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Manual for Space Toad MIDI Sequencer 3.0.2

How to install

How to change inputs and outputs

How to register VST/VSTi plug-ins

The Navigator

The Transport Panel

The Key Mapper

MIDI Editing:

Audio Editing:

Tables:

How to install

Unzip the downloaded file into a location of your choice, open the SpacetoadMIDI folder and run the 'Space Toad MIDI' batch file. In case you want to remove the program, delete the SpacetoadMIDI folder. That's it.

How to change inputs and outputs

When the program is launched the first time it will send MIDI output either to its own synthesizers via the I port (I as in 'Internal') or to something called the 'Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth' via the A port, the latter being the standard MIDI rendering device of the Windows Media Player.

Before the sequencer can address any other external MIDI rendering device, this must have been specified via the Options / MIDI / MIDI Out menu. The letters A, B, C and D which you will encounter there represent the four different MIDI output ports the Space Toad provides. The A port is considered as the standard output. Therefore it is advisable to choose this port for a MIDI device you use frequently. Four MIDI input port slots can be configured in the same manner. So if one or several external MIDI adapters happen to be attached to your computer or you have virtual MIDI cables installed and you want to receive MIDI data from them, choose them from the list in Options / MIDI / MIDI In / A, B, C and D.

How to register VST/VSTi plug-ins

To use a VST/VSTi plug-in with the Space Toad it has to be copied or installed into the 'Bin/VSTs' folder. When the program is launched, all “.dll” files in this directory (but not the sub-directories) are searched and it is checked, if these are really VST plug-ins. If so, they are either moved to the list of possible VST instruments or the list of possible VST effects according to their nature.

Other options

The Audio / Multicore Optimization feature is on by default. Turn this off if your CPU is single-core.

The Navigator

This simple device controls which of the editors will be visible and which will not.

The Transport Panel

The buttons on the upper right side do not only look very much like those of a tape recorder, they also function like these:

The 'PLAY' button Play: Starts playback or recording from the very beginning.
The 'STOP' button Stop: The sequencer is stopped. If record mode is on, it is turned off. Pressing the button once more lets the playback cursor return to the beginning.
The 'CONT' button Continue: Continues playback or recording from the actual position.
The 'REC' button Record: Toggles the record mode of the sequencer.

On the left there are three more sequencer-specific switches:

The 'MASTER' button Master: As long as this option is active, playback tempo entirely depends on the tempo information stored in the master track.
The 'LOOP' button Loop: When this button is pressed, the sequencer will infinitely repeat the currently selected (first there has to be some range selected, of course).
The 'CLICK' button Metronome Click: Causes the sequencer to produce a metronome click during playback. For configuring note, loudness and channel of these clicks, use the dialog.

Note that in order to alter the tempo via the tempo display (see below) the “Master” option must be switched off.

Above the tape recorder buttons you will find various displays related to the current time position of the sequencer: These stand for current bar, beat, tempo, meter & time (normal clock time). You may click & drag the bar display to change the current play back position. Provided that the 'Master' option (see above) is inactive, the tempo value can be changed as well. Changes to play back tempo made in this way

The Key Mapper

The Concept of Keys vs. Notes

The MIDI language doesn't specify pitch classes for note events as A-sharp 5, B 5 or C-flat 6, just key numbers as 70 or 71. Nevertheless, for the sake of legibility the Space Toad translates these numbers into pitch classes. White keys are assumend to be naturals and black keys to be sharps. To indicate such a mechanical translation small letters are used instead of the normal big letters. So the key numbers 70 and 71 would become 'a#5' and 'b5' in display (any B-flat or C-flat being lost in the process).

Using key numbers instead of pitch classes is natural for the MIDI language since its original purpose was to provide remote control to keyboarders over their instruments. As a basic principle of MIDI the sender of a MIDI event doesn't 'know' nor does it care about how a receiver will respond to it. In case of note events the receiver may be tuned in innumerable different ways so the translation from 69 to 'a5' is just an educated guess on behalf of the sender anyway. The internal synthesizers of the Space Toad on the other hand are lucky in being able to communicate much more closely with their sender than external synthesizers are. Therefore the internal synthesizers were made to not only ´standard-tune' incoming MIDI events (and hope that they have tuned the note in the way intended), but also to be able to render notes with specific tunings and recognize true pitch classes as B or C-flat. Notes stored in the sequencer of the Space Toad consequently were made to fall into two categories:

The Interface

The translation and specification of pitch class and tuning described above is done by a device named the 'Key Mapper', whose interface is always visible on the screen in form of a piano keyboard (on which you can play using the mouse) along with some numbered boxes and three drop-down-menu-openers above it.

