Using Melody Assistant
1. Finding Choral Midi Files
The most comprehensive sites are Cyberbass, The Silvis Woodshed and The Choral Public Domain Library. These give you an index to all the composers’ works available at that site. These tend to contain only the choral sections and often the accompaniment is only included for bars when there is no choral singing (for copyright reasons). Choral music files can also be found on the internet using www.google.com and searching for the words "choral midi" (without the double quotes). This points to a large number of sites, so add the composer’s surname to the search words to narrow it down.
Use your internet browser and right click on the work you want. This displays a menu, select “Save target as” or "Save link as" then select the folder to store it in –
- If the file name ends “.mid” then choose the folder called "My music" in "My Documents" so that you can find it easily later. The file will then be copied to your computer
- If the file name ends “.zip” it is a compressed file so choose to save it on the desktop. This allows you to "unzip" the file so you can use it. When the file is downloaded it will be shown as an icon on your desktop. In Windows XP double click on the icon; this will run your unzip program. In Vista right click on the desktop icon. Click on Extract and specify the unzip location as the folder called "My music" in "My Documents". Once the files have been extracted the zip file is no longer required, so click on the zip file icon and drag it to the Recycle Bin.
- (If you are running Windows earlier than XP and you don’t already have an unzip program you will need a freeware program such as Ultimate Zip available from http://www.ultimatezip.com/download.htm, or a shareware program such as Winzip or Zipmagic. Windows 7, Vista and XP users do not need to install an unzip program).
- Just download the file by a long click on the link. The file is available on the "download folder" you defined in your browser's setup.
- If the file doesn't have the .mid extension but for example the .zip, .hqx,.sit extension, drag it on the StuffIt Icon to decode it.
2. Playing a piece
- The first time you use Melody Assistant click on "Windows" and "Play Tools" to display the Play Tools icon
- and then click on "Windows" and "Edit Tools"
- Click on the blue bar to the left of each tool bar and drag it to the top of the screen so that they are not in the way of the music.
- open the piece of music with Ctrl+"o", select the music folder, set the “Files of type” to Midi and it will then display all the midi pieces in the folder. Click on the piece required and "OK".
- press the space bar to start from the beginning or to stop the playback.
- click on the pause button instead of the space bar if you want to resume playing later from that point. Click on the pause button again to resume.
3. To play a number of bars repeatedly
To repeat just a few bars click on the bar number above the staves you want to start from and drag the cursor to the last bar number you want (this highlights the selected bars), click on the play only the selected bars button
and then press the space bar to start/stop the playback. Click on the play only the selected bars button again to turn it off.
4. To start playing from a specific bar
- if the bar you want to start from is not displayed drag the slider button with the bar number in at the bottom of the screen until the bar is displayed.
- right click (Ctrl+click on Macintosh) on the bar heading for the bar you want to start from at the top of the window, click on “Set and reset play mark” and then press the space bar to start playing from that point. You will need to turn the play mark off when you want to start right from bar 1 again.
5. To vary the playing speed
- click on "Score", click on "General tempo" this will display the current tempo as the number of quarter notes per minute. Make a note of the existing tempo before you change it so that you can change it back later.
- change the number by either typing in a new number.
6. To emphasise a voice
- if the “vol/pan” panel is not displayed then click on "Windows", "Mixer" and then either "Small mixer" or "Complete mixer "(the small mixer takes up less space on the screen, the large one is easier to use if you are not used to the using the mouse). If the panel covers the line you are following it can be dragged to a different part of the screen by clicking on the blue bar at the left of its panel.
- the "Vol" knobs can be turned by using the mouse to drag them round to increase or decrease the volume for each stave. Hence you can increase the volume of your own voice register to maximum and reduce the others to less than half.
- the "Pan" knobs can be used to move your voice register to the right speaker and other voices to the left speaker or vice versa.
7. To show the notes actually playing
Click on "Configuration", "Global setup", "Play", and ensure that the “Scroll music while playing” is checked and that “Page after page” is checked and then click on "OK".
8. To listen to a particular note
- click on and the cursor will then change to a hammer.
- click on the note in the score.
9. Saving your changes
You can only save changes if you have paid for the program. If you always make the same changes every time you play a piece then you can save it by clicking on “File” and “Save as” and either replace the original or add to the name if you want more than one version. Replace the “.mus” with “.mid” at the end of the name so that it is saved in midi format.
To export your file in MIDI format you can also use "File", "Export","Midi".
10. Changing the synthesiser voice for a stave
Often choral music is computerised with a choral Aah for the choral staves and with piano for the accompaniment. Sometimes all the staves are recorded as piano; to change the choral staves to choral aah.
- click on to the left of the stave. This will display a panel “Edit related instruments”.
- In the “Set” column click on “Ensemble” and in the “name” column click on “Choir Aahs”.
- Click on “OK”.
To set the metronome on or off click on