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Using the CellSynth Library

CellSynth comes with annotated examples to help you get started. These are stored in the "Matrix Files" folder which means that (as long as you keep this folder in the same folder as CellSynth) they can be selected from the pop-up menu at the top of the Matrix window.

These examples have been designed to demonstrate various features of CellSynth and to help you start thinking of how you might go about designing a sound in CellSynth.

Because designing a sound in CellSynth often involves building the elements of a sound out of several Cells, a useful feature is to be able to save sections of a Matrix in a library to be used again.

CellSynth comes with a library of useful Matrix Files that can be used as ³building blocks² when creating your own sounds. These can be selected from the pop-up menu and appear in a submenu called ~Library. You will notice that all the file names begin with the € bullet character. When you open any file starting with the bullet character, the Merge dialog will automatically open.

You can make your own Library of useful "building blocks". Supposing, whilst designing a sound in CellSynth, you have created a killer dub echo effect that really recreates the feel of those old analog beasts, and you want to use it again and again with other sounds you have created. You can save just that part of the Matrix and then merge it into other Matrix files when you need that effect.

If you make a folder within the Matrix Files folder to store your library of files, it will appear as a submenu in the pop-up menu (only displays one folder deep).

If you also name your files pre-fixed with a € bullet character, the Merge dialog will automatically open when you select it from the pop-up menu. The bullet character is Option-8 on US and UK keyboards. You can use the Key Caps utility on your Apple menu to locate it on other keyboard layouts.

Here¹s Bassy Wah, one of the sounds supplied with CellSynth:

Go to the pop-up menu and select "€ Delay Analog Echo Simulation".

The Merge window will appear:

Drag the Cells from the Right Hand Matrix (new) to the position you require on the Left Hand Matrix (old).

This is what you get:

You can now "plug" the bassy wah sound into the echo by routing the signal between the two groups of Cells (feed the signal from the filter to the echo).

Using the Event Sequencer


The Event Sequencer can be used in many ways to control CellSynth.

These can be broken down into three main categories: Using MIDI Notes to play sounds that have MIDI Note on / off enabled, using the Note values to modulated neighbouring Cells, and finally, Using MIDI Controller to control the parameters of Cells that have had controllers assigned to them.

Using MIDI Notes to control Cells with MIDI Note on / off enabled

Its most obvious function is to play MIDI notes that any Cell that has MIDI Note on/off enabled will respond to.

You can enter sequences that can be used to control synth type sounds, creating basslines, arpeggios, riffs and melodies. You can also play Samples, altering their pitch according to the notes entered.

Remember, although CellSynth only receives MIDI on one channel, you can set the keyspan of each Cell allowing the sounds to be spread across the range of the keyboard (option click Keyboard button in Cell Edit dialog).

Because of CellSynth¹s flexibility notes can also be used in unusual ways. Read On! Using Note Values to Modulate Cells

You can still control Cells independently of MIDI if you require.

If you mute an Event Sequencer Cell, it no longer outputs MIDI notes or Control Messages. However, the notes can still be used to modulate a neighbouring Cell if it is connected to it (click the semi-circle). In this way you can control individual Cells and still have other Cells in the Matrix responding to MIDI notes,either from an external MIDI device/sequencer or from another Event Sequencer Cell.

You can also specify the number of bars into the arrangement an Event Sequence starts playing. You could use a number of Event Sequencers, each with a different section of an arrangement. By changing the start times the piece can easily be rearranged.

Using MIDI controllers to Control Cell Parameters

MIDI control messages can also be entered in the Event Sequencer. This means that Cells can be altered using MIDI control messages, for example, filter sweeps can be programmed in, sounds may be brought in and out of the mix by adjusting their Cell¹s volume, Delay length changes can be programmed in, and so on.

Using the Event Sequencer Window

Open the example file in Basic Examples 2 called "Samples 1 Playing via MIDI".

Drag an Event Sequencer Cell to the Matrix. Unless you plan to modulate another cell directly rather than use MIDI notes, you can place it anywhere on the Matrix. Any Cell that has its MIDI note on/off activated will receive the notes you enter in the Event Sequencer.

