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9/11/2008, in category "Articles About mTrax"
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Discusses Track Sections, and explains a few common ways to use them
A section is a part of a track or song that you want to learn. Although it is possible in mTrax to slow down an entire song and loop through it repeatedly, you will probably find that it is not the most practical way to learn it. As practicing the entire track from start to finish may be difficult to play or decipher, you will find it easier to tackle it piece by piece, a section at a time. More often than not, there are only a few parts of a track that require your utmost attention, such as an intro, a break or a solo. Therefore, sections will really help you to focus on the difficult parts, learn faster and get the most out of your practice time.Creating Sections
First click on the song for which you want to create section to select it. Then choose one of the following options:
- On the main menu, press 'Tracks' and select 'Add Track Section' or 'Add Default Sections'.
- Right-click the track and select 'Add Track Section' or 'Add Default Sections'.
- In the Trainer Control, press 'Add a Section' or 'Add Default Sections'.
Note that when you choose to add Default Sections, 3 sections named Intro, Solo and Outro are created for you.
Some facts about sections:
- You can create as many sections as you wish per song.
- Your sections and their settings are saved automatically, no need to re-create them again and again.
- Your audio file integrity is not affected by creating sections; section settings are saved in the mTrax database, not in individual audio files.
- Sections are not physical slices of your songs. In other words, when a section is created, no audio files is created to contain the section. Again, section settings are saved in the mTrax database. This makes using and managing your sections very efficient and does not waste space on your hard drive.
- The Trainer Control settings always represent the section that is currently playing or selected.
When you create a section, a section row is added directly below the track to which it belongs. Sections rows are slightly indented to differentiate from tracks. Once you create a section, you can play it by double-clicking anywhere on the row. If you have not changed anything yet, the whole song will play. Once you have reached the part that you want to study, press the "Set Start Point" button in the Trainer Control. Press the "Set End Point" button once you have reached the end of the part you want to study. The section will keep on looping between the Start and End Points. Still using the Trainer Control, you can refine the Start and End Points (down to milliseconds), slow down the tempo or adjust the pitch. The changes you make in the Trainer Control (Tempo, Pitch, etc.) are automatically reflected in the section row that is currently playing. You can edit these values directly in the section row, but the Trainer Control makes this task much easier. These values are now saved and ready to use any time you want to practice this section.
Note that slowing the tempo first may make setting Start and End Points easier. Also note that by default, the Tempo Scrollbar in the Trainer Control affects the Start Tempo on the section row. if you want to use this scrollbar to change the section's End Tempo, you must first click on the End Tempo cell of the section that is playing.
A section (or a song) will loop over and over, when the Auto Play mode is set to Repeat in the Navigator Control. Also, the Auto Play Mode will automatically be set to Repeat as soon as you edit the Start or End Point. This prevents mTrax from moving to the next song or section while you are still refining your section. This behavior can be changed in the Tools>Option menu.
In addition to the Auto Play Repeat setting, you can refine section Looping even further by changing the Loops value on the section row. Here are some examples of use:
With Auto Play set to Repeat
- Choose a section with Start and End Points already defined.
- Set the section's Loops value to 10.
- Set Start Tempo to -25%.
- Set End Tempo to -15%.
- Play the section.
The first loop iteration will play at -25% of the original (faster) speed, and with each iteration, the tempo will get slightly faster up to iteration #10 (Loops =10) where the section will play at -15% (End Tempo = -15%) of the original speed. After the 10th iteration has played, mTrax will play iteration #1 (-25%) , and so on and so on.
This is a great way to master a difficult section and progressively learn to play at its original speed. This makes mTrax a very powerful Speed Trainer.
Note that before you can play a section even at a slow speed, you sometimes have to figure it all out and even decipher every note. At this very early stage of learning a section, it is recommended to set Loops to 1 (with Auto Pay = Repeat), and set Start Tempo to -40% or even lower. Because Loops is set to 1, the tempo will not change as you play the section over and over; it will remain equal to the Start Tempo value (-40% here).
With Auto Play set to List and List Items set to Tracks & Sections
- Choose a section with Start and End Points already defined.
- Set the section's Loops value to 5.
- Set Start Tempo to -20%.
- Set End Tempo to -10%.
- Play the section.
The first loop iteration will play at -20% of the original speed, and with each iteration, the tempo will get slightly faster up to iteration #5 (Loops = 5) where the section will play at -10% (End Tempo = -10%) of the original speed. After the 5th iteration has played, mTrax will play the next section or track available in your list.
This setup is great if you have already practiced the tracks and sections in your list. Now you just want to review them and make sure you remember them before your next gig.With Auto Play set to List and List Items set to Sections
- Choose a song with 2 or more sections defined.
- Filter your list such that only that song shows in it (eg Title="Sweet Home Alabama"). You can you use the Quick Search Toolbar for that.
- Set each section's Loops value to 2 or more.
- Set each Start and End Tempos to the desired speeds.
- play the first section
The result will be similar to the previous example except that now, mTrax will only play sections since List Items is set to Sections in the Navigator Control. And since you have filtered out all songs in your list but one ("Sweet Home Alabama" in this case), only the sections for that song will play; the first section will 5 times if you set its Loops count to 5, before moving to the next section.
This setup is excellent if you do not want to get tired of practicing the same section for 60 minutes straight; being able to automatically move to the next section will keep you challenged and interested and will prevent muscle fatigue since you are not constantly repeating the same pattern for extended periods of time.With Auto Play set to List and List Items set to Sections: Using Section Difficulty Ratings
- Make sure your song list contains a few songs with 1 or more sections defined.
- Make sure you rate your sections in terms of their difficulty (the red stars!).
- Make sure some of the sections have a difficutly rating of 5 stars.
- On a section row header, click on the funnel to the right of the "Difficulty" caption.
- Choose 5 stars from the list.
You will notice that your list only contains sections that you rated "Very Hard To Play" (i.e. 5 red stars). This is a great way to focus on your most challenging practices. Note that songs also have difficulty ratings but these ratings are independent of sections difficulty ratings. You can use Section Difficulty ratings to monitor your progress; as you practice these difficult sections, you are bound to make progress and soon enough, you will start down-grading their difficulty ratings to 4.5 stars or lower. As time passes you will have fewer and fewer songs in your list with 5 red star sections in it (see Track Count in main Status Bar). That's an indication that you are mastering these solos and other tricky parts!
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