Let's begin by starting Rosegarden, and having a look at the main
window. This is where you get an overall view of your work, and control
a number of settings and parameters.
3.1 The Main Window
A Rosegarden document is called a composition. The main window is
primarily dedicated to editing at the composition level, so most of
these tools affect your document in a broad way. This is where you name
tracks and assign instruments to them, create and manipulate segments,
and watch a broad overview of playback. (I will explain these concepts
in more detail later on.) This is also where you configure segment
parameters such as label and color. Tempo and time signature settings
exist a composition level, and they may be edited here in the main
window using the tempo ruler.
3.2 Special Toolbars
One of the
first things you might notice about Rosegarden is that there are
several toolbars at the top of the main window. In addition to the
usual standard controls shared by most KDE applications,
there are several toolbars specific to Rosegarden. You'll choose
various tools for selecting and manipulating segments from the Tools
Toolbar (Select, Move, Resize, New, Erase, Split),
a subset of transport tools available in the Transport Toolbar (toggled
off by default),
tracks can be added, deleted or moved with the Tracks Toolbar,
and once a segment has been created, you can use the Editors Toolbar to
open it in one of the three available editors. You'll also find icons
to start the Quantizer, the Studio configuration dialog, the Synth
Plugin manager, the audio file manager, and the MIDI and audio mixers.
At the end of it all is the Zoom Slider, which is used to change the
magnification of the Segment Canvas:
Rosegarden is a track-based sequencer. Each entry in the tracklist is
a separate track that can have individualized settings for several
different parameters. Each track has a label and an output assignment,
and can be used to record, play, and manipulate either MIDI or audio
data, but never both.
The tracklist can be configured to
display either the name you've assigned to the track, or the name of
the instrument to which it is connected. Toggle this behavior with
Settings -> Show Track Labels. I will explain more about this later
Managing Instrument Parameters.
Here we see how instrument assignments
are displayed on the tracklist. In this example, the tracks are
configured to play using instruments #1 and #2, respectively, on the
"Roland SC-33" device.
Here we see the labels. One
track has not yet had a name assigned, so it remains "<untitled>".
Each track has two LEDs.
The blue one is the track mute. If the blue LED is glowing, the track
will be heard during playback. All of the blue LEDs can be turned on or
off all at once with Tracks -> Mute All and -> Un-Mute All
The red LED lights up to
indicate that the affected track is armed as the destination for
TIP: The mute LEDs can also be used to control which tracks are
included when exporting the composition into another format. Muted
tracks will typically be ignored during export, though this varies
slightly by the export method chosen.
3.3.3 Changing the Track Name
the track name, double click on the label. A dialog should appear,
allowing you to enter a new name.
The tools on the Tracks Toolbar
can be used to move tracks up and down, to delete them, or to create
new tracks. It is not possible to copy an entire track.
Segments and Segment Parameters
compositions are made up of segments, and editing at the
composition level involves dragging them around and rearranging them
within tracks. Segments are a universal container that may hold either
MIDI events or audio data. Segments are rather similar to layers in an
image editing program such as the GIMP. They can be cut, pasted, split,
re-combined, overlapped and pretty much rearranged at will, and are
very flexible. While there are, understandably, some differences in the
way audio and MIDI segments behave, they can be manipulated in almost
exactly the same way within the composition. The only real limitations
are that audio segments and MIDI segments cannot both play in the same
track, and that audio segment cannot be resized.
You can begin recording (audio or MIDI) to create a segment, but I'll
get into that a bit later. For now, why not draw one from scratch?
Use the tool to create a new segment. Click and drag it out to the
Now that a
segment exists, you can open it with one of the three editors. I will
return to that idea later on.
Use the cursor to select a segment:
Drag it to a new track:
Hold down Ctrl while dragging it back,and make a copy:
Use the cursor to split one of the segments, then switch to the and drag one of the pieces so that it overlaps the segment
on the other track. By default, this will snap to whole beat positions
within the bar, but you can override that behavior by holding down the
shift key while dragging.
Highlighting the smaller of two overlapping segments can sometimes be a
bit tricky, but once accomplished, you can use Segments -> Join
to combine several segments into one, rather like flattening the layers
in an image editing program.
This can also merge MIDI events from several different tracks into a
single segment. The events will combine, and merge onto a segment on
whichever track is currently active.
Audio segments can be split, but they cannot be resized, joined or
merged. If you split an audio segment, you can undo that operation to
revert it to its original state, but you cannot, for example, cut out
the middle and splice the ends back together. Neither can you merge two
overlapping audio segments into one, nor merge audio and MIDI segments
If you have a segment where the treble and bass parts are jumbled
together, you might wish to split this at middle C or thereabouts. You
can use Segments -> Split and Join -> Split by Pitch and then
make your selections for split point, clef handling, etc. from the
resulting dialog. By default, this feature attempts to split the
segment intelligently, so that you can hopefully avoid winding up with
treble notes in the bass part, and bass notes in the treble part.
Once split, the two segments will overlap exactly on the same track.
It is impossible to select a segment that lies completely underneath
another segment, so it is probably a good idea to move one of the two
halves into a different track.
You can get some sense of what that bit of music is like just by
looking at the segment display, which is a useful visual aid when
dragging things around. If this feature is not turned on, turn it on
with Settings -> Segment Previews. This displays a miniature
piano roll for MIDI segments, and a drawing of the wave form for audio
have created a segment, you can edit various parameters from the
Segment Parameters box to the left:
Every segment can have a unique label and color. In this example, I've
chosen the most obvious color to use for this French horn part, but
colors are entirely user-configurable, and these defaults are only
suggestions. I'll explain how to configure custom colors later on, in
the Studio chapter.
