PerformerNotes.co.uk - a resource for Digital Performer users

PerformerNotes.co.uk is an online extension of the Digital Performer technique column, Performer Notes, published in the UK-based magazine Sound on Sound since 2001.

It's primarily intended to be a information resource for all users of Digital Performer (and related MOTU products), with an index of and links to the more than 100 Performer Notes articles, plus links to major DP-related internet discussion forums and third-party developer websites.

All about Digital Performer

Digital Performer is a sequencer application (or Digital Audio Workstation) for Apple Macintosh computers, by US-based company Mark of the Unicorn. It’s designed to be able to handle pretty much anything you throw at it for music composition, audio recording, and film scoring. It’s as fluent with MIDI (the language synths use to communicate with computers, and each other) as it is with audio (which it records digitally, on your computer’s hard disk). What's more, it can manipulate both MIDI and audio in real-time, offering digital, software-based emulations of reverbs, delays, compressors, synths and samplers which used to be available in studios only in hardware form. DP comes bundled with a broad range of these ‘plug-ins’, and also supports major plug-in formats used by third party developers.

The basic principle of Digital Performer (or any other sequencer) is similar to a video editing application like Apple's iMovie - it gives you get a time-line (albeit one that can be set to musical bars and beats rather than just minutes and seconds) on which MIDI notes and audio clips can be recorded and edited, and multiple tracks, so that you can layer lots of MIDI and audio tracks on top of each other but still retain individual control over each of them. To control the relative volumes of each track (to pick just one example) you use DP's Mixing Board, which is a software emulation of a mixing desk, and one part of a sophisticated digital signal routing and mixing environment. When you've recorded, edited and mixed your music DP can play it back as a finished performance, which you can then burn to a CD, or save as an mp3, and hopefully start bringing in the bucks, or spreading the joy.

DP competes with a number of similar Digital Audio Workstation products that broadly offer the same thing. Examples include Apple Logic, Digidesign ProTools, and Steinberg Cubase. Which is the best? None of them - but some are better suited to specific tasks than others. DP has carved out a niche in film scoring and music-for-picture, and has heavyweight audio and MIDI editing features that make it suitable for experienced users taking on complex projects.