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Music Technology Sequencing Coursework Log

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Introduction

Sequencing Log (Chicken) 2. To enter the pitch and rhythm data into the computer I used a mixture of a MIDI keyboard and using the mouse to enter the notes by clicking on a grid at the onset of the note (indicated by bar numbers at the top of the screen) and at the right pitch (indicated by a virtual keyboard on the left-hand side) and dragging the note to reach the desired length, according to what was written on the score. An example of this is shown below. When I used the keyboard, I played in the notes as written in the score using real-time keyboard techniques such as hitting the notes harder for increased velocity and holding down notes for varying lengths of time according to the individual note lengths. I then edited any notes which were inaccurate in length, onset or pitch. In order to verify that the notes which I was inputting were correct, I regularly compared the composition as a whole and individual parts to a previously-recorded version of the song, as performed by a big band. The pitch-bends in the bass and brass parts were inputted by changing the pitch-bend data for each track which it appeared on. I put in the drum parts using a mouse and put in the notes using step-time. I improvised the drum fills and drum solo before the funk section, and improvised the whole drum section in the funk section based around what was written in the score. 3. (a) ...read more.

Middle

This is demonstrated in the screenshot below, which shows highly zoomed note data from four tracks simultaneously: the notes begin and end at slightly different times and, although normally it is an inaudible difference, overall it makes the piece sound much less mechanical. (d) I based the phrasing of the piece on the fact that players of instruments which require an outward flow of air from the lungs (i.e. saxophones, trumpets, trombones) need to be able to breathe. For this reason, short breath-lengthed periods of silence were put in after sections which had long notes, and in sections where no other gaps were. I also shortened the notes to create gaps where commas ( , ) appeared above the staves. To establish the starts and ends of phrases I also made use of velocity, where there was a sort of heirarchy in the amount of velocity: the first beat of the bar had more velocity than the others, and in 4/4 time the 3rd beat had more than the 2nd and 4th, but in 3/4 time the 2nd and 3rd beats carried a roughly equal amount of velocity. None of this was done 100% accurately, however, due to my focus on naturalism: the inaccuracies and inconsistencies of human players would not allow for each note to be played at an equal velocity. Where there were pauses in the score, namely at bars 21 and 22 (bars 22 and 23 in the Cubase file), I added 3 beats on to the bar using the "Signature Track" (see screenshot below) ...read more.

Conclusion

Such (deliberate) imperfections, in my opinion, make the piece sound more human and less digital, making it sound more like a performance than a MIDI playback, however I could have improved this further by implementing features such as a sustain pedal on the piano and dequantisation of the drum part. Another feature which I used was the use of stereo panning, which I think helped the piece sound more like a musical performance because it established the positions of the musicians relative to the listener, therefore making the piece sound yet more like a performance than a computerised playback. However, one problem I have encountered is that the amount of control data (i.e. main volume changes, pitch bends, velocity changes, variations in note start points and lengths, etc.) can have negative effects if the processing speed of the computer the piece is being played on is not high enough. Towards the end of my composition process I found that after the pitch bends in the second half of the song, some of the notes remained permenantly detuned, making it sound very dissonant, if played from the beginning, but if played from after the pitch-bends themselves, or played only 5 or 6 tracks at a time, there was no such detuning, showing that there are no actual errors in the input. However, I solved this problem by substituting a heavier use of note velocity for less main volume variation, and this freed up more computer processing speed in order for the pitch bends to work. Clive Newstead ...read more.

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