This device controls:

The exact kind of mapping is not determined by the user. Rather the Space Toad infers it from three pieces of information the user provides:

When the Space Toad is launched for the first time the tuning will be set to '12-tone Equal Temperament' (which is the present-day standard keyboard tuning), the mode is 'Ascending Chromatic' and the fundamental is 'C' (corresponding to modern nomenclature as well). One might wonder why the chromatic scale (the ordinary 12 keys in an octave on a keyboard) had to be labeled as “ascending”. The reason lies in the necessity of mapping to true pitch classes. As one can see in the display above the virtual keyboard initially all black keys are mapped to sharp notes ('C#', 'D#', … ). Now switch the 'Ascending Chromatic' to 'Descending Chromatic' and the sharp notes have become flat ones ('Db', 'Eb', … ). When rendered by a synthesizer this sounds exactly like the former mode only if the tuning is a 12-tone only tempered one. Switching the tuning to '35-tone Pythagorean' will tune the flat notes of the 'Descending' mode much lower than the sharp ones from the 'Ascending' version ('Db' is now about 1/5-tone lower than 'C#').

The Poor Man's Keyboard

Apart from using an attached MIDI keyboard or the virtual keyboard that is located below the Key Mappers interface there is also the option to use the numerical keypad to enter notes. When using this device the numbers 0 to 9 will produce notes ranging from the first to the tenth of the currently chosen mode. The “+” and “-” keys raise and lower the octave. Bear in mind that the alphanumeric keyboard has a poor reaction time compared to a real MIDI keyboard. So this method is not really suited for real time recording.

The Arrange Window

The Track List

At the right side of the Track Window you will find all tracks of the current MIDI project listed one below the other. Beneath the name of each listing you'll find two buttons with the letters "M" and "S". "M" stands for "mute" and "S" for "solo". When a track is muted, it will not play back. When it is "solo", it will "mute" all other tracks except those, which are "solo", too. When playback is running, you may notice some dancing bars indicating the loudness of outgoing notes at the left of the name display. This column is called the "VU Meter". There are some actions you can perform directly on entries of the track list:

What Track Parameters do

The Track Parameters define where the MIDI data of a track is send to as well as some alterations applied to the data in real-time. You will see only a part of the respective panel when vertical zoom level is low. To make the whole panel visible raise the vertical zoom level to maximum (there's a special button for this):

View of the full Track Parameter panel

The parameters can be altered either by a left-click and choosing an entry from a menu or by click and drag.

If you want to apply the modifications introduced by track parameters to the events in memory (so they become visible in the editors), use the Functions|Freeze Track Parameters option. This will permanently modify all MIDI events and reset the track parameters to their default values. You may either do this globally, that is: for all tracks (advisable before exporting to Standard MIDI File format) or locally, that is: only for the selected track.

Modifying groove and articulation of a track

The colored rectangles represent a control that allows to modify the groove and articulation of track data. The effect is a little like that of a grid quantization with the swing option turned on. But the difference is that the grid positions that will attract the notes do not have to be equally distributed in time. Rather they can be placed individually and as an extra can be associated with individual accents, either added to or subtracted from the loudness of affected notes.

As you can see the control consists four rectangles arranged in clockwise fashion, each enclosing four smaller rectangles. This is a representation of how a bar will be divided by the groove processor. The larger rectangles stand for beats, the small ones represent divisions of those beats. You can change the number of beats as well as how they are divided by left-clicks on the small rectangles with the corresponding numbers inside. So you may work with simple as well as composite meters (as for instance 3+3+2) with a total number of metrical units ranging from 4 to 16. Note that this function will ignore the division given by the current meter context of any event (that is: that of the preceding Time Signature event) .

