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Thread: Question about using an Allen R-270 organ with music recording / editing software

  1. #1
    ppp Pianississmo three4rd's Avatar
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    Question about using an Allen R-270 organ with music recording / editing software

    Hi,

    My organ at church has a smart recorder (original one ran on disk but then we upgraded to one that runs on flash drive). What I was wondering is whether or not there is any way to correct a part of a song that has glitches in it (or add to it) without having to delete what was just recorded and start all over again? The reason I'm inquiring about this is that, inevitably, when I'm recording something I fail to get a clean 'take' with just one playing. Typically some sort of glitch occurs partway through (or else I just don't like the way a certain part came out) and then it appears the only way to correct it is to simply start all over and try again. I've had to sometimes play a piece multiple times until I get a 'clean' version of it. This is very time consuming. In my personal guitar recording at home, I often work with garageband which allows me to edit or make corrections and additions quite easily. Is there any software, etc. that I could use that would make the organ recording process a bit more user friendly in the way of having some editing capabilities? I've done a bit of quick research and it appears that you can get an organ to send an input via MIDI to an exterior program, but not the reverse. If such is the case, I guess there is no easy way to do what I'd like.

    Thanks for any suggestions (short of practicing more so I can get a clean recording the first or second time LOL)

    Regards,
    Keith

  2. #2
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
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    Keith,

    I feel your pain! We have an Allen at church with a SmartRecorder and I have a similar-enough Allen at home and another SmartRecorder. So, "perfect" way to make recordings at leisure for playback at church? Yes? Well, not so easy...

    Me too, on having to do multiple takes to get it right. But I've been working on a possible solution. Both the SmartRecorders I use are floppy-disk type, so you're already ahead by having the flash memory. But I recently obtained a USB floppy drive to attach to my laptop, so I can now read the floppies on my computer.

    Just this past week, I had time to play around with it, and discovered that I actually can play ordinary plain-vanilla "type 0" MIDI files on the Allen. Type 1 files don't seem to work, at least in my preliminary testing, as I only get the swell part when I play one. But type 0 files play correctly, once the MIDI channels are set to the right numbers.

    As an exercise, I downloaded a MIDI sequence from some organ fan's page and opened the file in Sonar (current version of Cakewalk). It was fairly easy to edit it so that the part intended for the swell could be on channel 1, the great on channel 2, the pedal on channel 3. Then I clicked "Save as..." and changed the file to a type 0 MIDI file. Then I copied it to the floppy disk, named it "SONG01.MID" and it played on the Allen exactly as expected.

    Of course, a raw MIDI file like this has no stop or expression data, so you have to press a piston or draw some stops and set the expression pedals. But I could tell from this little experiment that the concept can work.

    So now, I need to try using Sonar/Cakewalk to directly edit a sequence created on the Allen so as to fix my mistakes. I assume that would be as easy as editing any other MIDI file in Sonar, which is fairly straightforward. The problem may be that the notes won't have been recorded in strict tempo, so they will show up on the editing screen as weird tied-across-the-bar notes of unusual lengths. But as long as I can zap out the bad notes and fill in good ones, it ought to work. At least that's my hope. Won't be a perfect solution, but it might be better than having to play the same thing over and over and over again to get it right!

    A future idea -- create the files directly in Sonar, then save them in the proper format and transfer to floppy disk.

    BTW -- I started pre-recording our Processional Hymn with the SmartRecorder just a few weeks ago so I could walk in with the choir. Every time so far I've just played the hymn through in one take and used it, however it might have turned out, mistakes and all. And surprisingly, even though I'll know that I didn't do it just right, nobody, not even me, seems to notice that when I play the sequences for the Processional. We're just so busy singing and processing, and having such a good time doing it, that we don't notice the little flubs in my organ playing! I'm thankful for that!
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

  3. #3
    pp Pianissimo samibe's Avatar
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    Midi editor? It seems like the editors I've used allowed the user change the note, duration, velocity, etc. I'm not sure what stop data looks like in an editor, but I would imagine it is there somewhere.

    I think garage band has a midi editor.
    Sam

    Home: Yamaha P22 (not enough pedals) and a modified Allen ADC-4500 ... for now.
    Church: Allen Protege LD-34

  4. #4
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
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    True that any MIDI editor will do the trick. To fix most flubs you only need to remove bad notes and insert good ones, an easy job for even a simple MIDI editor. Sometimes I wish I could do more extensive editing, but it's harder to do that with files created by the SmartRecorder because they look so strange when opened in Sonar, with the notes not "quantized" into regular beats.

