Professional audio sequencing software is costly, but they are also in plenty. For casual users, there are alternatives such as Frinika, an open source audio sequencer that runs on Java. Frinika (http://frinika. sourceforge.net) is available for Linux and Mac OS. The Windows version is on this month’s DVD.
Frinika will undoubtedly be a confusing experience to anyone who hasn’t used a music sequencer before. When it starts the first thing to do, is select the output and input device. Choose to create a new project.
Adding a synthesizer is the first step towards making a complete track
First, click on New > MIDI Out Device and select one of the synthesisers used to generate the sound. Next, select the instruments you want to use, by clicking on the MIDI Mixer tab. Set the volume for each instrument. Click on Null on the Lane Properties and choose the synthesiser that you created earlier. Now that the instruments are in place, you can use the Piano roll to draw bars on the chart. Click on the Write tool to add bars and right-click on the existing bars to delete them. To preview the tracks, click the Play button on the top of the window. Additional effects can be added using the down arrow icon on the left bottom of the Piano Roll pane. Again, use the Write tool to drag and draw the pattern.
Changing The Type Of View
Frinika has a rather cluttered interface, with features and tool put into every empty crevice! To makes things a little simpler, there are three different presets of customised views present—Default, Master and Minimal.
A choice of customized views are available for every task
The master has all the features required, whereas the minimal perspective is to have ample working space while working on one feature of the program. These views can be accessed by clicking on the perspective menus or by the shortcuts [Ctrl] [F1] / [F2] / [F3].
Frinika runs on the Java environment, and along with other applications consume large amounts of memory. On Windows, Frinika runs as an executable, but it can also be launched through command line, a batch file or a shortcut. We can then use parameters to increase or decrease the amount of memory consumed by Frinika. First, open Notepad and enter the following:
By default, the Piano roll pane has very little empty workspace
java -XX:ThreadPriority Policy=1 -jar “c:\Program Files\Frinika\frinika.jar”. Replace the c:\Program Files\Frinika\frinika.jar with the location of your Frinika installation. Go to File > Save and save the file as “Frinika.bat” (use the quotes in the save dialog). Double-click this batch file to run Frinika with those parameters. The additional parameters makes Windows run the application in real-time as much as possible.
Practice Scripting In Frinika
With scripting support in Frinika, you can just about script anything with Java on it.
You can practice scripting in Frinika’s inbuilt scripting feature
It’s like having your very own little IDE for Java scripting with multiple windows within one parent window. There are samples you can try too, by clicking on the Presets menu. Run the Play button or click on Run > Execute to run the code.
Increasing Piano Roll View Area
The Piano roll feature is located at the bottom of the screen and has a very small working area. There are a few ways to get more work space into it. One of them is to click and drag the upper extremity of the pane, till you get sufficient space. By default, the view is zoomed into a small section of the timeline. Click the [-] button, right next to the scrollbar to zoom out and the [ ] to zoom in. There is a zoom button on the top section of the Piano roll pane. Ultimately, you can also make the Piano pane much larger, by pressing the maximise button—the same button will do the trick for all other panes.
Importing And Exporting
When all the work is done, it is time to export the tracks to your favourite format. If click on File > Export Audio, you’ll notice that there is no MP3 format in the dropdown menu for formats. You can choose to save as WAV but that could be space consuming, so it’s a better option to save the file in the OGG format.
When it comes to importing formats, Frinika can import all kinds of sequenced modules such as MOD, S3M, XM, STM and IT. You can do it by going to File > Import Module. You can also import MIDI files by clicking Import MIDIs.