Once you have
DAWG installed on your machine, the next step is to open the software and familiarize yourself with the basics. To do this, find the
DAWG launch icon and double click it. The software will take a few seconds to initialize and will display a loading animation while this occurs. After loading has been completed, you will see an empty project.
Command Palette is a core aspect of DAWG's navigation system and is accessible using the
CmdOrCtrl+Shift+P keyboard shortcut. Once you open the palette, use your up and down keys to navigate the available commands. This feature aims to list all commands that are currently available to you given your current context.
DAWG features a wide variety of keyboard shortcuts to help you quickly access features without moving your mouse. The easiest way to view these shortcuts at the moment is by accessing the Command Palette using the
CmdOrCtrl+Shift+P shortcut. After the palette comes up, you will see a full list of the available shortcuts that you currently have access to. If available, the shortcuts will be located on the right-hand side of the command.
In the future, this list of shortcuts will continue to grow as features are added and the shortcut technology is enhanced.
DAWG aims to provide an extensibility mechanism that allows anyone to modify the default shortcuts to suit their needs and preferences.
- Toolbar - The toolbar is located at the top of the screen and contains project settings, the current playback time, and the play/pause buttons.
- Activity Bar - The activity bar is located in the far left-hand side of the application and contains tab icons. Clicking icons changes the view in the Side Bar.
- Side Bar - Contains different views that are selected by the Activity Bar.
- Panels - Contains different panels that can be changed using the panel headers.
- Status Bar - The status bar contains relevant information such as the currently opened project and the Cloud Backup status.
- Menu bar - Contains all the sub menus. Also contains the window controls.
DAWG saves configuration information that is related to your project (although not apart of the project) in your workspace configuration. For example, when the application is closes, the opened tabs are serialized the the file system so that when you open up a project the exact same tabs are opened. This all happens behind the scenes but it is important to understand that each project will have its own "workspace" configuration.
DAWG also stores "global" configuration information which, unlike "workspace" configuration, affects all projects. For example, the folders you have opened in your File Explorer are synced across all projects. As stated above, this all happens behind the scenes 😃
Project settings are located in two locations, the toolbar and from a popup located in the Activity Bar. Click the settings icon in the Activity Bar to activate the popup. In the toolbar, you will be able to change the BPM and eventually the time signature. In the settings, you will find the full list of configurable parameters (e.g. the project name, whether to backup your project). This information can be stored in one of three location: the actual Project File, the Global Configuration or the Workspace Configuration.
When you press the play button, you could either play the contents of the Playlist or the currently selected Pattern. The context, defined as either
Pattern, specifies which item you actually wish to play. To change this, use the two rectangles on the far right-hand side of the Toolbar. If you find yourself switching contexts fairly often, make sure to use the Keyboard Shortcut.
DAWG comes with several builtin themes. To change your theme, open up the Command Palette and select
Change Theme. As you move with your arrow keys, the themes will preview within the DAW. At the moment, it is not possible to define custom themes.
DAWG keeps a detailed history of all your actions which you can view by navigating to the
History tab in the Activity Bar. From there, you can see your history and seek a particular point in time. Furthermore, you can use the common
CtrlOrCmd+Shift+Z to undo and redo respectively.
DAWG saves the project file to the file system with a
.dg extension. This enables us to correctly identify project files; however, they are really just
JSON files in disguise. If you know what you're doing, feel free to open up and modify them in a text editor. Beware of modifying the file's contents though as it will not open correctly if not properly formatted.
Saving the Project
To save a project, navigate to
Save. This will open up your operating systems file dialog where you will be able to specify a location to save the current project file. When naming the file, if a
.dg extension is not provided, it is automatically appended before saving. After choosing the path, the project will be automatically saved to that path every time you press
Save. To force the application to save to a new file location, use the
Save As command.
Opening a Project
Similar to the restrictions on saving a file, we will only let you open up a folder that has a
.dg extension. Navigate to
Open to open up the file dialog. After choosing a new file,
DAWG will reload and open your new project.
Exporting a Project
Export to start the export process. Note that due to current limitations, we have to export the project in real-time (ie. if your song is 1 minute long it will take 1 minute to export).
Audio files can be imported into the project using the Workspace Folders. Currently, the only way to import audio files into the project is by dragging audio files from the opened folders into the Playlist. Every time you drag in a new file,
DAWG checks to see if you've already imported the audio file and adds it to the project if you haven't. These audio files are displayed in the
Audio Files tab within the Activity Bar. The audio files listed in the
Audio Files tab can also be dragged into the Playlist. To remove an audio file from your project, right-click and select
Delete from the dropdown.
Audio files are uniquely identified by their path. This means that changing the location of audio files will cause errors in your project. Consequently, moving a project from one computer to another is not very well supported. Better methods to uniquely identify audio files are being researched and will be implemented as soon as possible. When implemented, projects will be able to recover missing audio files using these unique identifiers.
