I usually write down percussion pattern using Microsoft Excel. Almost everyone is familiar with Excel and Excel is sufficient to keep the grooves in mind ;-) But there was something missing to export the music sheets to SP-404SX. So I decided to program a tool with Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) because VBA is available with every Excel program. I called it SheetMusic2Pattern and it took me some evenings to get it run but finally it works! First release is from 2014-10-26. Further improvements are planned, see Releases section or sp-forums.com.
The first step is always your idea. Here is a pdf export of a simple demo song (Samba Reggae) from an Excel sheet of music: SheetMusic2Pattern-SambaReggae
The SheetMusic2Pattern tool comes along with some internal worksheets and one VBA code module:
Sheet of Music
- write down your pattern here
- you can add additional worksheets for your songs
- there are no naming conventions for music worksheets, except
- define your instruments: name, bank, pad, max-velocity
- a NULL instrument is used to insert empty or placeholder rows.
- an internal worksheet that is temporary used to import/export SP-404SX-specific note information
I use the following terms when describing the SheetMusic2Pattern tool:
- A measure is a segment of time defined by a given number of beats where the SP-404SX assumes four beats per measure.
- The quantization value represents the number of fractions (columns) of a single measure. Typical values are 16 for a 4/4 time signature or 12 for a 12/8 signature.
- The VBA code is prepared to deal with any quantization value that is a divisor of 96 because the SP-404SX assumes four beats per measure. You can enter an individual quantization value per bar.
- A bar covers one single or two measures. You cat enter an individual measures per bar value per bar. I usually have two measures per bar.
- A bar can handle up to 24 rows where each row represents one single instrument (=pad). Each row starts with an instrument drop down cell. You can select the predefined instruments here. See worksheet „Instrument“. You don’t have to use all 24 rows if your pattern only triggers a few instruments. Keep in mind that SP-404SX can play up to 12 mono or 6 stereo samples at a time.
- Each instrument has an self-explanatory name. Instruments are predefined by worksheet Instrument and have following parameters: name, bank, pad, max-velocity. The instruments defined here are available to the SheetMusic by reference. The more instruments defined, the more instruments are available in instrument drop-down column.
- The parameter max-velocity allows you to arrange the volume of your orchestra
- A single note defines the time (=tick) within a measure and the volume (=velocity).
- The velocity symbol is one single character (. o O #) where the dot (.) represents minimum (25%) velocity and the hash sign (#) represents maximum (100%) velocity.
- You will find no „duration“ or „length“ indicator because I decided to trigger „non-gated“ pads: Once triggered, the entire sample is being played.
- A NULL Instrument (MIDI note: 0x80, Velocity: 0x00) is a placeholder value for empty rows or wait instances
- You will find the NULL-Instrument in the Instruments workbook.
How to use
- Get some samples and copy them to SD-card, using the Roland Wave Converter Software
- Put all pad in non-gate mode: Gate indicator lamp should be off
- Download and decompress SheetMusic2Pattern archive and open the Excel workbook. The wav file is used for pre-listening (ClickIt)
- Activate or confirm usage of macros
- Edit Instrument worksheet and define your instruments. New instruments will automatically expand the table and instrument drop-down cells.
- Edit SheetMusic worksheet. If you need more bars, simply copy & paste them. Use the Insert button (top,right) to append an empty row to the active bar.
- Edit pattern bank and pattern pad cells. This setting is used to calculate the pattern file name
- Save entire workbook.
- Press Export button and select your SP-404SX SD-card (for me: F:ROLANDSP-404SXPTN). The tool will write a SP-404SX-specific pattern file to desired destination.
- Safely eject the SD-Card from your computer and put it in your (powered-off) SP-404SX. Power-on and test your pattern.
I have tested SheetBusic2Pattern on:
- Firmware 1.08
- Windows 7 (64 Bit)
- V 7
I have released following versions of SheetMusic2Pattern software:
- Initial release with basic functionality
- Compatible to Roland SP-404SX firmware version 1.07 and 1.08
- Minor bug fixes
- Added release info to message boxes
- Move control away from worksheets toward VBA macros. Reduce references or lookups between worksheets
- Remove columns for InstrumentValue and InstrumentMaxVelocity on music worksheet
- Remove MIDI worksheet.
- Cleanup Transfer worksheet before and after Export
- Multiple music worksheets per Excel workbook
- Flexible repeat counter, measures and quantization per bar!
- This allows you to save paper ;-) and to be flexible within a song. E.g. switch from 12/8 to 4/4
- Minor bug fixes
- More integrity checks
- Bug fixing
- More integrity checks
- Tested with MS Excel 2010
- Pre-listening (ClickIt beta release!) will play all notes, using the attached wav file
- Bug fixing (Click noise when double-triggering the same sample)
- Changed maximum measures per bar limit from 2 to 4
- Midi file (*.mid) export
- Flam and triplet notes
- Import SP-404SX pattern file to Excel
- Align imported notes according quantization settings (Synchronizer)
Double-triggering at different volume
- When playing the same sample (pad) at different volumes (velocity values) you might hear a click noise. The click noise is clear audible when the sample is triggered a second time with lower volume. When double-triggering the same sample at different volumes, the SP will change the velocity even the first sample is not finished.
- See: https://sp-forums.com/viewtopic.php?p=141934#p141934
Can’t break/stop Click-it play mode
- This „feature“ will play the whole pattern. The loop can’t interrupted and when the patten is long you have to wait a long time until the loop has finished.
Download & Feedback
You can download and test the latest release of SheetMusic2Pattern Excel file with VBA macro for free:
- SheetMusic2Pattern (latest release)
- Copyright (c) 2014 Peter Wellmann
- Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the „Software“), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:
- THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED „AS IS“, WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NON-INFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.
The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.
You may have to enable VBA macros to use the tool. The VBA macros are not visible for you and protected by password. Please revisit this page from time to time to get updates.
Any feedback, ideas, bug reports or compliments are highly appreciated: