I am a new user of Garritan Personal Orchestra,
and would like to contribute a simple how-to for using GPO with a
very affordable notation program called Harmony Assistant by Myriad
Software. They actually offer two programs, Melody Assistant ($25)
and Harmony Assistant ($85). Both are extremely powerful notation
programs and both work with GPO. I was thinking such affordable
programs might be of interest to folks (like me) who have a limited
music budget but still want all the power and creative freedom
notation programs offer when used with Garritan's software.
There are two ways to use GPO with Myriad's
software; live recording, or notation. (You can also combine both).
In either case, there are a few steps you need to do to get ready
to hear GPO inside Myriad.
INITIAL STEPS TO USE MELODY/HARMONY
ASSISTANT WITH GPO:
1) Launch Melody/Harmony, go to the Configuration menu item, and
choose Hardware Configuration to bring up that dialog.
2) In each of the MIDI Output dropdowns, choose a GPO Studio
instance (1-8), then click OK.
3. Be sure you set the MIDI Input drop down to your desired MIDI
keyboard device. Set the ECHO dropdown below it to either GPO
Studio 1 (if you want to hear instance 1-1 during recording), or
none if you want to use the selected equivalent effect on your MIDI
4) Click OK and exit Harmony/Melody. That's it for the initial
steps! You will never have to set these again, these will be set
for you each time you start the notation program.
STEPS TO HEAR GPO INSIDE MELODY/HARMONY
1) Start GPO Studio (actually you can start GPO before or after
2) Load the desired instruments into one (or more) of the 8
slots of each of the 8 GPO player instance choices (you can change
them later too).
3) Be sure to bump up the visual mod wheel in each GPO player
instance so you can hear your instrument during testing. Note that
sometimes, even though the GPO mod wheel is all the way up, you
will still not hear anything. This is because sometimes, when
switching between multiple player instances, it does not reset the
mod wheel for the next instance for some reason. If this happens,
simply lower the mod wheel all the way down, then back up to where
you want it. Test on the visual keyboard to make sure you can hear
the gorgeous Garritan sounds.
4 ) Launch Melody/Harmony, and load or create a new song. A simple
treble staff is a good place to start.
5) On the left side of the desired staff, there is a tiny
keyboard icon. Click it to bring up the Edit Related Instrument
6) In the Output Device dropdown of this dialog (top left)
select the matching GPO player instance (MIDI 1-8)
7) In the MIDI Channel edit box of this same dialog (top right),
enter the slot number of the desired GPO instrument within the
desired player instance. Think of the output device and MIDI
channel number as a kind of bank/patch combination, like you have
on your MIDI keyboard. Device 1/channel 1 would correspond to GPO
Player 1/slot 1. Click OK.
8) Now you can enter some musical notation on this staff (can be
done at any time)
9) Bump up the graphic Mod Wheel in GPO half to full so playback
can be heard, and hit Play in Melody/Harmony. You should hear GPO
STEPS TO RECORD LIVE GPO INSIDE
1) You can record live playback using a MIDI keyboard and use
the mod wheel and sustain pedal as prescribed by the Garritan
software to introduce live performance expression as you play.
Although this is not my preferred way of doing so (as this is a
notation program after all), it can be done with pretty good
2) You can hear the GPO sounds as you record, but it will only
play slot 1 of whatever instance (1-8) you have chosen under Echo
in the configuration options. To get around this, you can set your
MIDI keyboard to LOCAL ON, so that you can hear what you are
playing as you record. You will not be able to hear the actual GPO
sounds as you record, but if you choose a similar patch on your
MIDI keyboard it will certainly suffice (for instance, to simulate
Full Strings KS in GPO, select a "full strings" patch on your MIDI
3) Now set up Myriad for live recording - this is easy, simply
enable the MIDI keyboard input icon on the Record Tools Palette
(and be sure your MIDI kbd is on and set to LOCAL ON).
4) When you are ready to record, simply click the Tape Recorder
icon in the Record Tools Palette, and begin playing on your MIDI
keyboard. You should be able to capture both mod wheel and legato
using Myriad, but at this time the mod wheel events which are
captured are of the switch type (on or off, for tremolo), so you
will want to use the method below (notation) to add some real
expression. Press stop when done recording.
