Your Midi Score Setup

This tutorial is intended to provide you with the information needed to set up your MIDI score so that it is correctly configured and includes all information required by our system to process your music. The examples given below are from our setup of the Bruckner Adagio (2nd movement) 1st Symphony (which you can listen to here). Further down, in later sections, we use excerpts from other works and provide both the notated and MIDI scores. In all cases, we used Cubase as the DAW.

General MIDI Score Requirements

  • It is common to combine two (or more) of the winds into a single track, and to combine strings and their divisi into shared parts and tracks. For the purposes of our service, each instrument must have their own track (see our examples below). For example, Flute 1 and Flute 2, or Horn 1 and Horn 2, must each be on their own separate track, and similarly, Violin 1 and Violin 1 Divisi must each be on their own separate track. 
 
  • All instruments must be included; both those which are recorded by musicians, and those which are provided for virtual instruments. For example, you may hire a flautist to play the first flute part, but your MIDI score must also include the part played by Flute 1.
 
  • All Follower tracks must have a dedicated CC17 Lane that assigns the expression-followers to their selected expression-leaders (see here for details).
 
  • We require a standard Naming and Setup convention, which is detailed here
 
  • The MIDI score must contain parts which can be any combination of the tracks below:
 

Woodwinds:

  • Piccolo, Flute I, Flute II, Flute III
  • Oboe I, Oboe II, Oboe III, Cor Anglais
  • Clarinet I, Clarinet II, Clarinet III, Bass Clarinet
  • Bassoon I, Bassoon II, Bassoon III, Contrabassoon
 

Brass:

  • Horn I, Horn II, Horn III, Horn IV
  • Trumpet I, Trumpet II, Trumpet III, Trumpet IV
  • Trombone I, Trombone II, Bass Trombone, Contrabass Trombone
  • Bass Tuba, Contrabass Tuba
 

Strings:

  • Violins 1, Violins I divisi
  • Violins II, Violins II divisi
  • Violas, Violas divisi
  • Celli, Celli divisi
  • DBasses, DBasses divisi
 

In images 2.1 and 2.2 belowplease note the following:

  • all instrument parts are included; the parts recorded by the musicians and the parts of the secondary virtual instruments
  • our required naming-convention is used
  • the instruments are ordered top-down, following the standard order found in most printed orchestral scores
  • every instrument has its own track
  • the main instruments are named in full; the divisi – pertaining only to strings, of course (and in this case, only the violas), are named accordingly
  • you might like our in-house choice of colour coding for instruments, but you can choose any colour coding that you like
 
Image 2.1
Image 2.2

 Check it out!

  • you should use Velocity to indicate the places in your score where the playing switches between continuous and abrupt dynamic change (see below for a detailed explanation LINKLINKLINKLINK)
  • as in every MIDI score, use Key-Switches to indicate the general articulation of the playing you wish to have in your virtual instruments (details here LINKLINKLINK)
  • on export, the MIDI file must be Type 1 MIDI file
 

Alignment

  • the midi score must be in time-sync with the recorded audio
  • alignment details
    • all MIDI and Audio tracks must have the same starting point
    • the midi notes must be in time with the notes played by the musicians
 

In the example below (Image 2.3) you can see six MIDI tracks and one audio track. All tracks are left aligned, so they all start at the same time in the DAW (and on export). The audio track is clearly playing in advance of the notes in the MIDI score, but the notes in the MIDI are time-aligned with the audio, so that the MIDI notes play at the correct time in relation to the audio recorded by your musician

Pro tip

Advanced users can conduct their musicians with rubato, or ask their musicians to record with rubato (and without a click-track). As long as your MIDI notes are time-aligned with their Expression-leaders, our system will process them correctly. We do not require your MIDI score to have a click-track, nor do we require your score to be metronomic.

Image 2.3

Misalignment

Example 1 – dissimilar starting points between tracks

In image 2.4, the audio is shown as it might appear in your DAW. The audio is in musical and time alignment with the MIDI, but the tracks do not have the same starting point. This arrangement cannot be read by our system.

Image 2.4

To easily solve this, ensure that your audio and MIDI tracks have the same starting point when exporting from your DAW. 

