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Harmony/Melody Assistant

and the Garritan Jazz & Big Band Library

Author:  muffit55(at)charter.net



We are so fortunate to live in a world where dreams can come true for a song, lol!

Garritan Libraries recently released a wonderful new sound library, called the Jazz and Big Band Library (often abbreviated JABB, as I will do here). And yes,it works right out of the box so to speak with the GPO Studio host application, so it works easily with most (if not all) notation programs - including the very reasonably priced Melody Assistant & Harmony Assistant (HA/MA) by Myriad Software. I thought I would add to my previous tutorial about using Myriad's notation programs with GPO, only this time with the wonderful big band sounds of JABB.

I don't want to rehash the same basic setup info as I have done already in my previous tutorial, so please see that instead if you haven't yet. It's here: Using Myriad with GPO. That first tutorial will show you the steps for setting up GPO or JABB with Myriad's notation programs the first time.

ABOUT THE SOFTWARE:

One thing I don't think I addressed well enough before, is what these software tools are and how they work together. Briefly, Myriad's Melody Assistant and its bigger brother (sister?) Harmony Assistant, are full fledged notation programs. More than that, besides a ton of musical notation tricks and techniques, they even have digital audio track ability. In fact, you can even mix MIDI notation, digital audio, GPO /and/ JABB, all in one composition! This is no simple feat for a $60 something dollar program. I cannot tell you how much joy writing with Harmony Assistant has brought me. Like many, my live playing ability is somewhat lacking (my family would say entirely missing, lol), so being able to use the notation I learned as a child to create what I hear in my head (no jokes please! LOL!) is a dream come true. And don't be misled, Myriad offers a wealth of beautiful sound libraries itself. Many of my pieces use these alone.

But some of the songs I hear inside have those subtle nuances that only a live performance by an orchestra or jazz band can produce. And as you probably know, jazz is as much improv as it is composition. So how could anyone reproduce a live performance? I'm glad you asked! Mr. Garritan has done that, and much more with Jazz & Big Band. There are so many nuances you can effect, you will find yourself adding and twiddling till the codas come home. In addition to the volume and sustain controllers of GPO, JABB has stunning controllers like air flow noise, key click and valve noise, automatic variability, even breath noises! And best of all, these can ALL be done using the grace note keyswitching and MIDI controller parameter curves I discuss in my first tutorial, right inside Harmony or Melody Assistant.

But what are GPO and JABB? These are actually two apps in one. First, they are standalone players which you can just run and enjoy, using the built-in Kontakt Player. Second and more importantly, they are VST applications, which work inside virtually any MIDI Sequencer program to add incredible sounds at your command. But ah you say, my notation program does not work with VST plug ins. Not a problem! That's why Mr. Garritan offers (free with purchase of GPO or JABB), a wonderful VST Host application called GPO Studio. This little application is a true gem. With it, you can run, not one, but /eight/ instances of GPO and/or JABB. And since each instance can hold up to 8 instruments, that means you can have a total of 64 incredible Garritan samples at your disposal. And yes, I said GPO and/or JABB - you can freely use /both/ GPO and JABB inside GPO Studio, at the same time. And with them, your notation can really sing!

WHAT'S NEW:

Almost everything that pertains to using GPO in my previous tutorial, also applies to JABB. You simply assign your MIDI outs in MA or HA to one of the instances of GPO or JABB inside GPO Studio, tell the desired staff or staves to use those MIDI outs (which conveniently map to an instance/slot of GPO Studio), and write away. You will be instantly gratified with gorgeous life-like sounds. As well, you can use the aforementioned MIDI parameter curves of MA/HA to add note by note volume expression and much more (as you will see).

But where GPO leaves off, JABB begins, and it introduces some effects I'm sure you will love to play with. (In fact, I could probably spend months giddily playing with the new percussion samples alone!). I will try and introduce you to a few of the most incredible ones, and hopefully that will point you in the right direction for the others as well.

(Btw, if you need a refresher on setting up a MIDI Parameter Curve, simply click the little green arrow next to the staff, choose one of the "MIDI specific a-e" slots, then click the little green arrow again, and choose "Setup..." , and type in the values I show below, along with changing the range to 0-127 or 0- 16383 as needed).

