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Main window

Play button , Pause button , Play Seed, Arpeggio or Scale , Duration for each note , Layers , Show steps (of Scale) , Show steps (of Mode / arpeggio) , Cycle tune , Parts for fractal tune , Parts, Parts and Midi Channels, Note volume, Time for one note , Record to Miid or Wav format as you play , Record to file

This page has help for most of the buttons and other fields / controls in the main window. You can also get to this help via the Main window controls page, which has an image of the main window to click on. Help for the main menu is in various places, again, easiest accessed from the Main window controls page.

For help on the New Seed , New Arpeggio , and New Scale windows, see Seeds etc .

Play button

Plays the fractal tune.

You can use Shift + click to play it ten times faster as a kind of fast forward option.

Then use Pause , then Continue again to go back to normal speed..

Note that there is no reverse play or rewind button. The only way to go back to an earlier point in the fractal tune at present is to start it again and play or fast forward until you reach that point again. This will get you back to the same notes as before, so long as the parameters stayed the same throughout the earlier fractal tune.

Note that if you change the tune while it is progressing, then play it again from the start, then there's no guarantee that you will play the identical sequence of notes again, though the general character of the fractal tune will be the same. The exact notes you heard the first time round might depend on the earlier fractal tune you were playing, and the exact moment of time at which you changed to the new tune from an earlier tune.

See also Tips for better sound quality


Pause button

Pauses the fractal tune.


Play Seed, Arpeggio, or Scale

The blue triangles next to the Seed, Arpeggio and Scale buttons play them.

You can configure the way they are played using Ctrl + click on these buttons.

See Arpeggio / scale playback Options


Duration for each note

This is the duration for notes in the fractal tune - how - maybe better called duration.

Set the Duration to a fraction of a note, such as 0.5, for staccato notes.

Set this to several notes to get each note to overlap the next. For instance, if it is set to 2, then each note overlaps the next one. If these happen to be different notes of the scale, you will get a chord.

This affects either all the parts in play, or only the first one, depending on your selection for the Order of Play menu Parts | Order of Play

When you select By Layer, with simultaneous notes , notes in the second part and higher are sustained anyway until the next note for that part. So in this case, the value of the Duration only affects the first part in play. If you use Order of Play | By Other , with an L in your formula - and also have it set to sustain each note to the next note for your part, again it wll only sustain the notes for the first layer. ( By Other with this option to sustain the notes for the parts is the same as By Layer, with simultaneous notes if your formula consists of a single L only).

In the other cases, it affects all the parts in play.

You can have any number of sustained notes played simultaneously. However it is sometimes possible to run out of enough MIDI channels available to play all the sustained notes you wish to have, because of the way MIDI pitch bends work, and the way FTS uses them. See: Microtonal music in MIDI




Sets the number of layers of iterations for the musical seed.

Choose layer 1 to play the seed once through only. The tune will then either stop, or if you have Cycle Tune selected, it will repeat endlessly.

Layer 2 makes a melody from the seed by replacing each note by a copy of the seed.. The copies of the seed are transposed as a pattern of note heights (degree steps) rather than as a pattern of intervals - the intervals between the notes may very well change if the scale has unequal intervals.

Layer 3 replaces each note of the layer 2 tune with a copy of the musical seed pattern.

And so on.

For more details, see Seeds



Show steps (of Scale)

Select to show scale as steps from previous note.

Example: Just temperament twelve tone as steps is

16/15 135/128 16/15 25/24 16/15 135/128 16/15 16/15 25/24 27/25 25/24 16/15

So it has three sizes of step, as cents they are

112 92 112 71 112 92 112 112 71 133 71 112

where 100 = one semi-tone in the scale usually used to tune modern pianos

The smallest step 16/15 is between the pure minor third 6/5 and the pure major third 5/4.



Show steps (of Mode / arpeggio)

Tick to show arpeggio / mode as steps from previous note.

Example: Pentatonic mode in any 12 tone scale will use steps of

0 2 2 3 2 3.

E.g. on piano, play the pentatonic mode C, D, E, G, A, C. Taking C as the 0 point, then D is 2 notes higher (C , C#, D), E is two notes above the D, the G is three notes above the E (E, F, F#, G), and so on.

You need the 0 at the beginning. It's there because some useful modes may start higher in the scale than the first note. See for instance, the Patet Barang mode for the Pelog scales, and several others in this list.

