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Making MIDI Files for Home Concert Xtreme

Home Concert Xtreme works with both Type 0 and Type 1 Standard MIDI files (SMFs).

It is important to note that these files must be organized to logical beats and barlines in order for Home Concert Xtreme to be able to turn the MIDI performance data into readable music notation. SMFs in which the notes of the Solo track(s) have been quantized will both work the best and look the best.

Although most commercial MIDI files are compatible with Home Concert, there are some commercial MIDI files which are not. Incompatible files are typically files that were recorded in real-time without reference to a metronome. In these cases, the publisher has made these files strictly for listening purposes, not for notation display or score-following.

Creating Your Own MIDI Files for Home Concert
You can create your own compatible SMFs using a sequencer (MIDI editing program), notation, or auto-arrangement program, such as PG Music's Band-in-a-Box (www.pgmusic.com). Here are the steps:

  • Define the Solo Tracks
    As you create your SMF, keep in mind the fact that your MIDI file needs to have one or two tracks that will function as the Solo Tracks. If you intend to have the Solo track(s) represented on a grand staff (treble and bass staves), you should create two Solo tracks, one for each staff--such as left hand on one track and right hand on another.

    If you plan to save your file as a Type 0 Standard MIDI File, be sure that you assign each Solo track to a separate MIDI channel, otherwise those two tracks will be effectively combined into one when you save the file. See Save Your MIDI File as a SMF Type 0 or Type 1 below. If you plan to save your file as a Type 1 file, all you need to do is to put each solo part on a separate track assigned to any channel that you wish.

  • Organize Your Music To Logical Beats and Barlines
    There are many ways to enter notes into a music creation program in order to create a SMF. You need to be careful to do it so that the results are organized to logical beats and barlines. This is necessary both for Home Concert to be able to follow your playing and for the Solo tracks to display well.

    If you step-enter music into a sequencer, record in real-time to a metronome, enter notes into a music notation program, or use an auto-arrangement program, most likely, the results will be organized to logical beats and barlines. If, however, you record tracks in real time without reference to a metronome, the results will not look good in notation and will not track well as far as score-following is concerned.

    Freely-recorded tracks can work with Home Concert, however, if they are reclocked. Some sequencers offer a reclocking function. The purpose of the reclocking function is to move the notes around so that they align to logical beats and barlines without disrupting the flow of the music. In the process of reclocking, a conductor track (or tempo map) is created which replicates the original flow of the performance. The result is a MIDI file that looks good in notation but which has the original temporal flow. Reclocking requires some expertise but is definitely a workable option.

    NOTE: Reclocking is not the same thing as quantization.

  • Consider Quantizing the Solo Tracks and Certain Key Notes
    If you have recorded your tracks to a metronome, the notes are organized to logical beats and barlines. However, most notes are probably not in rhythmically precise positions in the file. The result is that the sequence has a human feel to it, but it may not look the best in notation.

    Since you are going to use this MIDI file with Home Concert, you will be creating the human feel for the solo part(s) by your own playing. In order to get the solo part(s) to look their best in notation and to track the best, you should quantize them before saving your MIDI file.

    It may not be necessary to quantize any of the accompaniment tracks. However, if there are places in the accompaniment that you wish to control precisely with your playing of the solo part(s), you should quantize those places. For example, if you wish to pause your performance just before an important chord using a Wait-for-Attack marker, you will not get the results that you want if some of the accompaniment notes occur a tiny bit before the beat. In such a situation, they should be quantized.

  • Use Correct Key and Time Signatures
    Remember that Home Concert will transcribe your SMF into music notation. For the best results, create your SMF with correct key and time signatures. When placing key signatures, note that you can usually designate whether a particular key signature represents a major or minor key. If you make the correct choice, Home Concert will do a better job of getting the accidentals correct when it transcribes the file

  • Name the Tracks and the Sequence
    This is an optional step. If you name the individual tracks in your music creation program and save the file as a Type 1 Standard MIDI File, those track names will show up in Home Concert. This step is optional because you can have Home Concert show the initial patch names found in each track or display custom names which you define within Home Concert using the Tracks Preferences.

    Many music programs, especially sequencers, let you designate a sequence or chunk name. If you designate such a name, it will appear as an option in Home Concert's Piece Display Preferences. This step is not absolutely necessary because you can create a custom title for display within Home Concert using Piece Display Preferences

  • Save Your MIDI File as a SMF Type 0 or Type 1
    Most music programs have their own, unique file format. If you save in that format, you will not be able to use your MIDI file with Home Concert or most other music programs. When you are done creating your MIDI file, use the appropriate command in your music program (such as Save As..., or Export...) to save your file as a Standard MIDI File.

    Most programs will let you save your SMF as either Type 0 or Type 1. Home Concert will work with either type.

    Type 0 is most universally compatible with older MIDI keyboards that have their own disk drives for playing SMFs from floppy disk. Type 0 puts all of the tracks into a single track yet keeps the MIDI channel assignments straight so that everything plays back correctly. When viewed in another program, such as Home Concert, the Type 0 SMF will appear to be a multitrack file with no more than 16 tracks, each track assigned to a unique MIDI channel from 1 to 16. Type 0 SMFs do not remember the track names that you may have entered in your music creation program.

    Type 1 SMFs are more flexible than Type 0. They keep all original tracks separated. For example, if you created several tracks for the various instruments of a drum set and assigned them all to channel 10, those tracks will appear as separate tracks in another music program, such as Home Concert. If you save such a file as Type 0, however, all of those separate tracks of the drum kit will be merged together into what appears to be a single track assigned to channel 10.

  • Name Your File Correctly
    Music programs running on the Windows platform require that files be saved with the ".mid" name extension in order to be recognized as a Standard MIDI File. Even if you use a Macintosh, you may find it a good idea to adopt this convention so that your SMFs can be used on both platforms conveniently