Help for Tune Smithy
FAQ - Music Making
From Tune Smithy
Feel free to add more questions and answers. If you have a question which isn't answered here - for immediate help contact firstname.lastname@example.org - and you can also add it to the Questions Pending page.
For FAQ - Music Making
How do I play in these tunings myself?
First, check that your equipment can play pitch bends. [testmymidiplayer.htm Test my Midi player and soundcard / synth]. A few sound cards can only play in twelve equal - if you have one of those, you can install a soft synth to remedy this.
Now, choose a scale from the Scales drop list. Choose an arpeggio from the Arpeggios drop list. Then show the Pc keyboard layout window - click on this button:
You can now play that arpeggio from the PC keyboard. You can use the space bar as a sustain pedal and if you have a scroll mouse you can use the scroll wheel to vary the modulation (vibrato).
Note that though usually you can play any music whatsoever in two parts in this way, most (all??) PC keyboards seem to have some limitations on the triads they can play - see [Seeds.htm#Chords Pc keyboard chords]. They weren't designed with music making in mind after all, and it is great that they happen to work as well for this as they do. When you find you can't play a triad or more complex chord, you can play a fast arpeggio instead, and use the space bar sustain pedal to sustain the notes of the arpeggio into a chord.
Click on the Opt. button below the button for various options - see the [User_guide2.htm#play_from_pc_keyboard_options help for that window] (F1) for the details.
To record your playing in midi format, click on this button in the main window:
Click on this button to choose the name of the file to record to:
You'll find another option in that window to start the recording at the first note played. This is often useful - you press the record to midi button, and then start playing in your own time, and the recording will begin at your first note.
You can use the Play by file association button in this window to review your recording.
You can also play the music f?om a midi keyboard. This is a music keyboard which may have on-board sound or may just be for computer input - either way the important thing is that it has a midi socket at the back, so that you can connect it to a computer and other midi equipment.
Do you have one of those? They don't cost much, especially if you are content with a four octave range.
[#midi_keyboard Some things to look out for in a midi keyboard].
Finally, see the [index.htm#Tips_for_better_sound_quality Tips for better sound quality ].
Okay, so now let's assume you've got your music keyboard and have connected it to your computer, and are all ready to try it out with FTS.
Change to View | Midi Keyboard Retuning . Be sure to click the Standard Settings button. Then just play on your keyboard and you should hear the notes. As before, choose the scale and arpeggio you want to play in and away you go.
You can use In | Options | Note Played more details , and Out | Notes in Play to check the details of the notes that FTS is receiving, and how they are getting retuned, and which midi channels they are getting relayed to (if interested in that information).
The standard setting here is that the arpeggio gets played from the white keys of your miid keyboard, and the black keys will play any in-between notes of the scale.
To see the notes as you play them, click this button:
For options, click the Opt. button below the icon. The Stretchy midi keyboard here may be useful - it just looks the same as the normal one when you select twelve equal as the scale to use, but in other more exotic tunings it gives an idea of what keys play which notes - again see the help for this window for more about all the options.
Try the presets list for some example tunings. See [midi_in.htm Midi in] in the help for lots of details.
How do I play triads from the PC keyboard? (some work and some don't)
This seems to be something to do with the PC keyboard hardware itself.
Show any window that accepts text, say notepad. Hold down three keys at once as you would to play a triad eeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrr There I actually held down e, then r, then t, then released them in reverse order. However as you see, though the e and r keys produced the repeating letters as they usually do when held down, the t never appeared.
Instead you get a click or a beep. It is played as a beep or click in the computer itself, rather than as a sound on the PC speakers / headphones. On my computer it is a click which you hear after a short delay, if you keep the third key of the triad held down.
This varies from keyboard to keyboard - some can play some triads, while others play others, but the ones I have tried have all had missing triads somewhere or other.
If you have any other PC keyboards around, give them a try - you never know, maybe some make can play all the triads. If you come across such a keyboard let me know about it: email@example.com. . In fact, if your keyboard can play all the consective sequence of three letters as a triad such as 123 234 345 456 etc or all of the triangles such as 23W or SDE (on qwerty keyboard), that would be pretty good too.
I'll add user reports of PC keyboard capabilities. See [#keyboard_caps PC keyboard Capabilities].
It's remarkable that the PC keyboard is as good for playing chords as it is, considering that it is usally only used for typing one key at a time, or in combination with special keys such as Ctrl + Alt.