Untick Show steps , and you will see the same mode as:

0 2 4 7 9 12

These show how many notes you need to go up from the first note of the scale. For instance, with C as the 0 point, then G will be the 7th note of a 12 tone scale.

These numbers are usually referred to as degrees.

When playing the pentatonic mode in other scales, the steps will be of some other size. For instance, the nineteen tone pentatonic is

0 3 6 11 14 19


0 3 3 5 3 5

You can make the modes / arpeggios by typing in the numbers here, or may find it more convenient to use the Arpeggio window .


Cycle Tune

Select Cycle Tune to repeat the complete fractal tune each time it finishes.

In many cases, you can find out in advance how long the tune will take to complete. Look at the Duration field. - Bs | Tune Info , or in View | Many Controls .

This is exact for the save to midi file (check you have entered a large enough value in File | Midi File Options | Playing time ). When Tune Smithy plays the tune, it usually takes a little longer, especially if you have Bs | Tempo, Note time & volume | Time by | previous note selected. For details see More note time options .

Whether the Duration is calculated or not depends on the option. Sometimes it is straightforward to find the duration in advance. For other ones, you will see a message here saying that it wasn't calculated, and explaining why.

The duration of the entire tune depends on the number of Seed layers , and the number of notes in the seed. So if you want the tune to last a little longer, increase the number of layers.

This especially applies to the golden ratio rhythms - these alternate between one and two notes per seed. As a result, the total duration is much less even than for a two note seed. However, the preset value of 50 layers will let the tune to continue for a long time (for all practical purposes, endlessly). This is also the maximum you can have,



Parts for Fractal Tune

Use to set the number of parts for the fractal tune. Doesn't affect midi relaying.

The ones in play are the ones at the beginning of the Parts window, up to the number of parts you set here.

See next section.





This is used to assign voices to parts for the fractal tune or for midi relaying.

When using it for the fractal tune, often one uses only the first few parts. The number of parts to use is set using the box Fractal tune: First part / first 2 parts etc .

When one sets the number of parts to one, the fractal tune is played using whichever part you have highlighted in the Parts window (uses the first if none are highlighted).

With many of the fractal tunes, the first part plays the fastest moving tune, while the later parts play progressively slower and fewer notes. This depends on the selection for the Order of play, menu.

To select a voice into a part, click on the part to highlight it, then click on Voices... and choose a new voice.

If you want to continue the tune as it is, but silence one of the voices. select Rests as the new voice. For instance you could do this to silence one of the voices and play it from the score, karaoke style. parts

To play a single parts of the fractal tune on its own, and silence the others, select rests into all the other parts.

To change the volume of a part, change the vol. column. This sets the volume in the range 0 to 127 for the loudest note you can get in MIDI. The volume of the music as a whole can be set using the volume bar in the main window.

The Set all to first button sets all the columns to the first value. Set all to highlight sets all the columns to the highlighted values apart from the octave shifts, which are left as they are.

The Octave shifts drop list can be changed to show any of the following:

Octave shifts: number of octaves to shift the part up or down by, relative to the pitch selected in the Pitch... window.

Arpeggio shifts For an arpeggio that repeats at the octave, same effect as the octave shift. For one that repeats at some other interval, shift the part up by this number of repeats of the arpeggio. For instance, if the arpeggio is a minor triad for a 12 tone scale, 0 3 7 , an arpeggio shift of 1 shifts the channel up by the entire arpeggio, i.e. by a fifth.

All notes are shifted by the same interval. E.g. if arpeggio is 0 1 3 and scale is 1/1 6/5 11/8 3/2 7/4 2/1, then the arpeggio shift shifts everything up by 3/2 rather than two steps of the arpeggio.

If you want to shift everything up by, say, two steps of the arpeggio, use the Arpeggio degree shift instead.

Arpeggio degree shift Shift the part up by this number of steps of the arpeggio. All notes are shifted to the next note of the arpeggio.

Modulate by (degree) Shifts the part up so that the first note starts at the required degree of the scale . All notes are shifted by exactly the same interval, rather than to notes of the original scale. For instance, if it is the just intonation 12 tone scale, a degree modulation of 1 shifts all the notes up by 16/15, a degree shift of 2 shifts them all up by 9/8, and so on.

