Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Windows MIDI Players and Tempo Control

Since it's late and I'd rather not disturb the roommates + landlord, I am practicing on an electric bagpipe chanter.

I am on the lookout for a good midi player for Windows, something I can use to play along with MIDI versions of bagpipe tunes. Since my playing is a bit slow, and the tunes I'm looking to play have a default tempo that's way out of my league, a player with some sort of speed control is pretty much a necessity.

Here's what I've found this evening, in order:

  1. Sigma Player 1.0 - A simple freeware player supporting multiple audio formats. The interface is a bit odd, sporting all black buttons and a close button that simply says, "Close". Forgiveable, except that dragging and dropping a file onto it doesn't seem to do anything, and the "slow motion" feature that the website touted isn't variable. It's either regular speed or slow-mo, and no in-between. This is better than nothing, but not what I'm looking for.

  2. Sweet MIDI Player 2.2.6 for Windows - This one's better than Sigma Player, but still has shortcomings. It's interface is structured like a sound board, with vertical sliders to adjust the volume of individual channels, as well as knobs to pan them to the left or right. More importantly, it sports two text boxes to change tempo: one displays the tempo as a number (222.16, for example), and the other displays a percentage that the tempo can be adjusted by (whereby "-50%" will cut it in half.) Personally, I'd prefer slider bars to text boxes (or both), but this worked out well enough for me to play along with the tune at a reasonable speed. This proved to be an exercise in out-of-tune playing, and ended up sounding about as good as a chorus of belligerent whales. I tried using the pause controls and the tempo setting to get the tune to stay on low-A for a good while, which I hoped would allow my chanter to be tuned to the computer's synthesizer, however pausing the tune in Sweet MIDI Player had the effect of muting the song and requiring it to be restarted from the beginning. Argh. Perhaps this has to do with the MIDI synthesizer it used, perhaps not. Regardless, Simple MIDI Player is ok for now, but needs to be replaced.

Oh well, I'm off to actually practice, and not just write about it. More on this later.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. I'm going to try out Sweet MIDI player. I'm a tinwhistle player trying to learn traditional Irish tunes and such. I've been surprised how difficult it is to find a simple MIDI file payer that offers tempo control (which to my mind would be a VERY simple feature to offer.) In fact, Winamp should offer tempo control for MIDI files, not sure why it doesn't yet. Anyway, thanks, and take care.