For example, in the Cubase project illustrated in image 2.5 below, the tracks to be exported are correctly selected, and consequently Cubase will automatically add time to the beginning of the audio file so that on export, all files align. In image 2.5, you can see a grey bar across the top delineating exactly what range is selected, so that on export, the DAW will add time to the front of the audio track. This ensures that all tracks align correctly, and are properly processed by our system.

Image 2.5

Misalignment Example 2 – correct and incorrect audio-MIDI alignment

In the examples below, you see MIDI notes that are mapped onto pizzicato in strings. The audio consists of a musician playing pizzicato. 

In image 2.6, everything is correctly aligned.

Image 2.6

In image 2.7, the MIDI note starts in the correct place, but is too long. This should be corrected so that the end of the MIDI note is close to the end of the musician’s note in the audio track.

Image 2.7

In image 2.8, the end of the MIDI note is in the correct place, but the attack of the pizzicato in the audio track is not aligned with the start of the MIDI notes, so the rhythm will be incorrect. This should be corrected so the start of the MIDI notes aligns with the player.

Image 2.8

Special Legato TIP!

For good quality legato in your MIDI parts, after you have finished composing/arranging your piece, select the MIDI notes you wish to have legato, and create a slight overlap across the ends and beginnings of the legato section.

IMPORTANT: Do NOT implement the above tip with repeating notes! Always make sure no repeating notes are overlapping! 

In image 2.9, you see the MIDI notes as they are normally created

Image 2.9

In image 2.10 you see the ends of the MIDI notes slightly overlap the beginnings of the subsequent notes.

Image 2.10

Tempo or Conductor Track

Your project must include a conductor or tempo track, as in image 2.11 below, to ensure that your MIDI and audio tracks align when imported into our system. 

Note: In this image you can see there is also a time-signature track. Although we recommend that projects are always clean and well structured, for the purposes of our system, we do not need the time-signature data. We only require that the MIDI and Audio tracks are aligned with each other and start together when imported to our system.

Image 2.11

Controller cc17 for Expression-Leader selection

Expression-Leader Concept: 

  • every Expression-Follower (every secondary virtual instrument part) must always have an Expression-Leader to follow for musical expression. 
  • The assignation of a Follower to a specific Leader is accomplished through setting the correct CC Values specific to the Symphonova Stem service.
  • Every Follower must have a dedicated CC lane with at least one CC17 Value to identify their starting Leader.
  • any Expression-Leader can be selected by any Expression-Follower, at any time
  • the same single Expression-Leader can be selected by multiple Expression-Followers simultaneously
  • all Expression-Leader identification is through use of CC17
  • the list of CC17 Values is as follows:
 

Flute – 5 

Oboe – 10 

Clarinet Bb – 15 

Clarinet A – 20 

Bassoon – 25 

Horn – 30 

Trumpet Bb – 35 

Trumpet C – 40 

Trombone – 45 

1st Violin – 50 

2nd Violin – 55 

Viola – 60 

Cello – 65 

Double Bass – 70

Special Expression-Leader Tip! 

An  Expression-Leader should be selected because that particular Leader provides the desired musical expression. That is, the musical expression you want to hear and will ask your musician to perform

In this image image (2.12), Oboe 2 is set to follow the Oboe Expression lead (musician’s part) by assigning it a Value of 10 ( the Symphonova Online Stem Service value for the Oboe Leader). This is the value that will be sent by CC17. The control lane can be seen at the bottom of the image.

IMPORTANT: If you are changing the Leader between 2 adjacent notes that have no pause between them, the CC17 value for the new leader must be positioned directly on the onset of the note that is led by the new leader. In the image below, the CC value can be set arbitrarily before the note begins because the follower isn’t playing there (there is a pause).

Image 2.12

KeySwitches

KeySwitches are used to identify the articulations you wish to have in your virtual parts. Our list of KeySwitches for each section of instruments can be found here.

Special KeySwitch Tip!

In the image above ( Tut2.17), please note the following two important details:

  • The KeySwitches (F#1 and F2) are set slightly in advance of the onset of the 2nd Oboe starting note. Any time a KeySwitch is set to make a change, it should always be set slightly in advance of the note to be played.
  • IMPORTANT! Also please note that although the KeySwitch consists of two pitches (notes), the upper F#2 in this image is set slightly later than the F#1, but both notes start in advance of the note to be played by the instrument.

