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Dear Student:

Welcome to the Learning Center and thank you for attending Digital Performer Basics training
session. During the next 90-minutes we will cover all the basics of sequencing using MOTU Digital
Performer.
The class will begin by explaining the basics of music sequencing and everything related to
Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) protocols. Then, a Digital Performer feature overview will
be given, covering everything from MIDI recording to conversion of MIDI into Audio.
Digital Performer does not come initially as part of the Laptop Package, although it will be
part of the Major Bundles (Film Scoring, CWP).
The Learning Center also offers training sessions on a large array of music software as well as,
hold numerous forums and presentations about Music technology.
For more information visit us at learningcenter.berklee.edu
(617) 747-2669 (150 Massachusetts Avenue Building)
Learning Center Staff

Table of Contents
What is a Sequencer?
MIDI
Digital Performer Interface:
- Transport
- Tracks Window
MIDI Recording
- Step Recording
- Real-Time Recording
Performance Editing
- Regions
- Quantize
- Graphic Editor
Audio Recording
- Using Software Instruments
- Converting MIDI Tracks into Audio Tracks
Setting Loops
Mixing
- Audio & MIDI Plug-ins
Saving + Bouncing
Learning Center (training sessions, labs, support)
References & Links
Digital Performer Advanced

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Revision 08/26/05

- 3 - What

is a Sequencer?

To start we need to establish that MOTUs Digital Performer is a sequencer. By


definition from the Encarta dictionary a sequencer is:
sequencer n 1. an instrument for sorting information into the correct order for data
processing. 2. an electronic device or software that digitally stores sequences of musical
notes, chords, or rhythms that can be transmitted as required to an electronic musical
instrument such as a synthesizer. 3. an apparatus for automatically determining the
sequence of the constituent subunits of a protein, nucleic acid, or other biological
molecule.1
The second definition defines a sequencer as a device or software that
sequentially (in order) stores musical events.

011100110011000
Digital Information
MIDI Controller
Every note, chord or performance
made with the MIDI controller will be
stored in the order they are coming in.

Software
Sequencer

The end result will be a whole series of


performances, including which note or
notes, and how loud they were played.

MIDI
Musical Instrument Digital Interface, was a protocol created in the 80s by the
leading manufacturers of music technology gear. MIDI enables different devices to
communicate to each other, and since virtually every new device nowadays comes
with MIDI built in, it makes it seamless to use different brands and types of music gear
together. All you need is MIDI cables and they start talking to each other, E.g. Imagine
that you have a Keyboard controller that can trigger sounds from a sound module.

MIDI RULES:
16 channels per device.
All MIDI Data goes from 0 to 127

Encarta World English Dictionary 1999 Microsoft Corporation.

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16 available DLSMusic Device tracks

Digital Performer Interface 4

Digital Performer has two main windows, they are the Transport control and the Track
window. The Transport control takes care of playback/record functions and counter
information (playback positioning). The Transport control also offers shortcuts to all editing
windows and features such as metronome, overdub, etc.

Playback
Controls

Record

Track
Window

Counter

Sequence
Editor

Mixing
Board

Notation

Memory
Cycle
(loop)

Overdub

Count-Off
Metronome

Event List
Wait Note

Graphic
Editor

Drum
Editor

Track Window:
contains all
tracks/instruments
as well as their
performance data
(regions).

LEFT SIDE

Each column displays a different


aspect of each track.
MVE: allows you to change
tracks order.
REC: enables the track for
recording and for monitoring.
Input: (it does not apply to MIDI
Tracks) select an input to patch
through.
Play: allow tracks to play or be
muted.
Output: MIDI or Audio Output.
Track Name: Identify tracks by
name.

RIGHT SIDE

Left side of the


window displays all
the information
related to each
track (input,
output, track
name).
The Right side
displays
performance data
as bars for MIDI
tracks, and
soundwaves for
Audio Tracks.

- 5 - MIDI

Recording

MIDI recording is the cheapest way of having a piece of music played by an


entire ensemble of virtual musicians.

Recording MIDI data on separate


tracks, can trigger performances
using different sets of instruments.
Every track will keep information
about what note to play, which
dynamics to use and every subtle
difference recorded while
performed.

Step Recording
Step Recording will allow you to record notes and performances without necessarily
having to follow the beat of the metronome.

From the Studio menu, select Step Record


Be sure that you are recording onto the
right track

Then select the value


of the note(s) to input
and play them on your
MIDI controller.
In case of making a
mistake do not UNDO,
just press backstep.

DOUBLE CHECK THAT THE COUNTER IS ALSO


AT THE APPROPIATE PLACE IN TIME

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For rests press step,


after selecting the
value of the rest.

