Let loose the musician in you!
MidNote is a program that lets you easily write and play great music, using standard music (staff) notation for graphical input and display. Notes, rests, etc. are entered using drag-and-drop of the elements from the toolbox on the bottom. Once dropped into the staff, they can still be modified (pitch, duration, etc.) or deleted. For block operations there are many edit functions available.
The first image shows the screen when you start up MidNote. The screen is split into several sections: On top there are the dropdown menus for file and edit operations, markers (comparable to bookmarks and also used for editing, and the view menu for global settings etc.). Below are the play controls (speed, play, loop and stop). Then there are the navigation buttons that let you move between tracks and within a track. The middle portion displays graphically the current section of the current track. Last but not least on the bottom you find the edit toolbox which contains all the elements you need to build a piece of music - notes, rests, modifiers, etc.
MidNote offers up to 10 tracks per piece, and a tonal range of 6 octaves (with some small tricks, using single-note "chords" with some octave offset, you can get the full MIDI range of 16 octaves). The display can be switched between standard and guitar/bass pitch.
Let's go through the menus first, and we'll start with the file menu. As you can see, apart from the standard operations (new, load, save etc.) you can import pieces from and export pieces to the standard MIDI format. This allows you to share compositions between MidNote and any desktop PC based composition program (e.g. to print it from there, or to add further refinements), and also let's you view and modify existing MIDI music, for example some you downloaded from the internet. You can also add separate MIDI files together, e.g. to add a drum track to an existing piece (currently you can only directly mix MIDI files created with MidNote, PocketSynth Pro, and PocketDrums, but you can always import MIDI files from any other source as well and then export them to get around this limitation).
The next menu contains the edit operations. You can see that again apart from the standard functions there are some additional ones that are very useful in a musical context. There are several functions to modify a block of notes in pitch, speed, and sequence, and you can change the accidentals used (e.g. from flats to sharps) without changing the pitch. Finally you can set bar lines in a given meter. The undo option lets you reverse the latest modifications, up to a maximum of ten operations.
MidNote uses markers for editing as well as for fast navigation. All the block edit operations will work with the block enclosed by the markers M1 and M2, with the exception of "Paste" which will insert the clipboard contents after M2 (this allows for fast duplication of a block through "Copy" - "Paste" - "Paste" - "Paste" ... without having to move any markers). This marker concept fits excellently with the limited screen space of a PocketPC which would otherwise make the traditional highlighting by dragging the cursor over the section very cumbersome difficult to navigate.
Markers M3 and M4 can be used freely as bookmarks so you can quickly jump between two different locations in your track (each track of a piece has its own set of markers).
Setting and deleting markers can also be done by dragging the respective marker symbol from the edit toolbox on the bottom of the screen onto the desired location on the track, which is much faster than going through the "Marker" menu - but the again, each person's taste is different. Dragging a marker to a note sets the marker, dragging it again to the same note removes the marker.
The last menu is the "View" menu. It provides access to the integrated help, general info about a track, and - most important - contains items to set a large variety of different options (global, track specific, MIDI parameters, and the chord editor). You will see more details to all these items later.
MidNote contains an extensive integrated help that covers all its features and functions in detail. If you find that reading through all of it on the small PocketPC screen is too cumbersome, then you can download an HTML version of the help text from the MidNote web site.
Ok, let's finally get to the meat and bones of MidNote - creating music! You build a track by dragging the necessary elements (notes, rests, modifiers) from the edit toolbox on the bottom into the music sheet in the middle. Once a note is set, you can still change its pitch by dragging it to some other vertical position, by tapping above or below the note (which lowers or increases the pitch in halftone steps), or by dragging an accidental (b or #) onto the note (again, first dragging it onto a note will set the accidental, dragging the same accidental again onto the same note removes it). Durations can be modified with the dot modifier, the triplet modifier, or by tying two notes together. (To change the duration of a block of notes to twice or half the original value, use the "Change Speed" operation from the "Edit" menu instead).
Placing accents (the ">" signs above some of the notes in the picture) onto notes will cause them to be played louder than the other notes - so you can add emphasis e.g. to the first beat in a bar.
You can also set bar lines, and add lyrics and chords to the track - more to that later.
In the picture you may notice the two markers (the two little flags above the music, labeled "1" and "2"), which could be used to modify this block using some edit operations (e.g. transpose it up by an octave).
If you made a mistake, then tap first on the eraser tool ("Del" in the toolbox) and then onto all the notes or rests you want to remove. Or you can undo the latest operations by tapping onto the "Undo" tool.