Modulate by (arp. degree) Same as the previous one, but for the arpeggio instead of the scale. So the part is shifted up so that the first note starts at the degree of the arpeggio specified. For instance, if it is the just intonation 12 tone scale, with Diatonic scale selected as the mode / arpeggio, an arpeggio degree modulation of 1 shifts all the notes up by 9/8, an arpeggio degree shift of 2 shifts them all up by 5/4, and so on. Again, the notes are shifted up by these intervals, and in general this may not take them to other notes of the underlying scale.

You can select non melodic percussion for any part. To do this, highlight the part, then select the instrument from Non Melodic Percussion...

To hear what all your MIDI non melodic percussion instruments sound like, go to Seed | Play from PC keyboard options | pitches for keyboard rows , and select All non melodic percussion (play along only) . For details: P.c Keyboard non melodic percussion .

To try them out from a MIDI in keyboard, use the MIDI In preset In | Options | Presets - all non melodic percussion + vibraphone . See All non melodic percussion preset .

The tenth MIDI channel is a special one that is reserved for non-melodic percussion instruments such as non melodic drums etc. So if you select a non melodic percussion instrument into any other parts, it is actually played in channel 10.

You can't play a melodic instrument in part 10. If you try to select one in, it will be ignored. The instrument played depends on the MIDI note number.

What this amounts to is that you will get a miscellany of various percussive sounds whenever you try to play notes of the fractal tune through this channel. Normally this won't be especially useful.

You can use part 10 for a non melodic percussion instrument, or else just ignore it. To clear it, highlight it and choose Erase Voice .

If you have a fractal tune with more than ten parts, that's fine, just select the tenth voice into part 11. The parts for the tune are selected consecutively from the non erased voices.

So, it is quite rare that one will want to use part ten as a melodic part. However, it can be done if so wished (most likely, because you want sixteen melodic parts) - go to In | Options | More Options | Non Melodic Perc. Part , select the box to let one change it, and set the number to 0.

If you do this, your tune will still play correctly on a GM soundcard / synth since the notes will get moved into other channels for the pitch bends anyway. FTS will skip the non melodic percussion channel when it selects the channels to use for playing all the notes, simply because it never has any non melodic percusion notes to play.

The reason the Non Melodic Perc. Part , is preset to 10 is because those who use FTS for Midi relaying, may well wish to use part 10 as the non melodic percussion part. By way of example, one might midi relay a score that has been written based on the assumption that channel 10 is the non melodic percussion part, so one then wants it to be relayed via part 10 in FTS.

To configure the channel to use for output of non melodic percussion notes for relaying, use Out | Options | More Options | Non Melodic Perc. channel . This needs to be 10 if you are using FTS with a GM soundcard / synth. Otherwise, you may want to set it to 0 to indicate that FTS can relay the notes to any of the midi channels.

If you allow output of melodic notes on channel 10 in this way, any midi clips you make will no longer sound as intended on GM synths, because the notes played in channel 10 get played as a medley of non melodic percussion notes in GM

If you use either of these methods, the tune smithy files you make will only sound right on if the user playing it also does the same thing - because this information about the non melodic percussion channels is saved in your configuration settings rather than with the fractal tune.

If you want to play on part 10 only, and treating it as a miscellany of all the GM percussion sounds on your soundcard / synth, this can be done too - select any voice as the voice for part 10. Set the number of parts in the main window to 1, and the highlighted part to 10, and you will hear them. If you play it on a device that follows the GM standard percussion map for channel 10, then you will only hear a sound for notes 35 to 81. So, if you want your percussion miscellany to continue with no gaps, set the range of notes for channel 10 to 35 to 81 from Parts | Ranges... and for when outside range choose any option except Silent , e.g. Wrap around .



Parts, and the Midi Channels

In MIDI, the standard setting is to play twelve tone equal temperament notes (notes of the piano in normal modern tuning). To play any other notes, you normally have to bend the pitch up or down. (the other alternative is to use tuning tables, which only some synths support - but nearly all support pitch bends)

Pitch bends are assigned to the entire channel rather than to individual notes. So FTS needs to keep re-tuning the channels as it plays new notes.

If you play a chord, and the notes have differing pitch bends, FTS has to play each in a separate channel. Even if the notes are played one after another, there may well be an overlap if the previous note fades away when it ends, rather than ceasing abruptly. For instance, the harp voice on the SB Live! S/W synth continues to resonate for a long time after the note off.

So FTS often needs to play a chord spread out over several channels, something that is only necessary in twelve equal if the notes require different effects such as modulation, pan etc.

You can enable / disable FTS from doing this using Out | Options | Ok to change channels for pitch bends (standard setting).

