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Viewing topic "XF Sequencer Memory - Where to from here?"

     
Posted on: January 22, 2018 @ 11:32 PM
synthmax
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Hello everybody,

I have a couple of questions for the forum. I feel I should ask these questions as I am about to make some important decisions about how I do things with my XF8 in the live situation.

1. I know this question has been asked an awful lot in this forum, but I will ask it one more time. As most of us know, the memory allocation for the sequencer on the XF series is only 1Mb. This means that the sequencer is limited to storing about 130,000 MIDI events. Even if I go through the my MIDI files with Cubase and remove any unnecessary controller events, I still find that I am unable to store more than 18 typical three and a half minute pop songs at a time in sequencer memory.

This means that if that if the singer wants to do a song that is in a different All Song file from the one currently loaded, I have to stop and load that in. Then, if he/she decides that they feel inspired to do a song that is in another All Song file other than what is currently loaded next up, I’ll have to stop to load that in again. Loading a All Song file only takes maybe 30-45 seconds, but that can still really interfere with the flow and spontaneity of a live performance. My question is then, for last time is, has anybody developed a way to upgrade the sequencer memory on the MOTIF yet and if not, is anybody working on an way to upgrade it? Has anybody managed to talk to somebody at Yamaha about an upgrade of some sort?

2. I bought the 1GB Yamaha XF Flash board which from this site which is working nicely. If it looks like it is never going to be possible to upgrade the sequencer memory on the XF series, am I better off “printing” the songs down as .wav files to the XF8’s Flash Board and inserting each .wav file into a Song Mix? I estimate that each song “printed” to 44.1 kHz, Stereo 16 bit .wav file should be about 60-100Mb each, so there should be no trouble fitting 30-40 songs onto the 1Gb Flash board. Is that the best way to overcome the limitations the XF series sequencer memory?

Alternatively, maybe there’s an opportunity here for somebody to build an iOS App that will replace the sequencer memory on the XF series. I have seen a lot of chatter about the limitations of the sequencer memory on the XF series on this forum, so there could be a market for such an App.

Imagine an App that will store all your SONG Mixing setups and sequences that would trigger the Tone Generator Block on the XF series via the USB HOST interface just as one can with Cubase or other DAW software. You could just sit your iPhone on your XF series, bring up the next song, the iPhone would load the mixing setup into the XF on the the fly, you hit “Play” and the sequencer in the iPhone would trigger the MIDI clock and send all the events to trigger the sounds for that mix just as DAW software can through the XF Plug-In.

I would definitely pay money for such an App that worked reliably and allowed me to store enough MIDI events for 30-40 pop songs at a time on the iPhone. For me that would make my XF8 “complete”. If you feel the same way, please comment on this thread. If you think you might be able to build such an App, perhaps we could work on it together.

I appreciate any thoughts or ideas anybody might have on this matter.

Regards,
Grant

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Posted on: January 23, 2018 @ 12:50 AM
cmayhle
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synthmax - 22 January 2018 11:32 PM

Hello everybody,

...My question is then, for last time is, has anybody developed a way to upgrade the sequencer memory on the MOTIF yet and if not, is anybody working on an way to upgrade it? Has anybody managed to talk to somebody at Yamaha about an upgrade of some sort?....

Unfortunately, I feel very confident in stating that there is currently nobody working on “upgrading” the XF memory, nor will there be in the future.

Yamaha has clearly orphaned the Motif XF.  Montage is the new kid in town.

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Posted on: January 23, 2018 @ 07:17 AM
5pinDIN
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cmayhle - 23 January 2018 12:50 AM

Unfortunately, I feel very confident in stating that there is currently nobody working on “upgrading” the XF memory, nor will there be in the future.

Agreed - there are both hardware and firmware constraints.

 

synthmax - 22 January 2018 11:32 PM

[...] This means that if that if the singer wants to do a song that is in a different All Song file from the one currently loaded, I have to stop and load that in. Then, if he/she decides that they feel inspired to do a song that is in another All Song file other than what is currently loaded next up, I’ll have to stop to load that in again. Loading a All Song file only takes maybe 30-45 seconds, but that can still really interfere with the flow and spontaneity of a live performance. [...]

Based on that, you know in which All Song file a particular Song is located. Then why load the entire “All Song” file, when a single Song could be loaded by setting Type to “song”?

