Old 01-05-2020, 05:41 AM   #1
robynsveil
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Default Help wanted please with MIDI issues

I'm not much of a musician. I used to play the French Horn reasonably well, but that was ages ago... never did get any good at playing the piano, much to the dismay and disgust of my music professor at University.

What I did learn was composition, which I am once again having a play with. I use MuseScore to sketch out my ideas and am overall quite impressed with its capabilities and ease of use. However, as a playback / performance software, whilst not awful the sound is nevertheless not exactly stellar.

It was suggested I look into DAWs and VSTs. After trying Ardour - not having a clue what I was doing and failing miserably - and having a short, underwhelming try with GarageBand, I've finally settled on Reaper. The Kenny Gioia videos are amazingly clear and easy to follow - long-story short, I purchased a licence.

I've spent lots of time perusing the forums as well as doing searches for my specific use-case, but it doesn't seem too many people are 1) non-performing composers who 2) use external notation software and who 3) wish to optimise the sound using a DAW. Most are performers ... and this software and most instructions, even those on midi, are geared to them, understandably so.

So far, this is what I've done:
a- written a 9-part piece (sort-of an Erik Satie polyphony concept) in MuseScore
b- put pizzicato and arco parts of the instrument on separate staves
c- created individual parts, exported as midi files
d- here's where things get a bit grey: hopefully I didn't import the midi files to tracks, but rather reference them. Not exactly sure how to do this: in Preferences, under Media -> Midi, set "Create New Media Items" and "Import New Media Items" to the 2nd radio button, which references the midi file, the track for which, I'm hoping, will update when the midi file itself is updated.
e- for each track, fx are: 1) ReaControlMidi and 2) Garritan Instrument
f- for each track, right-click, select Source Properties, and select Channel 1 for Send.
So, was this correct for 1) writing in external notation software to 2) periodically export to midi

I feel I'm missing heaps of options, here. Like, should ReaEQ be part of this equation? I guess I'm just wondering if anyone else has a similar use-case and if so, what suggestions (or tutorials) might be available.

Thank you for reading and considering my little conundrum.
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Old 01-08-2020, 11:15 PM   #2
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here's where things get a bit grey: hopefully I didn't import the midi files to tracks, but rather reference them. Not exactly sure how to do this: in Preferences, under Media -> Midi, set "Create New Media Items" and "Import New Media Items" to the 2nd radio button, which references the midi file, the track for which, I'm hoping, will update when the midi file itself is updated.
A lot of food for thought here to take in at once!

I'll start with the easy one - yes, if you choose the prefs option Import existing MIDI files as MID file reference they will indeed be automatically updated when you open the project file.. Just be careful not to delete or move the files referred to.

Am busy now working on User Guide update, will look at your other questions bit by bit. Hopefully by then someone else might chime in!
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Old 01-09-2020, 12:39 AM   #3
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Like, should ReaEQ be part of this equation?
Like any other FX, only if it's going to improve the sound! Perhaps to add a little presence , or make minor tweaks for different instruments where they appear to clash on similar dominant frequencies?

Of course (I'm sure you already know this, but just in case...) ReaEQ works on audio, not MIDI, so it would have to come after the instrument.

You'll have to excuse me if I'm ever stating the obvious, I don't know how much you already know, and bettters safe than sorry ....

You can indeed export your scores from MuseScore in .MID format and then import them into REAPER. REAPER does have its own Notation Editor where you can do further work if needs be - or you can use it to create scores. It's inside the MIDI Editor, on the View menu. The advantage of using it is that it avoids having to export/import all the time. The main disadvantage is that if you already know Musescore and like it, why would you want to learn another notation editor? No simple rights and wrongs, whichever suits you best ...

If you are using Musescore, consider whether you do want to put all instruments on one channel, or perhaps use a separate channel for each instrument. It's up to you.

If you use separate channels, you will have the option of one track per channel when importing the file into REAPER. You can also if you wish, then place all your tracks in a folder.

In REAPER's MIDI Editor itself if you use different tracks/chanels, you are easily able to display and work on as many or as few instruments (channels) at a time in the MIDI Editor as you wish. Personally, this is the method I prefer, but it's up to you, whatever you're most comfortable with.

I'll come back later if I can think of anything else to say that might be helpfui.
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Old 01-09-2020, 12:58 AM   #4
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Oh yes, one more point, sorry. Kenny's videos are an excellent resource but I'd recommend you also to download the free PDF User Guide, it has chapters on MIDI and Notation Editors, and serves as good reference material. Follow this link:

http://reaper.fm/userguide.php
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Old 01-09-2020, 05:40 AM   #5
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You'll have to excuse me if I'm ever stating the obvious, I don't know how much you already know, and better safe than sorry ....
I actually didn't realise this. This reminds me of when I first started studying for my nursing degree: I didn't realise how LITTLE I knew until I studied it more. So, you're pretty safe in this: any information you share will be gratefully received as new, crucial building blocks.

