The Help/Setup Panel

When the KeyMusician keyboard starts-up, it briefly displays the Help/Setup panel (also accessed by pressing F1), before switching to the first performance pane (F2). The Help/Setup panel looks something like this:


There are tabs at the top, for selecting the different performance panes, or the Help/Setup pane itself. Initially, the first performance pane (F2) is visible. You can select a pane either by clicking on its tab, or by pressing the function-key that activates it. The tabs look like this:




Just below the tabs, in the upper left, is the Configuration File drop-box, which looks like this:




The Configuration File drop-box contains the file names of every KeyMusician Keyboard configuration file (extension “.kmk”) in the KeyMusician-Keyboard folder of your home directory. They are shown in alphabetical order. Since you might save one for each piece you perform, there could be a lot of them. These files contain the settings you made in an earlier session, and saved for later using the “Save Config” button. They contain the settings in all of the performance panes, in addition to the settings in the Help/Setup pane.

Initially, after installation, a default file (for your particular operating system) will be selected. The default configuration file will give you parameter settings for what is likely to be available on your system, and with reasonable settings for using it.

In spite of the best efforts by the application, you may have to at least select an output MIDI device in the “MIDI Output To” drop-box. The keyboard cannot be played if it is not connected to a MIDI output device, such as a software synthesizer.

When you finish a music session, the settings you were using will (if you consent) be saved in a file called “PriorConfig.kmk”, which will be the default configuration file the next time you start the application, thereby restoring your last settings.

There are a few configuration files already set up for you, in addition to the default configuration files for each operating system. These configuration files are:

The Keyboard-Map

Next, at the top right of the Help/Setup pane, is the drop-box for the keyboard-map files. It looks like this:


You change the keyboard map by clicking on the “Keyboard Map” drop-box, and selecting the proper map. The keyboard maps distributed with the software are explained below, and there are pictures of the keyboards to which they apply a bit further below.

The “Keyboard Map” drop-box shows all of the keyboard map files (extension “.kbd”) in the KeyMusician-Keyboard folder of your home directory. Initially, after installation on your machine, there are 6 such files:

Keyboards where the “\” key is to the right of the right-shift key, need to use the “Z1” keyboard mapping files.

Keyboards where the “\” key is to the left of the backspace key, need to use the “Z2” keyboard mapping files.

If you use a Qwerty keyboard layout (the left-most keys above the home row are “QWERTY”), use the Qwerty keyboard-map files. If you use a Dvorak keyboard layout (the keys of the home row are “AOEUIDHTNS-), use the Dvorak keyboard-maps.

Unlike with normal typing, there is no advantage in the KeyMusician-Keyboard with using the Dvorak keyboard layout. But the application does need to know which layout you are using.

If the keys on your keyboard are different from any of the 3 layouts shown, or you use a keyboard layout other than Qwerty or Dvorak, you need to re-map your keyboard.

All of these are for a US keyboard. If you use something different, you will have to change your keyboard mapping (which is easy to do). If you change the keyboard mapping, save your new keyboard mapping file with a different name than the ones that are initially installed. That new keyboard-map file will appear next time you start up the application. Click here to learn how to re-map your keyboard.

I strongly recommend using a zig-zag keyboard arrangement, because it allows you to continue playing the melody with just one hand, even when the melody crosses beyond the end of a keyboard row. The “Z” in the filename stands for zig-zag.

Here are pictures of the QWERTY Z, Z1, and Z2 keyboard arrangements (the arrows in the pictures show the “low note to high note” direction of the successive keys):


Normal 'Z' keyboard (note the “\key is above the “Enter” key)


Z1 keyboard (note the “\key to the right of the right-shift key)


Z2 keyboard (note the “\” key to the left of the Backspace key)

With the zig-zag arrangement, keys played on the bottom keyboard row, from left to right, yield successively higher notes. When you reach the right shift key, you move up to the next keyboard row (just left of the Enter key), and as you press keys (going from right to left), you get successively higher notes.

When you reach the Caps Lock key, you again move up to the next keyboard row up (just right of the Tab key) and as you type keys from left to right, you get successively higher notes.

