Editing a Mood
(Note that if the SonicMood window is in its "small size" ("zoomed") state, the Moods and Themes lists and Edit panel will not be visible. In order to see the lists, click the green "+" in the titlebar first.)
SonicMood plays notes that are split up between three MIDI instruments that you can choose. Each instrument has its own average relative volume, the way its volume varies from note to note, its location (pan), how many notes it can play at once, what the timing is between notes, what octave they’re in, and a number of other things. In addition to the instruments, SonicMood can play looped recordings of pre-recorded sounds in a way that makes them appear non-repetitive. Those pre-recorded sounds are called "Soundfiles." The combination of a set of specific settings for the instruments and Soundfiles is called a "Mood." Moods can be created, deleted, and edited to change their qualities.
Some changes affecting Moods can be made from several of the menus on the menu bar. Create a new Mood based on an existing Mood (to give you a starting point) by selecting "New Mood" (⌥⌘N) from the "File" menu. You can save any Moods you create or modify by highlighting them in the list on the main window and selecting “Save Selected Moods...” (^⌘S) from the “File” menu. Or save all the Moods in the list by selecting “Save Mood File As...” (⇧⌘S), also from the “File” menu. You can select one or more Moods in the list and cut, copy, or delete them all using the "Edit" Menu. You can cut and paste Moods between Themes too. On the "Moods" menu or from the Moods list contextual menu (right/control-click on the Moods list) you can Create a Custom Mood. See the Help topic MenuBar for more information. See the Moods and Themes Help topic for more information.
Most Mood editing will be done using the "Edit" panel on the main window. All editing of MIDI instrument settings, note timings, octaves, key, scale, and soundfiles is done here. See the next section for more information.
Using Mood "Edit"
The "Edit" panel has 4 pages, selected using the tabs at the top: One page for selecting the instruments and most of the individual instrument settings, a page for the instrument's group settings (Musical Key and Scale, note “Patterns” used to select notes), a page for instrument "sound effects" and sound motion (both instrument and Soundfile), and a page for selecting and adjusting the sound of "Soundfiles." Changes take place immediately so you can use the Edit panel to tweak settings and listen to their effect, assuming you're editing the Mood that's playing.
Display the Edit panel (if it's not showing) by clicking the "Edit" button at the bottom right, or selecting "Edit Mood..." (⌘I) from the "Edit" menu. The Mood that's highlighted in the "Mood List" will be the Mood that's under edit.
The top of the Edit panel shows the name of the Mood being edited. On either side of the name are small round blue buttons indicating that the instrument's and soundfile's sounds are enabled. Click either or both buttons to disable those sounds. They are enabled/disabled on a Mood-by-Mood basis. To enable/disable all the Moods, use the checkboxes on the "Sound Settings" window. You can open this window from the "Controls" menu.
What follows is a discussion of the controls available on each of the four pages on this panel.
Individual Instrument Settings
On the "Inst, Vol, Notes" page you'll find controls to select and affect each instrument separately. There are three columns, one for each of the instruments. In each column there are four areas of related settings: The first area is Instrument Selection itself, followed by Volume-related Settings, Note Selection, and Note Timing.
Each column is topped by the instrument selection popup menu button labeled with the name of the selected instrument. Below that is the instrument group selection button labeled with the name of the selected group. If you want instruments from a certain group (say "guitars"), just select that group and when you choose an instrument the popup menu will be positioned at the start of that group.
Once you’ve selected an instrument, you can use the knobs below it to adjust its relative volume, pan location, and note-to-note variation in volume. The small round blue buttons just right of the "Rel Vol" (volume) knobs mute and un-mute the sound for each instrument.
Adjust the instrument’s volume relative to the other two instruments (100% is normal). To mute an instrument, click the small round blue button just right of the knob.
This is just the position (left/center/right) of the instrument’s sound.
For each instrument, this slider sets the amount of variation introduced in the volume. In other words, each note will be played with an average volume +/- a deviation that's a percentage of the volume setting. So some notes sound louder and some softer than the average. That just gives the sounds more interest; they're not all played at the same level. The higher the setting the more variation will occur in the volume of the notes.
Note selection determines how each note for an instrument is chosen from a musical scale. You can select what octave notes can start in and over what range they can sound, the number of notes each instrument can play at one time (16 notes max total for all three instruments combined), and how those notes are chosen.