Adjusting Dynamic Responsiveness using High/Low Velocity values

You (or your conductor) have clear ideas about the performance you expect to hear of your music. To heighten the sensitivity and specificity of our system to your desired and intended expressive outcome, we have adapted MIDI Velocity so that it serves you as an effective tool for additional control. In our system, MIDI Velocity gives you the ability to enhance the dynamic responsiveness of our system, enables you to help the system capture your musical intention, and to support the musical intentions of the musicians, to whom you give the same musical instructions. 

To get the best out of our system, you should set the Velocity to distinguish between two kinds of playing:

  1. when the dynamics are fast-changing, such as sforzati, forte-piano on a single note or between two notes, or any kind of subito dynamics
  2. when the dynamics change gradually with moderate/slow pace.

 

Here are the two guidelines (rules) that should make it easy to decide when to set the Velocity values high or low:

Dynamic Response Rules

  1. when there are fast-changing dynamics on or between notes, the Velocity should be set to any value above 64, and in all other cases, the Velocity should be set to any value below 63
  2.  in moderate and slow tempo music, all notes played with short articulations such as pizzicato, staccato, short appoggiaturas/grace notes etc. should always be set to a high Velocity value (but in fast tempo music, the General Rule 1 applies)
 

To implement the Dynamic Responsiveness rules, we suggest that your default setting is for all Velocity values to be set low. Then when considering the performance of your score, set the Velocity values high in the instruments and places where you will ask your musicians to perform with fast-changing dynamics, or where the composition has short articulations.

For all images below, we used the Cubase DAW. Note that in Cubase, low velocity values are coloured blue/violet, and high velocity values are coloured red. 

 

Example 1 – An Illustration of Dynamic Response Rule 1

This example illustrates settings of high/low Velocity values in a quick tempo.

In image 2.13a below you see an excerpt of the Musette from Grieg’s Holberg Suite. Outlined in red are the 1st Violas. A description of the score for purposes related to Velocity and fast/slow change of dynamics is as follows:

  • for the first 15 notes, the dynamics do not change quickly
  • then there are three groups of four eighth notes with an accent on the first note of each group
  • measure 45 begins with a half-note that has an accent
  • the accented half-note is followed by a dotted quarter with no accent
  • then there follows a sequence of three accented eighth-note up-beats tied to the strong beats of the metric structure
 
These accents are all examples of fast-change dynamics.
Image 2.13a

Now take  a look at the MIDI score of the same excerpt (image 2.13b). The first 15 MIDI notes are all blue (low Velocity value), because there are no abrupt or sudden dynamic changes on or between notes.

Then there are two MIDI notes that are red. The first of the red MIDI notes is set to a high Velocity value because it has an accent. The intended expression is for the performance of the note to be significantly different from the previous note, and for it to change quickly on the note itself: two fast dynamic changes! The second MIDI note is also set to a high Velocity value because it changes back to the original dynamics of the first 15 notes.

To summarise, each accented note and the 1st note after the accented note, both have high velocity values, because the dynamics change abruptly with their onset.

The 3rd and 4th notes of each of the three groups have low velocity values, because any change between them and the 2nd note of the group is continuous (there are no further accents or quick dynamic changes on or between these notes).

This example illustrated how notes with quick, sudden dynamic change on or between them are set at a high Velocity value, and 
notes with gradual, continuous dynamic change on or between them are set at a low Velocity value.

Image 2.13b

Example 2a – An Illustration of Dynamic Response Rule 2

The following two examples illustrate the setting of a high/low Velocity values in a slow tempo. 

Below (image 2.14a) is the score of the first ten measures of the Mahler Adagietto (Symphony no 5) and the related MIDI (image 2.14b).

The cello part is pianissimo and slow, but from measure 7, the articulation changes from arco to pizzicato. 

In the MIDI score, you will see that the Velocity is set to a low value from the beginning of the piece, and then to accommodate the pizzicato articulation, the Velocity is changed to a high Velocity value.

Image 2.14a
Image 2.14b

Example 2b – An Illustration of Dynamic Response Rule 2

As a final illustration of when to set high/low Velocity values in slow tempi, below is an another excerpt from the Mahler Adagietto (Symphony no 5). Looking at the score and the associated MIDI score, you will see that all grace notes are set to a high Velocity value, while all the other notes are set to a low Velocity value (images 2.15a and 2.15b).

Image 2.15a
Image 2.15b

Export

It’s simple: export your project as a  MIDI Type 1 file.