Here’s a possible approach:
1) SAVE, to a USB drive, only the “All Song” files needed for the gig.
2) Put the XF in File mode, with Type set to “song”, and the USB drive selected as Device. Set the Song location (01~64) you want to load a Song to.
3) When a Song is needed that isn’t already loaded, select (highlight) the required file, press [ENTER], select the Song and Load it. The display will indicate the name of the loaded Song, which can confirm the correct one was chosen. At that point you can hit [Play], then [EXIT] if you want to see the Song Play screen while the Song is being sequenced.

Step 2 can be done in anticipation of step 3. Loading a single Song in step 3 should be fairly quick - actual loading of a single Song typically takes only a couple of seconds. You could practice the above a few times to get used to the procedure before gigging.

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Posted on: January 23, 2018 @ 01:15 PM
javelin276
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Hi Guys, I play back midi files on my Motif-XF6 all the time through the USB midi interface to my computer.  All you need is a notebook computer or a tablet with a midi file player on it.  Using a notebook computer, you don’t have any limitation at all on the number of songs you can play back.

The XF specific midi files should play back without a hitch, you just need a device with a USB port that can load the XF USB drivers.  Probably not a cell phone, but any windows tablet computer should work.  I don’t have a mac, so I can’t comment there.

MOTIF-XF6 Set up for Midi Playback from a laptop:
[SONG] mode (you have to be in Song mode to play back midi files)
[UTILITY][CONTROL][MIDI] then select USB
Press [STORE] so the setting is saved for the next time you power up the XF.

You also need a Midi Selector app so you can force windows to use your XF as the output, Microsoft disabled that capability on Windows7 and onwards for some stupid reason.  I use a simple app.
http://openmidiproject.osdn.jp/MIDISelector_en.html
These two work as well.
http://pcmus.com/Free-Midi-Software.htm
http://www.bewaryprods.com/software/products/TransMIDIfier/index.html

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Posted on: January 23, 2018 @ 02:47 PM
5pinDIN
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javelin276 - 23 January 2018 01:15 PM

The XF specific midi files should play back without a hitch, you just need a device with a USB port that can load the XF USB drivers.

Since some users won’t be familiar with what XF-specific MIDI files are, perhaps you could explain how they are created from an XF Song.

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Posted on: January 23, 2018 @ 09:03 PM
javelin276
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5pinDIN - 23 January 2018 02:47 PM

Since some users won’t be familiar with what XF-specific MIDI files are, perhaps you could explain how they are created from an XF Song.

I see in the Motif_Reference_Manual on page 242 you can save a ‘Song’ as an SMF (Standard Midi File) but I don’t think it saves all of the instrument set up parameters along with it, only the basic settings needed to play back the song like Bank and Patch selections, midi controller commands, and the notes for each track.

I haven’t created an XF specific file myself yet, but I have for my Yamaha FS1R, Yamaha MU2000, and DX11.  There are specific commands you can send the Motif-XF to set up and control the effects, keyboard splits, bank and patch instrument selections, AF1 key presses, midi controller inputs for knobs and sliders, just about every setting in the synth.  You can embed them as sysex commands in a midi file, usually at the beginning, to set up the XF by entering the sysex commands into the file manually, or from an editor for that specific synth.  I just checked and the XF Editor doesn’t save to the midi file format, which is unfortunate.  I’m not familiar with the .X3E file format either, the one it uses.  It’s a pretty large file so it must contain every setting in the synth.

You can use the sysex ‘Native Parameter Change’ command and the internal address table in the back of the DataList manual for the specific parameter you want to set.  It’s a pretty advanced thing to learn how to do, but it is a very powerful feature of all midi instruments.  It’s like programming in C++ when all you really want to do is run an app and push a few buttons on the screen.

Maybe someone else needs to chime in and answer this question, there is probably an easier way to set up an XF specific midi file than this.
I don’t perform on stage, I’m the wrong guy to ask.  I would just load the .X3E file using the XF-Editor for any special set up commands, then play back the midi file.

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Posted on: January 24, 2018 @ 03:23 AM
synthmax
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Hello all,

Thank you all for your replies.

Here’s a possible approach:
1) SAVE, to a USB drive, only the “All Song” files needed for the gig…

I’m across all of that, thank you. The point for me here is still that I don’t want to looking for and loading files from a USB stick during a performance.