At the end of this row, you move up to the top row of keys, and as you type keys from right to left, you get successively higher notes. Note that the Backspace key is used as a mappable music key.

The next control is the “Instrument Definitions Used” drop-box, just below the “Configuration File” drop-box. It looks like this:


The “Instrument Definitions Used” drop-box contains all of the “.sid”, “.ins” or “.rgd.xml” files in the KeyMusician-Keyboard folder of your home directory. The “.sid” and “.ins” files are created (imported) by analyzing soundfont (“.sf2”) files, and the “.rgd.xml” files are imported from Rosegarden bank-definition files (Rosegarden is a good sequence-editor, used on Linux).

These text files contain the bank numbers and patch numbers used by a particular synthesizer, or by a soundfont used by a synthesizer. The definitions that come from soundfont files usually conform to the General MIDI (GM) specification, so they are fairly interchangeable. The Rosegarden definition files (if used) are probably for a specific external synthesizer attached to your computer.

In this drop-box, select the instrument definitions you will be using with your synthesizer. When you change this selection, many existing bank and instrument definitions in the performance panes will be invalidated, and will have to be re-specified. Again, keep in mind that these files are somewhat interchangeable, so they don't necessarily need to be changed.

To the right of the “Instrument Definitions Used” drop-box, is the “Customize Look-and-Feel” drop-box. It looks something like this:


The “Customize Look-and-Feel” drop-box lets you customize the way the application's dialogs appear, by selecting the look-and-feel of the application. Initially, the “Nimbus” look-and-feel is selected, which is available on all 3 operating systems, and is modern and attractive. All of the screen-shots are with the Nimbus look-and-feel.

The OS-specific look-and-feels (Windows, MacOS X, and GTK+), are available only on Windows, Mac, and Linux, in that order.

You can try out each of the values (loaded from what is available on your system), and see which one you like best. I personally like the ”Windows” and “GTK+” look-and-feel, which also support the user's color customizations.

On Macintosh®, the “Nimbus” look-and-feel is recommended, because the “Mac OS X” look-and-feel doesn't show all of the tabs at any one time. Fortunately, the “Nimbus” look-and-feel is very similar to “Mac OS X”, so it shouldn't be too foreign to Mac users. You can use the “Mac OS X” look-and-feel, if you wish.

The next control down from the above, is the “MIDI Output To” drop-box. It looks something like this:


The “MIDI Output To” drop-box lets you select the MIDI device (or interface) you will be sending your performance signals to (from the keyboard). The drop-box is loaded from what is available on your system. A usable value must be chosen, or you will not be able to play anything. This device should (if possible) be different from the device used by the integrated MIDI-player. If not, keyboard notes on channels used by the player can interfere with each other.

Only devices capable of receiving MIDI signals (such as synthesizers) will appear in this drop-box. This device is what actually makes the sounds dictated by what you play on the keyboard. If your keyboard is to play an external synthesizer (or sound module), the device might be a MIDI interface that connects to it.

See More Details On Specifying MIDI Input and Output Devices for more information.

The next control down, is the “MIDI Input From” drop-box, which looks something like this:


The “Display” radio-button (if set) indicates you are specifying the input device display input (the red notes to match) come from. If you don't change anything (or if you set the drop-box to “none”), it comes from the player.

The “Thru” radio-button (if set) indicates you are specifying the input device (or interface) from an external MIDI keyboard (or synthesizer) you are using as input to the application (playing-through the application). Doing this allows you to take advantage of the musical intelligence of the application (you can play everything with no flats or sharps – letting the application take care of this for you). It also lets you take advantage of the see-the-note/play-the-note music education capabilities of the application with a MIDI keyboard or synthesizer.

The “MIDI Input From” drop-box lets you select the MIDI device (or interface) you will be receiving MIDI signals from, when playing a MIDI keyboard through the application. The “Display” radio-button is not initially selected, since the MIDI events for display (in learning to read music) are automatically setup to come from the integrated MIDI player.

The displayed notes could be setup to come from another MIDI device (or interface), such as one used by a teacher.

To set it back to using the integrated MIDI player, select the “Real Time Sequencer=Software sequencer” entry.