Open the Cell Edit window. We¹ll look at the options available once we have entered our sequence, so lets click on the Edit button to go straight to the Event Sequencer window. The Event Sequencer has a simple arpeggio already programmed in. This can be useful for testing a sound without having to programme in your own sequence and also give you an idea of how the Event Sequencer works. There are some other examples provided on the CellSynth CD.

info When the Event Sequencer window is active, Import SequenceŠ and Export SequenceŠ become available on the File menu.

First lets clear the default sequence. Select Clear Sequence from the Edit menu (or use the shortcut command-b)

Before entering any notes we need to set up the sequence correctly. Look at the controls at the top of the window.

First set the number of bars. We¹ll make a short repeating sequence two bars long, so change the ³Bars² value to ³2².

We want four beats in each bar so we can leave the beats per bar at ³4².

infoThe Event Sequencer has two modes, one for entering notes and another for entering Controllers. The Event Type pop-up is used to switch between the two modes.

Leave the Event Type pop-up on Note so as we will enter some notes first.

Finally, you can alter the snap value. In this case we¹ll leave it on 32, giving a fine degree of control without turning snap off completely.

How to enter the notes

You will notice the notes of the keyboard are displayed down the left hand side of the Event Sequencer window. You can scroll up and down using the scroll bars (which also have buttons to zoom in and out)

Hold down the Control key and the cursor will change to a pencil signifying that you can enter a note when you click the mouse.

The bars are marked with solid grey lines for each beat and subdivisions (32) as dotted lines. The bar lines are marked in red.

Find the position in the bar that you wish to enter your note and, referring to the notes on the left of the window, click to enter a note. The length of the note will depend on how you set the snap control. The default is 32, so the note will fill one square on the grid.

Once the note has been entered you can move, lengthen or delete it by using the mouse and modifier keys:

Move the mouse near the end of the note to stretch it. The cursor changes to a finger. Click to stretch.

Move the mouse over the note and when the open hand is displayed you can click and drag the note to a new position.

Hold down the Control key. The cursor changes to a pencil, as when you entered the note. Move it over a note and it changes to an eraser. Click to delete the note.

You can mute a note by command clicking on it. The note has a cross though it when disabled.

Other keys are:

Option key for zoom in (drag marquee to choose zoom area)

Option-Shift to zoom out.

info You can double click in the Event Sequencer window to start playing from the nearest beat.

Enter a sequence of notes and you should hear your notes played on the bass sample from Samples 1 "Playing via MIDI".

Inserting Controller Events

Now lets experiment by entering a Controller.

Switch the Event Sequencer into Controller mode using the Event Type pop-up. Notice that the Controller numbers are now displayed down the left side of the Event Sequencer window.

Now, again using the Control key on the keyboard, insert a Controller Event on the line that represents the Controller Number that you want to use. In this example lets use 50.

You can change the value of the Controller from the control at the top of the Event Sequencer window or by moving your mouse so that it is near to the right hand edge of the Controller event.

The cursor will change to signify that you can click and drag the mouse up or down to change the value. The level is displayed graphically inside the Controller event. Change the value of your event to 20. Keep your eye on the Control Value at the top of the Window.

Enter some more events for Controller 50 at regular intervals and increase the value so that it peaks at a 100 at the end of bar one and is nearly back to 20 by the end of bar 2.

Now click on the Matrix window to bring it to the front and open the Sample Cell's Edit window. You now need to assign the same controller number to the Sample Cell, so change the Controller value to 50 and, so that we have the full range available, set the Control Amount to 127.

Press the space bar on your keyboard to play from the start of the sequence.

You should hear the Bass sample rising and falling in volume as the sequence loops. Use the spacebar on your keyboard to stop CellSynth playing. You can make any adjustments you need and use the double click method to audition them. When you are satisfied close the Event Sequencer window.

Lets take a quick look at the parameters in the Cell Edit dialog.

You can choose whether your sequence loops and whether it syncs to the bar. If you switch sync on you will get the chance to specify at what bar the sequence should start, what beat it should start on and how many beats per bar it is. This way you can start your sequence at a specific point in the arrangement. You can even use several Event Sequencer Cells and bring them in at different bars, arranging your piece of music in sections. This would make it easy to try different sections in different orders, simply by changing their start bar.