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A recurring question is how to use Piano roll to tweak MIDI attributes. I decided to put a copy of a recent post here so it doesn't scroll away quite as fast.
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Here's a list of the standard controllers in the format used by real band and most other DAWs:
http://www.nortonmusic.com/midi_cc.html

Just about all of the synths I've seen use the standard controllers in the same way. The ones marked UNDEFINED are often used by other devices (not synths, usually rack gear or effects) for their own proprietary settings.

All continuous controllers (or CCs for short) require two things:

1) a controller number (which defines the MIDI attribute being changed, such as volume or modulation)
Think of this as a knob on a device.. you have a separate knob for different functions

2) and a value, which defines how much the attribute is being changed
(think of this as the equivalent of how far you turn the knob)

The values range from 0 to 127, 0 being off and 127 being turned all the way up to max

For example:
CC 7 value 127 would be volume turned all the way up to max
CC 7 value 64 would be volume turned up halfway and
CC 7 value 0 would be volume turned all the way down


In piano roll you set the continuous controller from a dropdown list box at the top of the piano roll screen. (in the following picture the continuous controller is set to #7, volume). Because PGMusic chose to put the NAME of the MIDI attributes in the dropdown list box, you don't really need to memorize the CC numbers. You can just pick the attribute by name from the list, which is quite easy to do


the value is selected in the lower pane (0 at the bottom, 127 at the top)
Wherever you click on the time line is where the change will take place.
The lines in the bottom pane represent changes in volume at those positions on the time line. As you can see, in this example the volume swells up and down



As you can also see in this picture, the changes are being made to the violins track.

(thanks to Mitch C who didn't sue me for ripping off his graphic of the piano roll view. )

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..on the phone with my attorney as we speak...

Was going to post this as a tip myself, but I just learned it and thought everyone who does midi knows this stuff. Now that I'm comfortable with the MIDI part writing and manipulating in Piano Roll, it's not so scary anymore !

TIP: To draw a volume curve, in the lower pane (after having selected 7 Main Volume MSB controller), hold down CTRL + SHIFT keys while positioning your cursor over the starting notes to affect, and your cursor will become a 'pencil' icon. Hold the CTRL+SHIFT keys as you drag and draw the volume curve. So in the pic above, position your mouse at bar 2 (Gm7), hold CTRL+SHIFT, start the mouse at about 16 and drag it right and upward to whatever max volume swell you desire.

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I'm sorry to contradict you Mitch but most MIDI guidelines suggest not using 7 Main Volume for periodic changes of volume throughout the song but rather to use controller 11 Expression instead.

The main reason for this is if you set Main Volume only once at the beginning of the song then if you decide to change it you only have to change it in one place. All the Expression values throughout the song will then behave in response to the Main Volume change.

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Richard Williams
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That makes perfect sense. I just learned this...now I learned a bit more. Thanks !

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it should also be noted that some of the controllers (like hold) don't have the whole range of values from 0 to 127... they are either on or off.

In those cases. any value in the lower half (0-63) will turn it OFF, and any value in the upper half of the range (64-127) will turn it on.

The link in the first post that leads to the list of continuous controllers should say which CCs work this way, and which ones have a variable range of values.

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Quote:

I'm sorry to contradict you Mitch but most MIDI guidelines suggest not using 7 Main Volume for periodic changes of volume throughout the song but rather to use controller 11 Expression instead.

The main reason for this is if you set Main Volume only once at the beginning of the song then if you decide to change it you only have to change it in one place. All the Expression values throughout the song will then behave in response to the Main Volume change.

Regards




Depends on your need, and what exists in the file. Changing 11 may not do what you want due to an existing control 7 command .. good to know both exist. 11 exists 'underneath' 7.

I just hope they settle on an aftertouch control (CC) eventually. That would be nice.