There is a work around however - you can play the missing triads by using the space bar as a sustain pedal. Hold down the space bar then play the notes for the chord one at a time, releasing each one as you play it, until you get the triad as a sustained chord. Release the space bar to end the chord.
If you prefer, you can use caps lock or some other key instead for this - with caps lock, then you don't need to hold anything down to sustain the chord - just press the caps lock key a second time to switch it off and release the chord.
One of the things on my to do list for FTS is an accordian type layout which could be used to play chords too. In fact, I plan a whole section on chord recognition. The idea is to find consonant triads or the SCALA named chords in a scale (like the chord presence option in SCALA). Then one could use the keyboard to play them - say - maybe each row of the keyboard plays one type of chord, with root on one of the notes of the scale - or something. But that's for a little way into the future.
Another way to play chords is to show the Arpeggio window Bs | Arpeggio . Then click to select the nots for the chord. Then customise the play button for this window - Ctrl + click on it to bring up the Scale / Arpeggio playback window, and choose to play chords from the drop list. Now when you click on the play buitton you will hear the selected notes played as a chord.
You can then make several of the Arpeggio windows, each one showing a different chord, and click on the play buttons of each to compare the various chords.
Of course, you can always get a midi music keyboard - they are designed for playing chords and are velocity sensitive too. They don't cost that much, especially if you are content with a four octave range.
[#midi_keyboard Some things to look out for in a midi keyboard].
Pc K eyboard triad playing capabilities (FTS user reports):
The Chicony KB-5312R can play all of the first ten keys in a row simultaneously. This is an old model and may no longer be available.
Can: Play 1234567890or qwertyuiop or asdfghjkl or yxcvbnm,.- at once. However, + and # block certain keys.
Can't: Play most triangular triads, like jki or klo or kjm. However, it can play asdfuiop all at once as a single chord.
More info about how the PC keyboard scan codes work
Here is a nice on-line article about How Computer keyboards work (but it doesn't answer the question about why they can play some triads and not others).
This article has a bit of information about the scan codes and how they get transmitted to the computer. But again, doesn't seem to explain about the triads: Change your keyboard layout. BTW if you want to try out ZDKEY, you can get the zip which includes it here File Library.com - from v16n09.zip. You can use it to swap about the keys, e.g. use Caps Lock as a Ctrl key, but it seems to work too late in the proceedings to get the data we need - will have no effect on the PC keyboard playing in FTS. I think one needs to do it at an earlier stage, e.g. maybe listen in on a relevant port - if not blocked by the keyboard driver,.. I plan to look into it a bit more and will be interested if anyone knows more about this aspect of it too.
How do I get my music keyboard to work with FTS?
[#midi_kbd_midi_in Make sure your sound card has midi in] - [#midi_kbd_connect Connect your keyboard to the computer] - [#midi_kbd_connect2 Connect your computer back to the keyboard]
Make sure your sound card has midi in
First, check that you can use a music keyboard with your sound card. Look at the In menu in Fractal Tune Smithy. Does it show a Midi In device for your sound card? If so, you are okay.
If it says " No devices available for Midi Input ", or if the only ones listed are software input devices such as Midi Yoke, then you may need to get a new sound card as well - one that supports midi input.
If you have a computer with on-board sound rather than a soundcard, you probably can't add an internal soundcard. Otherwise, if it has USB, you can use a USB external sound card to add Midi In and Out ports to your computer. Nowadays you can also use a USB Midi device - such as the Edirol UM1-SX. There are quite a few brands of these around now. They have a usb plug at one end to plug into your PC or laptop, and midi in and out sockets at the other end.
I think one of the first USB external sound cards, maybe the first, was the Soundblaster Extigy.
[#top top], [#midi_keyboard start of section]
Connect your keyboard to the computer
If all is well here, next you need to connect your keyboard to the computer. With the USB devices, just plug it into the device. With computers with sound cards - there may be extra midi ports, but apart from that possibility, the connection is normally done via your joystick socket. You need a special connection cable for this which is inexpensive and readily available - check your local computer store or music keyboard shop.
The cable or device connecting to the keyboard has two sockets on it - an in and an out. Be sue to Connect the Out of the keyboard to the In of the computer. It's easy when tired or if one hasn't done this for a while to connect the Out to the Out and the In to the In, but of course the Out has to go to the In - or you will get no sound. You won't do any harm if you select the wrong socket here - all that will happen is that you don't hear any notes when you play. So, if unsure, and you can't read the labels, just try both until you find the one that works.