5) Now simply press Play and listen to how wonderful your new
piece sounds with GPO instruments.
STEPS TO USE NOTATION WITH GPO INSIDE
Using notation with GPO opens up all kinds of horizons for you
(well, it did for /me/ cuz my live recording skills need a lot of
work!). Melody and Harmony Assistant provide an intuitive, powerful
interface for adding dynamics, called MIDI Parameter Curves.
1) To begin, follow the steps above
to ready GPO and Melody/Harmony for your notation
2) Create a staff using either
notation or the live recording steps above. Don't worry if it
sounds a bit dry at first, we're gonna fix that
3) To add nuance and expression,
simply click the tiny green arrow icon next to the desired staff to
bring up the MIDI Options popup menu.
4) Choose MIDI Specific A (or B/C/D/ or E - you can have up to 5
5) Click the tiny green arrow icon again, and choose Setup to
bring up the Edit Curves dialog.
6) Make sure MIDI Specific A (or whichever you are using) is
selected in the listbox
7) Change the Min/Max edit boxes to 0 and 127 to match the MIDI
8) Enter “Bn 01 ll” in the MIDI Data edit box
(without the quotes) and click OK (this would be for the modulation
wheel curve, for volume - if you want to control sustain/legato,
simply enter "Bn 40 ll" instead). This is a simple template for the
actual MIDI command. The "n" will be filled in automatically with
the channel number, and the two little L's will be filled in with
the volume amount, 0-127, also automatically. The "01" and "40" are
hexadecimal equivalents for the actual MIDI controller numbers.
9) Okay! Now you can draw your volume (or legato if you prefer)
parameter curve. I know this sounds complicated, but really it's
incredibly easy and intuitive. Basically, you just plot a bunch of
points connected by lines, to represent the highs and lows in your
piece (or on and off for legato). The higher the points, the higher
the volume (Myriad even draws a little numeric balloon help for
you, way cool). To add a control handle, click the staff in
“Editing” (pencil) mode. To move a control handle, drag
it in “Editing” (pencil) or “Select”
(lasso) mode. To move a curve, drag its first control handle while
holding down the Shift key. See the picture below for an example.
It really is easy, after drawing your first volume curve, it's a
10) After editing the curve as desired, play it
back in Melody/Harmony to see how neat GPO sounds with note by note
volume and expression. If you are playing with legato, just
remember that the range is 0-127, same as volume, but 0-63 is off
and 64-127 is on. Legato is a little tricky but I have some neat
EXPORTING THE AUDIO
OF YOUR NIFTY GPO/NOTATION:
To export the actual GPO audio, you have a bunch of choices. Of
course, you can't just use the normal HA/MA export functions, since
GPO wouldn't get included.
1) My favorite is to simply mute all staves except the one GPO
staff you want to output. Then create a blank digital audio staff
in Melody/Harmony, and record to that track as you playback the GPO
staff in Melody/Harmony. You can now delete the GPO MIDI staff and
adjust the new GPO digital audio track as desired. Do this for each
2) Optionally, you can use GPO's record function to record the
GPO portion of the audio to a file, and then mix it with your
Melody/Harmony audio either within Melody/Harmony or in an external
audio sequencing program.
3) Even easier, you can use a utility like Total Recorder and
capture the entire output from Harmony/GPO during playback.
I prefer the first method as it allows me to do everything in
Melody/Harmony, and since the GPO tracks are each separate, I can
individually adjust volume and pan as desired.
NIFTY TRICKS FOR
Yesterday I was working on an orchestral GPO
track to be included within Harmony Assistant, and noticed I had
some noticeable breaks in the strings section between chord
changes. The easy fix for that is to add legato using the MIDI
parameter curve discussed above. Of course, you can't just leave
the pedal on the whole time, it'll drive your family crazy the way
we did as kids when we kept the sustain pedal flattened on
Grandma's piano and pounded away.
The neatest curve I discovered was a simple
sawtooth pattern. The high point is at the start of each chord
change, with a sharp drop right after it. The result is a really
smooth string section, see below!