The next control is the “Load Soundfont” button, which looks something like this:


This control is used to load a new soundfont into the selected MIDI output device. It can only be used for the “Soundblaster Live”, or “Audigy” sound-cards, or for the Gervill Software MIDI Synthesizer (provided by Java Sound). It (unfortunately) can't be used with the Java Sound Synthesizer provided with Java 1.6 on Macintosh.

Loading soundfonts lets you use different versions of the various instrument sounds. Different instruments are better (or worse) in different soundfonts. You can find out which soundfonts you like, by loading them, and playing their various instrument sounds. I particularly recommend the “FluidR3_GM.sf2” soundfont, which is available on Linux, or can be downloaded (for free) from a website. See the tutorial on improving your system.

On Windows ®, using the “Gervill” synthesizer, there can be a problem with using a soundfont as large as the “FluidR3_GM.sf2” soundfont (which is 142 megabytes in size). The problem is manifest by sound occasionally cutting-out when Java re-consolidates its storage space. If it happens on your machine, simply use a smaller soundfont. It shouldn't have a problem with soundfonts up to 60 megabytes in size.

Also on Windows ®, the soundfont used in Audigy or Soundblaster cards is configured for the device's device-driver, and can't be loaded by the application. The kX project 3rd-party software allows you to configure different soundfonts. See the tutorial on improving your system.

The next control is the “Refresh Devices” button, which looks something like this:


The “Refresh Devices” button is used when software providing additional MIDI devices is brought up after the KeyMusician Keyboard is initialized, or if such software has been taken down (making it no-longer available). Clicking this button let's you choose devices from the newly-available list of MIDI devices. Existing MIDI device connections will be restored (if possible) after this button is clicked. This button is particularly useful on Linux systems.

The next control is the “Show Windows” button, which looks something like this:


This button allows you to control which of the helper dialog-boxes of the application you want to remain visible, or to restore such visibility if you have accidentally closed one or more of them. The helper dialogs are the Chords-Pad window, the Learning Metrics window, and the MIDI-Player window.

Clicking this button brings up the following dialog-box:


The check-boxes indicate which of the helper dialogs you want to be visible. If you have closed any of the helper dialogs, its check-box will not be checked. To restore its visibility, click its check-box, and then click the “OK” button.

The next control is the “Import Instruments” button, which looks something like this:


The “Import Instruments” button allows you to import instrument definitions to the KeyMusician-Keyboard folder of your home directory. The files these definitions come from are either soundfont (.sf2) files, or Rosegarden bank-definition files. There are several such files already in the KeyMusician-Keyboard folder of your home directory when the application is initially installed. Instrument definitions imported from a soundfont (.sf2) file will have the “.sid” extension. Rosegarden bank-definition imports will have the “.rgd.xml” filename-extension.

When you click the button, the following dialog-box appears:


Select the radio-button for the type of file you want to import from, and click the “Select File” button. It uses the Java Sound Synthesizer for getting the instrument-definitions from a soundfont file.

Unfortunately, the Java Sound Synthesizer provided by Apple for use with Java 1.6 does not provide the functionality for importing instrument definitions from a soundfont.

The next control is the “Save Config” button, which looks something like this:


The “Save Config” button allows you to save all of your setup choices (as well as the setup choices saved in each of the performance panels) in a “.amk” file in the KeyMusician-Keyboard folder of your home directory. Since you could end up saving quite a few of these for different pieces you play, try to name the files in a way you can find them in alphabetical order.

When you click the button, a standard Java file-chooser dialog-box appears, looking something like this:


The “Open” button means to open the file for writing.

The default name is “PriorConfig.kmk” (as shown), which will give you these saved settings the next time you run the application. You can type a new name, or select (click on) one of the files shown to over-write a particular file. The “.kmk” at the end of the filename indicates the file is a KeyMusician-Keyboard configuration file.

The next control is the “Save Keybd Map” button (which is grayed-out if you haven't changed the keyboard-mapping). It looks something like this:


The “Save Keybd Map” button is enabled whenever you change the keyboard mapping. It lets you save your changes to the KeyMusician-Keyboard folder of your home directory.

It's a good idea to use a different keyboard-map filename than the ones originally installed, in case you need to go back to the original keyboard map. The “.kbd” extension at the end of the filename indicates it's a keyboard map file.

