How does the Conductor Tap feature work?
When the conductor "tap" the beat (using a key mapped to the Tap command), MIDI Maestro listens! The Conductor Options page allows you to fine-tune the way in which MIDI Maestro interprets these taps.
Much research has been initiated and many systems have been proposed which attempt to follow a conductor and discern his intent. However, the problem with the majority of these systems, which ultimately leads to their failure, is that they attempt to follow an arbitrary performance. This, of course, is anything but trivial, as a system would have to take into consideration every nuance in the movement of the conductor's baton in order to properly interpret his intent (much like a human musician does). For a reliable music performance system designed to be used live and on stage, a compromise must be struck between the machine following the conductor and the conductor following the machine.
Like most sequencers, MIDI Maestro allows you to sequence (record and playback) changes in tempo. Here, when the music is played, the conductor must follow the machine. However. unlike most sequencers, MIDI Maestro allows you to specify known discontinuities in the performance (pauses, vamps, stops). Here, the machine follows the conductor with precision.
MIDI Maestro's "Follow Tap" feature is an attempt to mitigate the necessity of the conductor to follow the machine in rigid form for a limited set of musical situations. A compromise exists because MIDI Maestro will only receive as input a "tap" from the conductor--it will remain impervious to other forms of conducted expression between these taps. Furthermore, for the purposes of this compromise, the sequenced "tempo map" will be considered the "default" and "normal" tempo for the performance--MIDI Maestro will make tweaks to this performance in response to the conductor's taps. You may want to experiment with this feature in more "free flowing" sections when a rigid tempo is unacceptable, and a sequenced tempo map is troublesome to conduct or to coordinate with live performers. You will find that this feature works best with moderate-tempo sections (say 70-150 beats per minute), and in fact may be difficult to control outside of this range.
Enable beat proximity sense. Ask MIDI Maestro to attempt to align your tapping with beats in the song.
Window. This allows you to specify the required proximity that a tap must have to an actual beat in the music in order to be interpreted as a valid tap. At 50%, the highest setting, all taps are valid, even those that fall precisely (and ambiguously) in the very middle of two beats.
Jump forward/backward. When you tap, it may be desirable to move playback immediately to the beat you are attempting to tap. In this way, time is either added or immediately removed from the performance to "line-up" your tapping with the sequenced music. You should proceed with caution with this feature, as the effects may be undesirable if the Window size is large, and the Jump Strength (the distance of the jump) is high. If the music is "busy" (many notes, especially highly rhythmic ones, between beats), this effect may be more pronounced. Recommended defaults have been preset for you.
Modify tempo multiplier. Whereas the Jump feature attempts to move playback immediately to "obey" the command of the conductor, the Modify Tempo feature attempts to use gathered information to best "predict" when the next tap is likely to occur, and then speed-up or slow-down as appropriate. With this feature enabled, changes will be made to the tempo multiplier and the position of its slider (found in the transport GUI).
This is a "zero-order" method to modify the tempo multipler, where each tap is considered independently. Each individual tap's proximity to the nearest beat is used to derive a new tempo. When Strength is set at its highest value, the maximum change is made to the tempo. It is recommended that you begin use of this feature with a Strength value of about 50%.
Modify tempo with 1.5 sec tap average. With this method, an average tempo is computed from all taps received in a 1.5 second time period. (By contrast to the "proximity sensing" way of modifying the tempo multiplier, this is a "first-order" method).
When both the "proximity/modify tempo multiplier" and "modify tempo with average" methods are selected, the tap average's strength slider actually "mixes" the two methods. At minimum strength (slider at far-left), the averaging method is used exclusively. At maximum strength, the "zero-order" method is used exclusively. The "zero-order" method has the tendency to make the tempo more volatile, but easier to more quickly "pull" to extreme slow or fast settings. The averaging method has the tendency to keep the tempo less volatile, but makes it more difficult to use when quick tempo changes are the goal.
Return to Normal Tempo. This feature's purpose is to slowly return the tempo multiplier to normal (1.000) when the conductor is not tapping. If the conductor inadvertently leaves the tempo at the "wrong" setting, this feature insures that things eventually get back up to speed (or cool off).
Eureka! I have found settings that work best for me.
As with all of MIDI Maestro, but especially true with a new, experimental feature such as this one, your feedback is invaluable. Please let me know how this works for you, and if you have any suggestions for its improvement.