The Integrated MIDI-Player / Recorder

The player allows you to play MIDI files, the notes of which can be displayed on the keyboard display, allowing you to learn the music being played. It has a slider allowing you to easily control the playback speed, which allows you to slow the piece down so you can keep up while learning it. It also has a means of setting a range within the piece, making it easy to practice that particular place in the music as many times as needed.

There is a whole world of MIDI music files on the Internet. All of that together is like a gigantic sheet-music library. Any of these pieces can be played along with the KeyMusician Keyboard. You flip through the MIDI channels while the piece plays, looking for the solo part (or another part you want to play). When you find it, you slow the player down (to make it easier), and start playing the notes displayed.

You can either set the KeyMusician Keyboard to play the piece on a different synthesizer than the MIDI-Player is playing on, or use use a MIDI channel the piece doesn't use), and improvise your own part along with what the player is playing.

The player is somewhat compact (smaller than a full sequence editor you might otherwise use for playing it), making it easier to fit on the screen along with the other windows of the KeyMusician Keyboard. Here is a picture of the player's dialog box (in this case, with playback paused):

The “Playback Device” drop-box specifies what MIDI device the player plays its music on. The default “(none) – Display Notes Only” is to play through the Display-Input port of the KeyMusician Keyboard. In this mode, only one part of the piece at a time is played (using the Chords pane parameters), with its notes displayed in the current performance pane. The metronome can't be used in this mode.

To hear all of the parts together (and use the metronome), you need to choose a MIDI output device, such as a hardware or software synthesizer, such as is shown above. If possible, you should choose a different device than the one being used by the KeyMusician Keyboard. Otherwise, the notes you play can 'collide' with notes being played by the player, though it will still work. Even though the player plays on a completely different MIDI device, the notes will still display on the KeyMusician Keyboard's note display area.

Notes played by the player appear in red, while the notes you play appear in blue. When you play the same note as is displayed from the player, the note turns green. With this, you have a visual cue that you played the same note.

On the KeyMusician Keyboard, you select the MIDI channel (coming from the player) being displayed, by changing the MIDI channel spin-control on the top of the performance pane. You can “flip-through' the channels, looking for the part you want.

The “”MIDI Files Folder” text box shows a folder containing MIDI files to be played. You browse to a folder where you downloaded (or saved) MIDI files on your computer, by clicking the “Browse” button to the right of the text box.

The “MIDI File” drop-box shows the file (in the folder) currently selected to be played. When you click on this drop-box, it shows you all of the MIDI (“.mid”) files (in the above folder you browsed-to) which can be selected for playing. When you choose a file (by clicking on it), that file is loaded into the player/recorder.

When a new file is loaded, the “Tracks Summary” dialog will appear, giving you details about each of the tracks in the piece, and any copyright specified for it.

The “Channels” text-box (to the right of the “MIDI File” drop-box) lists the MIDI channels (1 through 16) actually used by the piece. This can help you choose an unused channel if you just want to improvise your own part with the music played, and the keyboard and player need to use the same MIDI device. Just pick a channel not used by the piece (usually there will be some).

The “%” slider (the big slider) shows the playback position in the piece being played. The numbers used in its scale designate “percent played”. You can click on the moving slider indicator, and slide it wherever you want, to play a different part of the piece. While you 'drag' the slider, the playback is paused, and it will resume at the new position when you let go of the mouse button.

To the right of the “%” slider are the “Range” toggle-buttons. Initially, when a new piece is selected, the playback range selected is from the “Start” of the piece, to the “End” of the piece, as shown in the picture above.

As the piece plays, when you get to the point in the music you want to practice, click the “Start” button, and the button's name will change to the position in the piece (shown as a percent) where you clicked it, and the (re-named) Start toggle-button will be selected (toggled-on).

In the selected state, when you press the “Play” button of the player to start playing, it will immediately go to the selected position in the piece, and start playing there.

If, as the music plays, you click on the “End” button, it will be selected (similar to the “Start” button), and will show the position in the piece (as a percentage) where you clicked it. When the playback position reaches this place in the piece (as happens when you first click it), playback will stop, as if it were the end of the piece. If you don't click the “End” button, the end of the piece is the end of the range.

When you have a playback range specified, when you click the “Play” button to play the piece, only the selected range will play, then playback will stop. This makes it easy to practice a certain part of the piece (of your choosing) over and over again. The selection of a range works for recording, as well as for playback.

Near the bottom of the dialog box are the controls affecting playback.

There is a “Play” button (to start the playback), a “Pause/Resume” button (to pause the playback, or resume it when it is paused), and a “Stop” button (to end playback). Except for the “Stop” button, they are toggle-buttons, meaning they are selected (highlighted in some fashion) while they are in-effect.

If you click the “Play” button while it is already playing, it stops playback (acts as a “Stop” button).