Just before that extension, it's a good idea if your chosen name ends with either “-Z”, “-Z1” or “-Z2”. The application uses this suffix to recognize what kind of keyboard you're using, and from that, where the keyboard-row boundaries should be on the keyboard diagrams. If your keyboard row-boundaries don't correspond to the Z, Z1, or Z2 keyboard layouts, don't use their name suffixes (or it will indicate the wrong row-boundaries).



The next set of controls is shown in the screen-shot below. At the left, is the “Mouse” check-box. Normally when you play notes using the mouse, the note sounds as long as you hold the mouse button down. With the check-box not selected (un-checked), that is what happens.

But there is an alternate way to play notes with the mouse, where you just single-click on the next note you want to play (which turns off any mouse-note currently playing), and plays the new note, which just keeps playing. To turn it off without playing a new note, simply click to the left of the note-area in the musical staff.

Playing notes with the mouse entirely using single-clicks is surprisingly easy, and warrants the ability to select it. If you want to play mouse notes entirely using single-clicks, select this check-box by clicking on it (a check-mark appears if it is selected).

The next set of controls is the “CHORDS” radio-buttons, and the “Affect Melody” check-box. These controls look something like this:


The “CHORDS” radio-buttons let you select which chord system you want to use in all of the performance panels. Standard chords (the default) are useful for playing the chords shown in sheet-music. They also work for composing your own music, or for improvising with other musicians.

Modal chords are best for making up, or improvising music, since all of the chords will work fairly well in whatever key-signature you are playing, without having to introduce accidentals into the melody. And where you don't have to keep your eyes on the music, you can easily see what chord attributes are currently selected.

The “Affect Melody” check-box allows you to control whether or not accidentals (notes not in the current key-signature) used by the current chord, are also applied to the melody. Most of the time, you want it that way (chords affect the melody), but there are some cases in playing standard chords from sheet-music, that accidentals from the chord will mess-up the melody notes, and the only way to get around it is to not have chord accidentals affect the melody. In such cases you need to un-check this check-box.

Re-Mapping The Keyboard

The next control fills the right side of the Help/Setup pane, but is shown here at the left. It allows you to re-map the keyboard, which you will need to do if your keyboard layout is different from the keyboard maps distributed with the software.

If you re-map the keyboard, it will be very helpful if you can map the key for middle-C at the left end of the row above the home-row (just to the right of the Tab key).

The keyboard-map control consists of a keyboard diagram, with a column of characters in its left side. These characters are the keyboard-characters used to activate the various music keys. Only the white keys (keys of the scale) are mapped, since the application takes care of whether or not a black key is played, based on the current key-signature.

The upper-case characters immediately to the left of the keyboard keys are the letter-names of the notes. The short lines extending into the note-name area mark the boundaries between keyboard rows. If you are using a custom keyboard-map file (not ending with “-Z.kbd”, “-Z1.kbd”, or “-Z2.kbd”), the application doesn't know where to put these lines, so they will not appear.

You change the keyboard mapping by clicking somewhere in the keyboard map diagram (on the first key you want to change) . The application will ask you if you really want to change it, in case the click was accidental.

The keyboard diagram shows which keyboard key is used to activate which key of the (virtual) music keyboard. To change it, click on the key of the diagram you want to change the mapping for, then type the key you want to use for it. When you change even a single key, the “Save Keybd Map” button is enabled, allowing you to save your keyboard map file (with a “.kbd” extension).

When you type a key into the keyboard map diagram, the selected key automatically moves up to the next key, making it easy to re-map entire groups of notes, or even the entire keyboard. If you want to change the entire keyboard mapping, click first on the lowest key.

Press the typing keyboard key you want to use to activate the selected key. As a result of doing this, the key you typed will appear to the left of the key that was marked, and the marked key will advance upward, allowing you to repeat the process on the newly-marked key.

Continue the process until you have changed the mapping for all of the music keys you wanted to change. You can skip around by clicking on different keys of the diagram.

Finally, click on the “Save Keybd Map” button, and select a filename for saving your keyboard map. If you want it to appear in the “Keyboard Map” drop-box, it will need to be saved in the “KeyMusician-Keyboard” directory of your home directory.









