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TRIAD MIDISLAVE MANAGER V1.1

This helpfile contains:

1. What is the Triad Midislave Manager?
2. Getting started
3. The main menu
4. The MIDI-mode screen
  a. Channel
  b. Transpose
  c. Programme
  d. Concate
5. The sound editor
  a. Sound Number
  b. Name
  c. Definition
  d. Pulsewidth
  e. CTRL-byte
  f. Attack/Decay/Sustain/Release
  g. Macro speed
  h. Fixed note
  i. Pitching
  j. Vibrato
  k. Pulse vibrato
  l. Filters
  m. Macro definition
6. Loading and saving sounds
7. Upgrade, and the future of this program
8. Known bugs
9. Technical notes
10. Thanks to...
11. Address

1. What is the triad midislave manager?

So, you've just recieved this program right? OK. If you've got a DATEL / Siel+JMS / Passport or Sequential MIDI-interface (or compatible) and a keyboard or sequencer, you're a real lucky person.

The whole idea of the midislave started way back in 1992, some late night in Ljungby, while I visited my good friend Hans Axelsson (that is: TDM of TRIAD) and we discussed the matter of 64-sounds. We talked about rerecording some of TDM's old 64-songs with our MIDI-equipment, but as we had tried it before, we knew the tunes never sounded the same after being transfered from the original note-script to the MIDI-sequencer. Ofcourse there was nothing wrong with our sequencer, it was the sounds that lacked.

So I said: “Look, I'll construct a program that reads the MIDI-bus and replays the notes with the SID-chip. That should not be too hard.”

Now I've done it, and the “Triad Midislave Manager” is the result. And now I release it for the market. You can finger your keyboard, and there will be sounds flowing out of your C64. Isn't that just wounderful? All of you who have ever dreamed about using the C64 sounds in MIDI-arrangements, playing live on your 64 or just play around with it - this is the program you need. Share and enjoy!

Since I believe “Intellectual Property” (ie Copyright) to be equal to theft from our common legacy of information, this program is released as freeware. Releasing it as freeware also gives me the opportunity to use rude language in the program and this documentation without having to worry about sensitive customers, and also free me from any duties in maintaining the code and making the users happy. Yes, it is supplied on what we call an “as-is” basis. If you want me to implement new features and remove bugs, all you have to do is to ask me nicely, and perhaps I will do it. I make no promises whatsoever, because I don't WANT you to believe there is some market-sensitive organization behind this program, it's just me.

I will not supply you with any standard disclaimers or legal bullshit, so sue me if you think this program has made damage to your equipment or software. Any court would believe you to be brain-damaged if you think you can nail a freeware producer for supplying bad software. I assure you this program is not a Trojan Horse.

2. Getting started

Switch off your computer, insert your MIDI-interface, switch it on again. Then load and run the midislave software. As soon as the midislave main menu is on the screen, your 64 is reading the MIDI-bus for incoming commands. When the menu is lit, turn on your keyboard. If you can't connect the MIDI-interface with the keyboard, the problem is likely one of the following:

a. Your keyboard doesn't have a MIDI-port. You should have thought about this before you bought you keyboard. Sorry to say this, but your keyboard is pure crap.

b. You have not understood the VERY simple concept of MIDI-interconnections, which means, you should connect a cable from MIDI OUT on your keyboard, to MIDI IN on your MIDI-interface. If you can't see what's IN OUT and THRU on your interface, LOOK ON THE BACK OF IT!

c. There is something wrong with your equipment. Highly unlikely. It's probably your fault instead.

Once you've got this far, things will hopefully solve themselves. Set the presets, go into MIDI mode, finger your keyboard and… Voila!

3. The main menu

This is your command control centre. You can choose to enter MIDI-mode, the sound editor or to load or save your sounds. Quite self explaining with the exception for “Presets” described below. Oh, and by the way: you can't use your joystick to choose from this menu. And you never will. This is a tool, not a fucking game.

The preset section: This is where you select your MIDI-interface type. Press +/- to change interface type (3 in all) and RETURN when finished. The configuration is written to disk and the program is restarted with the new interface configuration. I only know about these three Interface types thanks to Frank Prindle who wrote a schematic for an interface, which is published on Internet and available if you look around for it. I haven't tested the program with any other interface than DATEL / Siel+JMS, so I can't assure you it will work with the other types.If you have some other interface, please tell me!

