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Topic: RichardMc and Randy rap about Randomness

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  1. #1

    RichardMc and Randy rap about Randomness

    Over at Chandler's thread about the free Sonatina orchestral library, found HERE, RichardMc and I veered into talking about layering sounds in our Garritan projects and then about the use of Randomness.

    You were right that the thread had gone pretty much Off Topic, Richard - So here we are, a fresh thread, and as always, everyone is free to join in.

    Your last post on that thread:

    Quote Originally Posted by RichardMc View Post
    I wasn't aware of that tendency you described for being early and late on the beat. My randomness is just random. Thank you. Now I have to chuck what I am working on. Maybe not. I use the grid in PRV with the snap setting turned off. I will enter a quarter note and then if on beat two I am entering 16th notes I might move the NOW marker to the second beat with the snap
    setting off introducing randomness. I forgot to mention that I also draw in CC7 data by hand because my keyboard does not have a controller wheel. I hope I have not co-opted this thread from Chandler. If I have I apologize. Thanks for the great insight.

    RANDOMNESS


    Those tendencies for rushing the beat on fast passages and being late on slow ones were generalized examples of things that happen in a live performance. Don't take them as rules, but as examples of human imperfections that are artifacts of instruments being played live.

    There's also true, unpredictable randomness of the sort you've been doing, so you shouldn't think of throwing out work - You can just work in a bit more method to this randomness madness as you continue.

    The basic theory is easy - It's rare for any note to be played precisely, squarely on the beat. The imperfection may be extremely slight, but no human can play as robotically perfect as a computer can. That's why it was very smart for MakeMusic to develop the "Humanize" feature in Finale. It can loosen up the perfection of playback enough to make a quantized score sound much more natural.

    We're all sensitive to the difference, even people with no musical training - we can all detect the difference between music being played with quantized perfection and music that isn't.

    To make the challenge just a bit more difficult, there's a peculiar thing that happens with sequenced tracks. If the notes are too perfectly played, it sounds stiff - we've established that. But for MIDI driven music to sound its best, our humanization/randomizing has to be subtle or the results will just sound sloppy. We still need to have music played back a little more perfectly than a live band/orchestra, because for whatever psycho acoustic reasons there are, results can sound muddier and messier faster than when a recording is done with all live instruments. We don't need to worry about the technical reasons for that, we just need to keep in mind that we do want some natural sounding imperfection, we just don't want to get too carried away with our randomization.

    SONAR "CAL" ROUTINES


    The default key binding that gets you to the Sonar CAL files is Ctrl+F1. These are little routines that effect a chosen clip. Highlight a MIDI clip, then open up the CAL folder. One CAL script is called "Humanize." When you click it, it asks you by what percentage you want an offset to be. If you choose the highest value, 99, you'll see that the randomized shifting of notes is very subtle and acceptable. A CAL routine in that same default folder which has more control available is "Random Time." When you open that, it asks by how many ticks a note may be shifted. The default Ticks Per Quarter note value is 960. That's how many how fine the resolution is for each quarter note in Sonar. So when you choose a Random Time value, the default setting of 30 is far too subtle. Try something over 100, 200, 300, and watch what happens with your notes in the PRV. That gives you some good instant randomizing, and you can apply to as large a section of a project at a time that you want.

    There's a similarly named CAL called "RANDTIME." Besides asking for a maximum number of ticks to shift notes, it also asks "Enter minimum duration (in ticks) a note may be reduced to," and the default value is 5, and that will probably work in most cases. This CAL seems to do some more severe shifting - Just experiment with those CALS and you may be saving yourself a lot of work. And while you're in that CAL folder, there are other old scripts to experiment with. Some don't work anymore - these are left over from ancient versions of Cakewalk/Sonar, but they're still in there.

    TEMPO CHANGES


    Here's another important element for getting more life into sequenced files: The Tempo Map. Open up that view and work with your music's tempo. Randomization isn't a factor here, but variance is. Here's a screen shot showing the tempo changes for a few measures:



    With the Grid off in that view, you can draw very natural sounding tempo changes. Different genres of music need different approaches to tempo changes, with classic orchestral works needing the most. But even straight ahead pop can have at least subtle changes that amp up the power – like it's common for the chorus of songs to speed up slightly from the verses.

    Now - for the second part of your message about working in the PRV.


