Audio Options

NoteAbilityPro can playback scores using a variety of sound playback methods.

  1. via MIDI to external synthesizers
  2. using Apple's built-in DLS Synthesizer
  3. using installed Audio Unit synthesizer plugins
  4. playing audio files inserted in the score
  5. sending remote messages to interactive performance software (such as MaxMSP or Pd)

The Track Setup panel in the Audio/MIDI menu or the small Tracks button at the top-right area of the score window displays a panel at the side of your score that an be used to change the sound output method used on each track (staff) of the score. Different staves of the score can use different output methods. For example if you are setting the first 2 staves to play using Apple DLS, the third via MIDI, the fourth using an Audio Unit plugin and the fifth and sixth containing embedded audio files, your Track Setup will look something like:


Notes can be sounded on a MIDI synthesizer connected to your computer. In this case, the staves should be set to MIDI and a MIDI channel (1 - 16) and a MIDI bank (a - h) should be selected in the Track Setup panel. The desired bank should be matched to MIDI Port configuration that you have specified in the Midi Ports Panel.

When using MIDI, notes along with their velocites (volumes) as well as patch changes will be sent on the specificed MIDI channel to the MIDI device on the corresponding MIDI bank - MIDI setups that use only one synthesizer should have all tracks set to Bank "a". Midi has limited ability to playback quartertones, so you are advised to use one of the other playback options if your music uses a lot of microtones.

Apple DLS

The Apple DLS (Downloadable Sounds) Synthesizer is the default playback device used with NoteAbility. There are 6 separate DLS Synthesizers available in NoteAbilityPro. All the DLS synthesizers are initially set to either use the built-in Quicktime Music Synthesizer or the NAProGM instruments. Both of these conform to the General Midi Instrument configuration. The NAProGM synthesizer includes piano and most standard orchestral instruments, while the Quicktime Music Synthesizer includes synthetic versions of all General MIDI instruments (piano, strings, percussion, winds, brass, pads, etc.). You can select your default synthesizer in the Audio/Midi section of the NoteAbilityPro Preferences panel.

If desired, each DLS synthesizer can be set to use a different bank of sounds by selecting the sound bank from the the pull-down menu for each DLS player in the Audio Units Panel. These pull-down menus display all the available sound banks in your computer system. You can add banks to your computer by downloading SoundFonts - many of which can be downloaded free on the internet. SoundFonts have a .sf2 extension and they should be placed in the /Library/Audio/Sounds/Banks directory. All ".sf2" files place in this location will appear in the pull-down menus in the Audio Units Panel and will be available for use by the DLS synthesizers in NoteAbilityPro.

To select a particular instrument (or patch) for a specific track (staff) from the available sounds in the sound bank, click on the DLS buttons associated for each staff on the Track Setup panel in the Audio/MIDI menu. All patches set for your score will be saved with your document. There are some general settings for reverb type and reverb mix on the DLS Synthesizers. These controls are set in the Audio Units Panel located in the Audio/Midi menu.

- SoundFonts can include complete banks of instruments (128 or more) or they can include only one or a few instruments. In cases when only a few instruments are contained in the sound font, you should ensure that you do not use patch numbers beyond the range of the instruments.

Some basic effects have been added to the DLS synthesizer. The type of room reverberation and the amount of reverberation can be set in the Audio Units panel. These effects can be used to make the synthesizer sound warmer and richer.

Audio Units

Audio Units are a collection of audio components that can be downloaded and installed on your computer. Audio Units can be either sythesizer and effects components, and these components can be joined together in a variety of ways. In NoteAbilityPro, you can have up to 6 Audio Units active at one time. Each of these synthesizer units can be sent through up to 2 effects components. This configuration is set up in the Audio Units panel. You can also display the interface of any of these audio unit components so that you can configure or modify them. Many different kinds of audio units are available, some of which are free to download and others which must be purchased. Some Audio units are restricted to a single channel while others can support up to 16 simultaneous channels.

Embedded Audio

Audio files in any standard format may be dragged and dropped onto your score. There is a new staff type (available in the Staff Attributes pane of the Score Structure panel) that is designed to hold audio files (although files can be dragged and dropped on any staff type). When audio files are placed in the score, the location of the soundfile start time (i.e. the beat position in the measure) is indicated along with the name of the audio file and its duration.

In the example above, an audio files has been dragged onto the score twice (on the new staff type designed to hold audio files). The slider at the left edge of the rectangle sets the playback volume (max. 127). In this example, one audio file is set to play at a volume of 80, the second at a volume of 58. You can also see the name of the audio file, the duration (21.165 seconds). The starting beat positions of the audio files (0.70 and 2.320 beats of the measure) are displayed above the rectangle -- if the boxes are dragged around the score, the starting location will be updated. Only the starting point of the audio file is notated in the score -- the rectangle does not show where (in the score) the audio file ends. You can add as many audio files (in any reasonable audio format) to your score as your computer's CPU can handle during playback. If playback becomes choppy then you are trying to play back too many audio files.

Network Messages

Network messages are, technically-speaking, not audio, but allow you to remotely control interactive performance software such as MaxMSP or Pd (Pure data). In order to send network messages, you must use the Network Connections panel located in the Network drawer which appears when you click on the small Network button located at the top of the score window. The Network panel is used to identify the IP address and port to which you want to connect and assign the staff to send messages to that network connection. It is up to the receiving software to be structured to receive UDP network messages on the specified port. MaxMSP or Pd messages are entered on the score with the Max tool (located at the end of the Tool Palette in the score window). You can include single messages or a series of messages (each separated by a semicolon) or you can create continuous messages using a NoteAbilityPro breakpoint function. The example below shows some MaxMSP messages embedded in a NoteAbilityPro score.

See also

© Keith A. Hamel 1998-2005 - All Rights Reserved