If your keyboard has its own sounds, make sure you have local set to off in your keyboard so that it doesn't play the sounds itself, just relays it to the computer. Check its manual for details if needed.
In FTS, select In | Midi In (or the like - on the SB live it is SB Live! Midi In).
[#top top], [#midi_keyboard start of section]
Connect your computer back to the keyboard
You do this if you want to hear the notes retuned on your keyboard rather than using a soft synth or your sound card. So this time, connect the out of your computer round to the In of your keyboard, and select Out | Midi Out (or similar) in FTS.
In FTS select In | Midi In (or the like - on the SB live it is SB Live! Midi In), and also Out | Midi Out.
There isn't really much likely to go wrong here - but just in case you get a problem such as an IRQ conflict, or just to read a more detailed account of the process, take a look at
[#top top], [#midi_keyboard start of section]
What should I look out for in a music keyboard?
Things to look out for - it's useful to have a pitch bend wheel and a modulation wheel. The pitch bend wheel may have very coarse resolution in the lowest range keyboards (like maybe twelve or so steps). This only affects pitc hbends you apply yourself using the wheel however, as FTS always uses the highest accuracy available in midi (8192 pitches to a tone).
The modulation wheel is a nice thing to have in its own right, and you can use it to control other things too - FTS has various options to use it to change things.
Smaller keyboards have a limited range of say four octaves - if you get one of those then it's useful to be able to transpose up / down by octaves, though you can do this in FTS as well from the Pitch window.
You also want it to be velocity sensitive, and most are. Some have a maximum midi velocity of 100 instead of 127. However that's fine as you can remap the [midi_in.htm#touch Touch] in FTS to make the maximum effectively 127 for those ones too.
If you are getting a second hand one, be sure to check for damaged touch - some notes may have stopped playing. This particularly can affect the lowest price ones which have a sponge based touch system and are prone to this problem especially if played with a heavy touch.
Other keyboards have more controller knobs and sliders on them, and other features, and they are useful to have - but a basic one with pitch and modulation wheels will take you a long way.
How do I set things up to play in a particular scale from Midi In?
If you want to retune to a twelve note scale, enter your scale in the scale box in FTS, and choose diatonic as the arpeggio - the other notes get played as accidentals of the arpeggio.
If you want to play some other mode of the twelve note scale, say an Indian Raga, on the white notes, just choose it as the Arpeggio, and keep the original twelve note scale. For instance, modern Indian Ragas are probably best played with the Modern Indian Gamut.
In this case, if the mode you are playing has say six notes, they still play from consecutive white keys so the octaves then play at c, b, a', g'' etc. The black keys will play accidentals if there are any in-between notes to play - otherwise they just play the same note as a neighbouring white key. This is an especially convenient layout if you want to frequently change betweeen various modes and find them instantly because they will always just lie on the white keys of the keyboard. So for that reason it is the standard setting when you run FTS the first time, as it makes it very easy for a newbie to play in any of the modes / arpeggios.
To play a scale (rather than a twelve tone mode) in similar fashion from white notes, just enter the scale and use Follow Scale as the arpeggio. It doesn't matter how many or few notes your scale has - it gets played from consecutive white notes of the keyboard again, ignoring the black ones, rather as if they were successive strings of a harp. In this case the black keys just play the same notes as neighbouring white keys.
Some prefer a system where the notes are played from the keys closest to the desired pitches - for instance for the ragas. If that is what you want, try the Suggest button in View | Midi Keyboard retuning.
For more about the way this works, see [midi_relaying.htm#quick_start Quick Start for Midi Relaying]
How do I play the historical tunings of the diatonic and twelve tone systems?
If you haven't read it yet, first see the previous FAQ [#playtuning How do I play in these tunings myself?]
Then the tunings you need to get started in your explorations are all in the main drop list of scales.
Here is a quick historical tour of tunings, with a European bias:
Just Intionation twelve tone (M) (here the M in brackets means that it has an associated drop list of Modes / arpeggios to select from)
This one is a good one to start with, because it is natural to play in just intonation, especially if you play with a drone. It must surely have been a very early tuning - or at least the notes and intervals must have been used in very early times, perhaps not yet arranged in a system like this. It is sometimes called the Ptolomeic scale.