    I'm sure all the info you'd need to insert stop and expression data is available, as Allen publishes a full list of the messages sent and received by their organs. It's just a lot of work, and most of us will never do much more than the simplest editing after we create the files using the organ and the SmartRecorder. It's not a perfect solution, but it's better than nothing!
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

  5. #5
    ppp Pianississmo three4rd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbird604 View Post
    True that any MIDI editor will do the trick. To fix most flubs you only need to remove bad notes and insert good ones, an easy job for even a simple MIDI editor. Sometimes I wish I could do more extensive editing, but it's harder to do that with files created by the SmartRecorder because they look so strange when opened in Sonar, with the notes not "quantized" into regular beats.

    I'm sure all the info you'd need to insert stop and expression data is available, as Allen publishes a full list of the messages sent and received by their organs. It's just a lot of work, and most of us will never do much more than the simplest editing after we create the files using the organ and the SmartRecorder. It's not a perfect solution, but it's better than nothing!
    Thanks for these suggestions. At least for the time being, the learning curve on all this just sounds like it might be a bit steep - likely to require more time than I have at the moment since I've got to get some accompaniments recorded before Sunday morning. In reading everything you said, it appears the main issue might still be one of getting the organ to correctly interpret whatever edited changes are made. If the organ only plays back what was recorded in real time, I guess I still can't quite get a handle on how the editing process would work.

    I have found that my garageband editing, while not real difficult, is certainly time consuming so I guess I'd have to weigh that against the time it takes to just replay the whole song. Recording, in general, has such a psychological component to it. I can play a song perfectly, but then when I KNOW I'm recording myself, it's a different story since I'm so conscious of NOT wanting too make any goofs that I wind up doing it anyway. What I wish I could do - with garageband (have not used any other recording / editing program thus far) - is to record the piece, but with just continuing to play in the event that I screw up somewhere. (I often just go back to a previous section and start over again). It can involve stopping and starting again multiple times. Then, I'd take the entire recording, edit out the parts that had the mistakes, and what remains I'd hope would transfer back into the smart recorder as a 'corrected' version of the song. A possible issue could be what the organ recalls in the way of registration and dynamic changes during the course of the piece. I guess if I'm starting and stopping, and making appropriate changes as I go, those changes should still be there once the mistakes are taken out. Lots to experiment with to try and find a way to make this work. In either case it sounds like it would entail recording on the organ, taking the flash drive along home, working with the editing software, then taking the drive back to the organ. So now I'm involving a few extra steps compared to just being in church one time and (re)-recording as often as it takes until it's right. I'll have to check out Sonar and Cakewalk...not familiar with either.

    LOL about recording the processional! The only problem that might cause for me is that we're never quite sure how many verses we're going to do relative to when our priest is ready at the altar to begin Mass. Usually 3 verses, but sometimes 2...never more than 3. I think that generally the case at many Catholic Masses.

    John.. curious...what year is the organ you have at church? Our 270 is a 2000 model. At home I have an Allen AP-3.

  6. #6
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
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    At church we have an MDS-45 (two manual drawknob from about 1992) and at home I have a Renaissance R-230 (two-manual tab organ from about 2002). They are remarkably similar in resources, even though 10 years apart in age. The R-230 lacks a 32' pedal stop and has different swell reeds, but I can certainly record a hymn or simple accompaniment on it and have it play back quite nicely on the MDS.

    Also, as you may already know, when you do your recordings using PISTONS only to make your registrations changes, rather than doing hand registrations, the SmartRecorder only records the piston presses. To keep things simple, I record my processionals using only about four pistons, then I go to church and set up those same pistons on the MDS to do what I want them to do at the proper times in the music.

    When you edit a file created on the SmartRecorder using software such as Sonar or other simple MIDI editor, the editor won't change any of your stop selections or expression movements unless you drill down deep into the data and intentionally manipulate those items. Just correcting the odd wrong note here and there won't otherwise affect the way the organ plays back the file.

    So editing at the simplest level is completely do-able. My method is to record the hymn or piece exactly as I want it played back, and if I flub a note I just keep right on going, maintaining my tempo as if nothing happened. Then to fix it, all I have to do is open the file in Sonar and use the note by note editing to type in the correct value of the note that I missed in place of the wrong value. Sonar instantly corrects the note and shows it right on the staff, so I know I did it. Then I save the file (making sure that it is being saved as a type 0) and copy it back to the floppy. The organ responds just as it would have otherwise, except that my wrong note is now right.

