About Keeper's long-lost MIDI files

I've made 200 or more arrangements mostly for MIDI piano since the late 1980s. I can't possibly keep them all here at once, so maybe a rotation basis will work best. Most of the older ones aren't very good arrangements, by my standards, so might not appear at all, but I'll try to make a list of them when I can in case you'd like to request one. Many of the older ones are obscure rags -- possibly never recorded.

These were arranged using an Amiga 1000 running the original version of Deluxe Music Construction Set, with MIDI output to a Korg P3 piano module -- piano number 2, play level 4. If you have a P3, never use play levels 1 and 2; they are mapped wrong dynamically. (Adjust the "play level" as I call it by holding down the Play button and using the arrow buttons.) What I mean is: if you have a computer play notes progressively louder, you'll hear it get suddenly loud at one point then go quieter again. I think level 3 is OK, but I use level 4, which is the most dynamic, so most expressive.

DMCS existed before the standard MIDI format, so that explains why these are called "long-lost MIDI files." Until I got a PC recently, all this stuff was heard only by myself, since no one in his right mind actually uses DMCS. (Actually, with a lot of wrestling, it's excellent for piano scores. The music looks like crap but sounds great.)

These were saved in General MIDI format by connecting the Amiga's MIDI output to my new soundcard and recording "live" using MIDI Orchestrator Plus. Unfortunately, the Amiga's clock -- at least when running without extended memory as it is now -- is just slightly slower, so none of these files could be mapped accurately within measures. DMCS didn't send tempo change commands anyway, so these are pretty much free-form data streams. Sometimes I didn't even bother to set the starting tempo on the recording. I've recently got another MIDI card, but its connector is nonstandard so I cannot convert more MIDI files. Hopefully I'll get a cable made for it before too long.

DMCS did not have a facility for putting in sustain pedal commands, so those few files here where there is sustain pedal use, think about all the hours I spent viewing raw MIDI streams trying to figure out where to put them -- consider also that the "bar/beat/click" information was meaningless because of the timing imbalance mentioned above. Aie! There are some more recent arrangements that I haven't recorded as .mid files yet simply because I don't feel like adding the pedal controls. I'll get around to it eventually -- famous last words.

The quality of my work varies, based on time and so forth. I'll rate every file 1-3, though in retrospect (I already rated the 79 files I had recorded before writing this) I should have used 1-5 perhaps. I'll explain the ratings.

  1. Everything from before I realized that 32nd notes were played longer than 16th notes by DMCS to works that would be excellent if I only shaded and shortened some left-hand chords. Also most of my own compositions have this rating simply because I was too busy composing to be worried about the performance, then I never got round to making a nice-sounding arrangement.

  2. This level pretty much encompasses everything after I discovered the wonders of shading, or baroque keyboard pieces which sound quite good if one uses a harpsichord or organ sound.

  3. The cream of the crop. As well as shading, I shortened notes for inherent staccato, after learning somewhere in level 1 to lengthen notes for inherent legato. There's even a level above this, really, for works I'm particularly proud of, but there are few enough in level 3 as it is, so let's leave it at that. I stopped doing arrangements shortly after reaching this level, in 1994. Partly because it was starting to take so long to do arrangements, with the added factor of getting involved in online discussions and so forth which for some stupid reason I thought were more important (um, well, it's like social stuff and I should do more of that, yeah). But in late January 1997 I made a new MIDI file (Medic Rag), so maybe there's more to come.

There also is, I've decided, a level 0, for works which just aren't fit for public consumption (nor my own really). The problems with these go beyond mere shading and inherent staccato/legato; they contain badly timed grace notes and arpeggios, and very unsubtle dynamics. Back then I didn't deviate from DMCS's eight default volume levels and its own (de)crescendoes, and since the range from f to ff was twice as much as from mf to f, the result often was rather unpleasant. But when I get round to making a list of DMCS files yet to be recorded, these will be included (though which qualify as 1 and which as 0 I won't be able to tell you unless I play them, and if I played them I'd be recording them, wouldn't I?).

That's about it. Go back to the MIDI page now.