Try it with the pentatonic scale as the arpeggio - this is used for folk melodies in many parts of the world, and it is very easy to make nice sing-able tunes with it. The white keys of your midi keyboard will play the pentatonic scale.
If you like the sound of a drone, then try adding one of those using Bs | Drone | Add Drone - which would be very sutiable with the just intonation pentatonic scale. Try the Sitar or Hurdy Gurdy presets. Every note you play will then be harmoniously in tune with the drone - now play a single line melody along with it. It is very easy to invent beautiful melodies in this scale.
Afficianandos of Scottish Bagpipe music should also try the Scottish Bagpipe preset - this is a very different type of (near) just intonation scale which includes a harmonic seventh, and a detuned octave, played with a drone.
See also [harmonics_and_just_temperament.htm Harmonics and just temperament] to find out how the just intonation twelve tone scale is constructed.
While we are with just intonation scales, try the Modern Indian Gamut - ragas for the scale - another just intonation scale - this is the one used in modern Indian music. You can try out some of the ragas from Manuel Op de Coul's list. This just gives something of the flavour - in reality the ragas in Indian music follow complex rules where certain notes follow other ones - and the scale may differ when ascending and descending. To find out more about tunings used in modern Indian Music visit Haresh Bakshi's Sound of India web site.
If you are an Indian musician, you can also just select this Modern Indian Gamut scale and use it as the tuning of your midi keyboard - for modern Indian music you will probably only need these notes. Selecting the relevant raga from the drop list is just a way of tuning the white keys of your keyboard to the notes of the raga so that you don't need to use the black keys.
Now change to the diatonic scale for the rest of the tunings.
Pythagorean twelve tone - the tuning of choice for much early medieval music. Has pure major fifths and fourths, and octaves. Everything else is regarded as dissonances - of many flavours. Had a completely different style of harmonisation too - idea is to move parts step wise by small intervals to change a dissonance to a consonance in which the only intervals are fifths and fourths. Notice how nice it is to rest on intervals of fourths and fifths when improvising in this tuning. All the fifths in the diatonic mode are pure- however, the complete pythagorean twelve tone scale always has one "wolf fifth" which is about a quarter tone flat (usually placed between two of the more remote black keys).
At this point you can also digress to explore the nineteen and thirty one tone systems - these were investigated by an early medieval writer Nicola Vicentino (1511-1576) . Here is a picutre of a reconstruction of Vincentino's 31 tone keyboard (on-line). Okay they aren't twelve tone systems, but they are diatonic. They allow finer shades of tuning and modulation by a nineteenth or a thirty-oneth part of an octave instead of the twelth of an octave as in the more familiar system. If using a midi keyboard, see [#Playing_accidentals Playing fine shades of accidentals from the music keyboard] to help with your investigations of these systems and others with many accidentals.
Equal temperament (surprised to see it this early on?) It was used for tuning lutes - but seldom for any other instruments before the twentieth century. That's partly because it was easy to tune lutes in this temperament by setting out the frets accordingly, but also probably because to musicians at the time it sounded best on lutes. If they had liked twelve equal on the harpsichord, they could have tuned a lute first, then tuned a harpsichord to the same tuning as the lute. The harpsichord has prominent fifth partials which will beat in chords based on twelve equal tunings. There is no General Midi lute voice, so if using a GM synth / soundcard, one could use the Acoustic guitar midi voice with this one - as a first approximation to the sound of the lute.
Quarter comma Mean-tone - This was in use up to the time of Bach, and much later in Church Organ music. It has sweet pure major thirds. It wasn't used in early Medieval music as major thirds were regarded as a dissonance during that period. You can play many triads in this tuning with pure major thirds, but one major third in three is sharp, sharper even than in twelve equal, and it has a wolf key which has both a sharp major third and a very sharp major fifth. The other fifths are a little flat, flatter than for twelve equal, but not excessively so. So it is used in music which needs pure major thirds, and with not that much in the way of modulation or remote keys. Bach's music needs well temperaments which allow for more modulation.
