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3 A First Look

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:

3.3 The Tracklist

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.

3.3.1 Instrument vs. Name

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 on, in 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.

3.3.2 Track LEDs

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 recording operations.



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

To change the track name, double click on the label. A dialog should appear, allowing you to enter a new name.

3.3.4 Adding, Removing, Moving Tracks

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.

3.4 Segments and Segment Parameters

Rosegarden 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.

3.4.1 Creating a New Segment

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 desired length:

Now that a segment exists, you can open it with one of the three editors. I will return to that idea later on.

3.4.2 Moving and Copying

Use the cursor to select a segment:

Drag it to a new track:

Hold down Ctrl while dragging it back,and make a copy:

3.4.3 Splitting and Joining

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 together.

3.4.3.1 Split by Pitch

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.

3.4.4 Segment Previews

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 segments.

3.4.5 Segment Parameters

After you 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.

3.4.6 Repeats

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.

3.4.7 Segment Quantizer

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.

3.4.8 Transposing Instruments

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.

3.4.9 Delay

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.

3.5 Getting Around in the Composition

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.

3.5.1 The Playback Pointer

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.

3.5.2 Loops

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.

3.5.3 The Transport

You should have a separate, floating Transport window like this one. If it's not visible, then toggle it on with Settings -> Show Transport .

Most of 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 pop up.

The button switches between various display modes, including a visual metronome that flashes beats at you in color.

Of special note are the panic, metronome, and solo buttons.

If they're 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.

3.6 Time and Tempo

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.

3.6.1 New Tempo

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.

3.6.2 New Time Signature

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.

3.7 Document Markers

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.

3.7.1 The Manage Markers Dialog

3.7.2 Creating a New Marker

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 controls.

3.7.3 Markers In Position

After closing out the manager dialog, the markers you created will appear on the ruler.

3.8 Miscellany

There are a few main window features that don't quite fit in anywhere else, yet which bear special mention.

3.8.1 Importing and Merging Other Compositions

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.

3.8.2 Autosave

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 unstable.


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