The next portion of the Help/Setup pane are the “Help Panes” tabbed-panes. It looks something like the following:


The “About” tab (shown) describes the application, showing its version level.

The “FAQ” tab provides a drop-box with a bunch of frequently-asked-questions. Click on the drop-box to expand it. If you see a question you want answered in the drop-box, click on it, and it will answer the selected question.

The “Tutorials / Manual” tab has buttons for reading the online-help documentation (this document), or the Tutorials. These documents are displayed using your system browser. If the Help and Tutorials are installed on your computer, it reads them from your hard-disk. Otherwise, it attempts to read them from the Web, so an Internet connection is required.



The bottom portion of the window is common to all of the panes of the main dialog box. It looks something like the following, containing three buttons:


When you have finished making your setup choices, click the “Play” button, and you will be switched to a performance panel (F2), and you can start playing, unless there are still some critical pieces of information you need to specify. The advantage of clicking the “Play” button (instead of just clicking on the tab of the desired performance pane), is that it checks to see if you have everything set up properly to allow playing to begin.

The “Play” button also has another use. If there is a MIDI file specified to be played by the MIDI-Player (which has its own window, and its own “Play” button), Clicking this “Play” button will also activate the MIDI-Player to start playing.

If you click the “Help” button (visible in any of the panes, and in the helper dialog boxes), it activates your default browser to read the section of the help documentation that pertains to what was visible when/where the Help button was clicked.

In using the FAQ tab, if you don't see the question you have in the Frequently-Asked-Questions drop-box, click on the “Tutorials / Manual” tab, and click its “Read Manual” button. In the manual, you can search for the information you need.

Finally, click on the “Exit” button when you want to leave the application. It will ask you if you want to save your current settings. Alternatively, you could close the KeyMusician Keyboard application window, which is the same as if you click the “Exit” button.

More Details On Specifying MIDI Input and Output Devices

The “MIDI Output To” and “MIDI Thru Input From” drop-boxes specify which MIDI devices the KeyMusician Keyboard is connected to.

The values contained in these drop-boxes vary from computer to computer, and from operating system to operating system. Some available MIDI devices are shown differently on Linux, Macintosh, and Windows.

The table below lists some of the common devices, and explains them. You hopefully can figure out what the device is, from the information shown in the table below.

Device (Linux version)

Description

Gervill=Software MIDI Synthesizer

The Java-Sound Synthesizer has a fair amount of latency (which makes it hard to play fast) but it allows you to load different soundfonts, which can greatly improve your sound quality. It also allows you to use the strummed-chords feature.

Java Sound Synthesizer=Software wavetable synthesizer and receiver

The Java synthesizer supplied by Apple for Mac OS X, using Java 1.6. It is low latency (which is good), and has a pretty good sound. It does not support loading soundfonts, or querying the instruments in its pre-loaded soundfont. It also can't play as many simultaneous notes/voices as other synthesizers.

A: SB Live! MIDI Synth=No details available

Low-latency hardware synthesizer, on the soundblaster sound card. On Windows, you can't easily change the soundfont, but the Windows soundfont is now reasonably good.

B: SB Live! MIDI Synth=No details available

Another instance of the above hardware synthesizer. You can use it for the player. Same comments as above.

SB Live! MIDI UART=External MIDI Port

With the proper cable connected to your soundblaster card, you can use this to connect to an external MIDI synthesizer or sound module

kX Synth CT4832 10k1 [df20]-External MIDI Port

kX Project emu10k1 Driver – emu10k1 hardware synthesizer 1

kX Synth2 CT4832 10k1 [df20]-External MIDI Port

kX Project emu10k1 Driver – emu10k1 hardware synthesizer 2

kX Uart CT4832 10k1 [df20]=No details available

kX Project emu10k1 Driver – Access MIDI Interface (cable)

USB Audio Device=No details available

A MIDI keyboard, connected via a USB port

Microsoft MIDI Mapper=Windows MIDI_MAPPER

Component (on Windows) for mapping to the default synthesizer port

USB Audio Device=External MIDI Port

A MIDI keyboard, connected via a USB port

BASSMIDI Driver (port A)=External MIDI Port

BASSMIDI MIDI synthesizer driver is a freeware SoundFont based Windows MIDI system driver (created by kode54 and Mudlord) for Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. It uses the BASS and BASSMIDI audio libraries by Ian Luck (Un4seen Developments) as the SoundFont synthesizer, and includes a BASSMIDI Driver Configuration Utility, as well as a SoundFont Packer Utility.

