Many music devices can be totally controlled from the MIDI sequence by using CONTINUOUS CONTROLLERS. If your device came with a MIDI jack, then chances are good it can be controlled this way. Such devices include Synthesizers, Vocal processors (TC Helicon, Antares, Digitech Vocalist etc), guitar effects, many rack devices etc.
If your device is controllable in this way, the manual will show the Continuous controller number used for each type of change, and a NUMERIC parameter. The numeric parameter is always a number between 0 and 127.
The Continuous Controller number picks which device feature you want to change, and the numeric parameter allows you to change it in specific increments. The numeric parameter works in 3 unique ways:
1) If the CC turns a feature OFF or ON, then typically numbers between 0 and 63 will turn it OFF, while any number between 64 and 127 will turn it ON
2) If the CC sets a level (like volume, for example) then 0 would be no volume and 127 would be max volume... and the numbers in between would be like the positions on a volume slider.
3) If the CC selects one of several options, then each number will be a different option. For example, if the CC is selecting the harmonizing key for a vocal processor, 0= the key of C, 1=C#, 2=D, 3=D#, 4=E ( ETC ETC)
WHAT YOU CAN DO WITH CONTINUOUS CONTROLLERS
If your device is set up to use them, you can use Continuous controllers to do anything you can do with your device's knobs or menus! And you can do it in real time, without having to step on stomp boxes or switches!
Let's say you are using a vocal processor and you want to make all the changes happen seamlessly from the sequencer using continous controllers. You can do the following:
1) turn on pitch correction (if you want it) and set the type of pitch correction (major, minor or chromatic)
2) determine when harmonies start and stop in the song
3) set the harmony type (scale based or chord based)
4) pick the key (if using scale based)
5) set the number of backup singers
6) pick their gender
7) add effects
8) pick patches with predefined settings
9) and much more
same goes for guitar effects... you can use CC to turn off/on amp simulations, change volume or effects or distortion, change patches. etc.. all without having to stomp on a box to make the changes! You can use CC like a dedicated roadie who sits at the control panel and makes smooth changes turning your devices and effects off and on while you concentrate on performing!
HOW TO ADD CC TO A SONG
1) you need to know what MIDI channel your device uses to send and receive data. This will be in your manual. If you use midi on several devices, you should make sure all of the devices use a different channel so you don't change ALL of them every time you change ONE of them! Midi channel is configurable, so you can set your devices up any way you want.
2) set a MIDI track to use the same MIDI channel as the device you want to control, and select this track...
3) go to piano roll mode
4) at the top right of the piano roll dialog is the CC list box... by default it says VELOCITY... click on it and when the list of options drops down, select CONTROL (for Continuous CONTROL)
5) a second dropdown list box wil appear so you can pick which controller you want to activate. The list is populated with the standard CC list of controls, but your device has its own CC definitions, and they are shown in the manual.
For this example we will use one of the Digitech Vocalist devices, using the CC data as shown in the manual: Manual says: Pitch Correct On/Off 86 0-63 = Off, 64-127 = On
this means CC 86 is used to turn pitch correction off or on, depending on the numeric parameter used. Any numeric parameter less than 64 turns it off, and any numeric parameter between 64 and 127 turns it on.
So, in Real band, if you want to turn pitch correction ON, scroll down in the second listbox to CC #86. After you pick the CC number, you also have to set a numeric parameter.
The bottom half of the piano roll is a grid with numbers from 0 to 127. This vertical grid is where you enter parameters for Continuous controllers. Click on a number in this grid to assign a numeric parameter. In this case, any number less than 64 will turn Pitch correction OFF, and any number between 64 and 127 will turn it ON
the horizontal grid is how you determine where in the song the CC will be inserted. If you want to insert it at the beginning of the 4th measure, position the cursor at that part of the song as you click on the numeric parameter.
Pretty easy, huh?
All the CCs in all devices work pretty much the same way, so once you know how to control one device, you can control them all (assuming you have a manual containing the CC numbers and parameters for them)
MORE THINGS YOU CAN DO WITH CONTINUOUS CONTROLLERS
Continuous controllers can do more than control devices. They can control the subtleties of your MIDI music. When a musician plays an instrument, the notes are almost never played with the exact same volume, velocity, vibrato, breath, etc. This variance is part of what makes live music sound more "heartfelt" than programmed music, which tends to lack these subtleties.
The MIDI protocol includes the ability to introduce and edit these attributes with continuous controllers. There are CCs for modulation, breath, volume, velocity, aftertouch, and much more. Virtually anything you can do manually to an instrument can be simulated with a CC.
One difference between controlling devices and controlling nuance is that nuance is is not just an on-off event. It usually requires a lot more numeric parameters. For example, if you wanted to use a volume CC to fade out an instrument, you couldn't just add one low parameter because the volume would drop off suddenly instead of gradually. Instead, you'd insert many incremental adjustments to the volume so it would taper off slowly.
The way to add all these parameters is by clicking in the numeric parameter section below the piano roll, then holding down the mouse button while you drag to the right and down. THis will create a series of decreasing volume controls.
Likewise for Velocity. By default, most of the notes generated by BIAB are at the same velocity, which inherently lacks dynamics. If you made no other edit than simply making the velocity flow in a more fluid line, I'm betting it would it would greatly improve the quality of the MIDI passage. Plus, many Synths are sampled such that the note sounds different if the string is "plucked" a little harder, or the drum is "struck" a little harder. I think it is safe to say that editing velocity with Continuous controllers will have a dramatic effect on how realistic the MIDI music sounds.
As stated before, the procedure for adding continuous controllers for the purpose of tweaking MIDI is exactly the same as the procedure for controlling instruments, except for the amount of numeric parameters you'll add after picking the CC number.
CHANGING PATCHES WITH CONTINUOUS CONTROLLERS
To change patches, use the same procedure described above, except instead of clicking on CONTROL or VELOCITY click on PROGRAM. As you move the cursor in the lower numeric grid, note that the number will appear at the top left side of the window. When you click a number, REALBAND will insert the name of the GM instrument in that patch position. If you are changing patches on a non GM device, just go by the patch number, regardless of what the name says. On some devices when you set patch #11 in the numeric grid, the device will set patch #12. This is because in MIDI the patch numbers are 0-127, but some devices start their patch list at #1. So, 0=1, 1=2 etc
If this happens, just take note of it and compensate by clicking a number that is one less than you actually want.
The information shown here will let you change patches within the default bank, but many device have more than one bank. I don't know how to change patch banks with CC...maybe somebody else does, and will add that information to the WIKI.