    Of course, many times we may wish we could edit more extensively. Revise our phrasing, lengthen or shorten a note, add a stop change or dynamic change. These things are possible, if you know your editing software well enough, but they are definitely in a different category.

    Since you already know Garage Band and have some experience with MIDI, you will probably catch on quickly once you try this a few times. I learned editing on Cakewalk back in the day when I had to create accompaniment tracks for my choir. I would use a little MIDI keyboard to key the notes in, then use Cakewalk to insert patch changes, tempos, dynamics, etc. You probably already do this in Garage Band, and all you have to do is transfer that knowledge to the organ files.
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

  7. #7
    Moderator myorgan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by three4rd View Post
    Thanks for these suggestions. At least for the time being, the learning curve on all this just sounds like it might be a bit steep
    [snip]
    I have found that my garageband editing, while not real difficult, is certainly time consuming so I guess I'd have to weigh that against the time it takes to just replay the whole song.
    First of all, welcome to the Forum three4rd!

    I actually disagree with you about the learning curve. Since you use GB, I will assume you use a Macintosh computer. With my Mac, I use Cakewalk's version they divested to Jeremy Sagan when they stopped supporting Macintosh. The program is called Metro, and his website is: http://sagantech.biz/, and you can order and download the product there. What I especially like about the product is that I can change any single note (or event) of a MIDI file using the event viewer, convert from MIDI 1 to MIDI 0 easily, etc. Jeremy has been extremely supportive for anything I've needed to do with his product. With a basic understanding of MIDI and how recording works, you can quickly accomplish whatever you need to do, including layering recording tracks, filtering events (like fade in/out), using one or multiple MIDI devices, etc.

    In response to another post, I would guess Allen sends the piston data as a control message.

    Hope this helps encourage you to take the dive!

    Michael
    Way too many organs to list, but I do have 4 Allens:
    • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony)
    • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
    • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 4 Pianos

  8. #8
    ppp Pianississmo three4rd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbird604 View Post
    At church we have an MDS-45 (two manual drawknob from about 1992) and at home I have a Renaissance R-230 (two-manual tab organ from about 2002). They are remarkably similar in resources, even though 10 years apart in age. The R-230 lacks a 32' pedal stop and has different swell reeds, but I can certainly record a hymn or simple accompaniment on it and have it play back quite nicely on the MDS.

    Also, as you may already know, when you do your recordings using PISTONS only to make your registrations changes, rather than doing hand registrations, the SmartRecorder only records the piston presses. To keep things simple, I record my processionals using only about four pistons, then I go to church and set up those same pistons on the MDS to do what I want them to do at the proper times in the music.

    When you edit a file created on the SmartRecorder using software such as Sonar or other simple MIDI editor, the editor won't change any of your stop selections or expression movements unless you drill down deep into the data and intentionally manipulate those items. Just correcting the odd wrong note here and there won't otherwise affect the way the organ plays back the file.

    So editing at the simplest level is completely do-able. My method is to record the hymn or piece exactly as I want it played back, and if I flub a note I just keep right on going, maintaining my tempo as if nothing happened. Then to fix it, all I have to do is open the file in Sonar and use the note by note editing to type in the correct value of the note that I missed in place of the wrong value. Sonar instantly corrects the note and shows it right on the staff, so I know I did it. Then I save the file (making sure that it is being saved as a type 0) and copy it back to the floppy. The organ responds just as it would have otherwise, except that my wrong note is now right.

    Of course, many times we may wish we could edit more extensively. Revise our phrasing, lengthen or shorten a note, add a stop change or dynamic change. These things are possible, if you know your editing software well enough, but they are definitely in a different category.

    Since you already know Garage Band and have some experience with MIDI, you will probably catch on quickly once you try this a few times. I learned editing on Cakewalk back in the day when I had to create accompaniment tracks for my choir. I would use a little MIDI keyboard to key the notes in, then use Cakewalk to insert patch changes, tempos, dynamics, etc. You probably already do this in Garage Band, and all you have to do is transfer that knowledge to the organ files.
    I will need to check out Sonar and try it. At the least, are you aware of a way to at least play back only part of a recorded song on the smart recorder? At my choir rehearsal today I wanted to go back from the ending and have the choir sing with just the last couple of lines. I'm not aware of any way to do this, and so instead have to replay the recording from the beginning and fast forward (plays twice as fast) until I get close to the point I want, then release the button and slow back down to regular tempo. Again...ridiculous to not have more control, unless there is a way to do what I'm referring to and aren't aware of it (?)