Base Octave and Octave Range
SonicMood can play notes across 10 octaves (0 thru 9). So if an instrument's "base octave" is "4", the "octave range" could be "6" (4 thru 9). Setting the "octave range" to a larger value won't hurt anything, however. Notes above the 9th octave are just not played.
Number of Notes (max)
You can specify how many notes each instrument can play at once using the “Number of Notes (max)” slider. SonicMood can play up to 16 notes simultaneously, spread over the three instruments.
Selection of Notes
There are five ways a musical note (C, E, G#, etc.) is selected from a musical scale. All five methods involve picking a "note number" which indicates the position of the note in a musical scale. Musical scales are selected, displayed, and edited on the "Key, Scale, Pattern" page (see that section below for more information).
The button below the "# of notes" slider is used to choose one of the five methods (Uniform, Gaussian, Increment, Decrement, or Pattern).
The first two methods involve a random selection of the next note based on either a "Uniform" or "Gaussian" pick of its note number. The range of the selection depends on the number of notes in the chosen musical scale.
“Incremented” increases the note number by one to determine the next note. If a number is larger than the number of notes in the selected musical scale, the number and octave are adjusted appropriately. Similarly, “Decremented” decreases the note number by one.
If you select "Pattern" for an instrument, the button just below the "method" button will become enabled. When clicked, this button will list all existing note patterns, and allow you to select one. Patterns are displayed and edited on the "Key, Scale, Pattern" page, and can be selected there too. For more information see "Editing a Scale or Pattern" under "Musical Key, Scale, and Note Patterns" below.
Using a pattern is a way of choosing a note based on a list of numbers, each number referring to a note’s position in the selected scale. For example, if the pattern is “1, 3, 4” the first, third, and fourth notes in the current scale would be played in order. If the scale is “C Major” the notes would be “C, E, G”. The next note is determined by the next number in the list, wrapping around to the first number when the end of the list is reached. Note numbers are adjusted so they always select an appropriate note in an appropriate octave (i.e., within the "Octave Range").
The timing of each note is determined by the controls in this section.
SonicMood's instrument rhythms can be changed by a Mood Tempo slider that affects each Mood individually. The slider, labeled "Tempo Multiplier," is at the top of this section. The "Mood Tempo" is the speed or rhythm of the notes. If the Mood you're editing is the same one that's playing then you'll hear the Mood's notes speed up or slow down as you slide the Tempo slider to the right (up to 5 times faster) or left (down to 1/5 time).
Time Sync Buttons
When Time Sync is "On," each instrument's timing slider (below the button) will be slaved to the left hand column's slider. They will therefore have the same "Time Base" or "BPM." The multipliers for note and rest (popup menu buttons) allow each instrument to have a multiple of that basic time. If Time Sync is "Off," then each of the three sliders can be adjusted independently.
Click the "BPM" or "Sec" button to work in BPM (Beats Per Minute) or Sec (seconds) with each instrument's "Tempo ..." slider (the slider scale changes to reflect your choice).
Time/Tempo Base Slider
The length of a whole note is set by this slider. The buttons below each slider sets the type of note and rest used. "1/4" for a quarter note, etc. The total (slider times button multiplier) average length of a note or rest appears on each button, below the multiplier.
There are five different methods you can choose from to control note length (sustains) and rest (pauses). The first four use the button above the "% Random Timing" slider, while the last one uses notations added to a "Pattern."
Both "Uniform" (equal chance) or "Gaussian" (bell-shaped curve) methods provide somewhat random note timings, picked from the time value settings set by the "Tempo Base" slider and the "note" and "rest" popup list buttons.
The "Incremental" method results in an increase in the note timing for each note that's played. The starting time value is equal to the selected time for either the "note" (sustain) or "rest" (pause) values minus three times the "Var (%)" when converted to seconds. The increment time is the selected time divided by the variation plus a small value to prevent division by zero. The ending value (where it wraps around to the start again) is the selected time plus three times the variation.
The "Fixed" method uses the selected "note" or "rest" time alternating with each note plus or minus the "% Random Timing."
The last method is set on the "Key, Scale, Pattern" page and involves adding notations to the "Pattern" for an instrument, assuming the "Pattern" note selection method is used for that instrument. See "Editing a Scale or Pattern" under the "Musical Key, Scale, and Note Patterns" section below for more information on "Pattern" based timing and note selection.
