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FAQ - Trouble Shooting

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If your question isn't answered here yet, please ask - email to

Be sure to try the pitch bend test too. Out | Test Pitch Bend Range

Why do I get no sound at all?

In FTS, go to Bs | Play Control - Volume

Then, check to see if you have Mute All selected or the Play control fader set to zero volume - this can happen. Also if you have a Midi control here, check that one too to see if it is muted or at zero volume. If you don't see a volume control for Midi there, have a look at Volume Control.| Options | Properties which lets you select which ones to show, and see if you can find one there.

If you have Quicktime installed, and either don't see it in your Out Menu, or find it doesn't make any sound, see the [testmymidiplayer.htm#qt_note special note for Quicktime users]

If nothing shows up when you click on Bs | Play Control then you need to install the volume control from Start | Settings | Add / Remove Programs | Windows Setup | Multimedia | Volume Control .

This control is actually a separate small program called Sndvol32.exe and usually gets installed in your Windows folder, and you can usually get to it also from Start | Programs | Accessories | Entertainment | Volume Control or thereabouts.

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Why is no sound recorded in the audio formats?

This could be because you have recording set to microphone or some such, and so can't record the music played in Midi. Or indeed, the other way round, if what you want to do is to use FTS to record from a microphone.

In Fractal Tune Smithy go to Bs | Record Control . If the Record Control doesn't show up when you do this, you need to install the Volume control as explained in [#no_sound Why do I get no sound at all?]

You may find you can show / hide more faders from Record Control | Options | Properties .

Now select an appropriate fader. If you want to record notes played in FTS, look for Midi, or "What U Hear" or some such name. The best choice to use here may depend on the device you are using from the Out menu in FTS - for instance the Midi fader may only record music played via your sound cards Midi Out devices - if you want to record music played on soft synths as well you may need to use some more general fader such as " What U Hear " instead. (I'm using the SB Live! names here - what you see depends on your sound card).

If unsure try them all one at a time until you find one that works. Then set the volume accordingly.

For information about recording in these formats, see [faq_gen.htm#audio_formats How do I record and open files in Waveform Audio formats (Wav, mp3s, Sun au, etc)?]

If you try them all and it still doesn't work, it may mean you have a half duplex sound card which means that it can't record and play at the same time. Sometimes a full duplex sound card may be shipped with a half duplex driver in which case one just needs to update the driver - that may be worth checking up on.

With most Pcs, it is possible to install more than one sound card - so this is another possible solution if you need to get a full duplex one for recording. Or get an external USB soundcard for a laptop.

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Why do some notes not sound when playing from PC keyboard?

This probably depends on your PC keyboard hardware.

Here is how to check it - just press down sseveral keys in a text field - notepad, word editor, e-mail, anything like that.

Type say 3, 4, 5 holding the 3 down and then pressing 4, and 5 in succession as you do when playing a chord.

Here is an example: 33333333444444444444

The 5 was pressed when the 4s there stopped - but as you see it never gets shown. However, you get a click or a beep when it gets pressed. The click is in the computer rather than played on the PC speakers / headphones.

The exact details of what happens here, and which keys it happens for depends on your setup.

You can usually play all the diads, but some triads can't be played directly. The work around to hear the triads is to hold down the space bar as a sustain pedal.

Since you get a click (or whatever) when the third key of the triad is pressed, one wonders if it may be possible to do something about it with really low level programming. On the other hand, you get the same effect in Win 3.1 and in Linux too, on the same machine and keyboard, which I suppose could either suggest it is a hardware thing after all, or that they use the same drivers??.

I'm very interested to know if anyone comes across a PC keyboard that can play arbitrary triads. In fact ones that can play arbitrary triads all in the same row, or upward. I'll add user reports of keyboard capabilities. See [faq_mus.htm#keyboard_caps Keyboard Capabilities].

See also: [faq_mus.htm#play_triads How do I play triads from the PC keyboard? (some work and some don't)]

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Why is everything so quiet?

There are several places in FTS where you can set the volume, so check all these first.

First, check the main window volume control.

Then, the volume can be set for your sound card from Bs | Play Control . If you don't see it, you need to install the Volume control as explained in [#no_sound Why do I get no sound at all?]

The volume control may have two separate faders to set that affect the sound, maybe Midi and an overall Play control volume.