The “Play” button is highlighted (toggled-on) when the piece is playing (including when the playback is paused). When you click on the “Pause” button, it becomes the “Resume” button, and is highlighted as long as the piece is paused. To resume playback when paused, you can either click the “Resume” button, or the “Play” button. When the music is playing, the 2nd button becomes the “Pause” button, and is not highlighted (indicating the playback is not paused).

Clicking the “Stop” button will end playback (even if playback is paused), and playback will start (if “Play” is clicked) at the beginning of the piece (or the beginning of the selected range).

Selecting a new MIDI file will also end playback (if it is currently playing).

The “Speed %” check-box is usually checked, indicating the speed-control slider (to the right of it) is active. When it is active, you can click-on (and drag) the slider to the left to slow the piece down, making it easier to keep up with the music. The numbers on it go from 20% of the normal playback speed, to 150% of the normal playback speed (1 and a half times as fast as normal).

Slowing the piece down (temporarily) works for recording as well as playback. This can be very useful for recording a difficult section. This control of the speed doesn't affect the actual tempo of the piece. It's a temporary change.

If you've been playing it at a reduced speed, but want to try it at normal speed, simply click on (to un-check) the “Speed %” check-box. Then (if the normal speed is still too fast) you can just click it again, re-activating the speed-control, which is easier than sliding the slider to 100%, then back to the former (slower) speed.

Here is another picture of the MIDI Player dialog box. In this case, the playback isn't paused, and a MIDI device is selected for playback, so all of the parts will be heard. Also, a playback-range is selected:

The bottom row of buttons is mostly for recording. When you make changes by recording, or tempo and/or time-signature changes using the “Time” button, an asterisk (*) will appear at the left of the file name in the title-bar, indicating changes have been made. When you save those changes (using the “Save” button), the asterisk will disappear.

Changing the metronome settings do not change anything saved in the MIDI file, so no asterisk will appear if that is all that is changed.

The “Record” button prepares the player/recorder to record. When you click it, you will be asked for the name of the new track to be recorded, and the name of the copyright holder for the new track (your name) if you want a copyright saved.

If it is a new piece, the “Time, Tempo, and Metronome” dialog will appear, allowing you to specify this information at the beginning of the piece. Also, the “Tracks Summary” dialog will appear for the new piece.

If there are already tracks recorded in the piece, it will alert you about any potential channel conflicts. If you use a MIDI channel already used by the piece, your new notes may 'collide' with notes already in the piece. You can avoid such conflicts by changing the MIDI-channel spin-control of any performance panes you plan to use in recording the new track.

Note 'collisions' only occur if you play (or let-up) the same note at the same time it is already playing, using the same channel. A similar 'collision' case can get you into trouble, when on one track (using the same channel) the sustain-control (pedal) is activated, but in another track (using the same channel) the sustain-control (pedal) is released. In such a case, the effect is that the sustain-control (pedal) is released too soon!

When the player/recorder is prepared to record, recording starts the next time playback is activated – including when you resume playback after pausing it. If the “Record” button is not selected (toggled-on), no recording will be done. So you have to click it again (to select it) for a new recording session – even when still recording to the same new track.

All recording is over-dub recording. Notes you play (or MIDI-conntrol changes you make), are recorded in such a way as to not erase anything already there. Newly-recorded events are merged into the new track, which is played along with all the other tracks. You can even add individual notes here and there, occasionally, throughout the piece. It doesn't have to be a continuous section of recording.

When you stop playback (or pause it), recording is stopped as well. You will be prompted to play the piece back, deciding if you like the recording you made. When you stop this playback, you will be asked if you want to incorporate the recorded music into the new track. If you answer “yes”, the newly-recorded music becomes part of the new track. If you didn't like it (answering “no”), it is simply discarded, and you can try recording it again.

When you have recorded everything you want in the new track, click the “Save” button, at which time the new track will be officially incorporated into the piece, and the MIDI file will be written (you can re-name the file if you wish).

If at some point, you decide you have messed up what is in the new track, you can clear-out all of the events in the new track (if you haven't yet saved it) by clicking the “Clear” button. Then you can start recording into it again. The “Clear” button does not erase any meta-events, such as time-signature or tempo changes, and the track name and copyright.

If you want to quit using the piece you've been recording-to (or have been playing), and start recording a totally new piece, click the “New” button.

The “Time” button allows you to change the time-signature and/or tempo at the current playback position, or to control the use of the metronome. Tempo and time-signature changes are put in track 1 (the 'conductor track), and are not kept in the new track being recorded-to, unless the track being recorded-to is actually the first track. This is in accordance with the structure of type-1 MIDI files (the most common kind).

And last, but not least, if you click the “Help” button (bottom-right), it activates your default browser to view the help information on the MIDI player/recorder (which you are reading now).

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