How to create a custom metronome with visual feedback

How to create a custom metronome with visual feedback

In this article we explain how to create a custom metronome with visual feedback using the System Actions plugin.

Introduction

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The System Actions plugin is one of the new built-in plugins in Gig Performer 4. This plugin allows you to control various Gig Performer system actions and commands (such as Tap Tempo, Play/Stop or the Master Trim) using widgets (and therefore through your MIDI controllers or remote control surfaces via OSC). Visit our user manual to see the complete list of supported actions for this plugin.

We will focus on a specific set of System Actions parameters that will allow us to create our own custom metronome. Beside the System Actions plugin we need a plugin that will provide us with a drum sounds, such as the KeysOfThe70s plugin that comes bundled with Gig Performer 4. (NB: you can use any plugin you like, e.g. the free Sitala plugin).

This is what our custom metronome will look like:

Custom Metronome with Visual Feedback using the System Actions plugin in Gig Performer

It will provide us with the following functionality:

  • Visual feedback – the accent and beat buttons will light up at appropriate times.
  • Change notes – you can easily change the notes for accent and beat respectively.
  • Volume controls – easily change the volume of the accent and beat.
  • Global Play – toggle the global playhead.
  • Metronome control – you can turn this custom metronome on or off (perhaps you might want to use the built-in metronome instead).
  • Cut MIDI – this feature provides visual feedback only. Sound is not generated (MIDI events won’t come into the sound generating plugin).
  • GP Metronome – this toggles the built-in Gig Performer metronome.

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You can have many different scenarios with this setup; for example, you can choose to have visual feedback only, or combine visual feedback with one of the metronomes (custom or Gig Performer’s) or to hear both of them at the same time.

Note: The download link is at the end of this article so you can easily download this gig file and try it out.

Let’s get started.

Inserting and connecting the plugins

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Since we want our custom metronome to be globally available, make sure to switch to the Global rackspace and switch to the Wiring view:

Custom Metronome with Visual Feedback, designing the Wiring view layout

Insert the System Actions plugin and then the bundled KeysOfThe70s plugin and connect the plugins with your audio outputs as shown in (A). Refer to this chapter in the user manual if you need help with inserting and connecting plugins.

In the KeysOfThe70s plugin editor (B), select the 11_Lost_In_70s_Drum.rks sounds (the red rectangle in the image above). If this plugin editor is not displayed, double-click the KeysOfThe70s plugin to open it. This will load the drum sounds into the KeysOfThe70s plugin.

The next step is to insert and arrange widgets on a panel to access, display and control the parameters we want.

Designing a panel for the custom metronome

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We’ll use the following widgets:

  • Pad buttons – for the visual display of the Accent and the Beat.
  • Plastic knobs – to control the note and volume for the Accent and the Beat buttons respectively.
  • LEDs – to control and indicate the status of the global playhead, custom metronome, Gig Performer’s metronome and MIDI events generation.
  • Shape widget – the Shape widget provides a great way to organize widgets visually in one section.
  • Text labels – four of them are without the “back plate” (learn more in our user manual), like the plastic knobs in (B) in the screenshot below.

Custom Metronome with the visual feedback, designing panel and widgets in Gig Performer

When you add the widgets to a panel in the Global rackspace (A), resize, reposition and adjust their Z-ordering to create a functional layout (see image (B)).

Connecting widgets to System Actions parameters

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In this step we connect widgets to the corresponding System Action parameters. Click on a widget, select the System Actions plugin (indicated with the red rectangle) and then select the corresponding parameter (see the red arrow in the image below):

Global Rackspace in Gig Performer. Assign widgets with System Actions plugin parameters

Assign parameters as follows:

1. Assign this plastic knob to: MidiBeatAccentNoteNumber
2. Assign this pad button to: Accent
3. Assign this pad button to: Beat
4. Assign this plastic knob to: MidiBeatNoteNumber
5. Assign this plastic knob to: MidiBeatAccentNoteVelocity
6. Assign this plastic knob to: MidiBeatNoteVelocity
7. Assign this LED to: PlayStop
8. Assign this LED to: MidiBeat
9. Assign this LED to: BeatMode
10. Assign this LED to: Metronome

Exit the Edit mode, activate the Global playhead and have fun with the metronome!

Download this gig file: Custom Metronome with the visual feedback.

Make sure to visit our Gig and Rackspace files category for more useful gig and rackspace files generated by our Community members.

Own the Stage® and enjoy Gig Performer®!

Nemanja Pudar

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Related topics:
System Actions showcase (Gig and Rackspace files)
Time Controls in Gig Performer (User Manual)



Scaling curves allow you to control the shape of the output of a widget or convert an incoming note velocity to a new velocity. Various predefined curves are available and they can be tweaked as necessary. You can also just draw your own curve as well to achieve the effect you require.

 

MIDI File Player Plugin


You can load up to 128 MIDI song files in a single plugin instance. Switch from one song to another, mute tracks and/or change their channel numbers. Tempo can be controlled by individual songs or you can use the global tempo and tap tempo to control the BPM interactively.

 

Favorites and Presets


Create a sound by placing and interconnecting your desired plugins, such as a synth, some effects and perhaps a mixer. Select them all and then save the selection as a named favorite. The favorite will subsequently show up in all plugin insert menus, making it easy for you to recreate that configuration whenever you need it again. This feature is also very powerful for creating your needed sounds on your studio computer and then transferring them to your touring laptop.