VIBRATO CONTROL:

Notation programs often lend themselves to some rather flat sounding instruments. But Jazz is a living, breathing thing. Using JABB inside HA or MA, you can add that personal touch a human musician might give. In my sample song for instance, I wanted that Glenn Miller-ish sound of leading clarinets. And how neat it was to find I could add any degree of subtle to raucous vibrato, where ever I wanted. Simply set up a MIDI parameter curve, using the following settings:

Dn ll

Now set up one more curve, to add variable frequency to that vibrato, like so:

Bn 11 ll

That's all there is to it. Now simply plot two points at the beginning of your staff at the value you desire, say 88 for vibrato amount and 40 for frequency. You will be instantly rewarded with incredibly life-like nuances of vibrato in your piece.

BREATH NOISES:

One thing you'll want to include in your piece, are the proper timings and pauses to allow your "musicians" time to rejuvenate their lungs, when using wind instruments. Mr. Garritan even includes this, and believe me a little subtle use of this goes a long way to creating the believability you're after. To add these using HA/MA, simply insert the appropriate notes at the proper times. A variety of breath noises are included at the top of each of the wind instruments' ranges, and it is as simple as sticking a note where you want a breath , and making sure your note's attack and MIDI volume expression curve are properly adjusted to sound just audible. I was so taken with this I put it in my sample (I was even tempted to make an entire song with just breath noises and exotic percussion, lol).

A HANDY LIST OF MIDI PARAMETER CURVE SETTINGS FOR JABB:

Got MIDI? I thought it would be a good idea to provide y'all with a handy-dandy set of all the possible MIDI parameter curve settings for MA/HA which you might encounter with JABB. I mean, why should you have to convert all those controller numbers to hexadecimal in your head and try and figure out which ranges are which? So, "what the heck" as Cecil would say, here they are!

CONTROL

CURVE

RANGE

NOTES

ModWheel/volume

Bn 01 ll

0-127

Dynamic note by note volume expression

Mixer Volume

Bn 07 ll

0-127

Globally affects volume, leave as is

Mixer Pan

Bn 0a ll

0-127

Globally affects pan, leave as is

Sustain/Legato

Bn 40 ll

0-127


Pitch Bend

En mmll

0-16383

+-2 only, unless using notation group

Pitch Bend Defeat

Bn 13 ll

0-127


Portamento

Bn 14 ll

0-127

Must use with sustain/legato, and Options/Sustain must be set to MIDI cc

Vibrato

Dn ll

0-127

aftertouch


Bn 11 ll

0-127

frequency

Air Flow Noise

Bn 0c ll

0-127


Key Click/Valve Noise

Bn 0d ll

0-127


Flutter Tongue/Growl

Bn 12 ll

0-127


Length Control

Bn 15 ll

0-127


Automatic Variability Control

Bn 16 ll

0-127

intonation


Bn 17 ll

0-127

timbre

Tone Quality Control

Bn 1a ll

0-127



Bn 1b ll

0-127

center frequency change

Breath Noises

Standard notes


use marked (blue) key notes in upper two octaves of instrument

Trumpet Shakes – see Garritan site




Trumpet Release Effects

Bn 0f ll

0-127

where 0-32 = off, 33-48 = falloffs, 49-95 = doits, 96-127 = kisses (Note that these only apply to certain ranges)

Basses

Bn 0c ll

0-127

fundamental intensity


Bn 0d ll

0-127

finger noises


Bn 12 ll

0-127

attack speed


Bn 14 ll

0-127

Portamento


Bn 15 ll

0-127

length of decay


Bn 16 ll

0-127

VAR 1


Bn 17 ll

0-127

VAR 2


Bn 1a ll

0-127

midrange EQ


Bn 1b ll

0-127

midrange center frequency


Bn 1c ll

0-127

high frequency EQ

Piano

Bn 40 ll

0-127

sustain pedal


Bn 14 ll

0-127

brightness

Vintage Electric Piano

Bn 40 ll

0-127

sustain


En mmll

0-16383

pitch bend (+-12, 8192 = no bend)


Bn 16 ll

0-127

tremolo level


Bn 17 ll

0-127

tremolo speed


Bn 1a ll

0-127

midrange intensity


Bn 1c ll

0-127

brightness

Vibraphones

Bn 40 ll

0-127

Sustain


En mmll

0-16383

pitch bend (+-12, 8192 = no bend)


Bn 14 ll

0-127

attack speed


Bn 15 ll

0-127

brightness


Bn 16 ll

0-127

tremolo intensity


Bn 17 ll

0-127

tremolo speed

Guitars

Bn 40 ll

0-127

sustain


En mmll

0-16383

pitch bend (+-7, 64 = no bend)


Bn 0d ll

0-127

finger noise intensity


Bn 11 ll

0-127

vibrato speed


Bn 14 ll

0-127

portamento


Bn 15 ll

0-127

length


Bn 16 ll

0-127

VAR 1


Bn 17 ll

0-127

VAR 2


HELP! MY MOD WHEEL AND VOLUME ARE UNCONTROLLABLE!:

One thing you may very well encounter (I know I did), is a situation where sometimes the mixer in HA/MA controls volume and pan, and sometimes the volume and pan controls in GPO/JABB do instead. Or worse - you can't seem to control them! No problem, there is an easy fix.

