by Stephanie L. Carlin
It’s funny how the logo for Digital Performer is made up of colors of the rainbow because if there’s anything I think about when I think about Digital Performer, it’s not rainbows. It’s more like thunderstorms, volcanos erupting, and scary clowns. Ah, Digital Performer (DP), you bizarre program that’s required for music production for some reason. It’s like that band that was really popular in the late 2000’s, you hardly ever hear about them now, and when you do, it’s not good, but some people still like it. I personally don’t like DP and know many professors that find it impractical compared to Logic and Pro Tools. While I don’t have as many tips today, I will link to the user guide I used to make this list. But first, I’ll show you what I’ve found.
Everything is in the Mixer
The mixer controls in DP are always located above the track listings and they control everything. Unlike Logic where you can select unhand instruments in the Sound Library, DP relies on you to provide your sounds and relies on you to understand how buses work. Every output, and I mean EVERY output has to be routed to a bus to be heard, and on top of that, you have to make an aux track to make a bus visible. Have you ever wondered why DP projects always look like there are too many tracks in them? That’s why.
How to Quantize in DP
It’s a little confusing considering the symbols near the audio file don’t necessarily scream “QUANTIZE.” In order to quantize a MIDI passage, select the passage and then hit command zero. You will be greeted by a very confusing window, but before you click on your desired method, make sure “attacks” and “don’t change durations” are tabbed because apparently, DP needs to be reminded not to screw up. Then click “okay,” and the MIDI passage should be quantized to your liking.
The Key Commands are Different
Yes. The key commands are different. To make a new track folder, it’s option command R. To cool an existing track, it’s control-click shift S. Instead of control C for “copy,” it is option.
Luckily, if you get lost or frustrated, there’s a Command Menu that you can find in the Set-up window.
Soundbites are the Apples Loops of DP
Yeah, DP has Apple Loops, kinda. They’re accessible through the Sequence Window, and like Apple Loops, you can select the soundbite and drag it to the desired audio file. You can also make an audio file to your liking for the soundbite.
Something to note: if you want to delete a sound from your project, there is a difference between “delete” and “compact” in this case (I know, I know but just read on). If you “compact” an audio file in your project, it will get rid of the file in the project but save it in the soundbite library for later use. If you “delete”a soundbite, it will to only delete if from your project but delete the ENTIRE folder trail as well as audio file. So, please be careful.
Apparently, you need more than one program to score in DP
Sigh. DP, it’s not hard to code your program to figure out the frame rate of a clip. At least, as far as I know. If you go to the motuTV YouTube page for film scoring tips, they actually suggest for you to use Quicktime to figure out the frame rate of video because sometimes DP doesn’t get an accurate reading. Additionally, if it’s inaccurate enough, not only will your music not align but your project might crash as well and even corrupt audio files if you’re not careful.
Bonus: Meditate with your chakras
There’s actually a section in the user guide called “Avoiding Disaster,” so you’re likely going to have one occur. You probably don’t know what chakras are, and neither do I, but I was told by my stuffy, urban friends back in Chicago that when their chakras are aligned, they are at peace. Still don’t know what that means but hopefully this chart prevents you from taking your computer and kicking it off a cliff.
I didn’t have the best time looking through this guide for tips but, if you’d like to learn more, I’ll post the link for the user guide here.