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Effect processors


When using digital output, you can apply effect processors to the sounds produced from a score.

Effect processors are available in Melody Assistant from version 4.3 and in Harmony Assistant from version 6.3.

These effect processors are organised like a guitar multi-effect foot switch: several effect types can be cascaded in order to change the original sound of the instrument. As many effects as you need can be inserted in a staff: instrument sounds can then be changed while music is playing.

Effect processors can be applied to standard sounds as well as to user sounds.

Several predefined effect processors are provided with the software, but you can easily define your own, and then insert them into your tunes or share them with other users.

Inserting an effect

Select the "Effect processor" tool (blue foot switch icon) in the "Miscellaneous" tool palette and click where you want it to be inserted in the staff.

The effect editing window opens.

Later, you will be able to double-click on the effect with the lasso tool to open the effect editing window again.

Editing an effect

In the effect editing window, you can see:

On the left, the list of effect types. These effects types can be cascaded to produce the sound you wish.

In the middle, the way this effect type is applied to the sound..

Two icons are available for any effect type:
  • Do not modify, which means this effect type is unchanged and keeps the previously set parameters.
  • Stop, which means this effect type is stopped and is no longer used to process the sound.
On the right, parameters for this effect type.
You can edit these parameters by entering their values with the keyboard or by moving control handles on the graphics.
At the bottom of the window:
The Icon used to display this effect on the score. This icon can be chosen from amongst a set of predefined icons ("Change" button) or drawn with the integrated icon editor ("Edit" button).
Tip: On a score, the staff an effect processor is applied to is the one including the top edge of the effect's icon.
While editing an effect processor, the name of the staff containing the effect is displayed in the window title bar.
The Try button (little electric guitar). Plays a portion of the staff this effect is assigned to.
The effect name, which is displayed on a score to the right of the icon. Text font and style can be chosen.
Comment, to write remarks about this effect.
The Print check box. When checked, the effect will be printed on the score.
The Predef button, to chose an  effect from amongst the predefined set.
Tip: You can add your own effects to the predefined set by saving them in the "FXs" folder.
Load and Save buttons, to load or save your effects separately from the score in which  they are included.The file extension for these files is ".FX". This file format is compatible with both Macintosh, Windows and Linux, and can be sent in ascii or binary format through the Internet.
If you have designed some really interesting effects, share them on the Internet with other users. The "Comment" field, which is not displayed, lets you include your name or e-mail address.
Changes made to the  effect processor currently being edited are applied in real-time to played music: you get an immediate preview of your changes. When "Try" mode is active (button with a little guitar), only the 6 bars after the effect are played, in a loop.
 
Note: Effect processors are time-consuming in terms of computer power. If your computer is too slow, you can disable the effect processors via the software digital output configuration window.

To begin:


Here is a little example to take a look at effect processor capabilities.
1) Check the software setup
"Configuration>digital output configuration" menu: Ensure that digital output parameters have been set properly. Recommended values are 44kHz, 16 bits, stereo, quality.
"Enable effect processors" must be checked.

"Configuration>Global setup>Load" menu: ensure that under Adapt music to existing devices the Set to radio button is selected and digital output chosen (use the Change button if necessary).

2) Create a document
"File> New" menu option: select a "Simple" template and insert notes into the first 6 bars of the first staff.
or "File>Open" menu and select an existing tune.

Press the space bar: the music starts playing.
Press the space bar again: the music stops.

3) Insert an effect
Ensure that the "Miscellaneous" tool palette is displayed, or activate it through the "Windows>Miscellaneous tools" menu option.
Click the blue guitar foot switch icon.

Click on the staff, just before the first note: an effect processor is inserted into the score and the effect processor editing window opens.

4) Set up the effect
Click the little guitar icon: the first 6 bars of the staff are played in a loop, so that you can try your effect processor in real-time. At this stage you should hear the notes playing. Leave this mode on.

Click the "Predef" button: the list of predefined effect processors appears. Select for example "Church Reverb" and click "OK". Notes are now played with a deep reverberation.

You can try several predefined effect processors, then start to change some parameters to get the sound you wish.

Several effect types can be combined to change the original sound. The list on the left is drawn as a flowchart, to display clearly which effect types are enabled and which ones are disabled. We will detail here the specific action of each effect.