In GPO Studio, go to the OPTIONS button on the Kontakt keyboard:

Click the button which says OPTIONS to bring up that dialog. Now you will see a bunch of options. The one you want to change is called “USE STD. CC#7/CC#10 VOLUME AND PAN (see picture below):

Uncheck this button. If it is lit up/checked, then it will /not/ use the KONTAKT player settings of volume and pan, but will instead use the settings in HA's Mixer panel. My experience is, never check this button, cuz things start to get unpredictable. Things like dynamics (pp/mf/ff) will not always respond correctly. The knobs will move by themselves. So… I always uncheck this button, and ONLY use the volume and pan settings in GPO's KONTAKT player. That way, when you save your GPO settings, you will ALWAYS get the results you expect when you play things back. I'm pretty sure this will fix your problem. Then, from now on, set your volume and pan for each instrument right in GPO, never in HA (for GPO instruments that is). One note: the volume knob in Kontakt works in tandem with the mod wheel, so it is important to always include a MIDI parameter curve for the mod wheel (CC#1) in HA, for each and every GPO staff.

HOW TO HEAR /ANY/ GPO/JABB INSTRUMENT WHILE LIVE RECORDING:

In my previous tutorial, I stated that you could only hear GPO/JABB instrument 1-1 while recording live in HA (because HA only echoes to MIDI 1-1). I have since discovered that actually you CAN hear the correct GPO/JABB instrument while recording live! It's simple: Garritan offers a MIDI CHANNEL parameter for each instrument slot – normally this assigns automatically to 1-16 ascending. BUT!!! You can TEMPORARILY reassign ANY slot to ANY Midi channel. So… simply reassign ANY of the 8 slots to MIDI channel 1 (whichever one you want to hear) on the GPO panel, and VOILA!!! (Just remember to change the Midi channel of the regular one to something else during live recording, and change both back afterwards). Here's where you change it on the Kontakt player panel:

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE VARIOUS GPO/JABB SAVE FILES?:

About the various SAVE buttons in GPO Studio and GPO/JABB, here are the differences for you:

1) The File/Save button in GPO STUDIO is the ONLY one you need to use. Do not use the Kontakt player SAVE or Ambience SAVE buttons. Those are only for when you are using GPO in a MIDI sequencer as a VST. Since you are using GPO Studio, not just GPO/VST, you don't need to save anything except the .studio file. It saves everything for you, instruments, volume and pan, and ambience.

2) The .fxb file that the Kontakt player saves, contains only the 8 instrument slots in one player instance, not all 64 like GPO Studio. So you really don't need to use that save button. And the save button in ambience you don't need either – the .fxb file it saves /only/ contains ambience info, nothing else. (I don't know why they named the extension the same). Since you are using GPO Studio, you do not need this, because GPO Studio saves ALL 8 player instances and ALL 8 slots in those instances and ALL ambience info. Easy! Oh, btw, you should ALWAYS completely quit GPO Studio before loading a .studio file. If you don't, the .studio file load may not replace some of the settings, like ambience.

HOW TO GUARANTEE PREDICTABLE VOLUME EVERY TIME:

For true to life playback, (and to ensure the ModWheel volume is always where you expect it to be), always create MIDI CC#1 Parameter curves for every GPO/JABB staff, even if you only draw 2 little points of value 127 at the start of each staff. Please see picture below:

GPO and JABB use the last Mod Wheel volume point it encounters for all of the following notes, so if you don't need volume changes during the piece, you can just create two points at the desired volume at the beginning of the song,as shown above. Doing it this way every time ensures GPO/JABB and HA will ALWAYS react (and sound) the way you intended.

BREAKER-BREAK - DO YOU COPY?:

Here's something very cool, which will save you oodles of time. You can copy and paste MIDI Parameter Curves in HA too!!! This is a really wonderful feature, because quite often you will want to simply duplicate a fancy curve onto another staff. To do so, simply enable the curve for editing as usual, and then left-click the far left name of the staff to select the entire staff. Now choose Edit|Copy. Go to the target staff, enable its curve for editing, and choose Edit|Paste. That's it!

