feature of the week

MIDI: Scores

| feature of the week

As we discussed last week, MIDI is much more like a language than a single-purpose tool. It can be used in a variety of situations to convey a lot of information, and for this Feature of the Week we’ll be looking at the most flexible application of MIDI in forScore: score-specific MIDI commands.

While editing information for a score or bookmark in your library, the bottom portion of the metadata panel splits up a lot of valuable options into a few different sections. One of those sections is called “MIDI”, and that’s what we’ll be talking about today. The MIDI section of the metadata panel gives you access to three different features: Open, Send, and Presets. We’ll save Presets for another day, but lets start with a quick overview of the first two.

Open

Last week we showed you how to use incoming MIDI messages as shortcuts to forScore’s most popular functions. In the “Open” section of the metadata panel, you can set up a similar shortcut but instead of triggering a tool or menu, the MIDI message you use here will always open that particular score or bookmark.

Send

In the “Send” section, you can set up one or more MIDI messages to be broadcast immediately when you open an item. This can be useful if you need to change some of your MIDI device’s settings for a particular piece.

Messages

On a technical level, MIDI messages consist of hexadecimal codes. These codes use numbers (0-9) and letters (A-F), pairing any two for a total of 128 combinations. Fortunately, you don’t generally need to know what they mean, just what they do. And, since you’ll usually be working with one of two common message types, forScore makes entering this information a little easier.

The first type of message is a Program Change. This message tells your MIDI device which instrument or voice to use. It’s specific to one device, so you’ll need to specify which channel to use to send the message. The rest of the message must consist of at least one single number between 0 and 127, and it may also allow for additional MSB or LSB values in order to provide a wider range of possible sounds.

The other type of message you may need to use is called a Song Select message. This message consists of a single value between 0 and 127, and is sent to all connected devices so no channel number is required.

For everything else, you can type in actual hexadecimal codes for complete control.

Adding Codes

Tap the “+” button in the lower right-hand corner of the metadata panel to add a message to the current score (one incoming “Open” message, and as many outgoing “Send” messages as you need). You can choose from the three message types we’ve already discussed—Program Change, Song Select, or Hex Codes—or you can use the “Learn…” option to listen for incoming commands and save them automatically. For sent messages, you can also add a delay in case your device needs a moment to process incoming signals.

So that’s an overview of forScore’s ability to use MIDI messages in score-specific ways. If you missed last week’s introduction to MIDI and app-wide shortcuts, be sure to check it out, and stay tuned as we continue our exploration of forScore’s MIDI integration next week!