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"How To" Pages

Changing the Volume


Volume and Velocity

Volume is a term most of us are familiar with when we are dealing with how loud music is. In a MIDI sequence, though, we talk about "velocity." The concept comes from synthesized keyboards. They do not have physical "hammers" to strike strings or make other sounds, but musicians needed to be able to add expression to their music based on how hard they hit the keys. To associate key strokes with a specific loudness, a sensor was added to indicate how fast the key had been pushed down--the "velocity" of the key stroke.

Velocity for the entire file

If you want an entire MIDI file to play at a fixed velocity, highlight the entire piece in the Main Window. You may have to use the magnifying glasses to compress the music, like this:

Highlight Entire Piece

Now that you have highlighted every note event in the file, go to the "Edit" menu and select "Velocity...". You will see a dialogue like this one appear:

Volume Dialogue Box

As with the Note Length dialogue, you are able to set start and stop values, and choose whether the settings will set the value for all notes, increase all values, or reduce all values. If you have already edited some parts to include phrasing and accents, you will want to use Add (to make the entire piece louder) or Sub (to make the entire piece softer). We have not adjusted anything yet, so we will simply set the velocity at 100 for all highlighted notes, like this:

Set everything to 100

Click on OK, and all of the notes in the entire file have been set to a velocity of 100.

Velocity for an entire track

You may want to hear your Melody above all of the harmony parts. The 100 setting from the previous step is fairly loud, so we can make the accompaniment softer. First, highlight the Alto, Tenor, and Bass tracks like this:

Fewer tracks selected

Now we can follow the same steps to reduce the velocity on these notes to 80.

Crescendo and decrescendo

Inserting crescendos and decrescendos can be done from the Track Editing Window. Right-click your mouse on the Melody notes at measure 7. Then go to the "Misc" menu and select "Edit Velocity...". You should see a screen similar to this:

Track Volume Editing

Notice that there is a vertical bar in the bottom window that corresponds to the beginning of each note. The vertical bars represent the velocity for that note. As with the tempo setting, you can adjust and phrase the volume by clicking and dragging your mouse through the bottom window. Try starting with a low volume at the beginning of measure 8, growing louder through the beginning of measure 10, and becoming softer as you reach measure 11. Your work may look something like this:

Phrase inserted

Click on the "Apply" button. Notice that the black area has been removed, but the volume bars at the beginning of each note has been adjusted like this:

Note Volumes Adjusted

Now close the Track Edit Window and listen to your MIDI file. If you do not like your new phrasing (and you won't like this one!), simply click on the "Undo" arrow in the toolbar. Adjusting volume takes time and practice. Don't get frustrated or give up too soon. Your music will be much better if you master this area.

You have gone through most of what you need to know. If you would like to know what else you can do with this software, go to the next page, or you can return to the Table of Contents.

God bless you--