Patterns store sequence information that can be started/stopped as a single unit and scheduled in the Playlist at one or more locations. Each
Pattern contains score information for each Instrument. To create a pattern, select the
Patterns tab within the Activity Bar and click the
Add Pattern button. This will create a new
Pattern with a unique name and add it to the
Pattern list. By default, the first
Pattern that you create will be selected. Once you create another
Pattern, simply click on the
Pattern you wish to select. By selecting a
Pattern, you change which is previewed when you press play and which scores are displayed in the Piano Roll.
Two instruments that each contain a score that was created using the
Piano Roll. Both of these scores are stored within a
Piano Roll allows you to sequence notes (aka a score) for a specific Instrument. Each score is associated with exactly one Instrument and belongs to exactly one
Pattern. To start a score, make sure you have a
Pattern selected, then right-click an
Instrument and click
Open in Piano Roll. To return to a score, just use the same commands as above. See the Sequencer section to learn how to sequence notes.
Piano Rollwith a basic sequence of notes.
Score is a generic term that is commonly used for sheet music. Although the
Piano Roll does not actually create sheet music, we have adopted the term to suit our needs. See here for more information about the relationship between sheet music and scores.
Sequencing, also know as scheduling events to occur at a particular time, is an essential aspect of music production. For example, you may want to sequence a melody, a chord progression, or a set of audio samples. The
Sequencer component, used by both the Playlist and Piano Roll, manages all sequencing that occurs within
DAWG. Although the types of elements that each
Sequencer is able to sequence may differ, the available tools at your disposal remain almost identical.
The layout should feel intuitive if you've ever used a DAW before. Depending on the type of
Sequencer, each row represents something different (ex. each row in the Piano Roll represents a different note); however, every column represents a location in time, regardless of the exact implementation. Each column, divided by least thick line, represents
1/4th of a beat. The medium line thickness represents the start/end of a beat and the thickest line represents the start/end of a bar/measure.
To add an element, just click anywhere within the
Sequencer. Depending on the type of
Sequencer, this may or may not work. For example, with a Piano Roll, the only type of element is a note. Therefore, when you click within a
Piano Roll, a note will always appear. In contrast, in
Sequencers such as the Playlist, no default is provided. For such systems, you must add an element first before another can be created by clicking. Refer to the specific
Sequencer information section for more information about adding the initial item.
To delete a scheduled element, right-click on the element you wish to remove. It is also possible to remove more than one element at once using Selection Tool.
Copying an Element
To copy an element, just click on it. Afterward, anytime you click within the
Sequencer a copy will appear. Another way to copy an element is by holding
Shift, pressing down on the element you wish to copy, and dragging to the desired location.
Changing Element Duration
To change the length of an element, hover your mouse ever the right-hand side of an element until you see the two-sided horizontal arrow. Press down on your mouse and drag horizontally until the desired length is obtained.
Sequencing elements can easily become tedious. To avoid this problem, moving, copying, and changing the duration of an element can all be batched by first selecting a group of elements and then applying the desired operation to a single element. For example, if you want to move all of the notes in the
Piano Roll to a new octave, you could select all of the notes using the selection tool and then drag one of the notes to the desired octave. Since all of the notes are selected, they will all move in unison. To select a group of elements, press down within the
Sequencer (not on an element) and drag your mouse such that the desired elements are selected. Furthermore, it is possible to delete selected elements using the
To use the selection tool, select the hand that is "pointing" in the top-left corner of the sequencer.
Slicing is a tool that allows you to quickly cut a Sample, Pattern or Automation Clip in two. Slicing will occur if and only if the line overlaps with at least 50% of the vertical portion of an element and will occur at the middle point between the intersection of the line with the top and bottom of the element. This may sound a bit confusing but it should be pretty intuitive once you start using it!
To use the slicer tool, select the hand that is making the "scissors" symbol in the top-left corner of the sequencer.
Grid snapping helps you while scheduling elements in the Playlist and Piano Roll. In the sequencer, the number next to the upside down horseshoe magnet indicates the current snap value (measured in steps). By default, this value is set to
1 but is easily changed by clicking on the the magnet. To remove snapping completely, hold down on the
Alt (Windows/Linux) or
⌥ (Mac) performing operations in the sequencer. For example, this value is used while changing the start time of an element or its duration.
Seeking a Position
To seek a particular time in the
Sequencer, click a position on the timeline. The timeline cursor will automatically seek that position, even if it is currently in its playback state and will restart playback from the chosen position.
A view of the first 9 timeline bars. The timeline cursor is currently at time
0(the start of beat
Previewing & Looping
To preview your creation, make sure you are in the correct context and press play. This will play all of the elements in your sequence before starting over at the beginning. If you wish to loop a section of the sequence, right-click on the timeline and start to drag your mouse. The loop start and end can be altered by pressing down on the end you wish to change and dragging to the desired position. To remove the loop, simply right-click anywhere within the timeline.
