In producing some MIDI sequences, my primary goal is usability for rehearsing as a performer of one of the parts. Making it pleasing to the ear is a secondary goal.
(Fortunately, for baroque and other earlier music, achieving the first goal usually ensures pleasing results. That's less likely to be the case for Chopin, Liszt, Yes, or Nine Inch Nails, whose compositions usually require lots more attention to production details to produce an appropriate sequence -- details that tend to make such sequences harder to use for rehearsing.)
To accomplish this, I use the following guidelines to produce such sequences:
The measure numbers for the sequence have to match those used in the sheet music. (When the sheet music has no measure numbers, I fill them in by hand. I find it's easier to keep track of note entry that way. If it already has measure numbers but also has repeated sections, I have to write in new measure numbers that treat the repeated sections as if they were written "straight out".)
Use "step recording" rather than "real-time recording" to get a more precise, albeit mechanical, result.
(Step recording means entering single notes and chords at a time, with the sequencer simultaneously recording their length as independently controlled. On my Korg, the length, ties, rests, etc. are controlled via the touch screen. In real-time recording, these are controlled by how long various music-keyboard keys are played as the sequencer is recording; it's like making an audio recording of a performance on keyboard, except the data being recorded is the notes played, how long they're played, how quickly each key was played (velocity), etc.)
Using step recording makes it easier for me to verify correct note values. It also compensates for my poor music-keyboarding skills.
Each voice, as well as left versus right "hands" of keyboard parts, gets assigned its own track.
This allows easy verification of a given part during sequence creation, as well as easy modification for practice purposes (by soloing or muting one or more tracks).
A minimal amount of MIDI control data is used. Specifically, the only control data used is tempo and (track) volume.
I tend to not use track volume at all until after all the practicing is complete, since it typically isn't as important to remember changes in volume as to become acquainted with notes to be performed (especially sung vis-a-vis the chord progressions).
Ideally, the only use of tempo is to assign an initial value and maybe to implement fermatas without splitting sheet-music measures into multiple MIDI-sequence measures (which would throw off measure numbering).
By having the sequence itself make tempo and volume changes only rarely, it is much easier to modify them by hand while practicing to the sequence.
Copyright (C) 2000 James Craig Burley
Last modified on 2000-06-14.