Setting up the groove and articulation structure is done like this:

Inside each of the smaller rectangles there is a little knob, which can be dragged horizontally as well as vertically. The horizontal placement of these knobs determines the placement of the corresponding “note on”s and “note off”s in time. Similarly the loudness of a note is controlled by the vertical placement of the knob.

The exact translation of the coordinates is:


above: light (soft note)
left: emphasize by pushing note off forward
right: de-emphasize by pushing note on backward

below: heavy (loud note)

The four colored lines, which link the sixteen knobs with each other, can provide a first-glance impression of the internal symmetry (or lack of symmetry) inside the groove structure.

There is also a context menu for the groove control that offers some standard operations on the groove structure:

The Part Window

While the Track List harbors the parameters that govern real-time MIDI playback the Part Window presents on overview of the MIDI and audio data which is arranged here in yet another type of container: the so-called 'parts'. Basically a part is a unit that contains all events that occur within a certain time-span. These may be MIDI events or audio samples depending on how the unit is used.

A greenish frame with a title on the top visualizes the time span the unit comprises. When in MIDI mode all events inside the unit are displayed in the form of differently colored lines within this frame, each color representing another event type:

View of the Groove Control panel


When in Audio mode a waveform is shown instead.

This visual arrangement serves multiple purposes:

Parts will in most cases be created by the user himself but the Space Toad may create them automatically as well. This will – for instance – happen when a Standard MIDI File is imported or events are added outside the borders of any currently existing part. It is not - as with some other sequencers - allowed that parts overlap, but you don't have to worry too much about this because in case of conflicting part ranges the Space Toad will dissolve the conflict by slicing existing parts and / or creating new parts automatically. Superfluous part units can be merged with other units in a simple way: Make a previous part unit overlap a subsequent one using the Size function and the Space Toad will combine the latter with the former, leaving only one single part. This works with more than two parts, too.

Note that audio clips can only be attached to tracks that use the internal port ('I'). Moreover audio clips are monogamous. When an audio clip has become attached to a part it cannot become attached to others.

Mirror Parts

Some part-based copy functions (the 'Duplicate' or the 'Repeat' function, for instance) will create new parts that are displayed in a somewhat grizzled fashion. This indicates that the created parts are, for the time being, considered to be Mirror Parts. A 'part' that is a 'mirror' doesn't contain any MIDI data by itself, but rather reflects the content of the part it originated from. This special kind of part has been implemented for the benefit of composers of highly repetitive music. As long as a part is nothing but a 'mirror', all changes to the content of its original will change its own content as well, since its content is just a picture of the actual state of original. So the user can change an ostinato pattern stretching over many bars by just changing the contents of the first, original part.

To turn a Mirror Part into a new Original Part, not much is needed. Just create a new, original part on top of it. Any attempt to change the contents of a Mirror Part with one of the editors will have the same effect, by the way.

Adapting audio speed to MIDI playback

One important matter of interest when combining MIDI and audio playback is that these operate in different domains of time. The physical time position of MIDI notes is dependent on the playback tempo and this can be changed any time by the user or even some other sequencing device the 'Space Toad' might sync to. So any recorded audio accompaniment that is supposed to go along with the notes of the MIDI score will only do so as long the original tempo of the MIDI score (= that one which was used when the accompaniment was recorded) is not changed.

Now there are different devices implemented in the 'Space Toad' to make the timing of audio a little more flexible:

For all this there are some additional Track Parameters implemented. These are only visible when a track contains parts with attached audio clips. Then they can be viewed and changed after the display of the track has been switched from 'MIDI' to 'Audio'. These are :

Drawing MIDI events

Set Draw Event to the event type you wish to create and then choose Draw as mouse mode. Not required - but recommended - is to maximize the zoom via the Maximum Zoom & Focus push button. To enter single controller events, use the mouse as a pen and left-click into a Part. As with part editing the exact position of the created events is dependent on to the snap value settings. To enter continuous controller changes, click & drag with the mouse within the ranges of a targeted part. A staircase-like line of control data will appear (and controller data already present inside the range covered will eventually have disappeared since it has been overwritten). If you want to reduce the amount of control data generated use larger snap values (when the snap value is 1/16, control data will be inserted only at every 1/16 beat etc.). The Erase mode works exactly the same way, only that is rather erases than draws events of the specified Draw Event type.

