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Volume control : limits imposed by MIDI channels

The MIDI communication system between the computer and an external synthesizer or a sound card may transmit messages called "Controllers". There are 128 controllers and the most known one is controller 7 which determines the volume. On a MIDI cable, there can be 16 independent channels, so that 16 sound generators may have different volumes. For a given channel, Pizzicato can send a volume value that you select (between 0 and 127). If 2 staves use the same MIDI channel, the volume message sent on one will affect the other one in the same way because the staves notes are played with the same MIDI channel. With the automatic management of the MIDI channels by Pizzicato, this situation can happen only in 2 cases, because Pizzicato always tries to use a different channel for each staff.

The first case is for the percussion instruments. The percussions are associated to channel 10 in a lot of synthesizers. If you create 4 percussion staves, they will all be assigned to channel 10 and even if the instrument view shows 4 volume sliders, only the last one will have the desired effect, because its message is sent the last and its volume is thus considered (the first messages are also sent, but immediately modified by the following ones). If you want to assign different amplitudes to the different percussions, you can use another parameter named "Velocity". You can also find it in the instrument view ("Miscellaneous effects" item). The nuances (P, FF, MF,...) placed in the score affect the velocity and are thus independent. You must know that the velocity value is sent for every note played and not globally for all the notes. So, several notes sent on the same MIDI channel may have various velocities.

The second case is when there is more staves in the scores than MIDI channels on your sound card or synthesizer. In this case, Pizzicato is forced to reassign the same MIDI channels to different staves. To avoid that, you can disable the automatic management of the channels and assign them yourself (for example, you can assign staves with an equal volume/instrument to the same MIDI channel and thus keep other channels for the staves needing a specific volume). The ultimate solution is of course to add a new synthesizer or sound card, which adds 16 MIDI channels. Pizzicato Professional 3 may work up to 16 MIDI ports (thus 16 x 16 MIDI channels).


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