The standard setting for playing notes from the mouse and keyboard is to play the highlighted part in the Parts window. It will use the same volume as is used for the fractal tune - that's so that your playing can blend in with it. So your playing may be very quiet if the current fractal tune is one with a quiet part in it, and that part is highlighted.

To check for this, show the Parts window and check the volume for the highlighted part (usually the first part).

The volumes can also get set from Out | Options if you have used the option there to change the volume range.

If you make a new fractal tune and find that it plays very quietly, while playing from the PC or midi keyboard is normal, check the seed volumes from Bs | Seed as Text .

When relaying from midi in, the volumes can also get set from In | Options | Kbd Options | Touch . Some keyboards have a maximum note velocity of 100 - if so you can remap that to 127 here. Also, check to make sure it isn't set to remap to be very quiet. By default this option to remap touch is off.

These all work in a cummulative fashion. Midi velocity 64 is treated as equivalent to 50 % or 0.5.

So if you set the main window volume set to its mid point, and the Parts window volume for the highlighted part at 64, that will make the volume a quarter of the maximum volume. If you set your sound card volume to a half too then that makes the volume an eighth, and so on.

Generally it's best to set the volume high in FTS and low on your sound card rather than the other way round - that's because the sound card may have a certain amount of background hiss. This is quite common. If so then setting the sound card volume low reduces that effect. See next section.

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Why do I get a background hiss?

If you get a hiss, that is probably because your sound card has a certain level of background hiss - for instance the SB Live! does. This is quite common for sound cards.

However, there are things you can do about it. Go to Bs | Play Control . If you don't see it, you need to install the Volume control as explained in [#no_sound Why do I get no sound at all?]

Then unselect all the ones that you don't want to use. Each of them will introduce a small amount of extra hiss.

Some of them you will very seldom need - for instance if you see a microphone volume control here, it is the volume for the sound from your microphone played directly in Windows (using your sound card as a type of amplifier). Most can probably just keep that one muted all the time.

Others you may need on other occasions. For instance, if you mute the CD Audio volume there you won't hear anything when you try to play a CD, so be sure to unmute it when finished or it may cause puzzlement! Similarly for Wave / Direct Sound if you see that - some programs may need it selected in order to play.

Finally, set the Midi or the Play control to the middle of its range rather than its maximum volume - and see if that reduces the volume of the hiss. If so, use like that, and set the main window volume control in FTS to its maximum.

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Why do I get a background hum?

You may get a hum if you have connected the line out of your computer to your hi fi system - as described in [index.htm#Tips_for_better_sound_quality Tips for better sound quality].

Remove the antenna wire connected to your hifi. If the hum goes away then this is a ground effect hum and you can find advice about how to fix it here: Solving the humming problems of computer soundcards and home theatre systems (on-line).

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Why does the computer sieze up for a few seconds from time to time while playing?

If this is an FTS bug then you will probably get a message from FTS about it - the most likely reason would be a thread block. If so do let me know so that it can be fixed - this normally only happens while beta testing and FTS will offer to send a message to me with the details needed to fix it, If your computer siezes up for some other reason then it is possible that it may indirectly trigger a thread block message in FTS so a thread block message doesn't always mean FTS is responsible but usually does mean so..

Apart from that, this is a common enough occurrence. It may be that your computer does it anyway and you only notice it with FTS because the effect is more noticeable when music making. There are various commonly installed background tasks that do this.

First of all check to see if it is because of the Microsoft Find Fast feature which is a rather notorious culprit here. To see if you have this do a Ctrl + Alt + Delete and then go to the Processes tab, order by the image name (click on the Image Name tab) and look for an entry "findfast".

This feature is supposed (according to its documentation) to speed up the refresh of the lists of files when you change search criteria in the Open dialogs for Microsoft Office programs. Maybe it was useful once with slower computers and maybe if you have a very slow computer and are troubled by slowly refreshing lists in MS Office programs when you change search criteria you may miss it. Most users have no need for it, and it causes these frequent one or two second sieze ups (more and more of them the longer you leave your computer running) - also it seems that it runs at higher prioirity than the mouse which is a very high priority indeed.

