Author Topic: a few questions about different things  (Read 254 times)

Offline musicalman

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a few questions about different things
« on: August 05, 2017, 15:06:52 »
Hi all,
I have a few questions about a few things I've messed with while experimenting with Open MPT. One of which is about tracking in general, the other two are about Open MPT. I'm also blind so it's very possible I'm missing something that's more visually obvious. If this is the case feel free to say so. Lol
1. I only recently was familiar with how tracking actually works, and the concept of rows, columns, patterns and orders... I think I understand it. But I want to clear up something I feel fuzzy about. Because tracking is very grid-based, it doesn't seem as open as midi sequencing. For example making rhythms that aren't so evenly divisible isn't easy to do, though there are potentially workarounds in certain cases. Triplets against strait notes could be a challenge I think. It's not as simple as putting a note here, and another one there, with up to 960 or even more ticks per beat as is the case with a sequencer. Is the grid-like approach part of what makes tracking an art? Is it visually easier to work with than midi sequencing for some people? Or is it actually frustrating to some musicians who are more used to midi sequencing? I have a few other ambiguities in my head with how best to do certain things in a tracker but I'll save those.
2. In Open MPT, it feels uncomfortable to make instruments and even patterns because I haven't figured out how to delete one or move stuff around, so I have to sort of build from the beginning and hope I don't miss something on the way. The reason this bothers me most is that I'm kind of OCD about having things nice and tidy and in order without gaps or odd turns in the sequencing. But I see many modules with orders referencing pattern numbers which look seemingly random. For instance, order 1 might have pattern 4, 2 might have 5, 3 might have 1. And while it sounds organized when you listen to it, to me it seems a little jarring. Sometimes there are huge gaps in the instruments in a module, and the sorting of the instruments seems disorganized. I was wondering if I'm just being too picky, or if there's good reason to want to be more organized, and if so, how to delete patterns and instruments with the keyboard or move them around in their appropriate lists. I haven't found mention of this yet.
3. Last one for this post. What is the tree view useful for? Is it mostly a visual thing allowing you to see the structure of things? I've never really used it, I use the items in the view menu to switch between tabs.
Thanks for reading and providing your input, and have a good weekend!

Offline Saga Musix

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Re: a few questions about different things
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2017, 18:22:01 »
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1. (...) Because tracking is very grid-based, it doesn't seem as open as midi sequencing. For example making rhythms that aren't so evenly divisible isn't easy to do, though there are potentially workarounds in certain cases. Triplets against strait notes could be a challenge I think. It's not as simple as putting a note here, and another one there, with up to 960 or even more ticks per beat as is the case with a sequencer. Is the grid-like approach part of what makes tracking an art? Is it visually easier to work with than midi sequencing for some people? Or is it actually frustrating to some musicians who are more used to midi sequencing? I have a few other ambiguities in my head with how best to do certain things in a tracker but I'll save those.
For a more "natural" feel, note delays in the effect column are typically used. Another way is of course to increase the pattern speed, but at some point the pattern data just gets so "thin" that it's not that usable anymore. Most people probably track at 4 or 8 rows per beat, sometimes even 16 rows per beat. If triplets are used, typically these numbers change to 6, 12 and 24 respectively.
Of course the grid has advantages and disadvantages which may be more or less severe depending on the genre you're working in. For dance music it is often very suitable and speeds things up considerably; for something that is intended to sounds more "human" it can have disadvantages, but many people are determined enough to work around those.

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2. In Open MPT, it feels uncomfortable to make instruments and even patterns because I haven't figured out how to delete one or move stuff around, so I have to sort of build from the beginning and hope I don't miss something on the way. The reason this bothers me most is that I'm kind of OCD about having things nice and tidy and in order without gaps or odd turns in the sequencing. But I see many modules with orders referencing pattern numbers which look seemingly random. For instance, order 1 might have pattern 4, 2 might have 5, 3 might have 1. And while it sounds organized when you listen to it, to me it seems a little jarring. Sometimes there are huge gaps in the instruments in a module, and the sorting of the instruments seems disorganized. I was wondering if I'm just being too picky, or if there's good reason to want to be more organized, and if so, how to delete patterns and instruments with the keyboard or move them around in their appropriate lists. I haven't found mention of this yet.
See also the answer to question 3. For your need to organize things, you may want to look into the Clean Up dialog, which can be used to arrange patterns by their appearance in the order list, and to remove any unused patterns, samples and instruments.

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3. Last one for this post. What is the tree view useful for? Is it mostly a visual thing allowing you to see the structure of things? I've never really used it, I use the items in the view menu to switch between tabs.
It's useful for many things and even way to many sighted artists completely underestimate its power. First off, you get a representation of all the different parts of the module, and you can easily switch between different open modules by clicking on them. The tree view can also be used to delete, insert and duplicate patterns, samples and instruments (through the context menu) or to rearrange them (e.g. sample 1 becomes sample 2), but this is currently only possible by using the mouse, so it's probably not very usable through screen readers, unless there are commands in those programs that help with drag&drop operations.
Furthermore, the tree view is a sample and instrument browser that is always visible, so it can be used to preview samples and instruments and quickly load them into your open module. You can even open modules from the instrument browser and extract samples and instruments.
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Offline musicalman

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Re: a few questions about different things
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2017, 17:14:18 »
Thanks for your answers! Number 1 was pretty much how I thought. It's a matter of being creative within limitations and deciding how you'll work within them. I definitely can see why it appeals for a lot of electronic music.

Also I did not know the tree view was that powerful, shows how much time I spent trying to figure out its functions. By the sound of it, there isn't much keyboard support there? Screen readers do support drag and drop from the keyboard but I've never been able to do it, probably because I was trying things which were too complicated in impossible ways. I haven't tried in years so things may have changed. I've switched screen readers and computers several times since, and who knows, maybe the tree view will play nice and I won't have problems. Again thanks for your help and I'll post back with further questions if I have any.

Offline Saga Musix

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Re: a few questions about different things
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2017, 17:37:00 »
Quote
By the sound of it, there isn't much keyboard support there?
There are almost no OpenMPT-specific shortcuts there, but everything that can be done with a regular tree view as you know it from other applications is also doable in OpenMPT. But I'm always open to adding new useful shortcuts. Some of the things I mentioned (like duplicating items) can already be done with shortcuts in other places.
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