In case you absolutely need it, you can hack the configuration yourself using a machine-code monitor. Load the file called “-PROGRAM SETUP-” to $1000 and edit the adresses used for Control, Transmit, Status, Receive, Reset and Enable. The first four values are adresses to the 6850 chip and the 2 last values are the byte-values being poked to the command register at startup. Doing this requires knowledge of the 6850 chip configuration used by your interface, something you could perhaps find out by hacking the software distributed along with the interface. If you have an interface which doesn't use the 6850 chip then WOW!, I've never seen such a thing… Almost all MIDI- equipment use the 6850. The Triad Midislave can't handle any other hardware. Sorry.

4. The MIDI-mode screen

This is where the tricky things start. You can see a screen saying “Triad Midislave Manager” and some lines of text. Is this all there is? Yes. This is a sound program, not a graphics program.

Keys you can use in this mode are:

  +/- To increase/decrease option
  Arrows up/down To choose option
  Run/Stop to return to the Main menu
  CTRL To shortcut to the sound editor

The meanings of the different options are:

a. Channel. This is the number of the MIDI-channel the midislave is currently reading. Valid figures are 01 thru 10 (hexadecimal) which gives you access to all 16 MIDI-channels. If you don't know hex numbers: LEARN!

b. Transpose. Here you can transpose all played notes by a desired number of halfnotes. Again in hex. You can also antitranspose using the same method. For example +0C = up one octave, -0C = down one octave.

c. Programme. This is the number of the current sound. Valid figures are 01 thru 80, which makes a total of 128 different sounds, as on any good sound module. I've given you the possibility to see the decimal number of the sound here. Mainly because many keyboards and sequencers don't use hex… (Even though I think they should!)

d. Concate. As you already know, the C64 has got only 3 voices, and you simply can't do anything about that. This option tells the midislave how to handle a situation where you press more than three keys at a time. If you have CONCATE=YES, the notes you pressed first will be kicked out and replaced with the newer ones. If you WANT the midislave to lock up the three first pressed, not yet released keys, set CONCATE=NO. There is a simple way of avoiding all this trouble: don't press more than three keys at a time. However, piano- maniacs have a strange habit of doing so.

These are all options and keys on this screen really. There is aswell some text in the windows giving you information that you might be interested in during play. If you don't understand this (very simple) information, then just forget about it and pretend it isn't there.

5. The sound editor

Phew, this is the heavy one. (Had to put on som coffe here, recommend Zoegas Skånerost.) Again you can press Run/Stop to reach the main menu, and CTRL to shortcut to MIDI-mode. You can press Home to get home, and CLR to clear the whole sound. (Careful!) I will state the rest of the options line by line:

a. Sound number. Here you choose the sound you want to edit. Key in the sound number (in hex ofcourse) or use +/-. Very simple, really.

b. Name. State/Edit the name of the current sound. Valid keys are all letters and numbers, space and Inst/Del.

c. Definition. You can't alter this one. I had some idea of making a monophonic mode where you could only play one note at a time, using macros on all three channels with ring modulation and such funny stuff. But I've not done that yet. Maybe in the future, V3.0 or so of midislave.

d. Pulsewidth. If you're using pulse sounds (P-bit set in the CTRL-byte) you state the pulsewidth of that wave here. A value of around $800 is recommended for beginners. You can enter the digits directly or use +/-.

e. CTRL-byte. This byte tells you the main characteristics of your sound. If you are familiar with C64 sound editors you will easily understand this one. It is in hex, and you can key in the digits one by one. Since the gate bit -MUST- be set, you can only enter odd numbers here. Easiest way to experiment: use +/- . Beginners should use values of $41, $21 or $11 to get some decent sounds. To the right you've got a binary representation of the CTRL-byte, so you can easily see which bits are set. Soundwizards tend to develop a “fingertip” sense for these bits.

f. Attack/Decay/Sustain/Release. Those four lines make up the velocity (volume) curve of your sound. If you don't understand it, look it up in any synthesizer book or the C64 programmers reference manual. Or just play around with them until it sounds good. General rule: avoid big figures on “Attack” and don't set “Decay” to 0.

g. Macro speed. Use +/- to select the macro speed. That is: how often the crap at the bottom of the screen should step up by one, unless the end is reached. A frame is a fiftieth of a second, which equals, for exaple: “4 Per frame” means the macro is updated every 1/200th of a second. The normal is “Every frame”.