If you find it then go to Start | Control Panel (classical view) and look for an icon "Find Fast" there. Now click on each entry n the list in turn and choose Delete Index from the Index menu. Then go to Index | Close and Stop. Finally you need to remove it from your startup folder too - on XP it is usually somewhere around here:

Drive C | Documents and Settings | All Users | Start Menu | Programs | Startup

For more details see the Microsoft article How to Disable the Find Fast Indexer

There are various other programs that cause Windows to seize up periodically. To find out details about which tasks are slowing it down go to the Processes tab again, and make sure it shows the CPU column - also the Total CPU time column can be useful. If those aren't present, then show them from View | Columns.

Now click on the CPU tab to order the processes by the amount of CPU they use - if the first one shown is 0 then click again to order in descending order. Now look out to see if any processes move momentarily to the top and use a lot of CPU like 50% or something. If they do then take a note of them. If you recognise the name you may know which program is responsible already, if not, look up on the internet, e.g. "Task list findfast" and you are likely to find more information, help and tips about how to disable it and whether it is advisable to do so.

A couple of common types of program that also cause these lapses:

Some automatic updaters momentarily use a lot of CPU time for their periodic checks to see if any update is available, and tend to cause the computer to sieze up for a second or two - and surprisingly, are more likely to cause it to sieze up if you aren't connected to the internet at the time. If you have internet explorer 4.0 or later installed on your Windows machine (that's nearly everyone nowadays) - then there is a handy routine a program can use to check to see if you are on-line that uses hardly any CPU time at all - so it is a bit mysterious, I'm not sure why some automatic updaters can't use it. Anyway if it happens the only solution may be to switch off automatic updates for the program responsible and check for them by hand.

Sometimes also an AV program may use a lot of CPU time keeping a watch for viruses and it may be enough to interfere with music making - in this case you may need to switch off the AV - of course making sure you are disconnected from the internet whenever you have it off.

I suppose for many users if the computer regularly stops responding for a second or so, it isn't such a big deal but for music making it just about makes it impossible to continue. Even if it siezes up for only a tenth of a second say, and only once an hour, that could be a major hiccup for a musician if it happens when you are in the middle of doing your final recording of an improvisation or piece.

But by inspecting the task list you should be able to find the programs responsible and then with an internet search find out what is the best way to deal with it. There are probably many other Windows users who have encountered the same thing.

Also be sure to check to see if you have your computer scheduled to defragment regularly or some other computer intensive task - check that from: Start | Control Panel (classical view) | Scheduled tasks - if you have something like that regularly scheduled, you probably don't want one of those to run during your music making.

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When I run FTS in Windows 9x with other programs, sometimes I get a warning that the system is low on resources, or buttons and menus dissapear - what can I do?

Ah, this is the out of resource problem, very common in Windows 9x.

Resources here refer to a couple of tiny areas of memory set aside for particularly speedy access in Windows 9x - a nice idea for sure - except that they are rather tiny by modern standards as they are only 64 KB each - and easily get filled.

When these areas of memory are full then your computer usually stops responding. It doesn't matter how much memory you have installed in your computer as these two regions are fixed in size - Windows 9x will only use those particular areas of memory for these particular things that need speedy access, and when that area is full it just stops responding and often needs a reboot. This particular problem doesn't happen with NT, XP or 2K.

To keep an eye on your resources, install the Resource meter from Start | Settings | Control Panel | Add / Remove Programs | Windows Setup . Then select System Tools | Resource Meter to install it from your Windows CD.

FTS doesn't use so much in the way of colours and such like. The main use of resources is for list boxes and drop lists. For instance, the Notes Played window uses about 2% resources to show its lists.

So the solution is to select View | Custom List Boxes . These use no resources at all. I'd make this the standard setting for Windows 9x except for one thing - the list entries don't get read out properly by screen reader programs used by those who rely on those to interact with the screen. If you use vision to read the lists rather than hearing then they function just like any other list box.

Apart from that you can also close any programs that you have running that you aren't using at present. Also try Ctrl + Alt + Delete and look at the task list and see if you can close thigns there too as some of those may use resources. You can find out what all the programs in the task list do from this very useful site:

Task List Programs

The other main use of resources in FTS is for drop lists. They are a little more complex to code for than ordinary lists, so I haven't yet done a resource free custom version. FTS also has a few invisible temporarily created sorted lists which get made for some of the options in Bs | Scales Options . It also uses a little resources in the way of brushes and pens to draw the graphics, but the levels involved here are fairly minimal.