Well tempered scale (Bach's time) - this is the Werckmeister III scale (1681), a famous historical well tempered scale from the time of Bach, and one of the candidate scales for the tuning of the Well Tempered Clavier. You sometimes see it stated that the WTC was written for twelve equal, even in music textbooks - but that's not the case. At the time of Bach, the term equal temperament was used for what we now call well temperament which may be the source of the confusion. What we now call equal temerament was used only for lutes at that time. I understand that modern scholarship is in agreement that the WTC was written to explore the range of colour of the tunings in a well temperament - though there is much debate and controversy about which one of these exactly was intended or is most appropriate to use in performance.
From this time onwards to the twentieth century, musicians used well temperaments mainly (apart from Church Organ work in mean tone). They all had the same general pattern of key colour with the nearer keys such as the key of C closer to just intonation in flavour. Musicians and composers would expect this pattern of tuning in keyboard work, even if the instruments they used happened to have different flavourings of well temperaments.
As time went on musicians got used to hearing the twelve notes more equally tuned, so the well temperaments became more even, which also made it possible to modulate more readily and rapidly to remote k?ys.
Well tempered scale (Mozart's time)
This is the Vallotti & Young scale (Vallotti version) - a famous historical well tempered scale from Mozart's time.
For much of twentieth century music of course, you use twelve equal for authentic performance.
This, and the more equally spaced out well temperaments may possibly be something of an aquired taste - the major third in twelve equal has quite rapid beating when played on say harpsichord - which may possibly have sounded discordant to musicians of Bach's time. It sounds nice and vibrant to many listeners accustomed to twelve equal today.
Then if you are making or playing new microtonal music, there are many choices.
For just intonation, try David Canright's 7 limit twelve tone
- this has some just intonation intervals based on the seventh harmonic. With these just intonation systems usually you will need to write or improvise music to suit the intonation, rather than just apply it to a peice already written for some other system. So, an interesting one to improvise in. You can read about it, and his other twelve tone systems (all included in FTS in Scales | More Scales) in his on-line web page:. On Piano Retuning.
Try the nineteen and thirty one and seventeen tone systems. Indeed, any of the equal tone systems - most of these have diatonic modes, and they vary in the types of modulation one can do in them and in the flavours of the various triads.
There are many other tunings. For a few more, see Scales | More Scales | Twelve tone systems
You will also want to explore the SCALA archives, and the SCALA program I'm sure, if you have reached this point.
Also, many who ask this question also want to know why the twelve equal tuning has twelve notes in it. I know that isn't an FAQ about FTS but since it is so commonly asked, I'd better say something. I suggest you read read Margo Schulter's article (on-line)
Most of the information in this section I found from her scholarly postings to the tuning list - some from other sources. To find out more about medieval practice in the Pythagorean tuning see her Pythagorean tuning and Medieval Polyphony.
How do I transpose the keyboard tuning from C major to some other key?
The key is set from the Pitch window. This sets the pitch of the 1/1 of the scale, which is the same as the key for the keyboard tuning if you are using a twelve tone scale.
How do I transform the tuning so it sounds best in a particular key?
What you want to do is to change the position of the tonic. Both the midi keyboard retuning tasks have a drop list to change the tonic.
This leaves the pitch of the 1/1 as before, so the keyboard plays the same pitches as before more or less - but the tuning gets changed so that it sounds best in the particular key chosen.
So for instance, if you want to play in some remote scale, maybe in a quarter comma meantone scale, then you just leave the pitch of the 1/1 at C, choose quarter comma meantone as the scale, and change the tonic to C# or Db or whatever the key is you want to use. Of course you could also remake the scale so that the wolf is in an appropriate position - and for other scales you could rotate the scale around appropriately - this is just a fast way to do the same thing. You will see the scale value? change as you vary the position of the tonic.
You may also wish to change the tonic as you play, - particularly useful for just intonation scales. FTS can do this too - see [faq_mus.htm#tonic_shifts How do I change the tonic as I play?] .
Which is the best midi instrument to use to hear the difference between tunings?
You need a rich harmonic timbre with no vibrato or tremolo. Try Reed Organ perhaps. If you want to hear beats clearly, then try transposing the pitch up an octave or two as the beats are most readily heard in higher pitched notes (where they are faster).
Fine distinctions are usually more easily noticed in chords, particularly by listening to beats - and indeed this is where just intonation is probably most important too.
So, try playing chords. Listen carefully for a kind of roughness in the twelve equal major third, or listen for beats - a fast tremolo like wah wah type sound. You can also listen for a kind of mellowness, sweetness, gentleness or maybe dullness (as compared to the brightness of the twelve equal) in the just intonation third.
