background in MIDI would likewise probably find it challenging.

Thanks for listening,
Joe


Edited by Joe V (02/23/12 06:32 PM)

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#151426 - 02/23/12 07:43 PM Re: Can you please share an overview of channels and typical applications in RB ? [Re: Joe V]
carkins Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 11/30/10
Posts: 349
+1 Joe!
Video tutorials would be great as I too am trying to learn the ins and outs of midi with mixed results.

Also a printable procedure checklist with consistent understandable terminology would be great
These would also help eliminate redundant threads.

I'm sure all the info is out there but it can be very tedious and sometimes confusing
sifting through some of the threads especially for those of us with short or older, worn out attention spans

carkins

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#151427 - 02/23/12 10:09 PM Re: Can you please share an overview of channels and typical applications in RB ? [Re: carkins]
rharv Offline
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Registered: 05/30/00
Posts: 17143
Loc: Marysville, Mi. USA
Quote:

Once data from multiple RB "Midi" TRACKS is recorded to the SAME Midi CHANNEL, I'm guessing it can be harder to manipulate.





Not true (to me)
That's where the latering of controllable ports shines. The same MIDI channel can be recorded onto 32 RB Tracks and each Track can be sent to a different port (which means a different synth or device).
Which port it goes out is a physical or virtual connection. Each track can be an different port. Each port can be a different device. And then the MIDI channel tells that device what to do.
In reverse:
Midi channel tells device what to do.
Port selects which device to send to.
Track selects which port.

It's a layered control with lots of possibilities.
The available ports is the question.
I have two soundcards with a USB to MIDI connector.
I can use MIDI out of the port on soundcard 1 to (for example) a synth rack
I can use MIDI out of the port on soundcard 2 to a guitar effect rack
Then I could use MIDI out of the port on USB to MIDI to a light show (or anything else MIDI)
Plus I would have 16 sofsynth options in RB still available.
All of these *could* be on the same MIDI channel as long as they are on different ports (going to different devices).
Actually manipulating them in RB is like manipulating any other MIDI data on a single track at that point.

If you were trying to use those RB tracks (on the same channel) on a single synth, then yeah you might need to pay closer attention. But understanding those layers may help clarify things a bit.
_________________________
Make your sound your own!

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#151428 - 02/25/12 09:07 AM Re: Can you please share an overview of channels and typical applications in RB ? [Re: rharv]
Joe V Offline
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Registered: 02/19/06
Posts: 819
Loc: NYC
Rharv - that explanation is going to keep me busy for quite a while.

Could someone give some more examples of how this power could be used to accomplish some desirable real-world scenarios for music performance or recording, or what previously 'difficult' tasks are simplified by these features ? (Rharv - you may have given one or two above, but I'm not sure I fully appreciate them).

I'm intrigued at the power, but still limited in understanding what to do with it musically, live performance-wise, or 'home-studio-wise'. The idea of controlling a light show was something I never had thought of - are there other non-musical devices that take MIDI is useful for controlling ?

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#151429 - 02/25/12 09:31 AM Re: Can you please share an overview of channels and typical applications in RB ? [Re: Joe V]
rharv Offline
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Registered: 05/30/00
Posts: 17143
Loc: Marysville, Mi. USA
It was a great time saver for rehearsals. We could loop a section of a song we wanted to work on and everybodys patches would just work. Or jump to another song and we didn't have to wait for the guitar player to go fiddle with his FX and wait for someone to go change the synth patches and electronic drum patches... it was cool for the show, but even more efficient for rehearsals. Plus the tempo was given as a count in automatically so everybody was ready at the press of a couple buttons.

In the beginning we actually ran the show from a sampler/sequencer (W30) so I didn't even have to leave my synth to jump from song to song. At that time we used the computer to record the performance (audio) and act as an extra synth via the soundcard. The sampler loaded the whole show from two floppy disks.

Since we only had 16 tracks available on the synth many times a track would have more than one MIDI channel of data on it. For instance the guitars would share a 'Track' with a Yamaha FX box that was set to receive on MIDI channel 14 while the Boss FX box was set to receive on MIDI channel 15. So that track went out thru the Boss (which ignored channel 14 and used 15) then into the Yamaha which used 14.
With the added level of tracks-to-ports there are ton of possibilities on how to use MIDI.

In the studio -
When recording a CD we did the same thing pretty much. Because we saved the patch settings along with the audio and MIDI recordings it was very easy to punch things in.
Example- guitar player decides a week later he wants do a part differently. Hook him up and hit record and his FX would change to exactly what he used previously so he could concentrate on just playing the parts. Plus it is a reference of the data for when you go play the songs live later on. None of that "which patch did I use here?" stuff to deal with...
_________________________
Make your sound your own!

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#151430 - 02/25/12 02:34 PM Re: Can you please share an overview of channels and typical applications in RB ? [Re: rharv]
Joe V Offline
Expert

Registered: 02/19/06
Posts: 819
Loc: NYC
I quote my quote that Rharv quoted and responded to:

"Once data from multiple RB "Midi" TRACKS is recorded to the SAME Midi CHANNEL, I'm guessing it can be harder to manipulate."

(how to get the display in the nice blue with border to show a quote?)

Rharv - to play devil's advocate ...