h. Fixed note. If you're making, for example, lasers or drum-sounds, this one will be useful. If you've chosen a certain note here, the keyboard will always trigger THAT note, unregarding which key was pressed. Use +/- to select note, or DEL to disconnect this option.

i. Pitching. This defines the influence the pitch wheel will have on the notes you're playing. You can pitch by halfnote, note, half octave or full octave. (Not bad eh?) Thanks to Fredrik Schön (best swede at the computer olympics in Stockholm) for sketching the interpolation algorithm for me in a few minutes. Again press DEL to disconnect.

j. Vibrato. DEL disconnects. Pressing “A” gives you a fixed amplitude, a certain speed divisor (relative to the macro speed) and a “Delay-before- vibrato” value to play around with. You can't use +/- here, sorry. But there is more! Press “W” and you can control the vibrato with a definable wheel on you keyboard! (Most keyboards use Wheel $02 “Modulation” for this.

k. Pulse vibrato. Works exactly as the above, just that you can't set any delay for the vibrato. And that the wheel actually don't control the amplitude of the vibrato, it rather controls THE pulsewidth. (Pink Floyd used that kind of effects a lot on their “Wish you were here” album).

l. Filters. Here you choose the filter settings. Here it is a lot easier to understand what happens than with most other sound editors. TYP sets the type of filter you use. Use +/- to select. LP means Lowpass, HP = highpass, BP = bandpass and NC = Notch filter. The lowpass cuts the higher overtones (treble), the highpass cuts the bass, the bandpass cuts both treble and bass (like a Wah- wah) and the notch cuts a certain interval. The frequency determining the -20dB threshold can be set with the FRQ value. The frequency will be something like 5,8*FRQ(Decimal)+30 Hz. (You need a calculator for that.) The low and higpass filters attenuates by 12 dB per octave while bandpass and notchfilters attenuates by 6 dB per octave. The resonance nibble will peak the frequency nearest the threshold to make the cutoff sound sharper. But it sounds like distorsion really. (Useful as such too) If you don't understand a shit of this, don't bother. Only us electronic phreaks really bother. Play around with it, and you'll soon enogh have that “fingertip” sense for these values. Sorry for not implementing wheel reading on the filter - YET.

m. Macro definition. Unless you have a value of $FE in the first position here, these steps will be gone through as described under “Macro speed” above. You can change CTRL-byte, transposing and filtervalue (low byte) for each step of the macro. You can use up to $46 different steps here, and either loop ($FF) or end ($FE) the macro after these. You have the option of reseting the Gate bit (bit 0 of the CTRL-register) in order to create certain effects, but be careful! It might make your sound sound “instable”. A funny way of using the transpose value is to make “Arpeggio”, which is: playing chords with monophonic instruments. The theory behind this is very simple (skip this if you don't understand at least a little bit of musical theory): your keyboard consists of 12 different notes: C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# and B, in different octaves. (Warning, most NORMAL musicians often use Eb instead of D#, Ab instead of G# and Bb instead of A#.) These twelve notes can be combined into different harmonies known as CHORDS. For example the Emajor-chord, consisting of the tones E, G# and B (known as TONIC, TIERCE and QUINT in music theory), of which E is usually played in the lowest pitch. To make this chord, assume that the user will press the E-key on the keyboard, and call that note 0. The first transpose value (step 01) should then also be $00. Then you want to play G#. G# is 4 halftones higher than E, so the next transpose value (step 02), you set it to $04. The last tone, B, is 7 halftones higher in pitch than E, why you set the last transpose value (step 03) to $07. (Pay attention to that we are referring to the lowest note (in this case E) all the way.) To create a complete arpeggio you should the loop this macro by putting a value of $FF into the last position (step 04). When E is triggered, all three notes will be played ONE AT THE TIME, and then restared, and that will sound lika a chord or some kind of. The funny thing about this is, that whatever key you press, the midislave will produce a major chord with that key as tonic (the chord main note). For most major and minor 3-tone chords the values of the transposemacro will most often be 047 for major and 037 for minor chords, but as you see, every chord can be calculated, even jazz if you like. Now, try to put G# as the lowest pitch and move E up one octave. Assuming G# is pressed on the keyboard, the transposemacro will be 038. Put B as the lowest and move both E and G# up one octave, and assuming the user pressed B, the macro will be 059. Those three variations of any 3-note chord, are known as VOICINGS. You can use them to colorize your music. (Why don't they ever tell you these things in the instructions for common 64-musicprograms?) Quick rundown: Major chord: 047, 038 or 059 - Minor chord: 037, 049 or 058, 047 and 037 are easiest to handle, when you use 038 or 049 arpeggio you must press the tierce of the chord to play the proper chord, and with 059 or 058 chords you will have to press the quint of the chord you want to produce. (Easy, yes?)

