The interface consists of 6the following general areas:

1 - Main Controls

2 - Timeline

3 - Secondary Controls

4 - Instrument Strips

5 - Instrument Controls

6 - Data View

7 - Touchpads




Main Controls




Play Pause

When the play/pause button is active (blue) the system will activate and timing sequences will proceed. Please re-read the previous sentence using a Mister Spock-like voice.

When you first launch Drone FX and click the play/pause button, it may take several seconds before you actually hear any sounds, as the "system" needs time to space out each event (timing sequence).

Playback speed is determined by the BPM (beats per minute) control, which is located in the upper right-hand corner.




Save / Load Set Up

Clicking the heart icon will bring up the Save / Load dialog.

Clicking the button a second time will close the Save / Load Dialog.

When saving a "set up" you will be storing all of the Instrument Strip settings, the chord progression, key, scale and bpm information.

Essentially, you'll be saving the current "state" of the player, which you can then load at a different time.




Automatic Mode / Shuffle

After clicking the main "shuffle" icon, an entirely new setup will be generated. New instruments will get randomly selected for each Instrument Strip, a random key and BPM will be selected and a new chord progression will be created.

Once the new set up is in place, Drone FX will begin playing.

When the "shuffle" ion is on (blue), we consider Drone FX to be in "Automatic Mode". Which means that every 2 minutes, an entirely new setup will be created.

During automatic mode the following event happen continuously:

1. After 2 minutes, the current song will fade out.

2. Drone FX will pause. (The play pause button will go into the "pause" state, and the beat indicator will turn orange).

3. An entirely new set up will be created (new instruments, key, BPM and chord progression).

4. Drone FX will resume playing.

The only thing that doesn't change are the Instrument Strip controls. So, for example, if one of the Instrument Strips has the touchpad visible, it will remain visible. Likewise, the volume, pan, duration, density, notes, and ASR controls will NOT be affected.





Clicking the "gear" icon opens up the preferences window, which present you with the following buttons:

Restore Factory Settings
Clicking the "Restore Factory Settings" button will erase any stored "set ups" or instruments that you've worked on and restore the example set ups and instruments.

Online Documentation
Brings you to this page.

Pulls up the build in reference view.







The timeline is used to monitor the beat and set up the chord progression.

The timeline also includes a "fast forward" button and a "shuffle" button, as well as "loop indicators" above each chord.



Clicking on a chord will highlight the selected chord and bring up the chord editor dialog.

The chord editor displays three rows of chords:

1º - The "primary" chords for the selected key.

2º - The "secondary" chords for the selected key.

3º - Then "alternate" chords for the selected key.

The "Repeat" refers to how many times the chord will get repeated. The small yellow dots above each chord in the timeline reflect the value selected.

The chord editor will remain open until you click the "Done" button, which allows you to edit multiple chords quickly.







HINT: If you change the "key" while the chord editor is open, the chord editor will update to reflect the selected key.


Each chord consists of 4 beats. As you can see in the graphic to the right, the blue light is "on" at beat 3.

The graphic also shows that this chord will be lopped 4 times, as indicated by the four small yellowish dots above the chord.

So this particular chord will get repeated 4 times, for a total of 16 beats, before advancing to the next chord.



Clicking the fast forward button advances the timeline to the next chord, leaping over any established "loops".



Clicking the mini-shuffle icon will randomize the overall chord progression.

While the mini-shuffle icon is "on" (blue), chords will automatically shuffle once the timeline is complete.



Secondary Controls



The secondary controls allow you to control the key, scale and BPM (Beats Per Minute)

Clicking on one of these controls will bring up the selector dialog, allowing you to scroll though various options

Clicking on the control a second time will close the selector dialog.


The "Key" control contains the seven basic keys plus their sharp counter parts:

























Flat (b) notes are not included in the list because flat notes are equivalent to their sharp counter parts.

For example, A flat (Ab) is technically the same note as G#



Drone FX includes 4 scales:

- Major
- Minor
- Harmonic
- Melodic

Each scale includes a unique set of chords specific to that particular scale.

If the Chord Editor is open, changing the key or scale will update the display list instantly.



BPM (Beats Per Minute) ranges from 1 to 90 and controls the overall speed at which Drone FX runs at.

BPM is an important aspect of Drone FX because not only does it control playback speed, it also influences an instrument's duration, density and ASR (Attack Sustain and Release) because each of these controls are based on the idea of a "beat".





Instrument Strips



There are 5 available Instrument Strips, each contains the following controls:

1 - Volume

2 - Pan

3 - Duration

4 - Density

5 - Pitch

6 - ASR (Attack Sustain, Release)

7 - Next Event Countdown

8 - Label

9 - Instrument Selector

10 - Touchpad Toggle

11 - Load Save instrument Settings



Volume, Pan, Duration, Density controls are referred to as "range sliders" -- meaning that there is a high and low setting for each control.

This provides a means to offer a sense of randomness when an event occurs.

At the moment that an event is cued for play, Drone FX randomly selects a value somewhere in between the high and low setting.

If a range slider is closed (no color showing), then the value specified will be used exclusively.



When adjusting the range slider, a small "pop up" box appears, which indicates the actual value that is being set.

Logarithmic Scales

You should note that some of the range sliders are graduated on a logarithmic scale. The higher the number, the more tightly the values are clustered. The lower the number, the more spread out.