MIDI Recording (Real-Time recording) 6


If you have some skills playing keyboards or any other type of MIDI controller (wind
controller, guitar controller); Real-time recording is the best method for you.
Just press record, use the metronome to know where you are and thats it.

1. Select the track you would like to


record on. You should be able to play
sounds using the desired track.

2. Activate your Metronome by clicking on the Metronome icon. The icon next to it is for bars of count off.
DOUBLE CLICK THE METRONOME ICON FOR
METRONOME AND COUNT-OFF SETTINGS

This is how it looks when you select both the


metronome and count-off

3. Press record and Rock on!!!.

If you cannot make up your mind with how many


measures you need for Count-off, try Wait Note. Wait
Note makes the number of count bars infinite,
meaning that it will start recording the moment you
press the first note on your MIDI controller.

All your performances will be represented as bars


(regions) next to the corresponding track.
On your left is how the data is being recorded using
the Event List.

- 7 - Performance

Editing

Not all of us are virtuoso players. Some of us cannot even play a few notes
correctly. Thanks to MIDI, most sequencers offer editing capabilities, turning rhythm
challenged people into decent players.
Regions
Regions are space sections that contain either MIDI Performances or Audio
recordings. Regions can be moved, copied and pasted, and even edited using the
Region menu.

Above you can observe a MIDI region, after


clicking on it, you can apply any of the
Performance enhancers offered from the
Region menu.

Quantize
Lets face it, sometimes it is almost impossible to play something in time. For
example: we need to record a Bach cantata that has mostly eigth notes all the way
through. After a few bars of that feat, is very likely that we are not playing them right
anymore. So by applying Quantize you can align the attack (beginning) of each note to
a pre-determined grid.

The following illustrated how a quarter can be off by very little,


and after quantizing, the attacks are right on each beat.

Unquantized

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Quantized

Performance Editing

(Graphic Editor) 8

One of the four editing types allowed on Digital Performer is the Graphic Editor. The
Graphic Editor shows all recorded notes, including dynamics and other MIDI controller
data. The data is posted on a grid that represents measures as well as different pitches.

Graphic Editor (MIDI)

Tracks
shown
Measures / Beat Grid

Pitch
Reference
Recorded notes

Velocity (Volume)
MIDI Controller Data

At the Graphic Editor any note can be stretched (duration) or moved to a different pitch.
Just click on the desired note and apply the changes.

2.

There are a few different ways of accesing the Graphic Editor.


1. Double click on top of a MIDI region.
Highlight a MIDI Region and then click on the Graphic Editor Icon. (Right side of Transport)
3. Select MIDI from the Window Tab

- 9 - Audio

Recording

When you record a MIDI performance, all the events can be edited, adjusted or
manipulated in any way. In the case of Audio Recordings, most of that flexibility is gone.
Digital Audio recording converts an analog signal into data that can be digitally stored.

Guitar Output /
Microphone
(Analog Signal)

Analog/Digital
Converter
(Audio Interface)
011 101100100101
1001100110011101

There are other cases when Software Instruments are used and Audio Interfaces
are not required.
Software instruments
Software Instruments are applications within the computer that can generate
Audio signals triggered by MIDI controllers. E.g. Garritan Personal Orchestra. is a software
instrument, more specifically a sampler since it loads audio recordings of instruments to
be controlled via MIDI.

Tracks can be added on Digital Performer. They can be MIDI tracks or Stereo Audio tracks. In
this particular case we will need two tracks, one Instrument track (sound generator) and a MIDI
track that triggers the performances.

learningcenter.berklee.edu

Audio Recording

(Software Instruments) - 10 -

Apple computers running on OS X come with a Software Instrument called DLS


Music Device. This software is able to play Sound Fonts 2: you should have at least two
different options: Quicktime and Make Music (Finale). There is a large array of free and
downloadable Sound fonts available online (www.hammersound.net).
After creating a DLS Music Device Instrument track, select the Sound Bank (Soundfont).
Then change the input of one of your MIDI tracks to be DLSMusicDevice-1-1

At the end you should have both the Instrument


track and a MIDI track

Converting MIDI tracks into Audio


MIDI tracks do not contain any audio in them, they need to be rendered or recorded as
Audio. If you are using an external device to generate sounds, you will need to use an
Audio interface, connecting the output of the external device to an input on your Audio
Interface.

Then from the Audio menu select Freeze


Selected Tracks. This will take care of patching
any required tracks and rendering an audio
track of the MIDI performance.

http://soundblaster.com/soundfont/

Highlight the MIDI


Region and holding
the SHIFT key in the
keyboard click on top
of the Instrument track
name.