    You said you were using your keyboard to enter notes, so the velocities were varied since you're hitting the keys with varying force. And on the other thread I said that sounds clever, since the standard way people enter notes when they don't play a keyboard is by using a mouse. -- After replying to that post of yours, it occurred to me that I don't understand how you're doing this. Playing a note on a MIDI keyboard doesn't insert it into a Sonar track unless it's armed to record and the transport is moving - and that's recording in real time. Do you mean you're starting and stopping in super short bursts in order to insert notes one by one--? If so - that gets back to what I said earlier, that I bet you could work out the note progression for at least a measure a time, and record that much before stopping, rather than doing one note at a time.

    But if you're actually using your mouse to insert notes, then the velocities will all be the same as the last value used. You need to highlight the clip, then edit the velocities. You can sweep through the Velocity Pane while holding down your mouse's left click, and quickly change a large group of velocities - Or you can do one at a time, or you can hover closely to a note up in the grid and drag up
    or down to change the velocity.

    --I still don't understand at all what you mean by "...I might move the NOW marker to the second bet with the snap setting off introducing randomness..." Notes don't move when you're simply choosing a point in time in the the time line. If they are changing position, then something's wrong.

    With your Grid off in PRV, you can place your notes slightly off the beat, instant randomizing, but you don't want those inserted notes to be moved again when you're simply changing the start time. I don't understand what's going on there--?-- The only time a clip of notes moves when you move the Now Time is if you're selecting the clip in the Track View and your Grid is on--The clip will jump so the first note in it lines up to the first quantization value you have set, and by default that's to the closest Whole Note.-- But that isn't randomizing - that's quantization. So - what you're describing is still mysterious to me.

    VOLUME CONTROL


    Drawing controller data: That can work fine. But you said you're drawing CC7. That's not the MIDI CC for instrument volume control in Garritan. Use either CC1, CC11 or CC2 - ARIA interprets those all the same. You Are getting volume change with CC7, but not the right kind. CC7 controls ARIA's faders in its mixer. That's for setting the relative volumes between instruments in a project. It's simply a volume knob which should be set and then not changed. CC1, 11, 2 - those control the performance volume AND timbre of the instruments. That data should be almost constantly fluctuating throughout a passage, rarely left to a static value. And as you play your instruments that way, the timbre changes subtly when you're playing. Softer notes are darker, louder notes are brighter.

    Recapping my questions: Please explain how you're entering notes. And try again to explain how notes are being shifted when you move your Now Time - that sounds more like an error than a routine. If you can do screen shots that would help explain, that would be great.

    Randy

  2. #2

    Re: RichardMc and Randy rap about Randomness

    I mispoke I am drawing CC1 data into Sonar. You anticipated my question and that is how much randomness is suitable. I took your suggestion and spent the morning playing parts into Sonar but I am just not good enough to make it work and even after touching things up the result was sloppy. I am familiar with the CAL Routines but was unsure what settings were best. The other mistake I was making with CAL is I was applying it to the whole composition at once when it sounds like I should be applying it to a passage at a time. Thank you. I also just discovered the tempo map and have been trying to use it.

    I enter the notes through Step Record in Sonar X1. When the step record dialogue is open you can enter notes and the NOW marker moves ahead by the step you entered. You can do any edit operation while the step dialogue is open including manually moving the NOW time marker and the Step Record Dialogue remains open. So if I have an eight note on beat one and another note, sixteenth or whatever, on beat two, I can manually move the now marker to beat two. Without the snap to grid setting on the NOW marker does not sit precisely on beat two and I introduce some randomness into the passage. I can do all this while the Step Record dialogue box is open. I hope that makes sense. But now I am wondering if I should keep the grid settings on and then apply the CAL or if I should introduce randomness on the fly while step entering. I never stop learning.

    I am working on a composition but am not sure I will post it. My work methods have changed drastically during the process of entering it into Sonar. About half way through I made the jump from paper sketch - staff view -PRV to paper sketch -PRV, eliminating staff view. It has taken some getting used to but it is much more intuitive in terms of seeing textures amongst other things. And the editing on the fly is much easier.

  3. #3

    Re: RichardMc and Randy rap about Randomness

    Quote Originally Posted by RichardMc View Post
    I mispoke I am drawing CC1 data into Sonar. You anticipated my question and that is how much randomness is suitable. I took your suggestion and spent the morning playing parts into Sonar but I am just not good enough to make it work and even after touching things up the result was sloppy. I am familiar with the CAL Routines but was unsure what settings were best. The other mistake I was making with CAL is I was applying it to the whole composition at once when it sounds like I should be applying it to a passage at a time. Thank you. I also just discovered the tempo map and have been trying to use it.

