Tips for a MIDI Sequence Realization
Selection of instrument
The first thing to do, at the beginning of a MIDI sequence, is to set an instrument for each track used by the sequence. Otherwise, unexpected results may arise because the last instrument used on the previous sequence may be left over. This site being dedicated to classical guitar, the nylon guitar (number 25 or 24 depending on the MIDI software used) should be chosen. Another instrument could also be selected provided the presence of the guitar is ensured, for example: guitar-violin, guitar-flute duets, guitar + orchestra. MIDI files made with only one instrument different of guitar will not be accepted.
Next, the volume should be set to maximum. Failing to follow that rule is a problem since I receive many nearly inaudible MIDI sequences.
Sequencing the right tempo
Try to make a MIDI sequence at the right tempo. If you are not sure of the tempo of a song, try whenever possible to listen to a professional performer's recording.
Other parameters: reverb, panoramic
Make use of these controls. Utilisation of reverb adds another dimension to your MIDI sequence. Utilisation of panoramic control can be useful: when using two tracks or more (or two instruments or more), think about sequencing one in the left speaker and the second one in the right speaker, this will add spatial dimension to the MIDI.
Sequencing in the right octave
"This is a very important side of classical guitar MIDI sequencing realization. One must remember that the guitar is a transposing instrument, it sounds one octave lower than its written music in the G clef. Thus, it is necessary to always transpose the sequenced guitar staff down one octave to obtain the actual guitar sound (otherwise, you will be one octave too high). This is a common mistake of the MIDI that I receive. Your classical guitar MIDI must sound the closest possible to the true instrument. As a rule, there are two ways to carry that transposition to one lower octave: one can use the G clef shifted down one octave (a G clef with a small "8" under it) and enter the notes of your score as they are. This is by far the simplest method to use provided your MIDI editor has that possibility. For the second way, use a normal G clef (unshifted) but block all the notes already processed and transpose them down one octave. Using the two ways allows to transpose the entered score down one octave and hence you obtain the guitar MIDI sound at the right octave.
The quality of the MIDI sound
A good and efficient method that will give a pleasant MIDI sound consists in entering the score notes on many tracks or staves . Lets imagine, for example, a classical guitar song with arpeggios. One would easily spot three voices: the bass notes that can be heard all the time, the accompaniment notes (arpeggios) and the song notes (for example the high-pitched notes on the E string). In that kind of song, one would enter the bass notes on a first voice, the arpeggio notes on a second voice and the song notes on a third voice. Or create as well a special score (on three distinct tracks). This special score thus created cannot be read by a guitarist but the goal is not the reading but the creation of the closest possible MIDI sound to the real nylon guitar's sound. Listen to this small melody given as example. The first interpretation has been made with all the notes on the same voice, it is very dull. The second interpretation, on three distinct voices: bass, accompaniment notes, and song notes. It gives a much better result close to a true guitar playing. In the third interpretation, the notes duration is at maximum (if your MIDI editor has a feature allowing a maximum duration to the notes, set it to 100% in order to obtain a continuous sound or for those having an advanced MIDI editor, set a legato* function on all the score), the song notes have been put in a prominent state (volume risen a little bit higher than for the other notes), the arpeggios sound better (their notes sound as in true guitar playing), the final chord has been played as an arpeggio in order to simulate a professional performing.
Utilization of channels in MIDI sequencing
MIDI sequencing, it is better to
handle each track (or staff) on a separate MIDI channel (even if using the same
instrument on each track) in order to prevent clipped or dead notes when there
is too much data to handle. When sequencing for different instruments (for
example, a duet flute-guitar), there is less problem since different instruments
must be handled on different channels. But for a duet of guitars, one should
handle each guitar on a different MIDI channel otherwise a common symptom of
dead (or clipped) notes may occur. It appears that some MIDI players have
limited capabilities and cannot handle too much data at once, all on the same
Also, if you sequence in several staves for one guitar (for example, a staff for acute notes and another one for chords or bass notes), try to select a different channel for each staff. This measure will greatly improve the results. To render some guitar effects , for example, where the same note is to be played on two different strings at the same time (e.g. an E on the B string, 5th fret and another one on the open 6th string), it’s a good idea to sequence each note on a different channel.
The linking of sounds is called "legato". When a note is entered whatever way in a MIDI editor, its written duration on the score doesn't correspond to its real duration as read by the system. It is a little bit less, in general 80% of its written duration on the score. Thus, there are some very small pauses between each notes. The legato utilisation consists in removing of those sound interruptions, therefore the played notes duration will be virtually equal to their duration on the written score, we are thus much closer to the guitar playing. It must be clear that this assertion is true only for nylon guitar (MIDI No.24 or 25 depending of editors). When MIDI editing is applied to nylon guitar, the sound ends between each note while it is not at all the same situation with held notes such as with bowed instruments (as violin), the winds or the human voices. Try the following experience: Tie five or six consecutive wholes and listen to the result for nylon guitar. After the fifth or sixth beat, with an ordinary tempo, one doesn't no longer hear anything while with a bowed instrument, the sound is perfectly audible up to 80% of its duration. Let's note that for the harp (MIDI No.47), the legato would be less necessary since the synthesizer makes a string continue to vibrate with the following note, in opposition to the guitar. If one enter a serie of eight notes and compares the result with guitar and with harp, he wil hear a continuous sound with the harp but a discontinuous one with guitar. The goal of the legato is therefore to adapt the note duration to realty and to hear a continuous sound in conformity with classical guitar.
About chord sequencing
Listen to the following chords, the first ones are played simultaneously (MIDI notes superimposed) then, the same series of chords is played as arpeggios. Note that it is sometimes good to tie the upper note of a chord to the following notes especially in the case of an open string that continues to vibrate while you change the fingering. In the case of two superimposed notes in a score, for example a bass and a treble note, it is sometimes good to let the bass note ring through the treble note. Visually, the score becomes more complex by the presence of those tied supplementary notes but the resulting sound is closer to realty.
SoundFount Introduction to MIDI Polish translation by Vicky Rotarova
Copyright François Faucher 1998-2019