If you disable it, you will get clipped notes whenver a part plays several notes simultaneously, in nearly all the temperaments, apart from twelve equal of course.

Since FTS can actually play the notes on any channel, depending on pitch bends, one needs a word to distinguish the part selected in the Parts box from the actual channel played, so this will be referred to as the Part .

For more details, see see Microtonal music in MIDI .



Volume bar

The volume bar sets the volume for the first note of the scale.

The volume can vary depending on how far up the arpeggio you go. For this effect, see Note time and volume

Individual parts can be given volumes too. For this see: Parts



Time for one note

Time for one note - this is the time for the note of the basic tune, such as the one that you get for File | New. Any seeds you record or make are based on this as the unit of time. So, when you reduce this, the tune speeds up.

The Tune | Options | Notes As drop list has options to show the Time from start of pic. in secs , and Time to next note in secs .

The time can vary depending on how far up the arpeggio you go. For this effect, see Note time and volume



Record to Midi or Wav format as you play

You can record in either Midi format or WAVE format , by using the two record buttons in the main window.

MIDI format - records all the notes and miid effects played in the current copy of FTS. Notes played in another program at the same time, or in another copy of FTS are ignored.

WAVE format - records the actual sounds you hear, and so will record all sounds played in any program. You will need a full duplex soundcard to use this - i.e. one that can record and play simultaneously.



Record to File

Bs | Record To File

(or click on the To File Record to File button - tied quaver with wavy line button in most of the main window tasks)

Intro, Options, An extra option, Midi format - details, Wav format - details


Choose the file format from the drop list. When first installed, FTS can only record to Midi or WAVE . Then press the record button, then play the notes you want to record, then stop the recording.

You can also record to Midi or .Wav in the main window by clicking the appropriate record button - when you do that you will see the selection in this drop list change automatically.

For details see How do I record and play back recordings?

You can also record in various other sound formats such as mp3s by saving to Wave format then auto converting it to an mp3. This is all done automatically by FTS and all you need to do is to configure it by installing an appropriate helper command line app, and telling FTS where it is located on your computer. See Adding support for mp3s, Sun Au etc The original recording in . WAV format is kept when you use this method - you need to delete it yourself when you no longer want it.

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Extra Params : -The readme files for the file conversion utilities give details of various extra paramaters you can pass on the command line. With mp3s and the Ogg Vorbis format you can set the bit rate using the Bit Rate edit field that appears when you select those. If you want to specify anything else about the format, look up the appropriate parameters to set and enter it here. For instance, if you look at sox.txt for the Sox utility, you see that you need -U to specify that you want Sun au files to be saved in U-law format - so just enter that into the Extra Params field if that is what you want.

To File : the file to record to. Preset to Play along .

Record vol (Audio) This button appears if you record in one of the audio formats. Select the device you want to use to record from - you may have several listed, depending on your sound card. You can hide / show recording devices from Record Control | Options | Properties . A likely choice is the MIDI volume control - if you have one of those, otherwise, try any of the others - for instance my soundcard also has a " What U hear " control which records anything played, no matter what the source. If none of them work, you may need to connect your soundcard's line out to its line in, and show / select the Line In control.

Note that you need a full duplex sound card - one that can play and record at the same time - to record in the audio formats in FTS.

Fractal Tune Smithy file name - Click on this to set the file name to the current fractal tune name - with the extension MID or WAV instead of TS.

Bs | Record to File Options | Start rec. at first note : When recording in Midi format, it starts the recording immediately when you play a note. Also does the same if you record a fractal tune in . WAV format.

When recording a performance from music keyboard, or sequencer in . WAV format, the first note you play cues the recording, but isn't recorded. All subsequent notes are recorded. That's because it takes a moment or two to set things up to record to . WAV format

Bs | Record to File Options | Start rec. when tune starts : Shows up if you choose the . WAV format.

Stop after - sets a time out for the recording.

Save Tune Info This is a method to add a text note about the file - it gets saved with the extension . txt instead of . wav , or .mid . Click on this button again to see your note later.

Show Midi Data Shows the midi file in hexadecimal, and comments to show what each entry does. Useful for seeing what midi events you have recorded - also gives the pitch bend values in cents for all the notes. See also File | Options | Midi File Options | More options | Add exact ratios, or cents etc. after each note . Note that there is a limit to the midi pitch bend resolution that can be used in a midi file. Though this is too minute to be of practical relevance, it means that the cents values shown for the actual pitch bends will normally differ from the intended values in the third place after the decimal point.

