Using MPC and Computer Together

Here's a tip if you want to work with your computer and MPC2000XL without much midi repatching.

Here's the scenario. You have several modules connected to the midi outs of the MPC2000XL. Say you want compose on your PC and be able to hear your modules, but the MPC in the way (since you like to keep everything hooked to it). Typically you could put a midi patchbay between the MPC and the modules then connect your computer to the patchbay to access the modules. You then have to switch your patchbay settings to access the modules by computer or MPC depending on which you wanted to work.

Here's another way to work. Connect your computer's midi outs to the MPC's midi in's. If have two midi out's on your computer all the better. Set the MPC's midi to "multitrack". That would be changing the "S:" on the bottom left of the main screen to "M:". Open window on the "M:". In this multitrack screen set the input channels to correspond to tracks and their appropriate midi channels. Close this window. In your computer sequencer, mirror the track/midi relationships to what you have on the MPC. The MPC in this setup is acting as a "midi thru" box. You can now enter notes (and play) on you computer sequencer and hear the results on the appropriate modules. When done arranging on the PC, save the midi file and load it in the MPC. The MPC will play the same as you had on the computer. I think you can even leave the MPC in "multitrack" since it just affects "recording" (which you really aren't doing, just "thru"ing the info). Simplicity is best! I have patchbays, but I try not to use them.

Fewer components means less chance of failure and quicker timing. If you use a master controller, you can put it on the input of your computer for note entry.

Along with this is another idea to save some time when transferring sequences from computer to MPC. Create your default layout on the MPC with tracks named and assigned to midi channels or drum tracks. Basically enter everything but note data. Save this sequence as a midi file type 1. Load this midi file in your favorite computer sequencer. Perform your note entry and editing, but do not re-arrange tracks. You can even preview from the computer using the above method. When done, save the midi file and then load it on the MPC. All track assignments should be same as your template, ready to go. The reason this should work (I can't check myself since I do not have a computer in the studio) is that the MPC saves files within the midi spec. All the extra data the MPC uses for names and assignments is embedded within the midi file. As long as your computer sequencer does not mangle the existing data or you don't modify it yourself, the data should still be there when reloading on the MPC.

Additional Info

I finally got a chance to dig through some sequencer items of the MPC since it looks like I may have to write a Acid-to-MPC Sequence converter since the one at the really isn't up to par to use in most any sequencer including the MPC without mucho work. I imagine one could write something like a CAL script to convert note numbers of each track, but that's another story. (BTW, I've finished the Acid-to-MPC program and included it in the MPC Editor to be released at a later date.)

Some issues with converting Acid to useable MPC information: The biggest and probably the only one worth mentioning would be to convert pitch changes to NV changes in an MPC sequence, since the MPC does not have keygroups, you cannot use normal note changes to simulate pitch changes. Easy enough right? We'll see.

Next I had to decipher how the MPC stores NV slider data and discovered a few things. One is how the MPC stores it. The MPC stores NV slider amount as a note off event, Note C-2 to be exact. Note C-2 really does not exist on any synth so it's an easy blank note (Other sequencer use this note to signify no note as a placeholder of sorts. Waldorf does this in the Q's sequencer). The note off velocity signifies the amount of the NV slider. Pretty nifty if you ask me. This data is actually never transmitted from the MPC but is there nonetheless for the MPC to use. It may be possible to write a small app to extract this info and convert it if necessary, but there is another way:

Along with the NV slider, you can also assign an incoming CC to control the NV slider. When you are recording this information, it get recorded as CC data _and_ the C-2 note off events. This is particularly useful, since, if you ever want to use the midi in another sequencer or use this data in some other fashion, this CC does show up (the C-2 note off data is ignored and not editable). So, if you ever need to use NV type effects on another platform, just use an external slider to record the CC's as necessary. You get the benefit of hearing the effect on the sample, plus you get some editable CC data to apply to the sample on another platform.

Now I just have to finish reverse engineering the Acid file, which is pretty much a nightmare. Even the currently available utility that I mentioned above ignores pitch changes. Yeach!

Soon I will post the rest of the `hidden` data the MPC stores in midi files.