There are several ways to use markers for
navigation. The simplest is to click on where
you want to go from the Marker toolbar
When Sonar first appeared, Cakewalk touted the fact that it supported Microsoft's ultra-fast WDM drivers, which commune with the computer on the kernel level rather than through Windows. The sequencing world gave a collective yawn, and wondered why Cakewalk hadn't gone with ASIO. After all, it works and is a standard, and few WDM drivers existed for soundcards anyway.
According to several of the companies I've talked to, Microsoft's claim that WDM drivers would be easy to design turned out to be -- let's be diplomatic here -- overly optimistic. Eventually, beta drivers started to appear, and a few hardy souls brought back tales of really low latencies and extremely tight timing. Li
* Sonar/Sonar XL: v2.0.
I explained my situation to Barry Braksick at Frontier, who suggested a Microsoft 'hot fix' for Windows 98SE -- the imaginatively named Q242937.exe (I downloaded it from http://www1.rm.com/docs/PC/00/1257.asp).
After installing the Dakota WDM drivers and the hot fix, everything worked like a charm -- WDM, ASIO 16/24 bit, and MME-only programs. All I can say is that it's worth getting whatever it takes to use WDM with Sonar -- be that a new interface or new drivers. Not only do software synths exhibit much less latency, the Loop Explorer works better, and the feel of the entire program becomes more streamlined. Switching over to WDM is like finding out To Zoom in on a specific area of the Clips pane, click on the Zoom Tool (the icon that looks like a magnifying glass above the vertical zoom icon). The cursor turns into a magnifying glass; then, click in the corner of the area you want to zoom in on, then drag and draw a rectangle. When you release the mouse button, the rectangle you've drawn will take up the entire Clips pane. Call up the Scissors tool while in the Clips pane by hitting the 'C' key. To preview a selected loop in the Loop Construction window, hold down the Shift key and hit the space bar. You can also use this to stop the preview if it's already playing. Click on a Track View meter with the right mouse button, and you can select the meter's resolution range (12dB minimum, 90dB maximum). This can be done individually for each meter.
There are four ways to vary numerical values after clicking on a field: type in the value, use the 'spinner' control to the right of the number, use the numeric keypad's '+' or '-' keys to increment/decrement respectively, or use the square-bracket keys ('[' and ']') keys to increment/decrement by larger values (for example, by intervals of 10 in the tempo display).
To Zoom in on a specific area of the Clips pane, click on the Zoom Tool (the icon that looks like a magnifying glass above the vertical zoom icon). The cursor turns into a magnifying glass; then, click in the corner of the area you want to zoom in on, then drag and draw a rectangle. When you release the mouse button, the rectangle you've drawn will take up the entire Clips pane.
Call up the Scissors tool while in the Clips pane by hitting the 'C' key.
To preview a selected loop in the Loop Construction window, hold down the Shift key and hit the space bar. You can also use this to stop the preview if it's already playing.
Click on a Track View meter with the right mouse button, and you can select the meter's resolution range (12dB minimum, 90dB maximum). This can be done individually for each meter.
Fast Marker Navigation
It's very useful to drop markers at strategic points in a song, then name them ('Verse 1', 'Verse 2', and so on). If the Markers toolbar is visible, the simplest navigation method is to use the drop-down list at the left of the toolbar, and click on the desired marker (see screenshot above).
If the Markers toolbar isn't enabled, no problem. Hit the 'F5' key twice, and you'll see a list not only of markers you've created, but also loop start and end, punch points, beginning, end, and the Select (From/Thru) points. Click on the appropriate marker, then hit the computer's Return key twice. The first Return places the marker's time in the Time window. The second Return places the cursor at that time, which instantly becomes the Now Time. Of course, you can also use the marker toolbar's icons to jump to the previous marker or the next marker.
To edit a marker or markers and then jump to a particular location, click on the Markers view icon (the one to the immediate right of the Project Pitch drop-down menu). This shows the same basic list as the markers drop-down menu, but you can delete markers, change marker properties (for example the name or Groove Clip pitch), insert a marker at the current Now Time, or lock a marker to SMPTE time so that changing tempo doesn't alter the marker's location (this is useful when adding sound effects to video productions -- the tempo of a tune may change, but the time in the film where the spaceship blows up, say, will not). After doing any desir
to the point where you can enter performance
notes and other information. However, you
can then hide the info so that you don't take
up too much of your workspace.
The Track 'Notepad'
Track names don't have to be long -- 'Lead 1', 'Kick', or whatever suits you best. But sometimes, it's helpful to include text notes, like the patch number used with a synth to create the audio, or the signal processor presets used with outboard gear (not everyone uses plug-ins!).