FTS is able to monitor system resources itself. Show Help | About and you will see the resources available shown there, and also you will see an entry: Close extra windows and stop tune if resources fall below [...] percent . It is set to 1 percent so it will only take effect if your resources are extremely low indeed - resource meter well into the white. Increase this as desired (- or set to 0 if you wish to disable it....). [#note_for_programmers Note for programmers]

Note for programmers

The reason programs seldom check to see if the resources are getting low is that though you can easily check for free memory, Windows included no routine to find the level of resources in Windows 95 / 8. If you investigate further you find out that the only way to do it is to mix in some undocumented Windows routines and some Assembly language - see Getting free resource under Windows 95 - only a few of the braver programmers end up doing this :-(.

However, I found out that you can call a routine _MyGetFreeSystemResources32@4 in the DLL Rsrc32.dll which gets installed for the resource meter - easier by far!. I got the idea for doing this from this site: System resources in Windows 95/98.

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When play music in FTS I get a message saying that there isn't enough memory available (MMSYSTEM007), what can I do?

This error message is normally caused by a dll that got corrupted, and you need to restore the DLL from your Windows start up disk. It's easy to do in most operating systems (apart from Windows 95 where the procedure is complex).

Here is a web page with instructions on how to do it in various operating systems, fully detailed with screen shots:

The one you need to restore is probably MMSYSTEM.dll. Other ones that can cause this problem are MSVIDEO.dll, AVFILE.DLL, DCIMAN32.DLL, MCIAVI.DRV, MSVIDC32.DLL, MSFW32.DLL and WOW32.dll.

FTS certainly uses MMSYSTEM.dll. I don't know if FTS uses any of the others, but it won't do any harm to restore them. Your system file checker may also automatically find any corrupted dlls and notify you about which ones need to be restored. It's probably best to only restore the ones in this list unless it tells you that others also need replacing.

This problem is actually nothing to do with memory - at least, adding more memory won't fix it. The authors of error messages try to anticipate all the situations in which they would get called up but sometimes a message gets called up in an unanticipated situation and so doesn't apply - I think this is probably what has happened here.

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How can I connect my music keyboard to a laptop?

You can do this using a USB midi device such as the Edirol UM1-SX. It has a USB plug at one end to plug into your laptop, and In and Out midi sockets at the other end. Alternatively you can get a USB soundcard, which may also add midi In and Out ports - so if you are considering getting an external sound card for your laptop then you may not need to get a USB midi device as a separate thing.

See also [faq_mus.htm#midi_keyboard How do I get my music keyboard to work with FTS?] in the [faq_mus.htm Music making] section.

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My music keyboard is connected to the computer but I'm not getting any notes played

See also [faq_mus.htm#midi_keyboard How do I get my music keyboard to work with FTS?] in the [faq_mus.htm Music making] section.

Check that you have the Out of the keyboard connected to the In of your computer - it is easy to connect the Out to the Out if tired or you haven't done it for a while.

Also, see this on line page: Alice's guide to connecting music keyboards to computers

Then, some soundcards have Midi In switched off when you install them. This is rare, but it can be the case with some Turtle Beach soundcards. For an example of one of the cards, with instructions on how to enable Midi In, see Turtle Beach Sound Card - no midi input. Basically what you have to do for these is to go to Start | Settings | Control Panel | Sounds and Multimedia | Hardware | MPU-401 compatible Midi device | Properties | Resources (or there abouts depending on your OS - that was for a computer running Win 2K). Then unselect Use Automatic Settings, and select Basic Configuration 0001 from the drop list. Then re-boot and you will find you can use Midi in with your soundcard.

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I get double notes when playing from a music keyboard

Make sure you have it set to relay directly to midi out rather than to play the notes itself. If it has its own sounds, be sure that you set local to off. To check this is working - just disconnect it from the computer. If you still hear sounds as you play the notes, then look up in your user manual to find out how to send its notes via its midi out without playing them as well.

Another possible reason for double notes is that your keyboard may have regions and you may have it set to play two regions at once - probably relayed to FTS via two channels simultaneously. Set it to play a single region.

