Quick links

Harmony/Melody Assistant and GPO Studio

Author:  muffit55(at)charter.net

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.


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 keyboard.

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.


1) Start GPO Studio (actually you can start GPO before or after Melody/Harmony).

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 dialog.

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 instruments playing!



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 results.

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 keyboard).

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.



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 session.

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 straightaway!

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 options).

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 volume/expression range.

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. Click OK.

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 snap.

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 hints below.



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 GPO staff.

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.


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 Melody/Harmony:

1) Be sure you are in editing mode (pencil icon in Edit Tools Palette).

2) Click the Grace Note icon in the Note Tools Palette.

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 Tools Palette).

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).


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 dialog.

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.

Home > Resources > Experience Sharing > Melody/Harmony and GPO

Top of page
Legal information Last update:  (c) Myriad