 

Probabilistic Sound Designer


Parameters you select in an open plugin are captured into the Probabilistic Sound Designer dialog window. When you click Randomize, you're only adjusting those selected parameters. Each entry in the PSD dialog has a curve but unlike widgets where the curve controls scaling, in the PSD the curves are used to define the probability of particular values being selected. Make sure the filter cutoff never gets too slow so as to block all sound. Perhaps adjust the max range of the VCA attack parameter so that the sound doesn't have too much delay. Constrain the octave ranges of the oscillators, perhaps ensuring that 1/3rd of the time we select 8' and 2/3rds of the time we select 4'. The possibilities are endless.

 

More Widgets


Numerous new widgets are included in Gig Performer - a new sustain pedal, plastic knobs, drum pads and more colored sliders. Shapes can be colored with different borders and fill colors and morphed from rectangular to circular. Your creativity is now the limit to creating fabulous front panels in Gig Performer.

 

MIDI Message Helper


Select MIDI devices by name. Choose the MIDI message type and adjust the appropriate parameters for the specific type

 

  

Layout management


Gig Performer supports arbitrary resizing. Layout your widgets the way you want - resize the main window and the widgets will grow or shrink as necessary to maintain the same interrelationships. No matter what size screen you have, your front panels will still be neat and usable.

 

Undo Support


If you move your widgets around and/or resize them, or even delete them by mistake, the Undo facility will correct your mistake. Minor moves to a widget by mistake will no longer spoil your design

 

Plugin Channel Count


Some plugins support a large number of outputs and they depend on the traditional channel strip to control how many ports should be available.   When you only need a stereo pair, it is convenient not to have a large horizontal block. In Gig Performer, the number of available ports  is controlled by the channel count override, which can be applied to individual plugins and will be remembered when the gigfile is reloaded or if the plugin is saved as a favorite.

 

Input muting and output fading


Rather than a single audio length tail, Gig Performer 4 gives you the ability to control input muting and output fading separately. Input muting controls how much time it takes for audio input to be silenced when you leave the rackspace. Output fading controls how much time will be taken for audio to fade out when you leave the rackspace.

 

Faster Plugin Finder


Instead of searching through menus of perhaps hundreds of plugins (you know who you are!), the Quick Plugin Finder makes it easy to find the plugin you need by simply typing partial strings. For example, as shown here, to find the Modartt Pianoteq 7 plugins, it's enough to type pia mod 7 (in any order, by the way)  to restrict the list of available plugins to those matching your query. The Quick Plugin Finder also knows about manufacturers, presets and favorites.

 

  

Touch Friendly Input


Any entry field can be changed by either dragging your mouse (or finger) up or down, or by using the large popup touchpad where you can just tap on the squares to enter a value. The large popup keypad also does validation so you can't enter an invalid value. You can also just tap the BPM field to pop up a larger view where you can quickly change tempo, tranpose, trigger Tap Tempo and enable Ableton Link, the last allowing you to synchronize Gig Performer with any other application that also supports Ableton Link.

 

New Tuner Display


The tuner view makes it easy for guitarists to quickly check and adjust their tuning. You can toggle into the tuner view from any other view and toggle right back as soon as you're done. All output will be silenced automatically while you're in tuning mode. You can adjust the concert reference pitch from its default of 440 Hz to suit your own needs. The tuner view fills the entire screen so you can easily see it from a distance.

 

GP Script Enhancements


GP Script adds new language improvements such as multiple initialization sections, initialization with declarations and enhanced callbacks. The WidgetValueChanged callback now supports multiple widgets. Sysex messages are now built-in with numerous supporting functions. String array handling is much faster. Integer bit manipulation is now built-in. A new global GigScript allows incoming MIDI messages to be modified and redirected on the fly. It also allows you to define keyboard macros for your computer keyboard to control Gig Performer itself. For complete information, please review the GP Script Language Manual available through the Help menu.

 

Scriptlets


Scriptlets make creating custom MIDI processors easy. You don't have to be a programmer to use them - you can just download scriptlets from our ever-growing collection on our website and drop them right into your rackspaces to use them. Use scriptlets for simple operations such as turning your single notes into chords, modifying, duplicating or converting one kind of message into another, automatic chord latching (AutoSustain), threshold detection, sysex manipulation... imagination is the limit.

 

Other Improvements


  • System Actions plugin
  • MIDI Out to OSC converter
  • Comment plugin
  • New GUI dialog to define MIDI events to send on song part change
  • MIDI Out blocks can automatically send multiple MIDI events
  • Open/close a plugin editor from a widget
  • Choose default startup view
  • Quick find for plugin parameters
  • Large collection of startup hints
  • OSC Patchbay mode
  • Plugins now default to stereo I/O
  • Dragging presets into the wiring view will automatically create the required plugin
  • Numerous other minor (but nice) usability and workflow enhancements

Numerous other enhancements and optimizations serve to make Gig Performer 4 a superb platform for performing artists.

 

Songs and Setlists


You can organize your rackspaces into songs and your songs into setlists and then just select the setlist you need for a show. Then simply cycle down through the parts, or use your control surface or a MIDI Guitar pedal controller to select individual parts directly.

 

Predictive Loading


Predictive Loading™ is an advanced feature that reduces your RAM and CPU resources by only loading rackspaces (or songs) as needed.

 

 

The Global Rackspace


The Global Rackspace can receive audio from whatever rackspace is currently active. Instead of inserting effects in every rackspace, simply insert them once in the Global Rackspace and all your local rackspaces will have access to them. The Global Rackspace can also send audio to the currently active rackspace. So you can insert a looper that receives audio directly from your guitar (say) and then send the looped audio to different effects in different rackspaces. If a particular instrument such as a piano or organ is needed everywhere (or almost everywhere), put it in the Global Rackspace.

 

   

Zoomable Wiring View


Gig Performer 4 provides a virtual view allowing you to spread out your blocks and connections to make them easier to see and manage, even if you have a very small screen. You can zoom in or out and you can use the Auto-Fit option to position your blocks to fit in the available space.