6. Loading and saving sounds

To load or save the soundfile, press these alternatives on the main menu. If there is already a soundfile on the disk, it will be scratched and replaced with the new one. Please note that commands (ie. program changes) sent during load or save will not be recognized. This occurs due to the reading of the MIDI-bus being switched off during load and save. (Disk routines in the ROM uses timing, and don't want to get interfered with.) This doesn't mean I forbid you to play while loading or saving, just that funny things could happen if you do so. Things might hook up, due to the asynchronus realtime nature of the MIDI-protocol.

7. Upgrade, and the future of this program

If somebody else want to be involved in the evolution of this program, please contact me. Also I DEMAND you to fill bug reports and send them to me. That's the only thing you have to do. Or just PLEASE send a postcard telling me you're using this program, just so I know there's somebody out there. If you send me a disk, preferably containing your private sound-file, (so I can implement new, nice sounds in coming releases) I will send you the next version as soon as it is finished. Address at the end of this text.

8. Known bugs

Don't report these bugs:

a. Sometimes when you shortcut to the soundeditor from MIDI-mode the sound number goes -1 realtive to the last used.

b. Notes sometimes “hook up” in the slave mode. (Solution: Use Sustain/Release=00 sounds if it bothers you (and it does))

c. Pitch doesn't work on chord, just affects the last note.

d. Author is sometimes very arrogant in the documentation.

e. Misspellings in the documentation.

9. Technical notes

Triad Midislave Manager uses memory from $0801 to $f000 with a few glitches. The MIDI bus is read by an $00f0-speed divisor NMI interrupt running all the time except during load and save. The MIDI-mode section runs with the ROM disconnected. The scales used for generating notes are NOT equally-tempered since that sounds crap, but rather tempered like a normal piano or keyboard. This documentation is written in Microsoft works on the PC and trasfered using a vert smart RTF-file converter by me called GNYLF V1.1 (get it!). Your MIDI- interface uses the 6850 ACIA (Asynchronus Communications Interface Adapter) chip, the same as is used in the Atari ST(e) computers. The midislave has been tested with Casio VZ-1, Roland D-50, Kawai K4 and Ensoniq SQ2 keyboards and with Roland stand alone, Cubase 2.0, 2.01, 3.0 and Cakewalk pro sequencers. And it worked out fine. The author used Zoegas coffe, Black Dog Productions, Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, The Prodigy and various collections of trance music to get by.

10. Thanks to...

TDM / TRIAD (Hans Axelsson) for all hints and betatesting.
STORMBRINGER / ONYX (Fredrik Schön) for algorithmic help.
CHRIS / ONYX (Christian Luddeckens) for lending of Midicables and keyboards.
ANDERS VON HOFFSTEN for lending me his Ensoniq SQ2 Keyboard.
DANE / TRIAD for cheering me up. (I will do 100% work on the demo now, I promise)
JERRY / TRIAD for the patience.
MOTLEY / G*P for always being such a happy and nice person.
TWOFLOWER / TRIAD for liking this program.
FRANK PRINDLE in the States for publishing the MIDI-interface schematic on Internet.
STEVE COWAN in Canada for support
and YOU for using and spreading this program!

11. Address

If you want to report bugs, complain about something or everything, swap software, music, coffe or swedish poetry and short-stories, if you just want to make me glad, please write to:

King Fisher / TRIAD
Linus Walleij
Magistratsvägen 55 N:306
226 44 LUND
SWEDEN
Fone: +46(0)41868513
E-mail: triad@df.lth.se, linus.walleij@microbus.se
Homepage: http://www.df.lth.se/~triad/
Usenet: comp.sys.cbm or alt.fan.hofstadter
(But the extropian netnerds on Usenet really piss me off from time to time.)

And remember: We are all a part of the inevitable…

base/triad_midislave_manager_v1.1_docs.txt · Last modified: 2015-04-17 04:34 (external edit)