The Time Bars

Recording without a metronome

One should think that it can't be too hard to make MIDI notes neatly fit into metrical units as bars and beats but there are a lot of MIDI files out there where this seems to have failed completely. These are mostly live recordings of pieces in a style where there is no uniform beat, as classical music for instance. The MIDI language has 'Tempo' events for dealing with such styles but these events must be written manually. No sequencer is able to record them automatically whenever the player has in mind to change his tempo - nobody has developed such an ingenious sequencing device yet. So it is much easier for a keyboard player to ignore the metronome by turning it off and to record 'fake' tempo changes on cost of a 'correct' metrical structure. Now this kind of recording isn't problematic as long as one only wants to hear these files play. The physical time position of a recorded MIDI event stays the same whether the MIDI-notated bar and beat positions are 'correct' in a musician's sense or not. But when it comes to more sophisticated sequencing functions that depend on the program's 'knowledge' about musical time - first of all score display would have to be named - one realizes that none of them can work correctly with such data. Therefore correcting the metrical structure by inserting real 'Tempo' events instead of fake tempo changes and restoring true metrics along the way is often worthwhile.

The Space Toad implements a very simple feature for this type of metric recalculation: Every click into the lowest section of the Time Bar (that's where the bar and beat intersections have their circular 'heads') will attract the nearest intersection to that click. This sounds simple enough but putting the feature into use can sometimes be quite tricky since the issue itself is tricky one.

Let's have a look at Jeannie Jones' MIDI file "Albert the Lion" (a slow blues) which exhibits such 'fake' tempo treats. The metrical structure you see is not what you hear. The first e actually is on the start of an up-beat quarter but you wouldn't guess that from this type of musical score. Our ear tells us that the second bar should begin with the C major chord but here it is at the end of a quintuplet (= division by 5). And the second beat of that bar should be on the a-e ditone which here is hidden away at the end of the sextuplet (= division by 6) making up the third quarter, not the second one:

This is how the score looks before recalculation

This would be a mess beyond repair were it impossible to re-calculate the metrics from scratch. The 'real' start of the second bar is about 2 quarters away from the start of the display. So we change the time signature for the first bar only to a 2/4 beat. Now the intersections of the beats of the second bar are quite near to where they should be. A single click before the first bar intersection line moves the start of the second bar to where it belongs: onto the C major chord. Now we pull the others towards their correct positions, too, and continuing this way up to the rest of the second bar we get a much more accurate notation:

This is how the score looks after recalculation

When we have a look at the Master Track now we will notice a whole bunch of tempo events that were not there in the first place. These have been silently inserted in order to compensate the losses and gains in time the events have incurred because of the various time shifts. Due to this events in both bars sound just as they had done before or – to put it as puzzling as possible – have shifted in musical time but stayed in place in physical time.

The Locator Range

The Locator Range – visible as a green strip in the time bar - has a twofold function: When the sequencer is in Loop Mode, it determines the start & end points of the playback loop. When using the Global Edit commands or Logical Pages, it designates the range which is to be affected by these commands.

Both locators points can be set by right-clicking on the time bar at the desired position. The start point must - of course - precede the stop point (if it doesn't, the program flips the two points around). With Loop Bar start and stop are set to beginning and end of the bar you have clicked on. Loop All locates the start point at the position of the first event of the composition and the stop point at the last. The locator points may also be moved in steps of exactly one bar by pressing the left or right arrow key with the control-key held down. This feature becomes useful, when the sequencer is held in a tight loop, as it enables quick auditioning of adjacent passages.

The Piano Editor

The Piano (Roll) Editor is quite self-explanatory: there's a system of coordinates with the horizontal axis representing time positions and the vertical axis standing for key numbers – as with a piano roll. Moving notes around means relocating them either in time or on the keyboard or both. For velocities (= levels of loudness) there is a color scheme: the more blueish the softer, the more reddish the louder. Velocities can be modified by moving the mouse on the vertical axis during the Size operation (Mouse Mode: Size).

The Key Mapper will – when set to non-chromatic modes – 'block' key position that have no direct mapping to the chosen mode. These rows become blue to show the inaudibility of these keys. This feature can be utilized to facilitate drawing a great deal. When – for instance – you are going to write an arpeggio C Major chord that is to span 4 octaves you might want to have a low zoom level so all 4 octaves are visible on the screen. But with such a low zoom level hitting the right row for each C, E and G key becomes a real hand-to-eye coordination challenge. With the Key Mapper set to the C Major chord on the other hand one practically can't miss one's target anymore since every click on anything else than C, E, or G is automatically mapped to one of these pitches.