If data from multiple RB "Midi" Tracks recorded in the SAME Midi CHANNEL is NOT harder to manipulate, what are the advantages to using DIFFERENT Midi channels ?

(again, maybe you answered this in your previous response and I still can't appreciate the answer - excuse this redundant question if this is the case).

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#151431 - 02/25/12 03:03 PM Re: Can you please share an overview of channels and typical applications in RB ? [Re: Joe V]
rharv Offline
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Registered: 05/30/00
Posts: 17143
Loc: Marysville, Mi. USA
Depends on what you mean by manipulate.
You can edit each track individually. Therefore multiple MIDI tracks with same channel doesn't matter from that point of view. Anything you want to do do a track you can, regardless of channel (as far as editing). It won't affect another track with the same channel.

And you can send each track out a different port, so that part doesn't matter either. Each instance of the same MIDI channel can be on a different track and being sent to a different port (or device). In the softsynth world these can even be the same synth!

Example -
Track 1 & 2 have data on the same MIDI channel.

You want to use both tracks for that 'Favorite Best Ever Synth'.
Assign track 1 to DXi/VSTi synth 1 port. Then load that favorite synth on that port.
Then assign track 2 to DXi/VSTi synth 2 port. Load another instance of that favorite synth (so it acts like a totally different synth).

Now you can do anything you want to each track, have it on the same MIDI channel, and be totally independant of each other. Each instance of the synth will only be affected by the data being sent to its port.

This is not best practice, I know. But if you think it through there are a lot of possibilities in the Track-MIDI Channel-Port layering. My point was the tracks (regardless of MIDI channel) can *always* be manipulated without being harder than any other track.
Even if you want to use those 2 tracks on the exact same device you can select both tracks and do the same edit to both tracks at once. I guess I don't see why you say -

"Once data from multiple RB "Midi" TRACKS is recorded to the SAME Midi CHANNEL, I'm guessing it can be harder to manipulate."

If you ever do hit that wall, just use 'Edit-Rechannel MIDI' and change the MIDI channel for a given track.
_________________________
Make your sound your own!

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#151432 - 02/26/12 08:23 AM Re: Can you please share an overview of channels and typical applications in RB ? [Re: rharv]
Joe V Offline
Expert

Registered: 02/19/06
Posts: 819
Loc: NYC
Wow - I think I'm really getting the idea. Thanks again for the concrete explanation.
Using RB as the basis and center of my home studio took me to places I never dreamed of, and empowered me "to go where no man has gone before". (for all you youngsters, check out the cheesy opening to one of the best science fiction TV series in history - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHhePr0TKfc)

Looking forward to that date coming soon when I can do "what can be done", without encountering all those unforseen technical obstacles, which always seems to happen. I have this fantasy of actually empowering myself with the knowledge to use my home studio in this 'easily do what I know can be done' quickly, so I can actually focus on learning and making music using and playing my instrument. Somehow, my instrument always takes a back seat to the computer/technology tinkering. Perhaps I'm just more the technical/producer type than the musician...we'll see.

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#151433 - 02/26/12 07:49 PM Re: Can you please share an overview of channels and typical applications in RB ? [Re: Joe V]
jazzmammal Online   content
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Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 5533
Loc: Redondo Beach, Ca.
Quote:

I have this fantasy of actually empowering myself with the knowledge to use my home studio in this 'easily do what I know can be done' quickly, so I can actually focus on learning and making music using and playing my instrument.




Quote:

Somehow, my instrument always takes a back seat to the computer/technology tinkering.




Right. I have had that fantasy for the last 10 years or so but the problem most of us have is work and life keeps getting in the way. This stuff is college level. Just check out your local colleges and you'll see. Whatever your skills are in the real working world, remember how long and how much study it took for you to get to where you are now. It takes that same level of dedication and study to fulfill your musical fantasy.

I'm all the time putting my keyboards aside and having to concentrate on how to make this software do what I want and like I just said, life keeps happening and what I just discovered or learned is forgotten by the time I have a chance to get back to it. Very frustrating. I keep telling myself I should just bite the bullet and sign up for two semesters of digital music production at one of the local schools. I would get hands on instruction, textbooks, use of the best and latest stuff available plus make good connections. I don't know how serious you are or if you really intend to make something of this. If you are serious then consider taking a semester and see what happens.

A little soapbox talk now. We all have enough musical experience to be dangerous. We think we know some things, read all the great things computers and good software can do, read about famous composers working from their home studios and doing all this great stuff. All that is true but we're not going to do it in a couple of hours on a weekend with no prior schooling and experience.

Btw, the quotes thing, look at the bottom of your 'reply' window and see the links labeled 'quote', 'italics' etc. Click on those and then see what is written on your reply before you post it. You'll see this: [quote.... The open bracket with the word quote or the letter i and then close bracket. At the end it's open bracket with the forward slash /. I can't finish it here or it will activate. I've stopped clicking on those links and just write those codes in myself. Easy. This is an example of what I'm talking about. The kids know all about this already. Why? They're in school and it's all they talk about besides the opposite sex of course. Old fogeys have to work hard to even have a conversation with them about these things.

Bob
_________________________
Win 7 64 bit, AMD Phenom 6 core, 1TB HD, 4 Gigs Ram, Roland Sonic Cell, Garritan JABB, Hypercanvas, Sampletank

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