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You can indeed export your scores from MuseScore in .MID format and then import them into REAPER. REAPER does have its own Notation Editor where you can do further work if needs be - or you can use it to create scores. It's inside the MIDI Editor, on the View menu. The advantage of using it is that it avoids having to export/import all the time. The main disadvantage is that if you already know Musescore and like it, why would you want to learn another notation editor? No simple rights and wrongs, whichever suits you best ...
Something I noticed: when I update (using the same exact names) of each of the instrument midi files by exporting parts from MuseScore, they update automatically in Reaper, which is way cool. However, I still need to go back and refresh the channel setting when I do this. I understand that there are scripts to automate this.

Been having a look at this thread:

https://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?t=220114

that chap appears to be doing something similar to me.

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If you are using Musescore, consider whether you do want to put all instruments on one channel, or perhaps use a separate channel for each instrument. It's up to you.

If you use separate channels, you will have the option of one track per channel when importing the file into REAPER. You can also if you wish, then place all your tracks in a folder.

In REAPER's MIDI Editor itself if you use different tracks/channels, you are easily able to display and work on as many or as few instruments (channels) at a time in the MIDI Editor as you wish. Personally, this is the method I prefer, but it's up to you, whatever you're most comfortable with.

I'll come back later if I can think of anything else to say that might be helpful.
This has all been incredibly helpful, Nicholas! There are a few things I think I might need to remove from the score (parts) prior to exporting from MS, such as dynamics. And I really need to review all the CC stuff - no clue on how to manipulate all that yet. A bit of studying is in order, I think.
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Old 01-09-2020, 05:42 AM   #6
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Oh yes, one more point, sorry. Kenny's videos are an excellent resource but I'd recommend you also to download the free PDF User Guide, it has chapters on MIDI and Notation Editors, and serves as good reference material. Follow this link:

http://reaper.fm/userguide.php
I've got that extremely well-written guide as a permanent tab in my browser... working my way through it. Hoping for that "A-HA!" moment for my use-case.
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Old 01-09-2020, 02:44 PM   #7
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Good, you seem to be making good progress ... never hesitate to ask more questions when you need more help!
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Old 01-09-2020, 03:14 PM   #8
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This has all been incredibly helpful ..... A bit of studying is in order, I think.
So much to learn! I'd suggest start by getting thoroughly familiar with your Preferences options, in particular Media, MIDI and Editing Behavior, MIDI Editor. Especially options for how imported Midi data is displayed, and how MIDI Editor is opened (e.g. everything in one editor, or one editor per channel, etc)

Also navigating the MIDI Editor ... it's seemingly simple appearance is deceptive. Take a good look at using the Track List (Contents menu) and identify the filter dialog (button on toolbar).

These aspects can be used to control how you work in any MIDI EDitor environment - eg, piano roll, notation view, event list ... So for example you can see everything at once or just one channel.

Anyway, by now your head is probably spinning ...
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Old 01-09-2020, 03:45 PM   #9
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I really need to review all the CC stuff - no clue on how to manipulate all that yet.
Get to understand it for sure, that'll be valuable, but (personal opinion only) be wary of the trap of over-using it, of over-engineering, using these tools just because they are there. Less is often more, remember!
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Old 01-14-2020, 04:44 AM   #10
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Default NOT necro-posting, just updating

I'm following the wise suggestion offered by Nicholas and am having a careful read of the manual. About the only annoyance I'm encountering is that many of the shortcut keystrokes are mainly designed for the PC (I'm on a Mac). The other issue I encounter is lack of familiarity with audio-technician-speak, things like routing and busses and envelopes in the sound-creating universe have a completely different meaning to what I'm accustomed to. Feeling like I could do with a primer on audio-technician terminology to get the best use out of this fine manual.
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Old 01-14-2020, 04:47 AM   #11
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The Mac has equivalent shortcut keys - see (I think) page 17 - e.g. PC=Ctrl, Mac=Cmd.
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Old 01-19-2020, 10:49 PM   #12
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The Mac has equivalent shortcut keys - see (I think) page 17 - e.g. PC=Ctrl, Mac=Cmd.
I guess I'm referring to keys that simply don't exist on a Mac (well, that I can find) - like the Home key. If I read it correctly, there is a way to program actions like going to the beginning of a track to another key on a Mac (not sure where I read that).
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Old 01-20-2020, 05:17 PM   #13
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Default Musescore to Reaper

So far, here's the approach I use:

1) in Musescore, make sure parts have been generated correctly
2) export parts as .mid files - probably because I don't yet understand VSTs and plugin behaviour, I put pizzicato and arco parts on separate staves. Would also do the same for tremolo and other instrument "articulations"
3) in Reaper, set mid files to be referenced, not imported, and insert parts
4) set the send channel to 1 for each track
5) bring up each part in the midi editor, and delete values for all CCs except velocity on / off
6) ... and then I can set volume levels

Learned to be careful not to overdo EQ and limiter.

If anyone has a less labour-intensive approach, I'd be keen to hear it. Heard there was a script to automate all that clearing of CC channels:

https://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?t=220114
... but haven't found it yet.
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Old 01-21-2020, 03:05 AM   #14
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So far, here's the approach I use:

...
2) export parts as .mid files - probably because I don't yet understand VSTs and plugin behaviour, I put pizzicato and arco parts on separate staves. Would also do the same for tremolo and other instrument "articulations"
...
And then, I discover Reaticulate, and everything changed. In one channel, I can have the same player simply change how the instrument is played. Game-changer.
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