NOTE: Some instruments have a natural note length (sustain) which won't be affected by the timing slider setting. Percussion instruments, for example, fall into this category. However, the time between notes (pause) for any instrument IS affected by the slider and the "Number of Notes" assigned to that instrument.
% Random Timing
For each instrument, the note length (sustain) and rest (pause) time values can vary. The “% Random Timing” slider sets that variation as a percentage of the values. If the slider is set to zero then the time will not vary and will always be what is shown on the multiplier buttons.
Note Selection and Timing Tips
These are just a couple of ideas for making some basic timing adjustments to affect a Mood.
Notes with short play and long pause times don't sound very often, making for a generally languid, quiet Mood. Setting the “Var (%)" lower will make for a more precise rhythm, more and more like a cadence. Fewer notes will produce an even more languid effect.
For a quiet Mood, I would suggest setting the whole note “Time” for each instrument to no lower than 2 seconds, the “note” multiplier to x1, and the "rest" multiplier to x2. Reducing the “Var (%)" to perhaps 10% or 20% will also help. Be sure each instrument’s "max # of simultaneous notes" is no higher than 3.
If you set short "note" and "rest" times and a larger timing variation you'll get a faster paced Mood. You can liven it up more by increasing the "max # of simultaneous notes" settings for each instrument.
To have a cadenced mood, all "note" and "rest" times must be equal, and the “Var (%)" slider must be set to 0. You can press the BPM button to set the cadence in beats per minute.
The note "Pattern" will affect many things, especially when the instrument octave range is set to play only an octave or two. For example, with the pattern set to "1, 3" it will produce unisson, with it set to "1, 5" it will produce root/fifth, and so on, for a given musical scale. See the next section on "Musical Key, Scale, and Note Patterns" for more information.
Musical Key, Scale, and Note Patterns
Use the slider to change the musical key for the Mood being edited; it defaults to the key of "C".
Random Key Step
If this slider value is greater than zero, SonicMood will change the key from time-to-time. Those changes generally occur when SonicMood has finished playing a long string of notes in a kind of arpeggio. How large the changes are, on average, depends on how large the slider value is.
Musical Scales and Note Patterns
The top list contains the Scale Names and the Musical Notes that define them. The lower list contains the Pattern Names and the Note Selection Patterns used to select from a scale and optionally time notes for the “Pattern” note selection method. You can drag the separator between the two lists up or down to give one list more height.
Right/control-clicking anywhere in either list brings up a contextual menu. At the top is "Help" followed by several selections for editing the highlighted item. Below that is a list of any Moods which use the highlighted item. If you select one of those Moods, it will become the Mood you're editing (but not necessarily the Mood that’s playing - keep that in mind).
You can Add (+), or Delete (-) scales and patterns using the buttons on the separator. The left most buttons are for the Scales while the buttons to the right are for the Patterns. The arrows next to the buttons help to indicate this.
The arrow pointer in the left-most column of the scale list will always indicate which scale is selected for the Mood being edited. Just double-click a row to use that scale.
The notes for a scale are defined using standard notation. They are separated by commas so any editing should include a comma between notes. There is no symbol for "flat", simply use a "sharp" (#) sign instead (i.e., B-flat = A#). A keyboard is available to facilitate entering notes. Click on the "Show Keyboard" button to display the keyboard window. More information on the use of the keyboard can be found in the Using the Simulated Piano Keyboard topic, below.
The left-most three columns of the pattern list represent the three instruments, and correspond to the instruments in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd columns on the "Inst, Vol, Notes" page. A checkmark in a column means the row's pattern is being used by that instrument (1, 2, or 3) for its note selection.
Editing a Scale or Pattern
To edit an item in a list, select the item by clicking over it, pause a second, and then clicking it again (the "select-pause-click" technique). After the cell becomes editable, make the changes you want and press "return", "enter", or click outside the cell to save them. If you edit the "Musical Scale", you can enter the notes in lower case and they will be converted to upper case when you press "return". Be sure to include a comma to separate notes or pattern values. Also, if you use the simulated piano keyboard (see below) to enter notes, you don't have to be editing those notes already. The new notes will be inserted in the "Musical Notes" column on the row that's highlighted.
To add or delete a row in the list, simply select the row and click "+" or "-" respectively. You can select more than one row for deletions.