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PG Music's advice re Controller 11:
"Like the Channel Volume controller, however the Controller 7 is used to set the overall volume on a particular channel, while Controller 11 is used to adjust the volume dynamics within that channel to a percentage of the overall volume."
http://www.pgmusic.com/tutorial_midi1.htm

Bob Norton's advice:
"11 Expression (MSB)
Note: CC7 and 11 both adjust the volume. Use cc11 for volume changes during the track (crescendo, diminuendo, swells, etc.)"
http://www.nortonmusic.com/midi_cc.html

If you follow this advice the only existing control 7 command should be at the beginning of the track. Have I overlooked something?

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Richard Williams
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Richard, I have now adopted this 'standard' method as you describe. CC7 is set ONCE, at the beginning of the midi track. Then CC11 is used for the dynamics. I've redone 2 of the tunes I've used Garritan on to this new method, which will be how I do things going forward.

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Thanks Mitch,
I was a bit concerned from Rharv's response that I had overlooked some situation where you might use the Main Volume control elsewhere in the track.

BTW - I really enjoyed your Sneaker videos on You Tube.

Regards


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One 'CAN' do dynamics with CC7 but I think it's much cleaner to set the 'master' midi volume up front and leave it alone. Then do the dynamics with the expression CC11.

Hey, thanks for checkin' out those oldies ! (still makin' $$ 30 years later off airplay and various other artist re-recordings ! too cool)

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Quote:

Hey, thanks for checkin' out those oldies ! (still makin' $$ 30 years later off airplay and various other artist re-recordings ! too cool)




You're welcome Mitch. Your Soundcloud files are great too.

Mac has given a great explanation of the use of CC7 and CC11 in another thread:

http://www.pgmusic.com/forums/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=348390&an=0&page=0#Post348390


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My response was depending on what you have to work with. As long as you understand the interaction of the two, the application will be better used.

In an existing MIDI (off the internet) CC7 may have been used throughout the song and you may *have* to use CC7 to accomplish the task.
OR
CC7 may be set too low to allow the swell you are looking for in a particular section, meaning CC7 would need to be increased to allow CC11 to work as desired. There are some synths out there where CC11 will actually change the timbre of the sound (as the form of 'expression'). Most however act as described in this thread and it is a sub-volume. For average BiaB user that is how they will always work.

You have to consider both CC's sometimes when working toward what you want to hear.
That's all I meant.

I don't consider CC7 to have a rule of being only used once at the beginning of the song; too many possible uses on too many different devices when used in conjuction with CC 11.
Remember; MIDI doesn't work only on GM compliant synths.. it can control many different devices.

Last edited by rharv; 01/15/12 08:10 AM.

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Apparently I've been doing this wrong too... using CC7 for all applications of volume change. The term ExPRESSION made me think of all sorts of other changes one might use an expression pedal to change, so I never associated it with volume. It makes sense once the logic is explained.

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Cool, it was a good thread if people learned from it.

Next week's topic; SysEx!


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Quote:

Cool, it was a good thread if people learned from it.

Next week's topic; SysEx!




I always thought that SYSEX was a former nun....


actually, sysex would be a good topic... for some reason I havenb't been able to wrap my brain around that at all

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It's just a way to communicate to a specific device for features that may not be covered in control changes.
For example if you have an guitar multi-effect pedal you could change the delay on the reverb .. or change the VCF on a synth, etc.
It's the next step deeper into MIDI control after control changes.
However, that hexadecimal aspect throws most people.
It's really not necessary to understand the hex, you just need to know which numbers to change to get a desired effect. Usually the MIDI documentation in the owners manual will give this information.

I don't think BiaB handles sysex this way, but RB and PT will.
Some of my older synths will send the sysex message over MIDI to be recorded by the DAW in realtime if any contoller on the synth is moved.

Most practical use is to backup FX units. Quite a few will allow a sysex dump that holds all the needed information to do a backup of memory settings. Saved my behind a couple times when I had guitar FX set up for a show and the battery that allowed the unit to store all the fine-tuned FX settings died. When the battery was replaced it reverted back to factory settings. I just set it up to receive a dump and played it back into memory from PTPA via MIDI.

Last edited by rharv; 01/21/12 10:29 AM.

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