The Performance Panel

The performance panels are selected by pressing function-keys F2 through F10, and F12. The performance panel for the percussion (drums) track is selected by clicking on it. The performance panel for the chords is also selected by clicking on it.

Here (below) is a picture of a performance panel (using the “Nimbus” look-and-feel). In the text below the picture, I describe each part of the panel.

Window Title & Active Tab

The title-bar of the window indicates it is the KeyMusician Keyboard application, version 1.0h, using the “FluidR3_GM.kmk” configuration file.

The highlighted tab indicates the “F6” function-key panel is visible (and being used). The note “E” is being played.

Upper MIDI Controls

The MIDI Channel spin-control specifies that channel 1 is being used (of MIDI channels 1 through 16).

The Base Octave spin-control indicates that the notes you use start at MIDI octave 2 (which happens to be the default).

The Transpose button in the screenshot above has a value of “0 (none)”, which indicates we are not transposing. The value in the button-face depends on the way the transposition (or key-signature) was chosen. You choose the transposition (or key-signature) by clicking on the button.

It could also indicate the name of the key-signature (“C major”, for example). It shows the key-signature name if that was what you used when you specified it.

For no transposition (the default), there are no flats or sharps.

To change the key-signature, or specify transposition, click the Transpose button, and the following dialog-box will appear:

The four drop-boxes above are the four ways you can choose transposition or a key-signature. All four drop-boxes specify the transposition or key-signature, but do it in a different manner. When you change one of them, the software changes the other three drop-box selections to match what you specified in the drop-box you changed.

You can change the transposition by selecting the number of semi-tones (half-steps) up or down. You can change the transposition (or key-signature) by specifying the number of flats or sharps in the key-signature. You can specify the key-signature (or transposition) by specifying the key-signature name (either by its major key, or its minor key).

After selecting a value in one of the drop-boxes, notice the resulting values selected in the other 3 drop-boxes.

If you want it to affect all non-percussion performance panes, click the "All" radio-button. Otherwise, it affects only the current performance pane.

If it looks like what you want, click the “OK” button to make the transposition change take-effect. If you click 'Cancel', no change is made.

The value that appears in the Transpose button-face reflects the manner you used to select it. For example, if you chose it using a minor key-signature name, that minor key-signature name will appear in the Transpose button-face.

The Musical Staff & Keyboard Diagram

The diagram at the middle-left can be thought of as a 'universal cheat-sheet'. It shows the music staff-lines of the treble clef (top), and bass clef (bottom). If there were flats or sharps in the key-signature, they would appear just to the right of the treble and bass clef symbols. In this case, there are no flats or sharps, so they do not appear here.

To the right (but left of the keyboard diagram) is a filled-in blue circle, indicating the note currently being played, which in this case is the “E” on the bottom staff-line of the treble clef. In music notation, it might be an empty circle, or a filled-in circle with a line on its side. Here we are only indicating the pitch of the note (where it is on the staff-lines), so we just use a filled-in circle. We don't attempt to indicate the length of the note, because we don't know how long you will leave it pressed.

At the right side of the diagram is a drawing of a keyboard. Everything in this entire diagram is drawn to scale. The notes in the keyboard line up perfectly with the notes in the staff-lines. At the left border of the keyboard diagram are the letter-names of the notes corresponding to each key on the keyboard. Where there is no transposition, these note-names also correspond to the notes of the musical staff lines.

There are three short lines that extend from the keyboard diagram, to the left crossing the note-letter names area. These short lines indicate the boundaries between rows of the typing keyboard. These lines can be helpful in alerting you that you need to reach up (or down) to the next row for the next note to play.

At the right side of the keyboard diagram, you see a blue rectangle, indicating which note is currently being played (an “E” in the screenshot).

Here, where no Page-Up key (sharp), or Page-Down key (flat) is also pressed, the indication appears in the white-key portion of the key. If a flat had been indicated by using the Page-Down key, the mark would have been on the black-key, immediately below and at the left of the “E” key.

The Right-Side MIDI Controls

The top-most of these controls is the “VELOCITYslider. This control specifies the 'velocity' (how fast/hard the note was hit), and controls the initial loudness of the note. Since the typing keyboard is not velocity-sensitive, we use this control to specify the initial loudness of a note played.

This control does not change the loudness of the note while it is held-out. It only specifies its starting loudness.

You can change it while you play, by hitting the Insert-key (or right 'Ctrl' key) to make it louder, or the Delete-key (or left 'Ctrl' key) to make it softer. Each press of the Insert/Delete key changes the loudness by 8 (one tick-mark, in a range of 0 to 127).

Notice that the label-line of the control gives you a hint that the Insert and Delete keys are used to change it.

This control (along with the other slider controls) can also be manipulated by dragging its handle to the left or right using the mouse. You can continue to play melody notes while dragging the control with the mouse.

If you play a velocity-sensitive MIDI keyboard through the application, you will see this slider changing, since the velocity values transmitted by such a keyboard are used by the application.

The next right-side MIDI control is the “VOLUMEslider. This control changes the volume of all notes currently playing in this panel while the notes play (the velocity control affects only their initial volume). It can be used to fade-out a note that is held, and these adjustments are sent on the MIDI channel, so they are recorded (if you are using a sequence editor). This control is adjusted (while playing) by pressing the right-arrow (or right “Alt”) key (which increases it by 8 each time pressed), or the left-arrow (or left “Alt”) key (which decreases it by 8 each time pressed). The range is 0 to 127. It can also be manipulated using the mouse.