You can sort the rows by clicking the heading above the column you want to sort. Click once to sort ascending. Click again to sort descending.
Select one or more rows and drag them around to rearrange their order, if you wish. Note that if rows are moved via a drag, the column header no longer indicates that sorting is in effect.
Note that for both the scale and pattern lists you can edit any row independently of the Mood you're editing.
The names of items (scales or patterns) only serve as a label for the item. You can change the name to anything you'd like. It won't affect the playing of the Mood.
The last column holds the note or pattern definition for that scale or pattern. The next two paragraphs describe the meaning of the contents for the musical scale notes and the note patterns.
In the case of the musical scale, the leftmost "C" refers to the note one octave below "Middle C", and so forth. You may enter other notes, being sure to separate the notes with commas. There is no notation for flats so use a # with the next lower note instead (i.e., use "A#" for B-flat). You can also enter notes using the keyboard (see "Using the Simulated Piano Keyboard", below).
The note pattern column contains a string of numbers each representing a note in whatever scale is selected. For a scale consisting of "C, E, G, A", the pattern "1, 3, 4" would cause the first note in the scale to be played ("C"), followed by the third ("G"), and then the fourth ("A"). In other words, the next note is determined by the next number in the string, wrapping around to the first number when the end of the string is reached. Note numbers are adjusted so they always select an appropriate note in an appropriate octave.
Note Timing Within a Pattern
In addition to selecting notes in a scale, a pattern can also set a sustain and/or pause time multiplier for notes they follow. Pauses are set by entering a "p" or an "r" (rest), sustains by a "s" or an "n" (note), followed by a decimal number. The number multiplies the total note length (set on the "Inst, Vol, Notes" page) to set the pause/sustain for the previous note. For example if you entered: "1, 3, r0.5, 4, s2" SonicMood will play the first note of the current scale followed by the normal pause, then the 3rd note of the scale followed by a 1/2 note rest (over-riding the normal setting), then the 4th note with a 2 note sustain followed by the normal pause.
You can enter a pattern note number followed by sustains and pauses without needing to separate them by commas. The commas are only needed to separate note numbers. So in the previous example you could have entered "1, 3 r0.5, 4 s2". If you entered "1, 3 r0.5 s2, 4 s2" then SonicMood would play the first note in the current scale with default sustain and rest, followed by the third note with the default sustain, followed by a half-note rest, followed by the third note again with a two whole-note sustain. Then the fourth note in the scale would be played with a two whole-note sustain and the default rest.
When you enter or edit a pattern and press "return" the values you entered are examined, formatted, and displayed. If you use an "n" for "note" sustain or a "p" for "pause" rest, they will be converted to "s" and "r" respectively. Also, if you enter "1,3r0.5,4s2" the formatted and displayed values will be "1, 3 r0.5, 4 s2". If you enter invalid characters (anything other than digits, "p, r, s, or n", or commas) they will be ignored.
Using the Simulated Piano Keyboard
If you click on Show Keyboard, a window with a simulated piano keyboard will open. You can also open this window, even if the "Edit" panel isn't visible, by selecting "Piano Keyboard" (⌘7) from the "Windows" menu.
As long as the "Edit Scale Notes" Off radio button is selected, you can only use the keyboard to play notes - they won't be added to the highlighted Scale. The On button is only enabled if the “Edit” panel is visible and set to the “Key, Scale, Pattern” page. Clicking the On button will enable the other two buttons in the “Edit Scale Notes” group box. Using those buttons you can delete one or clear all the notes in the selected Scale. Details are in the following paragraphs.
To delete the last note (the one furthest to the right) in the highlighted row, click the ⌫ (Backspace) button. This is not necessarily the same as the last note you entered using the keyboard, since notes are entered in their proper relationship to the existing notes in the list.
Click the Clear All button to remove all the notes from the highlighted row. You can then add any notes you'd like, by using the keyboard or by direct entry (edit the cell and type in the new notes).
In the Musical Notes column of the Scales list, the leftmost "C" corresponds to the lowest "C" key on the simulated piano keyboard. "Middle C" on the keyboard is the next "C" key up from that lowest "C". If you press that key, a "C" will appear further right in the notes on the list. So the list of notes in any row under the heading "Musical Notes" corresponds to notes in the octave just below "Middle C". The setting of the “Octave” slider does not affect this, although the “Musical Key” slider does. Changing the “Musical Key” will affect the notes entered in the list; for example if you set the “Musical Key” slider to “D” and press a “C” key on the keyboard, a “D” will be entered in the list.
