2. Kangas Sound Editor main screen

Thumbnail of Kangas Sound Editor main screen

Figure 2.1
Click on thumbnail for full size image.

In figure 2.1, we see the main screen of Kangas Sound Editor. As you can see, this is divided into a number of different areas:

  1. To the upper left of the screen is a tree-like structure that has individual nodes that can be clicked on to open and close panes to the right of the screen, each of which contains details for a particular aspect of a particular track. In this case, Edit panes for tracks 4 and 7 are currently open.
  2. To the upper right of the screen is a ruler with graduation marks, which represents a measure in time units. In this case, as the toolbar radio button labelled 1 is selected, the time unit is one second. Using this ruler, we can see that the four boxes (more on these in a bit) in Edit pane E4 start between 3 seconds and 10 seconds. As the toolbar edit field contains 0, we see the time on the ruler starting from 0. If we'd wanted it to start from, say, 10 seconds, we could simply have typed 10 into the toolbar edit field.
  3. Running vertically down the screen is a toolbar containing an edit field (with value 0 in figure 2.1) that can be used to set the start time of the ruler, a set of radio buttons which can be used to select the current time unit of the ruler, and seven buttons with icons and colour-coded bars. It is possible for this toolbar to be repositioned by using drag and drop; you may notice a change in its position further on in this tutorial.
  4. To the right of the screen, just under the ruler, is the part of the screen that contains View/Edit panes — in this case, just two Edit panes (E4 and E7). The Edit panes contain boxes that are in various colours which correspond to the colours of the toolbar buttons; in other words, the colour indicates which kind of box (there are also tooltips to help identify boxes). Notice that in E4 there are two large black grids, with the area between 2 (seconds) and 12 free of grids. In this case, sound in E4 can only be generated between 2 seconds and 12 seconds from the start of the final composition. For E7, sound can only be generated from 0 seconds up to 15 seconds after the start of the composition.
  5. To the lower left of the screen is the Properties pane. In this case, it contains two edit fields (Code and Amplitude), a checkbox (Keep intermediate file) and three buttons above them: Compute, Play and Duration. This Properties pane shows properties for the box selected in the Edit pane, which in this case is the small solid purple box in E7. A box is selected by clicking on it with the mouse. Beside the Code field is a search button with an image of Roo and Joey having a captain cook at a book; clicking on the search button brings up a dialog (that you'll see later) that allows you to search for a code, so you don't need to remember all the codes.

The seven toolbar buttons with coloured bars can be individually pressed using the mouse, with a subsequent mouse button release over an Edit pane (e.g., E4) resulting in the creation of a box with the same colour border (and interior when selected). As you can see, the boxes can be nested inside of each other. There are rules for which boxes can go inside another:

  1. Only the blue boxes — Sequence boxes — can go directly into an Edit pane.
  2. Boxes of other (i.e., non-blue) colours must go inside a Sequence box, directly or indirectly.
  3. Sequence boxes cannot go inside of other Sequence boxes; in other words, they can only be placed directly into an Edit pane.
  4. Only a red (Repetition Group) box, yellow (Sound) box, green (Chord Group) box or orange (Recorded Sound) box can be placed directly inside a Sequence box.
  5. A purple (Harmonic) box and turquoise (anti-Harmonic) box can only go directly inside a Sound box, no other box types can go inside a Sound box.
  6. No boxes can go inside a Harmonic box, anti-Harmonic box, Interval box or Recorded Sound box.
  7. The grey Interval boxes are unusual in that they aren't placed directly by pressing a button; as you can see, there is no button with a grey bar. These always go inside a Chord Group box. The program automatically interposes Interval boxes between other boxes that are placed inside a Chord Group — more on these in a bit.

As a novice user of this program, you don't have to make a special effort to remember all these rules as the program will prevent you from breaking them — the drag and drop simply won't work if you try to break the rules.

