The composer lets you compose your music by arranging parts on different tracks (vertical) in a sequential order (horizontal).
The output of a track goes to its target module. For a more detailed introduction, click here.
You can also record vocals, guitar, sax etc and cut, move and copy parts around.
There are 3 types of parts: Audio Parts, Sequence Parts and Automation Parts. They're described in detail below.
- To create a new track, click the button at the left side in the composer below the existing tracks.
- You can also create new tracks by drag-dropping a relevant object on that button, for example a module, a parameter, audio files, a MUX preset, a VST plug-in etc...
- A track can directly target any module at any modular level!
- To change the target module for a track, simply drag-drop that module onto the track. For example: To connect a track's target to a rack, drag the rack's title bar onto the track.
- To create a sub-track, right-click the parent track and choose the relevant menu option.
- By default new sub-tracks use the same target as their parent track, but sub-tracks can also have their own target.
- To create an automation (sub-)track, drag-drop the relevant parameter onto it. Or right-click the parent track and choose the relevant menu option. When drawing a new part on an automation track, it will always be an automation part.
- To create a VST automation (sub-)track, wiggle the VST parameter in the VST editor, then choose "Drag Last Tweaked Parameter" from the options menu (in the header of the VST editor window), then drag the parameter on the relevant track and click to stop dragging. If you do this often, you can create a shortcut to this drag function.
- You can widen the tracks column by dragging the splitter to the right.
- You can drag a track to move it up or down. If you drop it on the top/bottom of a track, it moves before/after that track. If you drop it on the middle of a track, it becomes a child track of that track.
- You can create a new part by double-clicking and dragging the desired part length. Then you have the choice for an Audio Part, a Sequence Part or an Automation Part although in most cases MuLab will make this decission for you based on the track target module and whether it's an automation track.
- A double-click in the empty space between the cycle markers creates a new part there.
- Double-click a part to open its editor. By default that will be the docked editor. [Alt] + double-click a part to open the editor in a floating window. Note that this behaviour can be reversed via the "Standard Floating Part Editors" preference.
- Pasting parts happens at the 'focused position', that is the position where you last clicked the mouse or pressed a key. (eg a 'Paste' shortcut key)
An audio part streams a part of an audio file from your harddisk.
For each audio part, you can set the start position within that audio file.
This can be done in the Audio Lab.
You can open the Audio Lab by double-clicking the audio part or via the part's context menu.
Or via a shortcut that you have defined.
Audio parts can also have a snap marker. A snap marker makes it easy to align a specific audio cue point to the grid.
For example if you have a vocal audio part that starts with the word "Spring" you can put a snap marker on the "P" so to perfectly align it to the beat, while the "S" will be perfectly sliding in in front of it.
To set a snap marker, right-click a relevant marker in the Audio Lab and choose "Set Snap Marker".
- You can trim the start point within the audio stream via its editor. Each audio part can have its own start point.
- Whenever an audio part is selected, the audio part property panel appears in the left bottom of the composer, where you can edit volume, panning, etc of that audio part.
- You can set a fade-in and fade-out for an audio part: Hover the audio part top-left and top-right until you see a pointing hand cursor. Then drag horizontally to set the fade time or drag vertically to set the fade curve. These are 2 independent actions, otherwise it would practically impossible to only change one of them. Right-click the fade handle point for its context menu.
A sequence part plays a sequence of events (e.g. Note events, PitchBend events, ...) that make up a melody, rhythm groove, filter-sweep etc...
Sequences can be edited in the Sequence Editor and List Editor, by double-clicking or right-clicking the sequence part.
- Multiple sequence parts can play the same sequence. This also means that if you edit that sequence, all parts playing that sequence will be affected. These parts are called 'shared' sequence parts for they share the same sequence. The composer indicates these kind of parts with a 'link' icon before the name:
- When you copy a part by [Ctrl]+drag, then the copied sequence part is a unique copy of the original part. If you want to copy a sequence part so that it shares the same sequence as the original part, then use [Shift]+[Ctrl]+drag.
Tip: If you're used to other software with reversed behaviour, you can change this via the "Standard Copy Part Is Shared Copy" preference.
- When splitting a unique sequence part then this will result in 2 unique sequences. However if the "Standard Copy Part Is Shared Copy" preference is ON then the split will use shared sequences, as that preference defines whether you prefer unique sequences or shared sequences.
- If you have 2 parts playing the same sequence, you can also use "Make Unique Sequence" via the part's context menu to make a new independent copy of that sequence.
- If a sequence is looped, then you can simply extend the sequence part to the right and the sequence loop will play longer. For how to loop a sequence, see the Sequence Editor.
- Whenever a sequence part is selected, the sequence part property panel appears in the left bottom of the composer, where you can edit transpose, velocity, etc of that sequence part.
- You can stretch a sequence part by [Alt]+dragging its end. Stretching a sequence part will update its tempo factor which is shown in the property panel, so you can view/edit it there too.
- When you copy-paste a sequence part then the new sequence part is a unique sequence part ie. its sequence is duplicated too.
However when you switch the "Standard Copy Part Is Shared Copy" preference ON then the new sequence part will use the very same sequence as the source part. (Shared sequence)
Using MIDI Channels
MIDI channels come into play when you want to address the different sub-sections in a module, for example a multi-timbral synth.
A multi-timbral synth can generate different sounds at the same time, each controlled by its own MIDI channel. But there are more situations where the use of MIDI channels can be handy.
By default, tracks play on MIDI channel 1. You can change this via the track's context menu -> Choose MIDI Channel.
By default, sub-tracks use the same MIDI channel as their parent track, but you can change this too.
You can also set a track's MIDI channel to "Per Part" so you can define the MIDI channel per part via the part's context menu -> Choose MIDI Channel.
And if you set a part's MIDI channel to "Per Event", well then you can define the MIDI channel on event level.
In this case new drawn notes get the focused MIDI channel which can be changed via Sequence Editor's context menu -> Editor -> Choose Focused Channel.
An automation part controls a certain parameter of a specific module, for example, you can automate the volume fader of a rack, or the cutoff of a lowpass filter, etc...
You can also automate MIDI controllers, aftertouch and pitchbend.
- Double-click an automation part to open the envelpe editor and edit the automation envelope in all detail. For all details, click here.
- You can stretch an automation part by [Alt]+dragging its end. Stretching an automation part will update its tempo factor which is shown in the property panel, so you can view/edit it there too.
- To pan/zoom the editor, use the standard editor navigation methods.
- Via the timebar's context menu, you can add as many markers as you want.
- You can also [Ctrl]+click the timebar to create a new marker.
- You can drag & drop audio files and MIDI files onto the composer.
- You can set a composition's time signature via its context menu i.e. right-click the composer background -> Properties. You can set it to 2/4, 3/4, 4/4 etc. So how to do e.g. 7/8? It means that there are 7 1/8th notes in a bar.
As MuLab can only do n/4 time signatures, you could set number of beats per bar to 7 and work on double tempo.
- The Grid Panel at the bottom-right lets you select the current grid.
It also has a switch to quickly turn on/off the current grid.
To rename, add, edit, remove or open/save preset grids, click the grids' options button.
Details on the Grids doc page.