This provides for more accurate settings on the lower end.







Controls the output volume for the instrument. This control uses a logarithmic scale.





The touchpad uses the volume control settings to establish the high and low values for the left-to-rght volume feature.

Touching a touchpad key toward the left-hand side will play the instrument quietly, based on the "low" setting for the volume controls, whereas touching a key on the right-hand side will play the instrument loudly based on the "high" setting for the volume control.





Controls the left-to-right stereo balance. Settings toward the top output the sound to the right speaker, settings at the bottom output the sound to the left speaker.

Top = Right
Bottom = Left






Controls how long the sound plays.

The values for this control range from 0.25 to 24 and reference beats.

For example, setting duration to 8 will cause the sound to play for 8 beats.





Controls how often a sound plays.

The values for this control range from 0.25 to 24 and reference beats.

For example, setting density to 8 will cause the sound to play once every 8 beats.





Controls the pitch range.

Each instrument covers three octaves. (For al the midi nerds out there, a note range from C-1 through Cs-3.)

Selecting the top option plays back high notes, the lower option plays notes in a lower octave range.

When an event is triggered, the corresponding note turns blue on the keyboard, providing a reference to which note was actually played.



ASR (Attack, Sustain, Release)

Controls the "shape" of the sound. In nerd-terms, this is the sound's "envelope".

When a sound starts to play, how quickly will it get to full volume.

Once at full volume, how long will it remain at full volume before it starts the “release” phase.

How long it takes to go from full volume to zero volume.

The ASR control offers a value range from 0 to 1 and is based on the duration control settings.

You can think of the 0 -1 range as 0% to 100%, where 100% refers to the total duration of the sound.

"Full volume" actually refers to the volume established by the volume control.




Imagine the sound visually starting at the bottom of the "tube". As the sound moves through time, it moves toward the top of the tube.

In our graphic tot he right:

- The sound begins at the bottom at 0% volume. During the "attack" phase, the volume rises to 100% until it hits the first ASR handle.

- It now enters the "sustain" phase, where the sound continues to play at 100% volume until it hits the second ASR handle.

- During the "release" phase, the volume will decrease to 0% until it reaches the top of the tube.

The entire cycle is dependent on the duration, as established by the duration control.

For example, with the duration control set to 9, the sound will play for 9 beats. The volume will gradually increase for 3 beats, will remain at full volume for 3 beats, and will gradually decrease for 3 beats. For a total "cycle" of 9 beats, as defined by the "duration" control.



There are two kinds of sounds available in Drone FX. A "hit" and a "loop". In the browser, instruments are flagged with symbols to reflect their kind.

The symbol means "loop" and the means "hit".

The ASR control handles "loop" instruments are slightly differently than "hit" instruments.

- "Looped" instruments take on the full duration as defined by the duration control.

- "Hit" instruments are NOT "time stretched" to accommodate the time as defined by the duration control. Hit instruments are set to a fixed length.

While the ASR control still offers sound "shaping" for hit instruments, the total duration for the hit instrument is determined by the fixed length of the actual sound file.

So for "hit" instruments, the duration control has no affect on ASR control, because the duration of a "hit" instrument is fixed.

However, the ASR control still apples attack, sustain and release attributes to the sound. It's just that the 0-1 values within the ASR control relate to 0-100% of the fixed length of the sound.




Instrument Controls



Toward the bottom of each Instrument Strip we've included a label showing the category (in all caps) and instrument name.

Next Event Countdown

Above the label is an orange line, which provides a visual reference for how long it will be before the sound is played again.

As the timeline advances, this orange line will shrink until it disappears completely. It is at this point in time that a new event is triggered and the orange line expands to full width.

The time it takes before a new event is triggered is determined by the density control. Since the density controls how often an instrument played, and the value is selected randomly between the high and low values established by the density range slider, the orange line will count down slower or faster, depending on the values established.







Sound Selector

Clicking the sound selection button will open instrument browser in the data view area.

Clicking the button a second time will close the instrument browser.



When first opened, you are presented with a "categories" list. Clicking a category will reveal all of the available instrument sounds for that category.



The instruments list displays each sound starting with a or a symbol.

The symbol means the sound is a "loop".

The symbol means the sound is a "hit".

Clicking on an item in the list will preview the sound. The piano roll to the right allows you to preview the pitch ranges.





Touchpad Toggle

Clicking the small piano icon reveals the touchpad.

Clicking the icon a second time hides the touchpad.






The touchpad allows you to use Drone FX like a keyboard. A total of 9 "keys" are available, which span all three of the available octave ranges -- 3 keys per octave.

HINT: Enabling the touch pad can also act as a mute switch, since when the touchpad is active, the instrument will only play if you touch a key on the touchpad.

You can continue to allow Drone FX to automatically play other instruments automatically while one or more of the touchpads are active -- enabling you to play along with the automation.



The touchpad is set up to play softly when touching a key toward the left, and play louder when touching a key on the right.

The volume levels for the left-to-right loudness are controlled by the volume range slider. Where the left hand "softer" touch is related to the "low" value and the right hand "louder" value is determined by the "high" value of the volume range slider.




Save / Load Instrument Settings

Clicking the heart icon displays the save / load dialog, enabling you to save and recall individual Instrument Strip settings.

Clicking the heart icon a second time closes the save / load dialog and/or the data view area.







Ambient Generative Soundscape Music

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