Sonar lets you enter very long track names. Drag the divider between the Clips View and Track View to show as much of the Track View as possible, then drag the name field divider (located to the left of the Volume slider) toward the right. Drag as far as needed to extend the track name field. Enter the track name and any other info -- see the screen grab at the top of the next page.
You can even type past the end of the field, and it will just keep scrolling to accommodate your typing (I still haven't found the character limit!). Make sure to put the most important text first, as that's what will be visible when you reduce the track name field back to a sensible length.
Dragging to extend the track name field for one track extends it for all tracks, so if you need to sneak a peek at your notes, you can do so for the entire tune. If you can't see the entire text for the line, double-click on it as if you were going to edit it, then drag the cursor left or right to scroll through the additional text.
There's also a cool shortcut. Even if the name field is pulled back so it's very short, place your mouse over the name field, and a pop-up shows most (if not all) of what you've written, as you can see above.
Stretching To Fit
An SOS reader asks the following: "How would I time-stretch a 100bpm loop that lasts for four clip beats into a 120bpm loop with eight clip beats?" You can stretch tempo just by converting the clip into a Groo
name can show a significant amount of 'hidden'
text (created, as described above, by extending
the track name field and typing in it).
However, conversion to a Groove Clip cannot turn a one-measure loop into a two-measure loop. The number of beats remains constant, and only the tempo changes. You would therefore need to convert the four-beat 100bpm loop into a four-beat 120bpm loop, then click on the loop's right edge and drag to the right to make it last the desired number of measures.
In addition to following tempo changes, a Groove Clip can also follow pitch transposition information embedded in a tune. However, to make full use of this feature, it helps to understand the interplay between the Project Pitch, Groove Clip reference note, and Pitch Offset parameters. Here's an overview of how the process works.
First, you establish the Project Pitch. This provides a baseline reference of the song's key against which transpositions are referenced (note that this is not the same process as setting the key signature and meter, which affects the Staff view for notation). To do this:
Select the Toolbars option from the View menu.
Tick the Markers toolbar so that it's visible.
Set the Project Pitch from the drop-down menu on the far right of the Marker Toolbar.
Next, define a Groove Clip's pitch parameters (see screenshot, right). You can access the four parameters that relate to following pitch from the Loop Construction window (double-click on the Groove Clip to bring this up), or from the Clip Properties windows, which gives you a more compact version (click with the right mouse b
a Groove Clip follows pitch are accessible from
the Loop Construction window, or from the Clip
Properties window shown here (accessed by
clicking on a Groove Clip with the right
Follow Project Pitch. Tick this if you want the Groove Clip to follow pitch changes embedded in the project. Note that you will probably want to leave this option unticked for drum parts, unless you prefer the drums' timbre to change when the Project Pitch changes (which can be interesting sometimes as a special effect).
Reference Note. Set this to the Groove Clip's original recorded key (for example, if it was originally recorded in the key of E, select 'E' from the drop-down menu). Better-documented sample CDs usually include the key information for samples.
Pitch (semitones). This offsets the Groove Clip's pitch in semitones (up to two octaves up or down), regardless of whether or not Follow Project Pitch is enabled. For example, suppose the Groove Clip was recorded in G, the Project Pitch is G, Follow Project Pitch is enabled, and you set the pitch parameter to +1. The Groove Clip will now play back at G#. If the Project Pitch changes to C, the Groove Clip will now play back at C#. If Follow Project Pitch is not enabled, the Groove Clip will always play back at G# (an offset of +1 compared to the original Groove Clip pitch).
Fine Pitch (cents). This offsets the Groove Clip's pitch in cents (up to 50 cents up or down), and works exactly like the Pitch Offset. This is an invaluable feature for loops that are slightly out of tune.
Insert pitch changes into the tune. Now that we have Clips that can respond to pitch changes, let's insert some pitch-change markers. Click on the Time Ruler at the top of the Clips View pane where you want the pitch change to occur and hit the 'F11' key (or click with the right mouse button where you want the change, and select 'Insert Marker' from the pop-up menu).
When the Marker window appears, go to the Groove Clip Pitch drop-down list and select the new pitch reference. Name the marker if desired, and click on 'OK' to finish.
Incidentally, if you expect to cut up a loop into multiple segments, set the Follow Pitch parameters before you cut, so that all the segments retain the data you programmed. If you cut up the loop before setting these parameters, you'll have to enter them for every loop segment.