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Do Guitarists Need MIDI? - Part Two

by Phil Gates

So last month I started this conversation about whether or not we as guitarists still needed MIDI in our lives. The conclusion was yes, for Scoring/Charting and for Synchronization. I'm sure there are many other uses still current, but these seemed to be the two most common reasons for both myself & other colleagues that I've had conversations with about this. Personally, I find the MIDI aspect of guitar to be the most helpful in charting and getting ideas down quickly as a keyboard sound, or string parts. I love playing with virtual synths and sound modules! It's really too easy now in most sequencers to plop in some data & see the score develop. The software will even tell you what chords you're playing (which can be very helpful to a new guitarist) and split it into the proper clefs for you. The song involved here is called "MIDI Blues" ©2004 Phil Gates. I did this in all of about 20 minutes, and it pretty much sounds like it I'm sure. But it's the idea of it…

Check out the chart below:

I have three parts that I played: A B3 Organ rhythm part, a Rhodes lead part, and a Bass part. I used the finger picking "claw" method for entering the chords on the B3 part. Being very careful to keep the attack even, and to end the notes evenly, I used the palm of my right hands as a string damper. I also made sure that as I changed chords, I would take my left fretting hand completely off of the neck, get to the next chord position then make that chord. In other words, no sliding from chord to chord. Those sounds can cause tons of error notes!

On the guitar & bass parts, I used a pick, and just played it straight. Sometimes, if a sound wont trigger fast enough, I may have to edit the attack time within the patch itself. This can be time consuming however, so usually I'll just pull up a flute patch to program with, then change the sound later for playback. The flute patches seem to trigger really well on most guitar MIDI pieces I've found. The ADSR(Attack, Decay, Sustain & Release) for the flute patch seems to lend itself to faster picking.

Using Apple Logic 7, I also had a drum groove from Ultrabeat goin' on there.

My arrange & mixer shots are below, just to show how it looks with instrument plug-ins goin' on.

It's easy to see that for a quick little track, and about twenty minutes, I've got a decent chart, and even an audio file for it to show to others, making me truly ready to communicate my musical ideas to another person, or group of people either by chart or audio. Here's the audio for this track…

Listen to a MIDI Blues Demo

If you have a MIDI guitar set-up, try this charting thing out. It's very hip. If you haven't gotten into it yet, Drop by your nearest music retailer & check it out. MIDI may or may not be for you for guitar work, but more than likely MIDI is going to be a part of your studio and/or your clients or bands requirements. So if nothing else, stay up on the technology.

As always,
Have Big Fun,


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