    I enter the notes through Step Record in Sonar X1. When the step record dialogue is open you can enter notes and the NOW marker moves ahead by the step you entered. You can do any edit operation while the step dialogue is open including manually moving the NOW time marker and the Step Record Dialogue remains open. So if I have an eight note on beat one and another note, sixteenth or whatever, on beat two, I can manually move the now marker to beat two. Without the snap to grid setting on the NOW marker does not sit precisely on beat two and I introduce some randomness into the passage. I can do all this while the Step Record dialogue box is open. I hope that makes sense. But now I am wondering if I should keep the grid settings on and then apply the CAL or if I should introduce randomness on the fly while step entering. I never stop learning.

    I am working on a composition but am not sure I will post it. My work methods have changed drastically during the process of entering it into Sonar. About half way through I made the jump from paper sketch - staff view -PRV to paper sketch -PRV, eliminating staff view. It has taken some getting used to but it is much more intuitive in terms of seeing textures amongst other things. And the editing on the fly is much easier.
    Hiya, Richard - Glad to see you on this new thread.
    Ah! The Step Recorder! - Everything becomes more clear. You said you were working in the Piano Roll View. I could have guessed you meant the SR, but it's just not in my Sonar orbit since I never use it. I need to see the entire expanse of a project, all available tracks, working in PRV and Track View.

    You say PRV towards the end of your new post - I can't be sure if you really mean the PRV or the SR.

    What you're doing in the much more limited SR can be done with room to breathe in the PRV. The SR was intended for pop loops and clip creation. But the field is wide open in the PRV, and you can insert your notes just as easily. AH, but you can't use keyboard input - I think that must be your attraction to the SR. Working in PRV, you'd just need to work Velocity editing into your work flow.

    But at least what you're saying finally makes sense to me! Thanks for clearing that up.

    I'm not sure if the CAL routines even work in SR - From your post, it sounds like they do work. It's something I've never tried since I've probably spent less than 5 minutes total in the SR, just kind of poking at it when it was introduced to Cakewalk/Sonar. Truthfully, I'd totally forgotten about the SR.

    "...I am wondering...if I should introduce randomness on the fly..." That would be my vote. Grid off, enter notes where you know they need to go, just don't slave over their exact timing, and that's instant randomizing.

    --Hmm, now by looking at your last paragraph again, I guess you're saying that you're working both in the SR and PRV - You do some work in SR, then import it into PRV?-- I'm not sure why you're not just doing all the work in the PRV.

    Tempo View - Glad you're getting into that. Really straight forward--You've probably already established your basic tempo, now that grid overlay in the Tempo View shows you exactly where you are - Use the line tool, turn off Snap and draw freehand with the pencil tool - It's exciting to breathe more life into your music with organic sounding tempo work.

    Randy

  4. #4

    Re: RichardMc and Randy rap about Randomness

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. I hope I am not beating a dead horse. Actually the SR dialogue box takes up a small portion of the window. I think they may have improved it with X1, though I am not certain. When I step enter the notes I see them instantly in PRV. I just position the SR dialogue box up in a corner or something. I am actually working in PRV. I can do anything- any edit, enter any controller data or anything. If the SR dialogue box is in the way I just move it. I don't have to close it to make PRV active, I just click on PRV. It's more like SR is embedded in PRV rather than it being some separate screen. I don't know how to do a screen shot or I would show you.

  5. #5

    Re: RichardMc and Randy rap about Randomness



    Here is a screen shot. The SR dialogue box is sitting in the upper left hand corner. When I enter the notes from my keyboard they appear in PRV in realtime. I think on the older versions of Sonar you entered a series of notes and then told the SR dialogue box to save or import them. Not so with X1. When I move over to PRV the SR dialogue box stays put. I just click in what ever area of the window I want to work in.

    I don't want to exhaust your good will but I was wondering if their is any easy way to deal with controller data. What I mean by that is when I input a passage I have to draw in the controller data because my keyboard does not have a controller wheel. In this shot you are seeing CC1 data. I accept that. But what becomes laborious is keeping track of each track for which I have drawn in the data. If I want to see if I have entered CC1 data for all tracks playing in a passage I have to go to edit and then click on that CC track number for each track individually. So if I want to see if I have entered CC data for track 1 I have to go to Edit and then click on CC 1 track 1 data for editing. When I change active tracks in the track pane the CC 1 lane does not change with it.