To hear what different instruments sound like, you can select an instrument from the popup menu button (the 3 instruments from the Mood being edited are initially available - click All Instruments to select from the full list of 128 instruments). To make notes sound louder or softer, adjust the key "Velocity" using the slider to the right.
If you depress the button labeled Sustain, the notes you play will be held until you move the mouse away from the piano keyboard area. If the button is not depressed, the note will be held only as long as you keep the mouse button (or computer keyboard key) down.
If you'd like, you can use the computer keyboard to enter/play notes too. The computer's "c" key will enter/play a "Middle C" note into the highlighted row. Pressing the "f" key will enter "C sharp" (C#). The "v" key enters "D", "g" enters "D#", and so forth. In other words, the computer keys are organized in the same spatial relationship as the piano keys. The Tab key toggles “Sustain” and the return key stops all notes when “sustain” is on. Hold down the shift key to shift up an octave. If you find the keys are not working (or are showing up in another program), click on the piano keyboard window to restore focus to it.
Special Effects and Sound Motion
You can use the "Diminuendo" (“%” and “period”) sliders to make the volume fade down and back up over a period of time. Set different percentages and periods of volume change for each instrument to achieve an interesting mood effect. Setting the percentage too high and the period too low could result in you hearing very few notes.
Note "Modulation" is an effect that causes a note's volume to change fairly rapidly (a few cycles per second - sounds like a sort of "wah-wah"). This control allows you to select how much change happens ("%") and also the “Period” of the variation in the change. You're not controlling the period of the modulation itself, however.
"Pitch bending" involves adjusting the frequency of a note in half-step increments. A half-step, or "semitone" is equivalent to moving one key on a piano - from C to C#, for example. The "pitch bend" control lets you play with an effect that causes a note to vary in pitch while it's playing. When you set a period the notes played by that instrument will move up or down in pitch over that period. It's a very interesting effect.
The sliders select the "Period" and “Type” of instrument sound motion, while the small round button just left of the "Period" slider enables or disables it.
"back and forth" means the sound will slip smoothly back-and-forth in the sound field with a total travel time (in seconds) indicated by the "period" slider.
"random" causes the sound to "bounce around" with an urgency set by the same "period" slider. Lower slider values will increase the speed of the bounces.
"echo" produces an interesting effect whereby the sound seems to reverberate around the sound field. As with "random," the lower (faster) the slider setting, the more pronounced the effect. Setting the slider all the way left and listening to the result with headphones is quite interesting, especially with an energetic Mood (e.g., Fireflies Dance) and soundfiles (you can do the same thing with soundfiles - see “Soundfile Motion,” next).
Multiple instrument sounds are separated spatially as their sounds move around. The spacing is based on their nominal pan positions, set on the “Inst, Vol, Notes” page.
The sliders select the "Period" and “Type” of sound motion, while the small round button just left of the "Period" slider enables or disables it.
"back and forth" means the sound will slip smoothly back-and-forth in the sound field with a total travel time (in seconds) indicated by the "period" slider.
"random" causes the sound to "bounce around" with an urgency set by the same "period" slider. Lower slider values will increase the speed of the bounces.
"echo" produces an interesting effect whereby the sound seems to reverberate around the sound field. As with "random", the lower (faster) the slider setting, the more pronounced the effect. Setting the slider all the way left and listening to the result with headphones is quite interesting.
Multiple soundfile sounds are separated spatially as their sounds move around. The spacing is based on their nominal pan positions, set on the “Inst, Vol, Notes” page.
Setting Up Soundfiles
Soundfiles are standard MP3, MP4, AIFF, WAV, CAF, and MOV files which SonicMood plays to provide a sonic background to the MIDI instruments. The soundfiles included with the "SonicMood Plus" download and also available on the SonicMood web site include the sounds of nature - like rain, thunder, frogs, whales, waterfalls, etc. You are free to add whatever files you'd like to include as a backdrop. SonicMood can play up to 32 soundfiles simultaneously, with sounds fading in and out on a semi-random basis. Note that the soundfiles must be 16 bit, not 8 bit, if you're running SonicMood on an Intel-based Mac. Since 8 bit soundfiles are of low quality, this shouldn't be a problem. All soundfiles supplied with SonicMood and on our web site are 16 bit and will not cause any problems.