See also [faq_mus.htm#midi_keyboard How do I get my music keyboard to work with FTS?] in the [faq_mus.htm Music making] section

Also, this on line page: Alice's guide to connecting music keyboards to computers

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When I play from a music keyboard, the notes are quieter than expected

Many keyboards have a maximum note velocity of 100 instead of 127. To check this, go to In | Options | Note Played - More Details. See if the loudest notes you play show up as a midi in velocity of 127, or of 100.

You fix this in FTS by going to Out | Options | Change volume range.

Set it to

Change the volume range from 0 - 100 to 0 - 127

See also [#why_quiet Why is everything so quiet?] if the notes are still quieter than expected.

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Single notes they get retuned as expected, but notes in chords shift about in pitch. What can I do?

This probably means that your synth is receiving notes on all channels at once - but treats them as if they were all one channel as far as pitch bends are concerned. This is normal with mono-timbral synths - any synth that can only play a single instrument at a time on a single channel.

In the normal way of implementing pitch bends, each channel can only have one pitch bend (NB there is an alternative recognised interpretation in the Midi spec that allows several simultaneous pitch bends in the same channel with the downside that it is impossible for notes to have their pitch changed after the note starts - it is implemented in the CSound instruments section of FTS itself but I don't know of any other implementation).

On this type of synth, FTS is sending the information needed to bend the pitches of all the individual notes correctly, but only one of those bends can be done at a time. Each bend sent therefore affects all the notes in play at the time.

For instance if you play C then E on FTS set to play the notes on a monotimbral synth with the E as a 5/4 at 14 cents below concert pitch, then when you press the E key the E gets tuned as expected, but the C will normally get bent down in pitch by 14 cents at the moment you press the E because it has also been bent to 14 cents flat at the same time. This means that whatever notes you play, you always will end up with twelve equal intervals of one type or another played in the synth - the notes played keep shifting around to remain in twelve equal intervals with each other all the time..

If this happens with a soft synth, there is a possible fix for it. You may be able to start up several copies of the synth at once, and set each one to receive notes on only a single channel. Ideally for the most pitch polyphony you would start up sixteen copies of the synth (or 15 if you are using part 10 for percussion). You can then use that layout just as if you had a single synth with pitch polyphony.

However, to reduce the amount of setting up work to do, if for instance you only need four note polypony, you could start up four copies of your synth. Then set FTS to play all its notes on those same four channels from Out | Options. Or set FTS up to play that particular part on only those channels if you are playing on several Out devices at once.

A problem that can arise here is that you may only be able to connnect one of those copies to FTS at a time, because when you open the Midi in in one of the copies it may then be impossible to open it in the others. The solution there is to use a one to many type virtual midi cable that lets you connect a single Out entry of a program such as FTS to the Midi In of several other programs at once such as all those copies of the soft synths. For instance the Loopbe1 (for win 2K or XP) will let you connect one program such as FTS to up to 8 other programs simultaneously such as your soft synths all using the same one to many type virtual midi cable..

So if you can do that, then all should work fine.

Another alternative is to set up FTS to play on several midi out devices at once and then set up the channels for devices window appropriately and use separate virtual midi cables for each copy of the soft synth - this will be a bit more cumbersome to set up the first time - but if you do it once and then save your Tune Smithy settings as a project for future use it may be reasonably feasible.

What can I do if this approach isn't possible?

Then you can't use pitch polyphony with that particular synth - in most scales it will only be able to play a single note at a time. So, you need to set FTS up so that it can only play notes for that part in a single channel, which you can do from Out | Channels for Parts . FTS will then only let you play chords when the notes in the chords are at twelve equal intervals (including the octave) so then that will match the way the monotimbral synth works. Then everything will sound as expected - but you will sometimes play a chord and find that only one of the notes sound because there is only one channel available for them and nowhere to play the ntoe correctly tuned - in that situation FTS just won't play it at all or will switch off one of the notes already sounding.

Alternatively (or as well) set FTS to play in Monomode from Out | Options | Controllers | Portamento and Legato. That tells the synth that you are playing it monomode, which may change things. You may find that it lets you trill from one note to another much in the same way that a wind player trills - by holding down one note then repeatedly playing the second note in the trill. To play Monomode trills correctly tuned you need to select the option to retune for monomode trills. To make the trills nicely legato as well you may want to switch on Legato - and in some cases it helps to switch on Portamento as well with the slide parameter set to 0.