Every segment can be made to repeat. It will keep repeating until the
end of the document, or until another segment is encountered in the
track; whichever comes first. These are displayed between repeat signs
( |: :| ) in the notation editor.
You can turn all repeats into copies at once with Segments -> Turn
Repeats into Copies, or you can turn individual repeats into copies
by double clicking on the light colored repeat rectangles.
Changing the setting in this box will immediately quantize all notes
in this segment to the selected grid position. It will move the start
times forward or back to align them with the next closest beat at the
desired resolution. It will not change note durations in any way.
If you wish to write notation for transposing instruments, you can
dial a transposition setting into the Transpose box. This will
cause the part to sound in a different range from written. A typical Bb
trumpet part, for example, should have -2 here. I'll cover this subject
in more depth later on, in the Notation chapter.
The Delay setting allows you to knock the timing of a segment
out of sync on purpose. This can be useful in various ways, and it's
especially amusing for transforming a nicely performed MIDI file into a
simulation of a middle school band concert.
If you've been following along thus far,
you don't actually have anything useful to play. This might be a good
time to load one of the sample files from the Rosegarden Library. The
first time you use the File -> Open menu, you should be looking
at the Library. If not, there should be an icon in the SpeedBar that
will direct you to these files.
PLUG: The highlighted
file is my own creation. "Perfect Moment" is the name of a yellow rose,
incidentally. As it happens, that is actually the only original
composition I have ever done with Rosegarden. I have spent so much time
writing, programming, and testing that I have had little time for my
own musical pursuits. This file uses the new XSynth-DSSI analog synth
plugin for two parts.
Notice that there's a vertical blue bar running vertically across the
segment canvas. That bar is the playback pointer, and as it sweeps
across the canvas, you'll hear the events as it passes over them.
While you can't grab it and move it around directly, you can position
it at any arbitrary point in the composition by clicking along the dark
gray portion of the ruler at the top, or you can use the transport to
move it around. If you don't see it, play with the transport or the
ruler until you coax it out of hiding.
You can loop a portion of the composition. Set the loop region by
holding shift and clicking on the gray portion of the ruler, then
dragging the white bar.
You should have a separate, floating Transport window like this one. If
it's not visible, then toggle it on with Settings -> Show Transport
these should be self-explanatory. If you can't figure out what any of
the buttons do, hover over them a bit, and context-sensitive help will
The button switches between various display modes, including a
visual metronome that flashes beats at you in color.
note are the panic, metronome, and solo buttons.
missing, toggle the extra controls via the
The panic button will stop any instruments that have gotten stuck
droning for some reason (as sometimes happens when a synth loses track
of the state of its sustain controller, for example).
The metronome does what you'd probably expect. You can turn the
metronome on during normal playback, as well as recording, and it is a
useful tool to use when practicing playing along with your composition.
Configure it via Composition -> Studio -> Manage Metronome.
The solo button forces the Transport to play only whatever track is
currently selected at the moment, independent of its mute state. (To
"solo" more than one part, you'll need to set the mute for tracks
individually, or by using Tracks -> Mute All Tracks and then
un-muting the parts you desire.)
The loop button causes the Transport to loop within the region defined
on the ruler.
As I mentioned, the time signature and tempo are global to the entire
composition. I'll discuss another way to manipulate these in
Chapter 7, but here and now you can manipulate both time signature
and tempo to your heart's content from the main window.
The tempo ruler changes color to indicate changes in tempo. When a
change occurs, the tempo is displayed along the top half of the ruler,
and the time signature is displayed across the bottom. If you double
click this ruler, the Tempo and Time Signature editor will appear.
To add a new tempo, click the icon, and you'll be
presented with a dialog like this:
By default, new events you add here will be inserted at
the point in time where you clicked to open the Tempo and Time
Signature editor. You can change this by adjusting the "Time of tempo
change" parameters, if you wish.
Use the icon, and you'll be presented with a dialog like:
You can display the time signature as cut or common
time, and make the time signature hidden. You should probably always
leave "Correct the durations of the following measures" checked unless
you have a good reason to do otherwise.
Markers are special events that can be used to mark of particular
passages in the music at a composition level. They appear on the ruler,
and can be edited from Composition -> Edit Markers... Issuing
this command summons the marker editor dialog. In this example, I've
already created a sample pair. The "Marker Name" portion is what
appears on the ruler, and the "Marker description" is for the
informational purposes of the composer only.
Click on the Add button to create a new marker. A raw default
marker will appear on the list spontaneously.
To edit it, or to edit an
existing marker, double click on it. An editor like this will appear,
allowing you to set the name and description, and adjust the time at
which this marker will display.
NOTE: Markers cannot be
dragged around or otherwise edited from the ruler. They must be
positioned and edited from this pair of dialogs, using the above
After closing out the manager dialog, the markers you created will
appear on the ruler.
There are a few main window features that don't quite fit in anywhere
else, yet which bear special mention.
Several options are available for
importing and merging material from other sources. On the File ->
Import menu, you can import standard MIDI files (*.mid) and
Hydrogen (*.h2song) files. On the File -> Merge menu, you
can merge these and other data sources (including native Rosegarden
composition (*.rg) files) into the existing composition.
If you have a power outage or the like, the next time you start
Rosegarden and attempt to load the file you were working on, you'll be
presented with the option of loading the autosave file instead. If you
hadn't yet saved the file, you'll find it in your ~/autosave directory
with a basic name of "untitled."
The autosave interval defaults to 60 seconds. Configure it via the
Settings menu. If you notice Rosegarden grabbing a lot of your CPU time
for no apparent reason, it's probably autosave, and you might want to
increase the interval, or turn this feature completely off. It can
become quite cumbersome when working on very large compositions. This
feature was frankly more useful when Rosegarden was young, and