The Sequence boxes shown in figure 2.1 illustrate how an example Sequence can be built by following these rules: First, a Sequence box is dropped into an Edit pane (leftmost box in E4). Next, a Repetition Group box is dropped into the Sequence box (second box from the left in E4). Then, a Chord Group box is dropped inside the Repetition Group box (third box from the left in E4). Next, a Sound box is dropped inside the Chord Group box (rightmost box in E4). Then, a Harmonic box is dropped inside the Sound box (leftmost box in E7); alternatively, an anti-Harmonic box is dropped inside the Sound box (second box from the left in E7, on the same horizontal level as the leftmost box). Finally, twice copying-and-pasting the Sound box that contains a Harmonic box into the same Chord Group results in the second box from the right in E7 — notice how the program has interposed grey Interval boxes between the yellow Sound boxes.

The seven coloured-bar toolbar buttons are, in order from top to bottom:

  1. The Sequence button (blue bar). This allows a Sequence box, which is the container for other kinds of boxes, to be created, and also allows a duration, a start pitch and a start volume to be set; in other words, these are Sequence box properties.
  2. The Chord Group button (green bar). This allows a Chord Group box to be created. For those of you with a music background, this is a looser concept than a chord in conventional music, where a chord represents notes played at the same time. In Kangas Sound Editor (QI), a Chord Group would only coincide with a conventional chord where the Intervals between them (represented by the grey boxes) have zero duration. In other cases they contain sequences of sounds or notes, which might be very close together (for example, if simulating a guitar chord strum) or a more significant time interval apart, such as a bar of musical notes.
  3. The Repetition Group button (red bar). This allows a Repetition Group box to be created. You may have noticed when listening to various kinds of music that there is often a significant amount of repetition; Repetition Groups are one means Kangas Sound Editor (QI) has of setting up such a repetition. A significant property of a Repetition Group is the number of repetitions, and other properties allow you to specify the interval between repetitions, whether there is a pitch or volume change between repetitions, and so on. Another means of repeating something in Kangas Sound Editor (QI) is to copy and paste (possibly using drag and drop) a Sequence (or other) box. Repetition Groups are also the way reverberation is done within Kangas Sound Editor (QI); for this purpose the time intervals are likely to be small, and graphs may well be used.
  4. The Sound button (yellow bar). This allows a Sound box to be created, which, as you may have guessed, represents a sound. It has a duration that can be set, and graphs (more on these later) that can be selected to determine how the amplitude and possibly the pitch of the sound varies as it is played.
  5. The Harmonic button (purple bar). This allows a Harmonic instrument to be created that represents a musical instrument with a recognisable pitch, such as the guitar or piano. A Harmonic instrument in Kangas Sound Editor (QI) consists of pure harmonics; in other words, all frequencies are exact multiples of a fundamental frequency (the lowest frequency). This differs from some real-life (non-percussion) musical instruments, which have an element to them that is not purely harmonic. Kangas Sound Editor (QI) does have the ability to effectively mix pure Harmonic instruments with anti-Harmonic instruments in order to achieve the same effect; this can be done by placing one or more anti-Harmonic box(es) alongside a Harmonic box — in other words, in the same Sound box.
  6. The anti-Harmonic button (turquoise bar). This allows an anti-Harmonic (AKA inharmonic) instrument — in other words, where the frequencies are not necessarily all multiples of a fundamental frequency — to be created that represents a sound or musical instrument without a distinct pitch, such as drums or cymbals.
  7. The Recorded Sound button (orange bar). This allows a Recorded Sound box to be created, which allows existing sounds — possibly recorded sound although the program doesn't enforce this — from uncompressed .WAV, .AU or .AIFF audio files to be incorporated into Kangas Sound Editor (QI) compositions.