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FTS used to work fine but is now playing only one note at a time. What can I do?

Check to see if you have set FTS up to send notes on only a single channel for the part you play on the synth from Out | Options. (You might have done that to use it with a monotimbral synth).

Also check to see if you have it set to play in Monomode from Out | Options | Controllers | Portamento and Legato.

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I hear pitch bend artefacts at the start of a note - what can I do about it?

Some synths are slow to respond to "instant" pitch bends and may not change the pitch right away immediately at the start of the note. For a work around for this, try Out | Options | Midi Out / Save Timing | Delay for note on after pitch bends. Set it to be as small as you can make it before the artefacts show up.

If your synth lets you send notes to it on several channels at once, and treats each channel with its own pitch bend - then make sure you have Out | Options | Midi Out Resets | Send pitch bends in advance for all notes of the main window Arpeggio selected.

The other possible solution is to use Monomode, possibly with legato or portamento with slide time set to 0, or to relay each part to maybe two or more channels. See the answer to the next question for details about this approach.

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I hear pitch bend artefacts at the end of a note - what can I do about it?

That sounds like it could be the pitch bent resonance of the note as it fades away after the note off. If you are relaying each part to a single channel then that is quite likely to happen, especially with notes that fade away slowly like harp say.

The solution is to either cut the note off abruptly at the note off, or else, to use monomode, or to make sure that you relay each part to at least two channels. Two channels will normally be okay for monophonic music unless you have short notes and very resonant notes, in which case you may need to have many channels for each part.

To stop each note abruptly at the note off, first try Out | Options | More Mid iOut Options | All sound off before same channel pitch bends. The standard setting here is selected, but maybe it has got unselected.It uses midi controller 120 which is the All Sound Off normally. But in case that isn't implemented or does somethign else, you can try the other option there - to use the expression controller to momentarily set the channel volume to 0.

Note that both these methods have a tendency to cause a quiet click like effect at the end of each note as it gets cut off abruptly in preparation for the next note n the channel - so it's a matter of whether the clicks or the pitch bend artefacts are most noticeable.

You could also try unselecting Out | Options Note on 0 for note off velocity 127, to see if perhaps a note off with velocity 127 stops the note more abruptly (but many synths ignore the note off velocity altogether).

For monomode go to Out | Options | Port. / Legato - and you may want to try legato as well, and maybe portamento with a portamento time of 0. If you use these options and play notes with gaps between them, then they sound just as they do with the options switched off. But if you play one note to overlap with the next, your synth may play them to run smoothy one to another legato fashion. If it does that then it may well solve the problem

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When I save a midi clip in FTS and then import it into my midi sequencer it imports all 16 channels even when the midi file only has notes in the first one (or only in a few of the channels). What can I do about this?

FTS sets the pitch bend range and other parameters for each channel at the start of the midi clip. The ones with no notes in them will still have a few reset messages, and I expect this is what is confusing the sequencer. So a possible solution may be to remove those resets and see if the sequencer still shows the channels..

The resets for midi files and for Midi out are configured from Out | Options | Resets. If you don't need the pitch end range set you can switch that off by switching off the options there to set the pitch bend range in advance and you can also switch off the option to send pitch bends in advance in every channel. Also if you don't need it, you can switch off the option to reset all controllers.

The thing is that when the midi clip starts, FTS doesn't know which channels will be needed yet to play your notes - for instance you might change the tuning mid play and so need the other channels. It could wait until you play your first note in the channel - but for some synths setting the pitch bend range takes a significant amount of time - enough to make a chord ragged. So you need to do that right at the beginning. Generally one does as much as one can early to reduce the number of messages to relay. One also sends the pitch bends as soon as possible to avoid pitch bend artefacts that can occur on some synths.

The reason for including the pitch bend range in midi clips made by FTS is that the pitch bend range of the user's sound card or device may have got set to some other value or to a zero range (ignore pitch bends) previously. So the resets help to ensure that they will be played correctly tuned with the correct pitch bend amounts - so long as their device responds to pitch bends at all and is able to respond to the pitch bend range message as well. But you don't need that for clips to import into a sequencer, if for instance it uses the standard pitch bend range of two semitones up and down, and FTS is using it as well.

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