- 11 -

Setting Loops

Loops in many cases are defined as objects of circular shape. Following that
definition, regions (MIDI or Audio) can be set to repeat in a cyclical manner. This method
is especially useful for grooves, ostinatos, and other types of repetitive or sequential
phrases.

Highlight the region you would like to loop.

Then, under the Region menu select


Set Loop.

Be sure that your region is an even


number of measures or beats, since
they will be repeated.
The amount of times includes the
original region, so in this case it is a 5
bars region, if selected 2 times, it will be
a 10 bar region

NOTE: The looped region does not have any notes in it. It is just a copy of what is
played in the preceding measures.

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Mixing - 12 -

Mixing is a process that can be done while laying out tracks, and definitely needs to be
visited after all tracks have been recorded. By Mixing you can determine the audio levels
of each instrument depending on style or instrumentation.
There are some formulas for mixing music, but your ears will determine how your music
should sound.

Digital Performer Track


mixer can be either
accessed from the Project
menu, from the Playback
Control cabinet, or by
pressing Shift + M.

Click on the Expand button to select which


tracks will display in the mixing board

MIDI Tracks Plug-ins:


they will affect how
notes are played, but
will not change their
positioning (Graphic
Editor)

Audio Tracks Plug-ins:


The list on the left
shows all of Digital
Performer Audio
plug-ins. They can be
applied to any audio
track, modifying its
EQ, Reverb, Chorus or
depending which
type is applied. All of
them can be change
at any time since
they are not
rendered together
with the Audio.
ARE NOT AVAILABLE
DIRECTLY INTO MIDI
TRACKS.

- 13 -

Saving + Bouncing

Saving is probably the most important thing after writing music. If you do not save
periodically, you are at risk of losing all of your work. The longer the interval between
every time you save your file, the more time you will waste in case of a computer crash.
Dealing with computers and pretty much any electronic device is a dicey business.
Consider yourself warned

In order to save your work, go to the File menu and select


Save As(only the first time). This will prompt you to give a
name to the file, a location as well as format.
For all subsequent saves, select Save, or press Apple + S

Bouncing
Saving lets you save your Digital Performer work into an editable and
transportable file. Although in order to have all your music in an audio format you will
have to render all the audio tracks into a stereo mix. DP calls that process Bounce to
track.

Highlight all Audio tracks that you would like


to have bounced, BE SURE THAT ALL OF THEM
ARE PLAY-ENABLED. Then select from the
AUDIO menu, Bounce to Disk
Give a name to the file,
Choose a location, and
select an appropriate file
format.

learningcenter.berklee.edu

Learning Center (learningcenter.berklee.edu) - 14 150 Massachusetts Avenue, second floor, upstairs from the Media Center
(617) 747-2669
Training Sessions, Tutoring (Core Music & Software), MIDI Workstations, Laptop Stations (Hybrid)

TRAINING SESSIONS SIGN UP


Click on Schedule/Sign Up to
check our calendar of classes, then
click on the name of the class you
would like to attend.

TRAINING SESSIONS

TUTORING

SOFTWARE FORUMS
LABS

for more information

LE A RNIN GC EN T ER . BERK L EE . EDU

EVENTS

- 15 -

References & Links

The following are commercially available Books about Digital Performer. We do


not endorse any particular one, since their approaches differ being more or less suitable
depending on your learning styles.

Producing Music With Digital Performer


by Ben Newhouse/ Berklee Press

Digital Performer Power! (Power!)


by Steve Thomas / Muska & Lipman

Available at the Berklee Library


Digital Performer 4 Ignite! / by Eric Grebler.
Call No. MT723 .D73 2004
Digital Performer 4 : user guide.
Call No. MT723 .D554 2003
Producing music with Digital Performer / Ben Newhouse.
Call No. MT723 .N495 2004

WEB LINKS
Mark of the Unicord (MOTU)
www.motu.com
Forums
http://www.unicornation.com/

Basic mixing techniques / Paul White.


Call No. TK7881.4.W456 B6 2000
The art of mixing : a visual guide to recording, engineering, and production / by David
Gibson ; technical edit by George Petersen.
Call No. TK7881.4 .G534 1997
Anatomy of a home studio : how everything really works, from microphones to MIDI / by
Scott Wilkinson ; foreword by Mark Isham ; edited by Steve Oppenheimer.
Call No. TK7881.4 .W54 1997

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Digital Performer Advanced - 16 -

- MIDI/Audio Automation - Audio Editing - Changing the Tempo of an Audio Track - Audio
Plug-ins - Conductor Track (Tempo, Meter & Key signature changes) - Tempo Change
operations - Soundbites - Waveform Editor - Multiple Bounces - Opening a Video -