BASSMIDI Driver (port B)=External MIDI Port

BASSMIDI MIDI synthesizer driver is a freeware SoundFont based Windows MIDI system driver (created by kode54 and Mudlord) for Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. It uses the BASS and BASSMIDI audio libraries by Ian Luck (Un4seen Developments) as the SoundFont synthesizer, and includes a BASSMIDI Driver Configuration Utility, as well as a SoundFont Packer Utility.

Microsoft GS Wavetable SW Synth=Internal software synthesizer

The default Microsoft® software synthesizer, decent quality, but noticable latency - a little less latency than Java-sound (Gervill) on Windows 7, and no problems with storage-consolidation delays. It's down-side is you can't load soundfonts into it.

Live [default]=SB Live! Value [CT4832], EMU10K1 MPU-401 (UART), EMU10K1 MPU-401 (UART)

Soundblaster Live! MIDI interface (to MIDI cable)

Live [hw:0,0,0]=SB Live! Value [CT4832], EMU10K1 MPU-401 (UART), EMU10K1 MPU-401 (UART)

Soundblaster Live! MIDI interface (to MIDI cable)

Live [hw:0,1,0]=SB Live! Value [CT4832], VirMidi, Emu10k1 Synth MIDI

Instance of Emu10k1 hardware synthesizer 0

Live [hw:0,1,1]=SB Live! Value [CT4832], VirMidi, Emu10k1 Synth MIDI

Instance of Emu10k1 hardware synthesizer 0

Live [hw:0,1,15]=SB Live! Value [CT4832], VirMidi, Emu10k1 Synth MIDI

Instance of Emu10k1 hardware synthesizer 0

Live [hw:0,2,0]=SB Live! Value [CT4832], VirMidi, Emu10k1 Synth MIDI

Instance of Emu10k1 hardware synthesizer 1

Live [hw:0,2,1]=SB Live! Value [CT4832], VirMidi, Emu10k1 Synth MIDI

Instance of Emu10k1 hardware synthesizer 1

Live [hw:0,2,15]=SB Live! Value [CT4832], VirMidi, Emu10k1 Synth MIDI

Instance of Emu10k1 hardware synthesizer 1

LPK25 [hw:1,0,0]=LPK25, USB MIDI, LPK25

Akai LPK25 MIDI keyboard

16:0=SB Live! Value [CT4832];EMU10K1 MPU-401 (UART)

Soundblaster Live! MIDI interface (to MIDI cable)

17:0=Emu10k1 WaveTable;Emu10k1 Port 0

Emu10k1 hardware synthesizer 0

17:1=Emu10k1 WaveTable;Emu10k1 Port 1

Emu10k1 hardware synthesizer 1

17:2=Emu10k1 WaveTable;Emu10k1 Port 2

Emu10k1 hardware synthesizer 2

17:3=Emu10k1 WaveTable;Emu10k1 Port 3

Emu10k1 hardware synthesizer 3

20:0=LPK25;LPK25 MIDI 1

Akai LPK25 MIDI keyboard

128:0=KeyMusician-Keyboard;Display-Input

MIDI-input for note-display

128:1=KeyMusician-Keyboard;PlayThru-Input

MIDI-input for playing a MIDI keyboard through the application

128:2=KeyMusician-Keyboard;Output

MIDI device the keyboard outputs-to

128:3=KeyMusician-Keyboard;Player-Output

MIDI device the player outputs-to

130:0=FLUID Synth (Qsynth1);Synth input port (Qsynth1:0)

The first Qsynth (FluidSynth) engine

131:0=FLUID Synth (Qsynth2);Synth input port (Qsynth2:0)

The 2nd Qsynth (FluidSynth) engine

Real Time Sequencer=Software sequencer

The Java sequencer. The Integrated MIDI-player uses an instance of this device.



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