  6. #6

    Re: RichardMc and Randy rap about Randomness

    Quote Originally Posted by RichardMc View Post
    Thanks for taking the time to respond. I hope I am not beating a dead horse. Actually the SR dialogue box takes up a small portion of the window. I think they may have improved it with X1, though I am not certain. When I step enter the notes I see them instantly in PRV. I just position the SR dialogue box up in a corner or something. I am actually working in PRV. I can do anything- any edit, enter any controller data or anything. If the SR dialogue box is in the way I just move it. I don't have to close it to make PRV active, I just click on PRV. It's more like SR is embedded in PRV rather than it being some separate screen. I don't know how to do a screen shot or I would show you.
    Sweet! I didn't know that's the way it worked in X1 now. You're really teaching me things. I've stuck with using Sonar 8.5, the last version before X1. I have X1, but have been so dismayed with how changed the program is, I haven't been using it, hence my lack of familiarity.

    I'm "flying low" as they say - meaning I'm in a hurry, I'll write again either tonight or tomorrow, seeing if I can help with your newest post.

    But one thing - You can't directly upload a photo to the Forum. The image has to reside online at a site that allows direct linking, then you paste in the picture's URL with the "Insert Image" icon which is 4th from the left in the middle line of tools right above the text box when you're writing a post.

    More later.

    Randy

  7. #7

    Re: RichardMc and Randy rap about Randomness

    So in my last post I explained that you can't directly upload photos. I see that's what you tried to do - When I opened the text box to reply, for a few moments there was a screen full of code, raw data of the photo you tried to upload but which can't be displayed. It would be good to edit your post, just use Backspace over the broken picture icon you'll see in the edit screen.

    Use Flicr, Photobucket, or any online storage account where you can store photos and then use the URL to paste in the "Insert Image" pop-up.

    Quote Originally Posted by RichardMc View Post
    ...I think on the older versions of Sonar you entered a series of notes and then told the SR dialogue box to save or import them. Not so with X1. When I move over to PRV the SR dialogue box stays put. I just click in what ever area of the window I want to work in...
    You're correct about the way it worked before X1. This is much better that it's integrated into PRV as you describe. Even though you can't enter notes with your keyboard when working just in PRV, I still think it would be worth a try. You have the whole project available to you in one work space. There's no real advantage to using the smaller Step Recorder. Just enter your notes right there in the PRV, and they won't jump around - you'll have total control of your "humanizing" - which leads me to the answer to your new question:

    Quote Originally Posted by RichardMc View Post
    ...I was wondering if their is any easy way to deal with controller data...what becomes laborious is keeping track of each track for which I have drawn in the data. If I want to see if I have entered CC1 data for all tracks playing in a passage I have to go to edit and then click on that CC track number for each track individually...When I change active tracks in the track pane the CC 1 lane does not change with it.
    I think you must be talking about the Track View when you say you "have to go to edit"--and then you describe the process of having to activate the controller data you want to work with. That's not a smooth way to work, I agree, and they made it more time-consuming in X1 where most Everything is harder to do, IMHO.

    And that brings me back to The Piano Roll View. It is, as others here have heard me often say - the very Heart of MIDI in Sonar. That's where it's all happening. That's your main work area, not the Track View.

    Some people think of PRV as something that pops up once in awhile when they need it, otherwise they keep it closed - and they're misunderstanding how it works.

    Make PRV your main work space. Uses the menus, starting with the one where you select what track to display. But you can also display as many tracks at a time as you want, even all of them. For what you're talking about, once you've chosen the track you want to work on--you see everything. Controller Panes for each kind of MIDI Controller is in its own track below the grid where all the notes are displayed. If you have the setting on where data is superimposed on top of the notes - CHANGE THAT immediately, it's worthless. You want to have the Controller Panes displayed.

    Working that way, almost exclusively in PRV, there's no way you'd ever wonder which tracks don't have CC1 yet. Choose the track, you'll instantly see everything that can be seen and you're ready to edit it.

    There's a lot more to it, but that should get you started.

    Randy

  8. #8

    Re: RichardMc and Randy rap about Randomness

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. I must be missing something or I have set my project up improperly. I am working in PRV. The track list pane appears on the right hand side. But when I click on a track in the track list pane on the right hand side of the screen shot to make it active the controller lane at the bottom does not change to he new active track. I have to go to the edit menu in PRV and click on the CC channel I want to edit. I posted this in the Cakewalk forum and one person said they have the same behavior. Am I correct in sending the CC data for each track on the same channel to which that track is assigned. For example my flute is assigned to Channel one and I send the CC1 data for the flute on channel one.

  9. #9

    Re: RichardMc and Randy rap about Randomness

    Got some help on the Cakewalk forum. Seems I can display the controller data in Track view. So if I want to see the tracks for which I have entered controller data all I have to do is pull PRV window down and all the tracks are displayed in track view and I can get an overview of my controller data.