THE BIG CONFIG NEWTON:

Here are some handy-dandy tips for starting any session with GPO Studio and Myriad ("bless their heart", as Tennesseeans would say ). To begin any GPO Studio/HA session, first launch GPO Studio, then, in GPO Studio, go to File/Load/ and load your .studio file. (I name my .studio files after the name of each composition, so for example, for “Surrender.mus” I also have a “Surrender.studio” file.) Now run Harmony Assistant and load your composition. If you have your configuration options in HA set correctly, it will reload your work with EVERYTHING ready to go.

Here is the configuration option you need to set in MA/HA to ensure all your MIDI out settings (and thus all your GPO/JABB assignments) will be automatically saved and loaded each time you restart:

TRUE CHILD SUPPORT:

One of the /very best/ reasons to buy the Garritan Jazz and Big Band Library, and Myriad's Harmony Assitant as well, is because they both offer support second to none. Where else can you get quick, kind replies to your most urgent questions, directly from the owners/authors? I once requested help from Myriad with a specific problem, and not only did they quickly reply, they even changed their program for me! And you only need visit the Garritan Libraries forum once to know how wonderful Mr. Garritan is.

CAUTIONARY NOTES:

"Aftertouch" is mentioned both in the JABB manual and in various other literature. In fact, Aftertouch is used to add vibrato to all wind instruments in JABB. But don't get frustrated if you try and create an Aftertouch MIDI parameter curve and nothing happens! That's because it is a misnomer - MIDI actually has TWO types of controllers which are both, confusingly, labeled Aftertouch, and interchangeable at that. True MIDI Aftertouch is actually per-key Aftertouch (voice message #An xx ll), also known as "key pressure". The truth is, this kind of Aftertouch is rarely (if ever) used in MIDI programs, and it will not work with GPO/JABB. The one you want is "channel pressure", which is MIDI message #Dn ll. Channel Aftertouch differs from key Aftertouch in that it affects /all/ notes on that MIDI channel. This is important because almost no synth keyboards support pressure sensors for each key, as this would make them far too expensive. Instead, most MIDI synth keyboards have a single pressure sensor for the entire keyboard, and output a string of channel pressure Aftertouch messages (#Dn ll).

Spock: "Forgive me, doctor - I am receiving a number of distress calls..."

McCoy: "I don't doubt it"

The silly quote above brings me to one other point - too many messages. Some MIDI commands, such as pitch bend, mod wheel, channel pressure, etc, send not one but many, many messages to your MIDI devices, all in a short time span. As far as I can tell, this can be quite a problem when using MIDI parameter curves to send controller data to GPO Studio for GPO/JABB. For instance, I set up 3 curves for each of my clarinets (MIDI Specific a,b.c) in HA, with a particularly large number of changes for vibrato (I wanted to only place it at the end of held notes) . What happened was GPO/JABB started dropping notes - certain sections of my song would simply stop playing, for no apparent reason. I thought it was something wrong with my volume curve. But all I had to do to fix it, was remove the fancy, detailed vibrato curve by placing a single set of points at the start of each staff to fix the vibrato at a specific level, and everything became hunky-dorey. Incredibly, I still achieved the desired effect because JABB is way smarter than me! I will look into this for ya's and see what in tarnation this daggit is doin' wrong.

MAC 'N ME:

For those of you with a real computer (lol!), i.e. a Mac, some of the above screens will be a bit different (e.g. Hardware Configuration is called Midi Configuration). But mostly things should be pretty similar. Sorry I can't yet offer a full Macintosh-ish (word?) tutorial, but the tooth fairy is on a budget this yahren.

MY SAMPLE SONG(!):

And now to entertain your ears (or annoy them, as the case may be ), I have done my best to create a (hopefully ) soothing piece using the above techniques in GPO, JABB and Harmony Assistant, in the style of the wonderful Glenn Miller Orchestra (the Glenn Muffit Orchestra?). My humble piece is called "Myschief", and I hope you like it!

If you want to download it, simply go to the below link and right click on "Myschief", and select "Save Target As...":

http://www.muffitland.com/Songs.htm

If by some chance you have a fast broadband internet connection, and are running Internet Explorer 6 or later (or Netscape/Firefox with Windows Media Player ActiveX plug-in installed), you can listen to "Myschief" live via streaming audio, with dynamic lyrics. Just go here:

http://www.muffitland.com/LyricsLove.htm

... AND A GLOWING CREDIT FOR A WONDERFUL PERSON:

I sincerely want to thank Mr. Gary Garritan for making all this possible! Maestro Muffit




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