- Setting up
- Samples and instruments
Beatnik Editor is a software that allows you author music in the Rich Media Format (*.rmf), a MIDI-based format with support for custom samples. It was created by Thomas Dolby's audio startup Beatnik and used for music on WebTV and some 90s websites, and later for ringtones. The format is played on the Beatnik Audio Engine (BAE), as well as the mobile version miniBAE. Sessions are saved in the Beatnik Session (*.bsn) format. It can also be used for authoring regular MIDIs without additional samples.
The software is effectively abandonware; Beatnik shut down in 2011 and the software is no longer commercially sold. The Windows version of Beatnik Editor 2.1 can be downloaded here
, while the classic Mac OS version is available here
To set up the software on Windows, firstly install the program and open it. This will open up a session using the default patches111 soundbank. Install a MIDI routing software such as loopmidi, which will allow routing between Beatnik Editor and your MIDI editor of choice. Set loopmidi as the MIDI input device in Beatnik Editor by going to Preferences. In your MIDI editor, set the channels to use loopmidi as the output.
There are a number of soundbanks you can use, with sessions available for them. You could even make your own if you feel like it! Note that you cannot edit built-in samples and instruments that are in banks 0 and 1 (unless you use Expert Converter), but you can of course edit custom samples in bank 2.
The default bank is patches111. This is around 1MB and contains two banks: one with standard GM instruments and another with unique Beatnik patches (similar to how XG has extra patches). Alternate and compressed versions were also made, particularly for WebTV devices. Another bank, soundbank-deluxe, shipped with Java and contains higher quality instruments but no bank 1 patches.
(compressed version of patches111 for slower internet connections at the time)
(BeOS version of patches111)
* WebTV Classic (alpha) bank
* WebTV Plus version of patches
These are sessions for banks that shipped on mobile phones. These are very different in sound from the above banks, with much of the samples being created from original instrument recordings. These also contain a handful of additional instruments in banks 1 and 2, with the exception of SalterNokia Rev8a and its derivatives.
* Danger Hiptop I/II
* HruskaNokia Rev5
(a rejected/prototype Nokia soundbank)
* Nokia Chippy bank
(used on mid-low end Series 40 Nokia phones from 2002-2005)
* Nokia Idefix bank
(used on low end Series 40 Nokia phones from 2005-2010)
* Nokia Large bank
(used on mid-high end Symbian/Series 40 Nokia phones from 2002-2004)
* Nokia Mango bank
(used on experimental Symbian/Series 40 Nokia phones from 2003-2004)
* Nokia Mango bank (earlier revision)
(not used on any phone; leaked)
* SalterNokia Rev4
(a rejected/prototype Nokia soundbank)
* SalterNokia Rev8a
(a rejected/prototype Nokia soundbank; used on early revisions of the Sony Ericsson P800)
* Sony Ericsson P800
(bank used on later revisions of the P800; EQ'd version of above bank)
* Sony Ericsson P900/P910i
(EQ'd version of above bank)
Samples and instruments
You can add your own samples to the session. Simply drag and drop the sample into the samples window. You can also apply compression to the sample by right clicking and selecting Compression in the context menu, then you can choose between ADCPM, uLaw, aLaw and various MPEG options. Note that playBAE
does not support MPEG, nor does mobile phones that run miniBAE.
After importing samples, you can create instruments from them. Right click and select "Make Instrument Using", which creates an instrument from the sample. You can edit the instrument and change aspects such as samples used, note ranges and also apply effects such as LFO and flanger. To use the custom samples/instruments in your MIDI, select bank 2 in MIDI controller 0.
As well as standard MIDI effects such as panning, Beatnik allows for reverb and chorus effects to be used on MIDI tracks.
For reverb, controller 90 sets the type of reverb (1 is none, 2 to 7 are mono types, and 8 to 11 are stereo types). Controller 91 allows you to control the reverb - mono reverb can only be turned on or off (14 or less for off, 15 or more for on) while stereo reverb's volume is controlled by how high the value is.
Chorus can only be used if stereo reverb is in use. Controller 93 is used to control the chorus send the same way that 91 is used for the reverb send.
Do note that it only has one digital sound processor, so don't expect to use different types of reverb for different tracks for example. It's recommended to create a track specifically for effects and if you don't want them on certain tracks, turn off the reverb/chorus send on those tracks. These effects are not supported on mobile phones using miniBAE, although the following Nokia phones apply their own custom reverb for playing back MIDIs: 3220, 6020 and 7260.
Once you are done composing, if you are using custom samples then you must import the MIDI into the session then export it as RMF, so that the samples are included in the RMF and will play back the samples on a player that supports the format. This step is not needed if you are just using Beatnik Editor to author MIDIs without custom samples. You can also export the MIDI/RMF as a WAV file by selecting "Export as Audio" from File.
Other than the editor itself, RMFs can be played back using:
* BeatnikX Player
(GUI player using BAE)
(command-line player using miniBAE)
Symbian-based phones using miniBAE (such as the Nokia 7650, Danger Hiptop and Sony Ericsson P800) can play back RMFs, but do not support DSP effects or MPEG samples. Series 40-based Nokia phones using miniBAE have limited-to-no support for RMF. With the exception of the P800/P900/P910i, these phones only output audio in mono, so consider that if you're writing music for specific phones.