There is a context (= right-click) menu for every note.

The List Editor

In this window the events of the track in focus are simply listed one after the other. There's hardly a benefit from using this primitive editor except one: here all types of events are displayed. Some non-musical events as – for instance – text events are not shown in the other editors.

Since there is no continuous time-axis here the position for inserting events has to be determined otherwise. This is done by the Insert Marker interface:

The Insert Marker interface



This small “t” signifies – as always - one tick (the 480nth part of a quarter).

The value of this marker can be set in two ways:

Since it is really hard to identify passages of music from a mere listing of notes there is in addition a red "audition" frame, that can moved with the control + up-arrow and control + down-arrow. When this frame arrives at a new note the sequencer will play it.

The Insert Event buttons

These buttons select the type of event to be inserted. Highlighting the small circles below these banns the respective type from the scope of this editor.

As with the Piano Editor there is a context (= right-click) menu for each event displayed.

The Score Editor

The Score Editor is quite different from the other editors in that it does not aim at 100 % exact visual representation of stored MIDI data. A direct translation of recorded MIDI notes into score graphics in most cases would (and in the case of some cheap sequencers actually does) result in a score that is so complex that it is practically unreadable. The Space Toad for the most cases produces sufficiently readable scores since it never directly displays its material, but rather creates a simplified interpretation of it. However, this interpretation is often a bit off the track. This is because score notation is a medium created by intelligent human beings, while computers tend to do things in a purely automatic way without reflecting them and are therefore (in human terms) quite stupid - especially when executing programs written by people as stupid as the Space Toad developer.

So there are quite a number of restrictions on what you can expect from a Space Toad score interpretation:

So you will often like to make the program to interpret its data different. You can do so by adding hints to individual MIDI notes that will override the programs decision on how to interpret the data. This is possible via the context menu for score notes. There are two types of hints: Staff Hints and Voice Hints. But even when a hint is set the Space Toad remains adamant concerning the notation rules stated above. It will – for instance – never cross voices even if it is a thousand times told to do so.

As with the List Editor there is no continuous time-axis with this editor. Time positions are rather determined by symbols already present in score, by nothing else. So do not – for instance - try to insert an 1/8-note into the second position of the third quarter of an empty 4/4 bar by clicking into some region of an approximately 2 cm wide target bar that looks as if it might be the last half of the first half of the last half. You can merely hope the program will figure out what you mean (some other Score Editors actually work that way, working with these requires a lot of patience as well as a high frustration tolerance). To produce the above-mentioned note, first draw a note of the desired pitch on top of the whole-note rest. That replaces the rest with a whole note. Split this note in two half-notes. Split the latter half-note to get quarter-notes. Of these split the first quarter-note in two to get 1/8-notes. Then delete the four notes that rather should be rests. The survivor is the intended 1/8-note on the second position of the third quarter.

Explanation of the buttons:

The 'show beats' toggle button

This button turns the visibility of bar divisions on and off. When bar divisions are visible rests longer than a bar division are not condensed. Entering notes becomes easier when there are a lot of rests, but the score – of course - becomes less legible. So turn this on when writing, turn it off when reading.

The 'show complex divisions' toggle button

Here you can decide if you want the Space Toad to use complex and unusual divisions when interpreting rhythm or not.

These buttons are really important. You cannot enter notes properly without these. While positioning the mouse over one of the staffs all it can point at is just the step of the note you want to insert. That is, if its going to be an A, B, C ..., but not its pitch class, that is, if its going to be an A-flat, A-sharp or whatever. Now the Key Mapper comes in handy. When – let's say - the A Major mode is the chosen mapping every note put on the C step will come out as a C-sharp, when the A-flat Minor mode is the one, a C-flat will appear instead and so on. But you will get along with this method only as long as you're going for nothing else but diatonic melodies and chords. When it comes to chromatic modes - here a step can be occupied by more than one note - the Key Mapper can no longer resolve pitch class ambiguities. Entered notes have to be corrected after being drawn as inconvenient that may be and these buttons do that.

Other MIDI related things

Record new MIDI data

Select the track which is going to receive the recording. If you are going to record your first track you might like to hear a metronome click. If so, highlight the Click option in the Transport Panel. Place the play position cursor where you would like to start the recording. First click on Rec and then on Cont. When you are finished, click on Stop.

Step-record MIDI data

Proceed as with a normal recording except that you do not start the sequencer with Continue. Play the first note / chord on your keyboard. Then set the play position to where the next note / chord will start. Play that second note / chord also. And so on. When you are finished disable Rec by pressing it once more. All notes you have played will now become visible. Note that note lengths are calculated after each recording in such a way that all notes will be legato (one note tied to the other). Controllers / Program Change events etc. can also be recorded this way, but with the difference, that only the last received event for one step is actually recorded.

Record Tempo Information

Tempo information is considered by the sequencer only when it resides on the first track (the so-called Master Track). Therefore select this track first. Then locate the Master option on the Transport Panel and turn it off. As long as the Master option is active, playback tempo may also be set by the master track when playback is running. That might lead to confusion. Start the recording and change the tempo by clicking and dragging the value of the tempo display on the Transport Panel. This also works with the step-record technique for sudden tempo changes. When you are finished turn the Master option on again.

Auto-Mix & Auto-Remix

Some MIDI files you may come across will store all their information within a single track. Use Automatic Remix to automatically create tracks for each channel and Automatic Mixdown to restore the one-track state by mixing everything down into one single track.

Global Edit commands

The Global Edit Commands affect event of all tracks alike. It doesn't matter if the events are selected or if the track they reside in is selected. They all refer to a certain range, that is identical to the currently chosen Locator Range. Unlike other edit commands these commands will also delete, copy and move Time Signature events.

The last two commands require that the play position is located outside the locator range.

The Grid Quantize function

Quantization is a technique is mostly used to correct the position of events from a recording that are not perfectly in time. Technically it means an alignment of events in regard to a specific time grid.

This operation is ruled by four parameters that are accessed via Attributes / Edit Grid Quantize:

All quantization-related functions operate on so-called event attributes only and that's why they are located in a separate menu. What distinguishes attributes from normal values is that changes to attributes are always reversible. In the case of a bunch of quantized note events this means that the quantization of individual notes can be undone, too. This is quite different from the normal Undo / Redo feature which just means to return to the saved copy of a former state of editing. To make quantization effects permanent one has to freeze them. Such an operation is needed for the Standard MIDI File Export facility since this MIDI files know no event attributes. So quantization effects would be lost in an exported file if there were no way to make them permanent.

The Logical Pages

These pages mainly serve the purpose to facilitate tasks that would become really tedious if one were to perform them on every single event.

So one may

and much more. All this is done by simply setting up a few search criteria and modification operators.

The Logical Filter

The Logical Filter searches through all selected MIDI data and (depending on the mode it is set to) deletes all events which fulfill certain conditions or (if set to 'select') deselects all events which do not fulfill them. The criteria that are considered are:

The Logical Transformer

The Logical Transformer searches through all selected MIDI data, marks those events that match the specified conditions and (depending on the mode it is set to) either modifies them directly or adds new modified versions of these events to the MIDI data store. Each of the attributes given above can be modified by the following operations:

Other MIDI-related commands

MIDI-related options

The Audio Editor

Handling audio with this editor is maybe not completely straightforward. This is because

At first look this may seem a byzantine pastime. But when classifying audio data beforehand in the way the Space Toad does a lot of things actually get easier:

Now for the three categories:

The effects of the Audio Editor:

The Mixer Window

This window is the central interface for the Space Toad's internal audio synthesizer and effect system.

The most important thing on the screen is the row of boxes on the left. These are the slots for the synthesizer plug-ins without which no sound will be generated. So let's put a synthesizer into one of these slots. We do so by a right-click on the box. For now we choose the 'Polyphonic Synth'. Each of these slots corresponds to a channel of the sequencers internal output port (named 'I'). So as a next step the 'I' port is chosen for a track containing MIDI data and the number of the slot that is occupied by the synthesizer is specified as channel number. This should render the MIDI notes audible on playback.