I see in the Motif_Reference_Manual on page 242 you can save a ‘Song’ as an SMF (Standard Midi File) but I don’t think it saves all of the instrument set up parameters…

This is more where I am wanting to go. I would be quite happy to create the Mixing setups for each Song using the Cubase MOTIF XF Plug-in or the MOTIF itself. I could then save them into their own Song Locations on the XF. Then load a MIDI file for each song into an App on an iPad/iPhone to store all the MIDI files for the repertoire. Each MIDI file would contain a Program Change or a System Exclusive message to select the correct Song Location which in turn would bring up the correct Mixing setup for that MIDI file on the XF.

Perhaps too, the MIDI files for the songs could be organised into set lists whereby I could select the next song, hit play and the App would send the Song Location and MIDI events corresponding to the correct Song Location/Mix on the XF and begin receiving the MIDI events to trigger the XF’s Tone Generator and away we go…

Really then, all I need is an good MIDI file player that will run on an iPad. I do have a Yamaha iMX1 MIDI interface for iPhone/iPad so perhaps I could use that to connect my iPad to the XF. The only other thing I need is what Program Change or a System Exclusive message to include in the MIDI files that will instruct the XF to bring up the right Song Location for each file.

If anybody can help with the above, I would of course remain eternally grateful.

Best,
Grant

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Posted on: January 24, 2018 @ 04:22 AM
5pinDIN
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javelin276 - 23 January 2018 09:03 PM

I see in the Motif_Reference_Manual on page 242 you can save a ‘Song’ as an SMF (Standard Midi File) but I don’t think it saves all of the instrument set up parameters along with it, only the basic settings needed to play back the song like Bank and Patch selections, midi controller commands, and the notes for each track.

Yes, a Song can be saved as an SMF as explained in the XF Reference Manual, but indeed that won’t include Mixing data (instructions specific to the XF’s tone generator setup). It might not even include Bank Select and Program Change (Voice selection for Parts) commands, if they weren’t embedded in a track.

 

javelin276 -

I haven’t created an XF specific file myself yet, but I have for my Yamaha FS1R, Yamaha MU2000, and DX11.  There are specific commands you can send the Motif-XF to set up and control the effects, keyboard splits, bank and patch instrument selections, AF1 key presses, midi controller inputs for knobs and sliders, just about every setting in the synth.  You can embed them as sysex commands in a midi file, usually at the beginning, to set up the XF by entering the sysex commands into the file manually, or from an editor for that specific synth.  I just checked and the XF Editor doesn’t save to the midi file format, which is unfortunate.  I’m not familiar with the .X3E file format either, the one it uses.  It’s a pretty large file so it must contain every setting in the synth.

You can use the sysex ‘Native Parameter Change’ command and the internal address table in the back of the DataList manual for the specific parameter you want to set.  It’s a pretty advanced thing to learn how to do, but it is a very powerful feature of all midi instruments.  It’s like programming in C++ when all you really want to do is run an app and push a few buttons on the screen.

Agreed - manual insertion of SysEx commands into sequenced tracks is expecting a lot from many users.

 

javelin276 -

Maybe someone else needs to chime in and answer this question, there is probably an easier way to set up an XF specific midi file than this.
I don’t perform on stage, I’m the wrong guy to ask.  I would just load the .X3E file using the XF-Editor for any special set up commands, then play back the midi file.

Fortunately, the XF-specific Mixing data can be captured. The XF will send it via a Mixing Job - see Transmitting the Mixing Settings to an external MIDI device (Bulk Dump) - [F4] Bulk on page 197 of the XF Reference Manual.

To create an XF-specific MIDI file…
1) Capture an SMF of the Song
2) Transfer the SMF to a DAW
3) Create an empty measure at the beginning of all tracks (move the start of all tracks up by one measure)
4) Record a Bulk Dump of the Mixing data to the first measure of one of the tracks in the DAW. Track #1 is a good choice.
5) Export an SMF, which will now include the necessary data to set up the XF correctly.

I find loading a Song from an “All” or “All Song” file easier, but the MIDI file alternative is available.

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Posted on: January 25, 2018 @ 08:17 AM
lastmonk
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synthmax - 22 January 2018 11:32 PM

Hello everybody,

I have a couple of questions for the forum. I feel I should ask these questions as I am about to make some important decisions about how I do things with my XF8 in the live situation.

1. I know this question has been asked an awful lot in this forum, but I will ask it one more time. As most of us know, the memory allocation for the sequencer on the XF series is only 1Mb. This means that the sequencer is limited to storing about 130,000 MIDI events. Even if I go through the my MIDI files with Cubase and remove any unnecessary controller events, I still find that I am unable to store more than 18 typical three and a half minute pop songs at a time in sequencer memory.

snip....