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by myorgan View Post
    First of all, welcome to the Forum three4rd!

    I actually disagree with you about the learning curve. Since you use GB, I will assume you use a Macintosh computer. With my Mac, I use Cakewalk's version they divested to Jeremy Sagan when they stopped supporting Macintosh. The program is called Metro, and his website is: http://sagantech.biz/, and you can order and download the product there. What I especially like about the product is that I can change any single note (or event) of a MIDI file using the event viewer, convert from MIDI 1 to MIDI 0 easily, etc. Jeremy has been extremely supportive for anything I've needed to do with his product. With a basic understanding of MIDI and how recording works, you can quickly accomplish whatever you need to do, including layering recording tracks, filtering events (like fade in/out), using one or multiple MIDI devices, etc.

    In response to another post, I would guess Allen sends the piston data as a control message.

    Hope this helps encourage you to take the dive!

    Michael
    Yes..I do use Mac. I actually use an older version of garageband then the one that came on my macbook. For one thing, I have an old iMac that has really good speakers, and so like hearing the music back through those. Also, I have so many things set already on the old version...just seems easier. Thanks for the info on Metro. I'll have to check that out as well.

  9. #9
    Moderator myorgan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by three4rd View Post
    I will need to check out Sonar and try it. At the least, are you aware of a way to at least play back only part of a recorded song on the smart recorder? At my choir rehearsal today I wanted to go back from the ending and have the choir sing with just the last couple of lines. I'm not aware of any way to do this, and so instead have to replay the recording from the beginning and fast forward (plays twice as fast) until I get close to the point I want, then release the button and slow back down to regular tempo. Again...ridiculous to not have more control, unless there is a way to do what I'm referring to and aren't aware of it (?)

    [snip]

    Yes..I do use Mac. I actually use an older version of garageband then the one that came on my macbook. For one thing, I have an old iMac that has really good speakers, and so like hearing the music back through those. Also, I have so many things set already on the old version...just seems easier. Thanks for the info on Metro. I'll have to check that out as well.
    Yes, there is a way to have your piece play from a particular section. I've never used Sonar, but in the menu bar there should be a menu that has something like: GoTo (Measure, Time, etc.), and before rehearsal, you can make notes of which sequencer measure aligns with each rehearsal mark, etc.

    Also, most professional programs (including Sonar) should have a way to place a mark (or bookmark). That way, you can simply use your arrow keys to forward or reverse to a particular passage. Of course, as a choral director, you probably want to make sure you place the bookmark at least a measure or two before where the voices start (like you would with an accompanist).

    In GarageBand, you can simply press the right arrow (NOT while playing), and in track view, it will advance one measure at a time (the same with the left arrow) as long as you're viewing it by measures rather than time. If you press Return, it will go to the beginning of the piece. If you have GarageBand set to show the time, then it will generally move only by tics instead of measures. Control+Command+Left (or UP?) arrow will take you to the beginning, and Control+Command+Right Arrow (or Down?) will take you to the end of the piece.

    If you're rehearsing a particular section in GarageBand, you can press "C" on the keyboard, and it will turn on the looping control. Then you can adjust the beginning and end of the loop at the top of the screen.

    Forgive me if I'm insulting your intelligence with my comments, but I've found many music teachers don't even know the capabilities or navigation tools in GarageBand or Cakewalk.

    Hope this helps.

    Michael

    P.S. The means of moving from one place to another may be in the "Transport" controls. I forgot about that.
    Way too many organs to list, but I do have 4 Allens:
    • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony)
    • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
    • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 4 Pianos

  10. #10
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
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    When playing back with the SmartRecorder, you can back up to a point where you want to start using the measure counter. Use the left or right arrow button to put the cursor into the upper left corner of the display on the five-digit number (which represents "measures" of the current recording, though of course "measures" don't actually correspond to the measures on your music unless you recorded the piece in precisely the same tempo and signature for which the recorder is programmed, and who knows what that is?).

    Anyway, once you are in that corner of the screen, use the + and - keys to run the number up or down. If you want to do it, you can make an "index" of the recorded song by watching those numbers as you play it back, writing them down on your sheet music score so you'll know what number to go back to when you want to address a certain point in the music.
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

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