TIP: If you have Apple’s iLife installed, you can add sounds that are installed with that app. You may find them here: “/Library/Audio/Apple Loops/Apple/iLife Sound Effects” (they’re “.caf” files).
Soundfiles are initially moved from the "SonicMood Soundfiles" folder that comes with the "SonicMood Plus" download. The first time you run SonicMood, it looks for the "SonicMood Soundfiles" folder in its "SonicMood" folder. Those files are copied to a special folder where all soundfiles are kept, including files that are added later. This "Soundfiles" folder requires no maintenance by the user.
To quickly "uncheck" all the soundfiles in the list for a particular Mood, click the "Clear All ✓" button. If that Mood is playing, the soundfile names displayed in the Marquee will be replaced with "(no soundfiles selected)," and no soundfiles will play.
The "Hide file exts (.aiff, etc)" button causes the list of soundfile names to not include extensions (.MP3, etc.). It is on by default.
To add individual files you can either click the "+" button or drag a file onto the list. To delete files from the list, highlight the rows they’re on and click the "-" button. If you delete a soundfile it will be removed from the "Soundfiles" folder. In addition, every Mood that used that soundfile will be updated to remove the reference to that soundfile.
If you don't see any files in the list on the "Soundfiles" page, click the button labeled +Folder below the list and select a folder containing soundfiles from the window that opens. Or you can just drag a folder containing soundfiles and drop it onto the soundfile list area. All the soundfiles in the folder will be copied and added to the existing files and displayed in the list (subject to a soundfile size restriction that's adjustable in the Preferences window, "Misc" page - see below for more information).
Each soundfile that you select for a Mood can have its own Rel Vol (Relative Volume), Pan, and Play, Fade, Pause time settings. To adjust a soundfile’s settings, highlight its row, be sure it’s checked, and change the control settings.
The normal setting for “Rel Vol” (relative volume) is 100%, and the “Pan” setting should be in the center if the file is “Stereo.” It is easier to adjust volume and pan settings when the Play, Fade, Pause and Soundfile Motion (see previous section) are not enabled.
SonicMood can randomly choose a starting volume for each soundfile when a Mood starts playing. This feature is enabled by checking the “Start each Soundfile with a random volume” checkbox in the Preferences window, "Misc" page.
The Play, Fade, Pause controls are only active if the highlighted soundfile has a checkmark next to it, meaning it's been selected to play with the Mood you're editing. In addition, the Play, Fade, Pause controls are inactive until you press the small round blue button just left of Play, Fade, Pause. If the controls are left unactivated, each soundfile will play at a constant volume with no pause.
A soundfile can pause its play for a while and then resume. The Play Time (Minimum & Maximum) and Pause Time (minimum & maximum) sliders set a range of play/pause times. The actual play and pause times are randomly selected within those ranges and determine how long each soundfile plays and pauses. When pausing, the sound of that soundfile will gradually fade out, fading back in after the pause. The time it takes for the sound to fade out and back in can be set for each soundfile using the Fade Time slider. These features allow you to have frogs that croak for a time (for example), then stop and start up again later (in case you don't want frogs croaking all the time...).
SonicMood keeps the soundfiles in a single folder, the "Soundfiles" folder, which is located in the “~/Library/Application Support/SonicMood/” folder. This is where the soundfiles that come with the SonicMood download are put initially, and where soundfiles that are added later wind up, too. The user doesn't need to do anything with this folder.
The overall volume of all the soundfiles for a Mood is controlled by the slider on the "Sound Settings" window ("Controls" menu). You can also adjust the volume using the ⌃↑ and ⌃↓ keys, just like you can use the ⌘↑ and ⌘↓ keys to adjust the "Overall Volume." The button to the right of the slider is used to mute or un-mute the sound.
The number of soundfiles in the list along with the number selected is displayed in the header at the top of the soundfiles list. All the valid (i.e., MP3, AIFF, etc.) soundfiles will be displayed in the list unless the "Maximum Soundfile Size" slider on the "Misc" page of the Preferences window causes larger files to be excluded.
You can bring up the contextual menu (right/control-click on the list) and accomplish many of the things you can with the buttons.