You might be wondering why all the Sequence boxes have blue grids inside them. That is because the Sequence boxes are intended to have visual clues as to not only when they start, but also what is their maximum duration, as set by the Sequence's Duration field. Where there is a grid, it means that the width of the box is greater than its duration. This could be because a duration on the Sequence box has not yet been set (in which case the grid fills the entire Sequence box), or, as in the case of the bottom Sequence box in Edit pane E7, the boxes that have been placed inside the Sequence box have caused it to expand so that it is wider than its duration (measured against the time ruler). Looking at the bottom box in E7 with reference to the time ruler, it appears that the duration of the Sequence box is approximately four seconds; this box is slightly wider — hence the narrow blue grid — as it has to accommodate the nested boxes.

Also evident from figure 2.1 is the "negative gravity" characteristic of the Sequence boxes; in other words, the boxes never overlap, they rest on the bottom of each other. This non-overlapped characteristic is important as without it some boxes could get hidden behind others, possibly resulting in unexpected sounds in the composition. The gravity aspect is important too: if boxes were allowed to just float, you could easily miss them if the Edit pane they are in were narrowed, as it is possible to drag the divider between Edit panes or open another track view which can reduce the height of existing views.

At the top of figure 2.1 is a menu bar. The menus are:

  1. Composition. Menu items relating to opening, saving, renaming, reloading and deleting compositions are here, as are menu items for opening and deleting tracks of the current composition. You can also export audio (.WAV and .INT) files in use by the current composition to the currently-configured sound/intermediate files export directories and set a couple of composition-wide parameters.
  2. Edit. This is used for copy-and-paste and cut-and-paste operations. Note that all boxes can be copied-and-pasted or cut-and-pasted, not just Sequence boxes. From version 3 of the software, a range of Sequence boxes can be copied, moved or deleted by using this menu.
  3. XML. This allows data such as Sequence boxes, tracks and compositions to be exported to a KangaSound XML file and subsequently imported. This feature can be used to collaborate with and build upon the work of other users of Kangas Sound Editor (QI).
  4. Graph. This is where graphs can be created, edited, renamed, and deleted on the database. Graphs are ubiquitous in Kangas Sound Editor (QI); for example, they can be used to define the harmonics of a Harmonic instrument or set the amplitude envelope of a Sound.
  5. Harmonic. This is where Harmonic database records — referenced by Harmonic instruments — can be created, edited, renamed and deleted on the database.
  6. Anti-harmonic base. An anti-Harmonic Base is used in the construction of anti-Harmonics (inharmonics); an anti-Harmonic Base essentially defines the frequency distribution of an anti-Harmonic that references it. This menu option allows anti-Harmonic Base records to be created, edited, renamed and deleted on the database.
  7. Anti-harmonic. An anti-Harmonic builds on top of an anti-Harmonic Base to give amplitudes to the frequencies setup by the anti-Harmonic Base; such amplitudes are relative to each other rather than absolute. This menu option allows anti-Harmonic records to be created, edited, renamed and deleted on the database.
  8. Variation. A Variation can be referenced by a Harmonic or anti-Harmonic in order to allow the amplitude of selected harmonic or anti-harmonic frequencies to be varied throughout the duration of the sound, or even suppressed altogether (in other words, zero amplitude). This menu option allows Variation records to be created, edited, renamed and deleted on the database.
  9. Configure. This allows various aspects of Kangas Sound Editor (QI) to be configured. This menu item is not present in the Mac OS X version of the software, where the preferences dialog — accessible from the Kangas Sound Editor (QI) menu — is used instead.
  10. Track 0. Track 0 (zero) is a special track in Kangas Sound Editor (QI) that combines, following a fast-compute, all other tracks that have their Include in track 0 checkbox property checked; this is in order to produce an aggregate sound for the composition, which can in turn be used to create a master track for the final composition sound. Track 0 menu choices are: Fast compute (meaning compute track 0 from other already-computed tracks), Play, and Show properties (from which a master track can be setup, computed, and a full computation of the composition performed)
  11. Help!. This is currently limited to on-line help (such as this tutorial), and a couple of other functions such as the About dialog.