The hexadecimal can be edited too, then converted back to binary format using Steve Hutchesson's freeware b2hedit - this is useful for changing the order of the events in the file, which is easily accomplished by simply swapping lines and resaving it in binary format again. You can also edit it directly to change one or two bytes, e.g. if you have a ragged chord you can set the delta times to 0 in this way. This is all easy enough to do if you don't change the length of the file.

The midi file is organised in tracks - and in format 0 there is only one track. This is a different concept from the notion of a track in a midi sequencer. The notes from all the channels can be in a single track in format 0. In format 1 and 2 it is more like a sequencer format with one channel per track (and in format 2 you have a separate tempo track too).

Note though that if you do some other change that changes the length of the track, you need to update the number at the start of the track that says how long it is. Calculating this is a bit trying if you make extensive changes as midi isn't particularly designed for easy direct editing of the binary file in hexadecimal. (If the midi file didn't have this track length number at the start of each track, then direct editing of the hexadecimal would be easy, but unfortunately it is rather important to get it right - if you get it wrong your midi player will probably complain and simply refuse to read it with a message about incorrect format).

Another way to see the hex dump is to use Open | Files of type Midi file -> Play or hex dump | to open a midi clip, and when asked if you want to play the tune, answer No . You can open any midi clips this way, - however any sysex (except for tuning program tuning dumps) will just be shown in hexadecimal with a brief comment that it is a sysex - this option is designed mainly for use with FTS.

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An extra option

Sometimes, one might want to make a large list of MIDI clips, each one playing just a single chord or an arpeggio. A typical situation in which this may be useful might be to make clips of many chords or note sequences for a web page or article about musical scales, or for musical lattice diagrams or three and higher dimensional figures. An example of this is included with FTS - see How do I use the feature to make audio clips for all the file names in a web page? which goes into details somewhat tutorial fashion.

To dive straight in, visit Arpeggio / scale playback | Make midi clips of a list of arpeggios, broken chords or chords...

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More details for MIDI format

Saves in MIDI format 0.

It's done in format 0, because it means all the note times can be saved in a single track, so one can just add to the file consecutively as the performance continues. Recording to format 1 as one plays is more complex as one needs to maintain pointers to all the tracks that one is recording to - and it is easy enough to convert the file after the event..

If you need to convert to format 1, there are programs available to do it - a freeware MSDOS utility can be obtained from Guentler Nagler's home page

Max file size Limits the size of the midi file you can save. (only shown when MIDI format is selected). This is preset to 200 Kb. You are unlikely to need larger files than this to record your own playing in midi format, but you can easily get much larger files when recording some of the fractal tunes - the ones with traceries of ultra-fast notes.

The easiest way to save a fractal tune, if you want to record all of it from the start, is via File | Save As | Files of type MIDI . (See Save as Midi file )

You will probably want to set this limit higher, or remove it altogether, if recording to MIDI as you play along with the fractal tune, or recording a fractal tune starting at some later point beyond the beginning of the tune. One should be aware that some midi players can't play very large midi files of the order of megabytes in size, though the Windows Midi Player can play them fine..

Set Max file size to 0 for no limit. If you do this, you then need to click Enable recording before you start your first MIDI recording of the session, as an extra reminder / precaution against recording very large files to MIDI. If you set it to no limit, it is easy to record multi-megabyte MIDI files when playing along with a fast fractal tune.

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More details for WAVE format

Wave file format can be changed - choice of 11.025 , 22.05 , 44.1 , 48, 96 , and 192 kHz , stereo or mono . Though all these formats are listed, your sound card may only support some of them - probably the first three. You can also edit the field there to use other formats too - see Tip 71. You can also choose 8 or 16 bit

If you record in 16 bit stereo at 44 Khz, that is fine for CD quality music. An older format is 8-bit 22 Khz, which is much lower quality, but produces smaller files.

It's better to use mp3s or the like if you want to compress the size of the files as that gives higher quality. Or, use Monkey's Audio which gives losslesss 4 to 1 compression if you need to reduce the file size of your collection of recordings.

There's a new sound fomat now available on some sound cards, 24-bit. However, FTS, like most current windows programs, is unable to play or record in this format. FTS uses the standard windows media routines for recording and playing and they can only handle 8 and 16 bit recordings.

For more on this, see the FAQ entry: Does FTS support 24-bit playback and recording?

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