If you have already purchased GPO, you will have
no doubt already witnessed the convenience and power of the
keyswitching instruments. Keyswitching is the usage of keys outside
of an instrument's range to switch between effects, such as
upbow/downbow, pizzicato/tremolo, etc. But how to do that nifty
effect inside a notation program?
The solution is elegantly simple. Simply insert a
grace note just before the note (or section) you want to affect.
Make the grace note the same pitch as the keyswitch as listed in
the GPO manual, and voila! The grace note is never played because
it's outside the instrument's range, consumes no time because it is
a grace note (ain't grace grand?), and doesn't muddy up your
beautiful arrangement with weird symbols. Yet it instantly and
perfectly switches the instrument sample to the desired effect, for
however long duration you want.
To insert a keyswitch grace note in
1) Be sure you are in editing mode (pencil icon
in Edit Tools Palette).
2) Click the Grace Note icon in the Note Tools
3) Click the first note you want to add a
keyswitch effect to, to put a grace note just before it. If the
effect is to take place on a chord, click the HIGHEST note in the
chord (otherwise it won't take effect till after the chord is
played). There is no need to put a grace note before every note in
a chord, just the highest.
4) Go into select mode (the lasso icon in Edit
5) Drag the grace note to the desired keyswitch
pitch. This is a bit dodgy, cuz even though Melody/Harmony displays
the value of the normal note you are moving, it does not display
the grace note's value. As a helper, simply select a quarter note
from the Note Tools Palette and temporarily stick it near the grace
note till you know which pitch the grace note is on. Once you've
established where a grace note/keyswitch event should be, it's easy
to see where it should go thereafter. I find it a help to label my
keyswitches using the text tool (see below).
TRICK! INSERTING PROGRAM CHANGES FOR YOUR MIDI
I know this is a bit OT, but I discovered another neat trick
while playing around with this stuff. Do you want to use the sound
effects of your MIDI synthesizer keyboard or rack unit, but don't
know how to effect a program change within Melody/Harmony? Easy!
It's just like setting up GPO.
1 ) Launch Melody/Harmony, and load or create a new song. A
simple treble staff is a good place to start.
2) On the left side of the desired staff, there is a tiny
keyboard icon. Click it to bring up the Edit Related Instrument
3) In the Output Device dropdown of this dialog (top left)
select the BANK number of the effect on your MIDI synth keyboard.
This is usually 1-8 for General MIDI sounds.
4) In the MIDI Channel edit box of this same dialog (top right),
enter the PATCH number within the bank of the desired effect on
your MIDI synth keyboard (usually 1-8 for General MIDI). Device
3/channel 4 would correspond to Bank/Patch 3-4 on your synth.
5) That's it! For now on, that staff will automatically set your
synth's program to use that effect. (Just be sure the audio outs on
your synth are connected to some kind of speaker).
You can FREELY mix GPO staves with Melody/Harmony soundbase
staves, digital audio staves, what have you. This is really cool,
since Melody/Harmony provides some really good GM soundbases (the
Gold Base is awesome). Also, you can add other MIDI expression
commands using this same method too, just see the Garritan manual
for the controller numbers and ranges.
If you'd like to take a gander at some of my work using Myriad
with GPO, you can find a bunch right here:
Just right click on a song name to download it. In particular,
the songs in the Faith column use lots of GPO and Harmony
Assistant. The Song "Surrender" has a full string section track
using Full Strings KS in GPO, with two MIDI parameter curves - one
for volume (for subtle dips and swells), the other for
legato/sustain. It has two other GPO tracks too, one with Cellos
Lush + ambience during the chorus, and one with Modern Oboe +
ambience in the outro (to soften the D50 patches).
If you have a broadband internet connection (i.e. fast), and are
running Internet Explorer 6 (or Netscape/Firefox with Windows Media
Player ActiveX plug-in installed), you can listen to my pieces live
via streaming audio, with dynamic lyrics. Just go here:
My special thanks to the folks at Myriad and Mr. Garritan for
their kind help in creating this tutorial.