For now every note is played by nothing but a pure saw wave. This is distressful for the ear. We will smooth the sound of the notes and for this purpose return to the mixer. A left-click on the occupied synthesizer slot opens another panel. These are the internal parameters of the synthesizer – but none of them can change the timbre. We need an additional component, a sound filter, and therefore open the menu item named 'Components'. Under the header 'VCF' (= Voltage Controlled Filter, a term from analog synthesizer technology still used today due to intellectual laziness) we find a lot of filters. Among them are some 'low pass filters' (= the ones that cut high frequencies) which is what we were looking for. After choosing one the panel begins to restructure. Now some rows of parameters for a low pass filter have appeared and we can adjust the amount of filtering be adjusting the 'Floor' and 'Range' parameters.

After having closed the synthesizer panel we are looking for ways to equalize the sound and eventually add some effects as chorus or phasing. The large letters 'EQ' on top of the screen look promising. When clicked the mixer panel changes its view and now exhibits an equalizer for each audio channel with decibel controls for low, mid and high frequency range and two controls in hertz for adjusting the borders between these ranges. The rest of the screen now is occupied by even more empty rectangle which – as we can guess – are plug-in slots for effects. They have to be treated as the generator slots: a right-click creates a plug-in, a left-click opens a panel to edit the plug-ins parameters.

As a last step we consider adding some reverberation to the sound. Reverberation effects are CPU expensive and there might be a way to install one in such a way that plug-ins can share it. There is – of course – a way. It hides on the page of the mixer interface we have left by clicking on the 'EQ' rectangle and to which we now return by clicking on the 'AUX' rectangle. A lot of `send' controls have appeared. According to the terminology used by sound engineers a 'send' is something that feeds a `bus' – a kind of extra channel. So these 'send' controls should determine how much each one of the 16 audio channels contributes to 6 auxiliary buses. But what purpose have these hidden extra channels ? There are still more empty rectangles at the bottom of the screen – obviously effects for each aux bus. So we put our reverberation there in order to make it available to every synthesizer plug-in we're going to create in the future.

This only thing that is left inexplicable is the diagram in the upper-right corner that changes its appearance when clicked. The key to this is the little gray dot which stands for the final master mix – that one which is put into the sound card - and the letters which represent the 6 aux sends. According to this the lines show the path the audio stream will take through the six buses up to the final output:

Along with the name of a plug-in the display of a constantly changing value measured in percent appears. This is (or was) the CPU load indicator for the plug-in. Long ago when CPU's only had one core this was the percentage of available processor cycles the plug-in just had wasted. What it is today the developer still hasn't figured out. On his machine audio drop-outs (= first signs of an CPU overload) do not appear until plug-ins swallow at least 500 % (!) of available processor cycles. But this may vary from CPU model to CPU model. When you begin to hear clicks, pops and sudden drop-outs in the audio output of your machine you obviously just have reached your computers limits. Keep the sum of percentages in mind and try to avoid reaching it in the future.

Hyper Vector Control

This should rather be called “parameter blending”, ”parameter morphing” or something like that. But “Hyper Vector Synthesis” is a well-known term. It sounds like awful mathematics but in fact it hasn't much to do with it. View every set of parameters for a plug-in as a single point located inside the space of what the plug-in is able to do. One set of parameter being one point and a different set another point there must be a line leading from the first to the second. And that's all the HVC does: It calculates this line and moves all parameters along with it according to the current value of a controller. There are four modes for this:

The X, Y, Z controller types are not part of the GMI (= General MIDI Instrument) standard but rather a Space Toad specialty. They can be drawn in the Arrange Window by setting the Event Type to X, Y, or Z.

Reflections

This one simulates the first sound reflections in a room. It should be put in series before any of the late reverberation simulators for natural sounding reverberation. This “room” is a rather ideal one: the “walls” absorb all frequencies alike in a degree that is fixed. A more complex simulation (which includes adjustable reflectivity and high-frequency absorption characteristics for each wall) can be had from the Room Response effect in the Audio Editor. It is to expensive to run in real-time.

Small Reverb, Medium Reverb, Large Reverb

This is a group of late reverberation simulators build from comb filters as it was done in times of analog reverberation machines. These may exhibit a metallic tinge, especially with high reverberation times. Everything labeled as "large" uses of a lot of CPU time so it is better not to use such effects more than once.