An image of the Piano Roll with a loop set between the
It is possible to adjust the height and width of the
Sequencer. To adjust the width, hover over the Timeline, hold
Ctrl and scroll with your mouse wheel. To adjust the height of the
Sequencer, hover your mouse over the piano or track list (depending on whether you are using the Piano Roll or Playlist), hold
Ctrl and scroll with your mouse wheel. Right now, it is not possible to use a trackpad to adjust these settings; however, that feature is in the backlog.
The mixer allows you to add different Effects to instruments. Currently, there are ten different channels available to be used. Each channel takes in a number of inputs and produces the same number of outputs. Each channel can have up to ten Effects which are applied in the order they appear in the channel (top to bottom). Volume, panning, and muting controls are also available at the bottom of the channel.
Channel 0has one effect in the third slot. The settings are being displayed on the right-hand side.
An Instrument routed to channel
Effects are software or hardware elements that manipulate an audio signal in some way. See here for a more detailed overview and some examples. Effects are inserted into channels within the Mixer and manipulate the instruments that are routed to that particular channel. DAWG currently features the following effects:
- Bit Crusher
- Ping Pong Delay
Instruments are used as a starting point for different sounds. To create a new instrument, navigate to the
Instruments panel and click the
Add Instrument button. This will find a unique name and append a new synthesizer to the instrument list. Using the controls, you can mute the instrument, adjust its gain and panning values, and assign the instrument to a channel (see Mixer). To change the oscillator, double-click anywhere on the instrument. This will expand the area and display a dropdown where you will be able to select a new oscillator type. Double-click again to close the expanded area.
Currently, we only support our integrated synthesizers and do support other sources such as SoundFonts and VSTs (see here for more information).
Playlists are a core feature of DAWG's audio system. Similar to FL Studio, the playlist represents the overall composition and may contain Automation Clips, Audio Files, and Patterns. To learn more about sequencing elements in the
Playlist, visit the Sequencer section.
Audio Files and Patterns are added to the
Playlist through a drag-and-drop mechanism. Open up either of the
Audio Files or
Patterns tabs and drag the Audio File or Pattern the desired location within the
Playlist. See the Automation Clip section to learn how to add Automation Clips to the
Adding folders to a workspace is an essential step during the setup process. This will enable you to import and use
WAV files within the project. If you haven't added any folders yet, you will immediately see the
Open Folder button when you open the project. Since you can add more than one folder to your workspace, navigate to
Add Folder to Workspace to add more folders. These folders will be persisted across projects as they are common to a computer rather than a project.
Automation clips allow you to automate parameters found within DAWG's interface. When
VST support is added (see here), you will also be able to automate any parameter found within third-party synthesizers or effects. To automate a value, right click on the item you would like to automate and select
Create Automation Clip. DAWG will find the first available track in the Playlist and create a new
Automation Clip. If the loop start and end bounds are set within the
Automation Clip will respect those bounds when created.
An automation clip for the instrument volume.
A newly created
Automation Clip will have two values by default, one at the start and one at the end. Click and drag on points to change their value or location To add a new point, simply click anywhere within the element. Once created, these points can be dragged like any other. Right-click on any point and select
Delete to remove the point.
Cloud integration is one of the features that sets DAWG apart from other workstations. Currently, only basic cloud backup is supported; however, we have big plans for the future.
Backing Up Your Project
To initiate the backup mechanism, open up the settings popup and toggle
Cloud Backup. If this setting is disabled, make sure that the
Project Name field is not empty. Once this is activated, anytime you save the project, a copy will be pushed to a cloud database. We currently use Google's
Firebase for fast, reliable, and secure storage. Beware, there is currently no authentication system so your project file will be visible to everyone if synced to the cloud.
Once activated, you will see the status of the backup in the Status Bar.
Restoring Your Project
To restore a project that is stored in the cloud, to go
Open From Backup. A modal will appear that will list all of the available projects.
Simply choose the project you wish to restore and DAWG will handle the rest.
Make sure to save your project before opening a project from the cloud.
Machine Learning Models
DAWG is taking full advantage of recent advances in machine learning technology by embedding Vocal Separation and Automatic Piano Transcription models. The Vocal Separation model separates vocals from a complete song into a distinct track. The Automatic Piano Transcription model transcribes a piano track to a MIDI file. Both models output their resulting files to the project resources.
To separate the vocals from a full track, simply double click a song in the File Explorer to open it in the
Sample Tab and click
Separate. This component is only compatible with
.wav file formats.
Automatic Piano Transcription
To transcribe a piano track to midi, simply double click a song in the File Explorer to open it in the
Sample Tab and click
Transcribe. This component is only compatible with
.wav file formats and is limited to piano tracks.