You can navigate through the track with the navigation buttons (<<, <, >, and >>) and the track bar. But to jump to some specific position, especially in a longer track, it is easier to click the "Position" button (the button that shows the current step, like "P:1234"). A window pops up that gives you a variety of choices where to jump to - the start or end of the track, one of the markers (provided it is set), a specific step, or a specific bar (measure). You may have noticed in the previous images that MidNote numbers the bars (the vertical numbers "62" and "63" above the two bar lines), which makes it very easy to jump to the same position in different tracks of your piece.
Each piece in MidNote can contain up to 10 tracks, and you can give each track a meaningful name like "Melody", "Drums" etc. (or you can leave the standard naming, "Track1" through "Track10"). To move to a different track, simply select the desired one from the drop down box.
You can set bar lines yourself, but you can also have MidNote do it for you (via the "Set Bar Lines" item in the "Edit" menu). To do so you must first specify the time signature of your piece (e.g. "3/4"). MidNote asks you for the signature whenever you start a new piece, but you can always change it later through View -> Time Signature. When you then have MidNote set bar lines (for the whole piece), MidNote will automatically split up notes that cross a bar into two tied notes, so you can just let loose your rhythmic creativity and have MidNote worry about how to fit this into the given tempo! Once the bar lines are thus set, you are sure that a specific bar number is really the same time position in all tracks.
Most pieces are in a mode different from C major, so there are some global accidentals. Of course you don't want to set a local accidental every single time, so MidNote let's you create global ones. One remark though: This is one of the few areas where MidNote differs from what you may be used to. Because of the tight space limitations on a PocketPC screen it would be very impractical to display global accidentals on the screen at all times (since this would greatly reduce the space available for the music itself). At the same time, when they are not displayed, how should you remember which ones are set and which ones are not? (of course unless you are a very experienced musician, that is). So MidNote keeps all accidentals local (i.e., no "real global" accidentals), in other words, if there is an A displayed, it is an A (and never an A sharp), unless it is directly preceded by a sharp ("#"). Unlike in standard sheet music, an accidental in the middle of a track acts only on the note that is immediately following, not onto all notes up to the end of the current bar. This also explains why - unlike sharp and flat - the natural sign is suspiciously missing from the edit toolbox.
So what meaning has the "Global Accidental" setting (accessible from the "View" menu) in MidNote then? Actually several: First, it lets you choose the preferred accidental type (sharp ("#"), or flat ("b")); this is important whenever you modify the pitch of an existing note (through transposing, block mirroring, or clicking above or below the note). Second, MidNote will automatically add a local accidental whenever you set a note at the corresponding pitch (e.g. if you defined a global "A sharp" and then place an A note into the music sheet).
One of the more advanced features in MidNote are chords. Any note in a track can become a chord by assigning a chord type to it, but before you do that, you must first define the chord types themselves (a set of basic types is automatically defined when you install MidNote on your device). Chords also allow the import of polyphonic tracks from MIDI files (i.e. not only can you have up to 10 tracks, but each track can play several notes at once).
You define chord types in a special chord editor, accessible through the "View" menu. Any chord can contain up to 5 different intervals (including the root). Here is another small difference to "normal" music notation: Intervals are simply as by the number of half tone steps above (or below) the root, so e.g. a fifth is entered as "7" (i.e. 7 half tone steps above the root), an octave as "12", the root as "0", and so on, but you will fast get used to this concept. You can give any chord type a name of your choice. The types are normally kept globally, i.e. independent of a specific track, so you don't have to redefine the same time over and over for each new piece. But if you want to create separate sets of chord types (e.g. because a single piece has many ugly chord shapes you don't need anywhere else), MidNote lets you do so through manual saving and loading of such sets.
To assign a chord type to a note in the current track, drag the chord symbol from the edit toolbox (the three greyed-out notes stacked on top of each other) onto the desired note. A small window pops up that lets you select the desired chord type, as well as an octave offset. The latter simplifies e.g. the creation of a chord progression over a bass line when the chords' pitch range shall not interfere with the bass range. Another application is to use "chords" consisting of only a single note and shift their pitch above or below the normally accessible range (6 octaves) so you can cover the full MIDI pitch range.
Once selected, the chord name (root note followed by the chord type name) is displayed above the corresponding note - in the example below it's an Emaj7 and a G7/9 (This display can be turned off if desired). Lyrics are assigned in a very similar fashion by dragging the ""Lyrics" symbol ("La La") onto the desired note and then enter the lyrics into the popup window that appears. If there are no chords, you can place lyrics either above or below the notes. You can also (mis-)use the lyrics to mark specific sections of a track, or to create your ow custom chord labels.