  10. #10

    Re: RichardMc and Randy rap about Randomness

    Quote Originally Posted by RichardMc View Post
    ...I am working in PRV. The track list pane appears on the right hand side. But when I click on a track in the track list pane on the right hand side of the screen shot to make it active the controller lane at the bottom does not change to he new active track. I have to go to the edit menu in PRV and click on the CC channel I want to edit. I posted this in the Cakewalk forum and one person said they have the same behavior. Am I correct in sending the CC data for each track on the same channel to which that track is assigned. For example my flute is assigned to Channel one and I send the CC1 data for the flute on channel one.
    Hello again, Richard!

    Thank you for the clarifications. I couldn't tell which View you were talking about in your earlier post. It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what we're talking about through posted messages - but we try!

    In case they're any help, I've made some screenshots of my PRV. BUT we may be talking about some differences between X1 and classic Sonar, and like I said earlier, I don't care for X1 so it's just gathering dust on my hard drive. From what you're describing, it sounds like something was broken or changed drastically in the PRV. When you choose an instrument to work on in the right hand side Track Pane, all of that track's data should be automatically available for editing. That's the way it's always worked before in Sonar.

    Here's part of my current project, showing nine of the instruments I'm using. In the first shot, I've clicked Picc solo in the list which makes its notes and data highlighted. So the green notes and the darker CC11 data belongs to the Piccolo, and it's the only data I can edit. If I swoop through the CC11 Controller Pane, only the Piccolo's data will be worked on. For safety. I've clicked in the boxes right next to some other instrument names which enables or disables track editing. The box turns grey, indicating that it's impossible to edit their data. That's a good practice, because even with a track selected, while working in the note grid, if I clicked a note for another track by accident, that automatically switches the whole PRV to focusing on that instrument. That makes clicking notes an alternate way of selecting which track you want to edit.



    I didn't have to go to the CC Menu to choose Controller Panes, because whatever kind of data a given track has automatically opens up and is ready to be edited. When I selected these tracks you see, those are the panes that opened - Velocity, After Touch, CC11 and CC17 because those are the four kinds of things in those particular tracks. Then, selecting instruments either with that list or by directly clicking notes makes their data the only data that can be edited. Now maybe that's what's changed in X1 - From your posts, it sounds like it has. I use the PRV menu to add new controllers, but otherwise, a track's data is available for editing without any hassles.

    In the second screen shot, I've selected Flute in the Track Pane, and you can see its notes and data are now highlighted. And as I said above, I also could have just clicked one of the Flute's notes, and that would have switched the focus. All of the other instruments have been temporarily disabled, so all of their notes and data remain uneditable ghosts.

    Don't be confused by seeing this CC11 data - It's an alternate volume control for Garritan instruments. It performs exactly like CC1.



    Quote Originally Posted by RichardMc View Post
    Got some help on the Cakewalk forum. Seems I can display the controller data in Track view. So if I want to see the tracks for which I have entered controller data all I have to do is pull PRV window down and all the tracks are displayed in track view and I can get an overview of my controller data.
    Good! The Sonar Forum has quite a number of helpful, active members who are ready to help people out. That's the best source for tips about the current X1 and X2, besides the massive manuals and books about the programs written by Scott Garrigus. Since I've stopped at Sonar 8.5, I'm not up on some of the specifics about these new versions.

    So from all this, it seems quite possible that the PRV's functioning has changed in X1 - and if so, it sounds much clusmier, having to constantly use that PRV menu.

    But yes, I knew that you can see both notes and controller data in the track view, and it's excellent practice to have part of the TV visible above your PRV. That's how I work a lot - I have the track I'm working on visible above the PRV so I can do quick things like selecting a clip and moving it. Here's the same PRV view, but with the clips showing in the normal, default view of its track visible above the PRV.


    But with a track's data instantly selected as I've described, I still can do most of my work in the PRV.

    Now that I finally have a pretty clear picture of how you're working, I'll be setting aside a bit of time today or soon, to see how this same current project behaves in X1. I'll look at its PRV to get a grasp of what's different. If I find out anything useful, I'll let you know! Right now, it sounds like they've screwed up the way Controller Panes work. In my SOnar 8.5, there's no need to do most any work except in the PRV.

    RICHARD - One more thing - Let me know if when your cursor hovers over the note grid in PRV, if you're able to scroll up and down to see higher and lower notes without having to first click in the area. I've used something called WizMouse for so long, and it streamlines some computer mouse functions. I forget which Sonar windows scrolled easily without it.

    Just let me know if you can hover and automatically have scrolling available without clicking.

    Randy

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