Small Room, Medium Room, Large Room

These are “white” reverberation effects, “White” means without the metallic tinge of the comb-filter based reverberators . Compared with the previous group their reverberation is less compact but also clearer. In front of each reverberator there is an early reflection stage. Duration, distribution and fade-out characteristics of these reflections can be adjusted. Among all reverberators the sound of these is most like what the reverberation in a real room would be.

Small FDN, Medium FDN, Large FDN

FDN stands for “Feedback Delay Network”. These effects do not aim at imitating any real room response but just at diffusing a sound as much as possible. Use this when it comes to reverberate something like drums. These are monophonic effects.

Quadratic Chorus, Harmonic Chorus, Filtered Chorus, Symphonic Chorus

These effects add echoes to the original sound which constantly glide up and down in pitch. With a medium modulation depth this tends to widen the sound as if many instruments were playing instead of one. With a low depth it leads to extinguishing certain parts of the spectrum dependent on the position of the LFO making it a kind of moving sound filter. With high modulation depth it just detunes the original. The Quadratic variety modulates echoes at 90° intervals. The Harmonic Chorus modulates them in harmonic frequencies. The Filtered Chorus does so, too, and then applies band-separation by filtering to the echoes. The Symphonic Chorus produces the highest number of echoes which it modulates in frequencies chosen from a user-supplied range and then distributes them with stereo surround panning.

Phaser

A Phaser effect works quite a like Chorus effect only that the echoes it sums up are not detuned but phase-shifted. Therefore the pitch of the original is retained but the spectrum is filled with notches that move up and down according to the speed of a LFO.

Complete List of Shortcuts

Display Commands

F1

Show/Hide Track Window

F2

Show/Hide Piano Editor

F3

Show/Hide Score Editor

F4

Show/Hide List Editor

F5

Show/Hide Audio Editor

F6

Show/Hide Mixer Desk

Ctrl+Shift+Q

Open Quantize Dialog

Ctrl+Shift+F

Open Filter Dialog

Ctrl+Shift+T

Open Transform Dialog

Sequencer Commands

F

Toggle Follow Mode

M

Toggle Master Mode

L

Toggle Loop Mode

C

Metronome on/off

Control + SPACE

Start playback from beginning

ENTER

Stop playback

SPACE

Continue playback

INSERT

Toggle Record Mode

Arrow Up

One track up

Arrow Down

One track down

Arrow Left

Move to previous bar

Arrow Right

Move to next bar

Control + Arrow Left

Move locator points one bar to the left

Control + Arrow Right

Move locator points one bar to the right

Control + Arrow Up

One entry up (List Editor)

Control + Arrow Down

One entry down (List Editor)

Edit Commands

U

Undo

Control + A

Select All

Alt + S

Mouse Mode: Select

Alt + D

Mouse Mode: Duplicate

Alt + H

Mouse Mode: Shift

Alt + P

Mouse Mode: Split

Alt + Z

Mouse Mode: Size

Alt + W

Mouse Mode: Draw

Alt + E

Mouse Mode: Erase

#

Switch Key Mapper to default ascending mode (all black keys will be sharps)

b

Switch Key Mapper to default decending mode (all black keys will be flats)

0

Snap off

1

Snap Value: Bar

2 … 6

Snap Value: 1/2 - 1/64

Control + 2 ... Control + 6

Snap Value: 1/2T - 1/32T

Alt + 2 ... Alt + 6

Snap Value: 1/2D - 1/32D

Structure Commands

N

Create new track

Ctrl+Alt+N

Create new part

Ctrl+Alt+D

Delete selected parts

Del

Delete selected track

Alt+Del

Delete selected events

Alt+Shift+D

Duplicate range

Alt+Shift+S

Shift range

Alt+Shift+C

Global Cut

Alt+Shift+I

Global Insert

Alt+Shift+Del

Global Delete

Function Commands

P

Freeze Track Parameters

Q

Quantize

File Commands

Ctrl+N

New File

Ctrl+O

Open File

Ctrl+S

Save File

Ctrl+Shift+S

Save File as

Ctrl+I

Import Standard MIDI File

Ctrl+E

Export Standard MIDI File

Ctrl+Q

Exit Program

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