The next right-side MIDI control is the “PITCH-BENDslider. It can only be manipulated by dragging on its handle with the mouse. When you release its handle (by letting-go of the left mouse button), the value of the control goes back to zero (meaning no change in pitch). Values to the right are higher pitch, values to the left (negative values) are lower pitch. This control lets you vary the pitch of the instrument sound, like a trombone player does by moving the slide in and out. It is used for expressive purposes in playing individual notes. It affects all notes being played on the current performance panel.

The next right-side MIDI control (“ASSIGNABLE) can be assigned to do different things. You specify what you want it to do in its drop-box, selecting which control you want to use. Here's a quick list of controls you can select (some of the controls may not be effective on your particular synthesizer):

Note that the Expression control does the same thing as the Volume control. Often, the volume control is used to set the initial volume of the instrument, and the Expression control is used to vary it while playing. Some synthesizers may not act on the Expression control.

The assignable control is adjusted (while playing) by hitting the up-arrow key (to increase it by 8), or the down-arrow key (to decrease it by 8). Like the others, it can be manipulated by dragging on its handle with the mouse.

Caution: Some soundfonts and synthesizers (notably Fluidsynth or Qsynth) are very sensitive to the modulation control, in which case a little goes a long way. If you have a large modulation value specified, it can distort the sound in a non-pleasing way. This is the case with some instrument sounds more than others.

The “Percussioncheck-box (if checked) indicates this is a percussion track. See the “Percussion (drums) Performance Panel” for a description of how notes are specified on a percussion channel. On many synthesizers, MIDI channel 10 must be used for it to work. On some, you have to select a percussion bank (128, or a bank name starting with a “(P)”). On others, you may have to do something on your synthesizer to make it work. If you use this check-box on a melodic-instrument track, you will end up specifying chromatic (12-tone-scale) notes, with an unusual transposition-setting (which is probably not what you intended).

The “Savebutton is used to save the settings on the current panel in memory (not on disk). This is used to specify the settings you want to return-to after varying the controls. It is activated by clicking on it with the mouse. If you don't press it, the settings initially loaded will be the settings used to return-to. If you intend to later save your settings to disk, you should click theSave” button (otherwise the initial or last-saved settings will be what is saved to disk).

The exception to this rule, is that all of the top controls, and the “Instrument” drop-box of the lower controls, are saved whenever you change any of them.

The “Resetbutton is used to return-to the last-saved (or initially-loaded) settings of the panel. It is activated either by clicking on it with the mouse, or by pressing the “Home” key. Its typical use, is after gradually increasing (or decreasing) the volume as you play, you want to return to the original volume level, so you hit the “Home” key, and the original volume level is restored. But it actually restores most of the controls to their former value.

The “Panic!button is used in unusual cases where for some reason notes are left sounding, or marks are left showing on the keyboard/staff-lines diagram (despite the best efforts of the software to avoid it). It will silence all notes playing (on all channels), and clear-out any errant markings in the musical staff diagram.

The Bottom MIDI Controls

The “Sustaintoggle-button is ON (when highlighted), or OFF when not highlighted. When it's ON, all notes played keep playing, blending together in a single sound. It is like the sustain (hold) pedal on a piano, and is particularly useful on piano or guitar-like instruments. It is good for blending together the notes of an arpeggio (the notes of a chord, played separately).

For instruments whose notes continue to play (rather than fading away quickly), it is seldom useful. The button is toggled (ON to OFF, or OFF to ON) each time you hit the space-bar. The Panic button will turn-off the sustain toggle-button.

When playing a MIDI keyboard having a sustain-pedal through the application, you will see this button toggling on and off, reflecting the use of the sustain-pedal.

The “Bankdrop-box is used to specify which group of instrument-sounds are to be used in this panel. The banks available depend on the “Instrument Definitions Used” drop-box in the F1 (Help/Setup) panel. It should match what is available on your synthesizer (or soundfont). A bank can have up to 128 different instrument sounds in it. Changing this drop-box affects the values available in the Instruments drop-box.

The “Instrumentdrop-box is used to specify the instrument sound used by this panel. The instruments available depend on the bank specified in the drop-box to its left. Changing the instrument sends a signal on the MIDI channel to change to the specified instrument. Switching panels will also send the MIDI signal to change instruments (in case they are different from the prior panel). Changing performance panels also sends changes of the other MIDI control values to what is set in the new panel.

This means you can switch instruments in the middle of a performance, simply by hitting a function-key, even if the same MIDI channel is used by the panels.

The Bottom Buttons

The bottom row of buttons are visible on all of the different panels.

The “Playbutton checks if enough critical information has been set up to allow playing. If so, and if the F1 (help/setup) panel is currently displayed, it switches to the F2 performance panel. If you are already in a performance panel, it checks the MIDI player, and if it has a MIDI file set to be played, it will start that playback.

The “Helpbutton uses your default browser to display the help information that pertains to a performance panel (what you are reading now).

The “Exitbutton is used to exit from the application. It first asks you if you want to save the current settings. Closing the main dialog box of the application will do the same thing.

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