Accompaniment Machine: MIDI Player Instructions

The major functions of Accompaniment Machine have been completed, and were are working on the instruction manual. It will be available as a PDF text as well as an cross-linked Web page. We will also post chapters here as they become available. The first entry is the instruction manual for the MIDI Player window.

MIDI player window

Section 1. Function

Call the MIDI Player window (Fig. 1) from any other other window by clicking the green button with the phonograph disk symbol. The player is a versatile utility to play MIDI or karaoke files. The term play means that the file bytes are transmitted to your keyboard or other MIDI device with the proper timing to reproduce the musical content. The player has two main functions:

  • Automatically play sets of MIDI files. With this capability, you can use your keyboard and audio setup to provide background music for events or between performance sets.
  • Play performance accompaniments. For example, if you want to play a melody line that requires both hands and the full keyboard, you can prerecord the style sequence using the record functions of the Performance window.

Controls are grouped by function in different areas of the window. Controls to set the MIDI output port are at the upper-left. Navigation controls are on the lower-left side. With these, you can move between directories (folders) of your hard disk or attached USB drives to collect MIDI files. The files may be added to the playlist box at the center. You can change the order of entries in the playlist and add or delete songs. The command group on the right-hand side controls the play functions (Start, Pause or Stop the playlist). Synchronized lyrics appear in the box at the lower-right if you play a karaoke file. Following sections describe the control groups in detail.

MIDI player window

Fig. 1. MIDI player window

Section 2. Navigation

The navigation listbox on the left-hand side of the window shows the contents of disk directories on your computer. A directory may contain files and subdirectories. In the list, subdirectories are marked with a tan background. The text field above the control buttons shows the current directory. Enter a subdirectory by double-clicking its entry. Use the Up button to move to the parent directory. The Root button takes you to the highest level of the current drive. Use the Drive popup menu to switch between drives of your computer (including removable USB drives).

The Back and Forward buttons are useful when you move back and forth between directories to collect MIDI files. Click Back to return to the previous directory. If you click Back one or more times, you can then click Forward to reverse direction. KBD-Infinity saves the current directory and the contents of the Back and Forward stacks on exit. The settings are restored the next time you run the program.

Section 3. Building playlists

A playlist is a set of paths to MIDI files that are played in sequence to create a program. The listbox in the center of the player window lists the files. To create a playlist, click Clear list if necessary and move the navigation listbox to a directory where the MIDI files are stored. Add a single file to the playlist by double-clicking its entry. Add multiple files by selecting them and the clicking the Add to list button. To select individual files, hold down the CTRL key and left-click each entry. To select a block of files, left-click to select the top entry, hold down the SHIFT key and left-click the bottom entry. Alternatively, select the top file, hold down the CTRL key and use the down arrow to extend the selection. When finished, you can move to a different directory and add more files. Note that the program will only add files with suffixes MID and KAR to the playlist.

You can change the order of files in playlist. To move a single file, select it by holding down the left mouse button and then drag it to its new position. To move a block of files, make a selection, move the mouse to a position inside the selection, hold down the left key and drag the block. Use the Remove button to delete entries in the playlist. Note that this operation does not delete the referenced file.

Use the commands Save list and Load list to record and to restore playlists. Playlists are saved as text files with the suffix KPL (KBD-Infinity playlist). The format is simple, so it is relatively easy to create or to modify lists outside the program with a text editor. The table shows an example of the file content.

Table. Example of a KBD-Infinity playlist file

E:\KBDInfinityResources\MidiCollections\MedievalChristmas\boarhed2.mid
E:\KBDInfinityResources\MidiCollections\MedievalChristmas\coventry.mid
E:\KBDInfinityResources\MidiCollections\MedievalChristmas\dadme.mid
E:\KBDInfinityResources\MidiCollections\MedievalChristmas\einros.mid
E:\KBDInfinityResources\MidiCollections\MedievalChristmas\hollyivy.mid
E:\KBDInfinityResources\MidiCollections\MedievalChristmas\jubilo.mid

As with any computer task, organizing files for playlists involves a trade off between short-term ease and long-term benefits — you can avoid future headaches with some initial effort. It is important to recognize that a playlist is a set of file paths, not a set of files. If the files are moved or lost (e.g., by unplugging a USB drive), then the playlist will not work (KBD-Infinity skips files that cannot be located). If you want to carry playlists to different computers, we suggest that you put the referenced MIDI files on a dedicated USB drive and build the playlists from that drive. If you work on a single computer, the referenced MIDI files should be on a permanent drive. The files are more likely to get lost if they are scattered over the drive rather than concentrated in a specific directory structure. Chapter () gives more suggestions for organizing all your KBD-Infinity resources (playlists, styles, voices, songs, sets,…).

Section 4. Playing MIDI files

Commands to play the entries of the playlist to the chosen MIDI device are on the right-hand of the window. These commands are active only when playlist files are available. The default mode (Sequence to end) is to play the entire playlist in order. The default start point is the top of the list. Highlight an entry to start in the middle. The program shows the name of the current file, its length, the MIDI file type (0 or 1) and the number of tracks.

Use the Start button to initiate the sequence. The progress bar shows the play position in the current file. The Pause button temporarily halts the sequence — push Resume to continue. The Stop button terminates the sequence. Click Next to skip to the next file in the sequence or Previous to return to the previous one. The Volume slider controls the play volume.

There are four sequence types:

  • Single selection. Play a single selection and then stop. The program plays either the first item in the playlist or the first selected item.
  • Sequence to end. Starting from the top of the list or from the first selected item, play the files in sequence and stop after the last one.
  • Cycle. Operation is similar to Sequence to end, but the program returns to the top of the list after the last file. Press Stop to terminate playing.
  • Random. Play files continuously in random order. Press Stop to terminate playing.

In all cases, the Interval control sets the number of seconds between selections.

If you play a karaoke file or MIDI file with embedded lyrics, they appear synchronously in the lyric text area on the lower right. If you want to save a copy of the lyrics as a text file, play the song in Single selection mode. Use the Save lyrics button, which becomes active at the end of the song.

MIDI file resources

There are thousands of MIDI files in all genres freely available on the Internet. Want the national anthem of Afghanistan? No problem. Here are some links to get started:

FreeMIDI.org
Free MIDI tracks and Karaoke Song Files
Cool MIDI
FindMIDIs.com
GroovyMid.com
Partners in Rhyme
MIDIWorld.com
MIDI Music Collection
Mutopia
MFiles
MIDI Database
Classical Archives
Jaycee’s Broadway, West End and Movie Musicals
TV Show Themes
Classical Midi Files
The Corner Lounge
A Johann Sebastian Bach Midi Page
Classical Guitar MIDI Archives

Footnotes

[1] Find out more about KBD-Infinity: Home page.

[2] If you have comments, please contact us at info@kbd-infinity.com.

[3] Download the KBD-Infinity Instruction Manual: kbd-infinity.pdf.

 

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