Resonator/Wah

Technically, this is a resonant band-pass filter.This kind of acoustic filter accentuates a given frequency and reduces all others.
The frequency is given in Hertz (Hz) and specifies the sound frequency to enhance.
The resonance level defines the amplifying factor at this frequency. Finally, an output gain control adjusts the sound output volume.
Note: The frequency of an A at octave 4 is 440 Hz, and frequency is doubled for each octave.
Thus, if the resonating filter frequency is set to 1760 Hz, the note A 6 will be specially enhanced and will become resonant.
The resonator can be applied in several ways:

Fixed: The frequency is set to a given value. A smooth change can be applied to the frequency or resonance. In this case, the parameter starts from the given value, and moves smoothly to the value set by the next effect of this type on the same staff.

LFO  (Low Frequency Oscillator): Frequency increases and decreases regularly over time. The control handles on the graph (or numerical values) enable you to set the highest and lowest frequencies of the oscillation, its starting point and the oscillation period (in milliseconds).
The Direction check box defines whether the oscillation begins with an increasing or decreasing frequency.
A smooth change can be applied to the resonance. In this case, resonance starts at the given value, and moves smoothly to the value set by the next effect of this type on the same staff.

Wah: simulates the automatic Wah-Wah effect found in some guitar effect processors. Resonator frequency is linked to the current volume of the music: the louder the sound, the higher the resonator frequency. On the graph, frequency is drawn on the vertical axis and sound volume on the horizontal axis (quiet sounds on the left, loud sounds on the right).
A smooth change can be applied to the resonance. In this case, resonance starts at the given value, and moves smoothly to the value set by the next effect of this type on the same staff.

Distortion/Overdrive

This effect simulates the sound of overdriven guitar amplifiers. When the input level becomes too high the signal is distorted. Distortion and Overdrive are two ways this effect can be rendered.
Power sets the sound volume trigger at which the Distortion/Overdrive effect begins. With a low distortion power, only loud sounds will be altered. With a power near 100%, even notes played weakly will be altered.
These effects can generate unwanted high-pitched harmonics. It is therefore possible to set a low-pass filter (Tone) to soften the sound by reducing these higher frequencies.
Finally, an output gain control adjusts the sound output volume.

Flanger/Chorus

This effect adds a sound back to itself after a slight delay, which varies over time.
Power sets the quantity of feedback, and thus the scale of the effect. A Low Frequency Oscillator (LFO) makes the delay change across time.
The only difference between Flanger and Chorus is the range of oscillation speeds.

Equalizer

This effect lets you adjust the instrument tone and output power.
On the graphical sliders, you can control the amount of bass and treble.
With the "gain", you select the instrument output level.
The "limiter" lets you limit the output level in order to avoid general saturation of your tune. By setting a low value for this parameter, you increase the risk that loud notes or chords on the affected staff will saturate (you could decrease the gain to prevent it), but only the staff with the equalizer effect will be affected. Other sounds played by other staves will still be heard.

Panning

This effect alters the location of sound in stereophonic space.
The panning location can range from extreme left (negative values) to extreme right (positive values).
Panning can be:
Fixed:  Panning is set to a given value. A smooth change can be applied to this value. In that case, panning starts at the given value, and moves smoothly to the value set by the next effect of this type on the same staff.

LFO  (Low Frequency Oscillator): Panning moves from left to right and from right to left regularly over time. The control handles on the graph (or numerical values) let you set the highest and lowest panning values of the oscillation, its starting point and the oscillation period (in milliseconds).
The Direction check box defines whether the oscillation begins moving from left to right or from right to left.

Delay/Reverb

These are echo or reverberation effects applied to the input sound. Three kinds of echo or reverberation can be applied:

Delay: This is a one-time echo, occurring after a given time. The time that elapses before the echo (in milliseconds) as well as the echo power (as a percentage of the original sound) can be set.
The Ping-Pong box, when checked, makes the echo appear at the panning location opposite the original sound.


Feedback Delay: This is the same effect as above, except that the echo is added to the original sound and processed again (and again, and again...). A series of echoes regularly distributed in time, and with a decreasing intensity, is heard. If the Ping-Pong box is checked, echoes alternate left and right.

Reverb: This is an approximation of a real room reverberation. Reverberation power and total duration (up to 5 sec, i.e. 5000 ms) can be set. If the Ping-Pong box is checked, reverberations fill the whole stereophonic space.