Yea Grant, probably your #2 item in your original thread is really what should have been your #1, and you could have probably left the #1 out.  Nothing wrong with positing a new potential app for the Motif, I think there will always and I mean always be a market for extensions for the MotifXF8.

But I think the limitations of the sequencer memory is kind of tangential here.  And I’m one of the people who definitely wish we had more than the 1Mb.  I definitely perform live we my MOX and occasion my Motif.  Once I realized there would be no extending the 1 mb of sequencer memory I started managing it smarter, using patterns, smarter, using, elements smarter, organizing the storing of all song format better.  My current group does 45 minute to Hour and 15 minute sets with some songs going into the 8 - 12 minute time range.  And I’ve been able to very effectively use on board sequencer memory and usb switching during the set in very demanding performance situations.  Of course between sets its no big deal to load from USB (totally a non-issue).

I don’t want to troll your post here, but I do want to say for all of the Motif folks that have concerns about the 1 mb sequencer limit.  Yes we all want more, but man., you can make it work if you put your mind to it.  That 1 mb holds a lot of music, and loading from usb is quick and if you organize what you have on the usb, the whole thing can be done pretty seamlessly in real live situations during the set.  Even if you were a one man band, you have to pause from time to time to wipe the sweat from your forehead, take a sip of something, introduce the next song etc., in the time it takes you to do any of that you can swap out the internal memory to a new set of Song file from the USB.  Of course the 1 mb sequencer limit is not a real issue in ‘non live’ situations.  Inconvenience yes, but not a real obstacle to your creativity or workflow. 

I jumped into this thread really to defend the 1 mb sequencer memory on the Motif/MOX (even though I would like more and have complained in the past about how little 1mb is...), when push comes to shove with a little pre-planning you can definitely pull off high quality live performance sets that are dependent on the sequencer memory.  Actually with a little creativity + the Motif’s mixing mode, + sequencer memory and master mode, can take your sequencer stuff a loooooong way during live performance.

Obviously you can always make the work flow simpler, but in comparison to what synth players had to work with in the hey day of syntheszers (the 80’s) The Motif’s 1 Mb limit of sequencer memory would be beyond their wildest dreams and they would have definitely been able to make due!

But in terms of your IOS app, go for it.,.  It sounds like a good idea, you just don’t need preface it with the 1mb limitation of the Motif’s sequencer memory.

Cheers

Cheers!

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Posted on: February 01, 2018 @ 01:06 AM
synthmax
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​Hi there everyone,

My thanks to everyone who provided helpful suggestions about System Exclusive Dumps.

I have been experimenting extensively with System Exclusive Dumps with my MOTIF XF, Cubase running on MacOS and a MIDI Player App called “Sweet MIDI Player” on my iPad. I have taught myself how do a dump of a Song Mix and dump that to Cubase. I have been putting the dumps into the first bar of the song before the musical events start and exporting the MIDI file out of Cubase. I then play the resulting MIDI file from my iPad which connected to the MIDI “In” port of the XF with the i-MX1 Yamaha USB/MIDI Interface.

Sadly, the whole exercise has been rather trial and error, as with some songs I have have things working perfectly - I start the file playing from the iPad, I can see the MOTIF displaying the “Receiving System Exclusive” message, the song plays, sounding exactly as it should. But, it seems as though sometimes, with other songs, it’s as if the top half of the mix has loaded, but the song starting to play interrupts the rest of the mix loading in (at least that’s how appears on the screen of the XF) which of course leads to a rather chaotic mess with tracks being played by the wrong voices. It feels like I’m playing “Russian Roulette, every time I export a new a new MIDI file! Obviously something is not right somewhere.

This has me led to further experimentation with the timing of how the System Exclusive Messages are generated by the XF to Cubase. The XF seems to prefer a linear stream of messages. I have experimented a bit with spreading the messages out in different intervals in Cubase, but this seems to make no difference. I have also experimented with the MIDI channel number for the System Exclusive Messages in Cubase, setting to it “1”, and “All” in Cubase. This doesn’t make any difference either.

Should the the System Exclusive Messages execute at the same instant or in a linear stream? Is the sequence of those 44 messages important? Is o.k. to move them around so they execute in a linear fashion starting very first moment the song plays?

