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Re: dynamic and midi velocity

From: Brett McCoy
Subject: Re: dynamic and midi velocity
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 2010 21:09:06 -0500

On Thu, Feb 18, 2010 at 7:27 PM, Peter Chubb
<address@hidden> wrote:

> I had a quick look at what it would take to generate notes with
> different velocities instead of just CC 7 events.  It's harder than it
> should be: dynamic events always come after the notes they affect, so
> I couldn't see an obvious/easy way to get the current dynamics while
> processing a note, nor is it obvious to me how to get at notes in the
> same voice as a dynamic indication at the same timestep.
> Nor is it obvioous to me how to tell which voices dynamic indications
> should be applied to.  Sometimes they should be for several (e.g.,
> centered piano dynamics), sometimes just to the voice they are
> attached to.  And there's still the issue of handling what instruments
> are capable of, and adjusting expression accordingly.
> There are three classes of instruments I can think of:
>  1.  Instruments that play at a fixed volume no matter what you do:
>      -- harpsichord, most organ stops, recorder, etc.
>  2.  Instruments where the volume is determined at the start of a
>      note, but you can't change it afterwards:
>      -- piano, clavichord, most percussion, plucked strings, etc.
>  3.  Instruments that can change volume anywhere -- most woodwinds and brass,
>      swell stops on the organ, etc.
> So I'm leaving it in the `too hard' basket for now.

I think you've hit the same issue that WYSIWYG notation programs hit
-- it's hard to get good performance data directly from notation to
MIDI. Speaking from my own experience, using a linear sequencer to
hand tweak performance data (velocity, expression, volume, not to
mention "humanizing" the notes so they don't sound mechanical) will
always give you better results. I am currently taking some composing
courses via Berklee college (yes, and using Lilypond for all of my
classwork!), and the overriding philosophy on this is to do notation
with the notation editor and use a sequencer like Digital Performer or
Cubase for the performance (in my case, I am using Rosegarden for
sequencing). It's a lot more work, but it's worth it, IMHO.

-- Brett
"In the rhythm of music a secret is hidden;
    If I were to divulge it, it would overturn the world."
               -- Jelaleddin Rumi

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