At any time during the creation of a process you can listen to the current track (or a part of it) by pressing the "Play" button, or loop over it (press the "Loop" button instead). However, this will always play with the standard MidNote sound (acoustic piano) and is restricted to a single voice (chords are played as arpeggios). Also you can't play drum tracks directly. If you want to hear the track with the selected MIDI instrument (i.e. other than piano sound), a drum track (or section thereof), and/or hear the full piece - all tracks played together - there is another way. "Play Full Piece" (or "Play Selection") from the "Edit Menu" exports the current piece (or the selected block of the current track, respectively) into a temporary MIDI file and launches an external MIDI player (GSPlayer, Mimidi and PocketAMP are supported, you can download them from this website). This way you will hear it as it will sound when transferred to your PC. (Please note that all those players are Freeware written by a third parties, and they are NOT an integral part of MidNote. You can use MidNote without using them, by doing so you only lose the direct "Play Full Piece" capability. In this case you can still export the piece from MidNote into MIDI format, then load and play it with any other MIDI player of your choice). When you are done listening, close the player and you are back in MidNote where you left off.
You can choose which player to use in View -> General Settings.
The MIDI export parameters are accessed through the View menu. For each track of the piece you can select if it shall be included in the MIDI file, the MIDI channel to put it on (channel 10 is reserved for the drum channel in standard MIDI files), which instrument sound to use, and the volume settings (both the base volume as well as the emphasis for accented notes). This is also the place to assign your own names to the tracks (those names get written into the MIDI file, and are used for the track selection box in MidNote).
The MIDI import parameters allow to optimize the quality of MIDI files that get imported into MidNote. E.g. when you know that the piece does not contain any notes shorter than 1/8 and also no triplets, you would set the minimum duration to 1/8 and disable triplets.
You can mix together several MIDI files (exported from MidNote, PocketSynth Pro, and PocketDrums) to a full piece, e.g. to add a blazing drum track created with PocketDrums. In the mixing window you can create a project with a list of all the files to be mixed together, and the target filename. This list gets saved with the MidNote piece, so if any of those files changes, it is fast and easy to repeat the mixing process.
The track info (available through the view menu) shows some general information about the piece and the current track.
The global settings window (accessible in the "View" menu) lets you set a variety of options of the whole piece as well as for the currently selected track. The display can be switched between standard pitch and guitar/bass pitch. To improve the play speed on older, slower handheld devices, the scrolling during replay can be turned off. The same goes for lyrics, chord labels, and bar numbers. In this window you can also choose which MIDI player to use (GSPlayer, Mimidi or PocketAMP). Last but not least, this is the place to designate one or more tracks as drum or melody tracks.
MidNote fully supports the standard MIDI drum set. As in many other notation tools, drum beats are notated in the standard music sheet format, with each drum occupying a specific "pitch". Each track can contain up to 12 different drum sounds (but you can have more than one drum track if 12 drums is not enough, or maybe you want to keep the drum set separate from the percussion). Drums can be placed either by drag and drop of notes as for "normal" tracks, or - once at least one drum is placed on a step - by simply tapping onto another pitch at the same step to set or delete a drum event at that position. The lyrics function can be used to label different patterns (e.g. here "Pattern1"), and with block copy and paste it's fast and easy to duplicate such a pattern.
You can freely choose and change the mapping between drum sound and "pitch" in the drum settings window. "Group A" is 6 drums in the "treble clef", "Group B" is another 6 drums in the "bass clef" (that's why the clef symbols on the left changed to "A" and "B"). The mapping below is the one for the drum sample before. All drum sounds of the standard MIDI drum set are available.
The "Edit" menu for drum tracks differs a bit from the one for "normal" tracks since some functions like "transpose" would not make much sense.
One item in the "Edit" menu, "Swap Drums" is very useful for exchanging the position of two drum sounds in the music sheet when it already contains some beats. What's more, this lets you reassign the mapping in a track that you imported from MIDI format because in this case the positions are filled from the bottom up which may not be the most intuitive arrangement. (This is not true for tracks that were preciously exported from MidNote itself, because MidNote includes mapping information in the MIDI file).
Finally, the standard "About" popup gives the version of the program as well as contact information for help and feedback. When reporting an issue or asking for support, please always include the version information from this window.
For feedback, suggestions, questions, bug reports, and how to register MidNote contact PDAMusician.
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