I then found this post by VikasSharma:

You can change modes only via SysEx messages. I’m not sure if you can send SysEx messages from your Master Keyboard or not, but if you can, then send the following SysEx messages to switch to the corresponding mode on the Motif XF:

F0 43 10 7F 12 0A 00 01 00 F7 - Voice Mode
F0 43 10 7F 12 0A 00 01 01 F7 - Performance Mode
F0 43 10 7F 12 0A 00 01 02 F7 - Pattern Mode
F0 43 10 7F 12 0A 00 01 03 F7 - Song Mode
F0 43 10 7F 12 0A 00 01 04 F7 - Master Mode

While in Song/Pattern mode, you can send Song Select command (F3) followed by the Song/Pattern number (00 - F3) to select a particular Song/Pattern.

While in Master mode, you can send the following SysEx message to select a particular Master program:

F0 43 10 7F 12 0A 00 00 dd F7

where ‘dd’ shall be replaced with the particular Master program number (00 - 7F).

I am now looking at saving the mixes for each song on the XF and only sending the corresponding number for the SONG or MASTER program at the start of the MIDI file for each song. This may prove to be more smooth and reliable. I will share my findings on this soon.

I would appreciate any comments or suggestions you might have on the above matter.

Best,
Grant

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Posted on: February 01, 2018 @ 04:38 AM
5pinDIN
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I’m going to presume that all of the tracks were moved to start one measure later, so that none have note sequence data in the first measure.

MIDI is a serial protocol. That is, the data is sent/received in order, one byte at a time. Each byte requires about 1/3 millisecond (ms). The 44 SysEx messages of a Song Mix Dump total under 3kB, and therefore take less than a second to send/receive, if unimpeded. The XF defaults to 0ms (zero milliseconds) for the Bulk Dump Interval (set in Utility mode), and at the default setting will take about one second to send a Song Mix Dump.

However, some MIDI devices require a little time between received SysEx messages, so MIDI utilities often default to inserting a delay between sent messages. I don’t use an iPad, and I’m not familiar with “Sweet MIDI Player”. If it inserts delays (sometimes referred to as “pacing") of several milliseconds between messages, the time to send the SysEx could be significantly lengthened, possibly causing the problem being seen with some Songs. (How long is the “Receiving System Exclusive” message displayed on your XF?) I suggest reducing any such delays to zero (if possible), and see if things work better. If not having any delay creates other issues, then try just a few milliseconds.

Although it shouldn’t typically be necessary if SysEx timing is appropriate, an additional blank measure could be inserted in all tracks after the first one with the Mix data.

Alternatively, you could indeed store up to 64 Song Mixes on the XF, and call them up with the appropriate SysEx at the start of each of your MIDI files.

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Posted on: February 16, 2018 @ 03:38 PM
synthmax
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Hello everyone,

When I last posted on this thread, I said I was working on:

...saving the mixes for each song on the XF and only sending the corresponding number for the SONG or MASTER program at the start of the MIDI file for each song. This may prove to be more smooth and reliable. I will share my findings on this soon.

Well, I am happy to share with you all that I have been been successful in using the App “Sweet MIDI” on my iPad to send a System Exclusive Message to the MOTIF for the correct MASTER for each song which then selects the correct linked SONG on the MOTIF and then the MIDI events that play the MIX for that SONG quite well, except for a few minor timing glitches, probably caused by the fact that I am using an iPad as an external sequencer.

However, I also want the option to be able to play recorded audio in synch with the MIDI file playing the tone generator of the MOTIF. I have a MIDI clock signal coming from the iPad which will trigger the playhead in the MOTIF’s sequencer, which makes the Play light flash in synch with that clock signal as the play head moves. However this only works in SONG mode, not MASTER mode.

I don’t really need to use MASTER mode, so I would be quite happy to leave the MOTIF in SONG mode and send System Common messages (i.e.: F3 00) to the MOTIF to select the correct SONG for each MIDI file.

I use Steinberg Cubase’s SysEx editor to create System Exclusive Messages. However, to switch SONGS in SONG mode I need to create System Common Messages to trigger the selection of the correct SONG/MIX at the start of each MIDI file. But I don’t seem to be able create a System Common Message with SysEx editor as when I type in “F3” it changes it to “7F”. F3 = 243 & 7F = 127 in hexidecimals so that ain’t gunna work. I must be going about this the wrong way.

I have searched the web high and low, but I cannot find anything about creating System Common messages in Cubase or any other macOS application.

I have found some some information about how you can use Cubase to create System Exclusive Messages that should be helpful, but I’m having trouble understanding it. Please find “MIDI_Devices.pdf” attached.

Can any of you help? It would be greatly appreciated.

Best,
Grant

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