To have a go at locating the points of consonance in the interval spectrum, try using the mouse or joystick theremin with a drone. See [User_guide2.htm#theremin Theremin ;-)] | [User_guide2.htm#consonance Using the Theremin to explore consonant ratios] in this help for details.
Issues with Sound card and synth instruments
However, this all depends on the instrument - it needs to be clear and steady in pitch. Also you don't want any tremolo or vibrato in it already. Also the looping of the waveforms of a wave table synth can obscure the beats.
An FM synth playing notes with no vibrato or tremolo is perhaps your best choice for hearing the beats most clearly. Failing that, look for an instrument rich in partials and steady in pitch, with no looping artefacts.
Just a little vibrato can make it very heard to hear beats. Even if each note has only a little vibrato, the interaction of two such notes together may cause very noticeable beating. Soundcard samples are often recorded with some vibrato - intentionally so indeed - as it sounds "more natural". You can read reviews of sound samples praised for the natural sounding vibrato. But unfortunately when such notes are played together in a chord, the vibratos then may not be synchronised. This can cause a jarring wah wah type effect from the way the different vibratos interact, which is extremely noticeable in just intonation chords - and the noticeable feature here is that you get these effects even in unisons - even if you play several notes in unison all using the same midi instrument.
A single note may also beat with sounds made by the PC fan or any loud background hum in your room.
If you have a variety of sound devices, try them all as some may be better for this than others, or install a soft synth to get yet more variety.
Some particular midi instruments to try =
Strings are amongst the best as far as richness in the harmonics - but may well have much residual vibrato. If so, you could try the Fiddle (in the Ethnic category) as it may be recorded without vibrato. Harpsichord and Koto should be good because of the strong third partial and because they are pretty much harmonic timbres - but do die away quickly.
Pure flute like instruments are low in harmonics - the ocarina voice is often the purest one you have, and sine waves are lowest of all, no harmonics at all apart from the fundamental. Even if low in vibrato, these pure tones aren't the best choice for learning to hear just intonation chords - they will sound fairly good together if played at any wide enough interval, with comparatively little in the way of beating, because the beating usually occurs because higher harmonics in one of the notes almost but not qutie exactly coincide with the fundamental or some higher harmonic in the other.
If both instruments in a chord consist of just a fundamental with little in the way of overtones at all, and they are far apart in pitch then they won't beat at all, probably (here this means far apart up to octave equivalence - notes a near octave apart will count as close as they will also beat).
So anyway maybe you will find a suitable instrument on your card. If not, however... (fanfare :-))
FTS now has an option to let you synthesize chords and listen to them, using sine waves, triangle waves and other such pure mathematical functions for the waveform, which also doesn't depend on what you have in the way of a synth or soft synth. You can access this from Bs | Arpeggio | Synth Wave.
You can also make some sound fonts based on this. You can find an experimental first try of it at http://www.robertinventor.com/Rounded_Triangle_A441.SF2 (as the name suggests, this uses A=441 as it happened to be convenient to do). You can make such fonts yourself too using the option to save a single wave form, but it is a bit laborious to do at present and I'll add more options later to make it easier.
The Tune Smithy Wave Shape Player
Best of all though - FTS now has its own wave shape player which you get to from Instr. | Wave Shape Player.
The motiviation for this player is that really pure timbres with all the partials exactly pitched - ideal harmonic timbres - can be shown to be identically the same thing as waves that repeat exactly when shown in an oscilloscope. So the wave shape player is specially designed to produce a wide variety of exactly repeating curves like that - so ideal harmonic timbres. Try it with one rich in harmonics such as the triangle wave.
It normally has no vibrato or tremolo though you can optionally add those in using the custom amp and pitch variations from Parts | More | Pitch Var. and Amp Var.
what to listen for
You should hear an undulating wah wah sound. It is quite subtle so listen carefully. It is actually always at a particular pitch too - one of the constituent pitches of the sound will undulate in volume, though you may just hear it as a beating of the entire chord.
If you listen more carefully, you may well be able to hear more beats, at different pitches. If you have a waveform rich in harmonics such as a triangle wave then you may hear a whole complex pattern of beats from various harmonics of the chord all beating together simultaneously. A musician may be able to pick out individual pitches in this texture of sound, and listen to them one at a time, and indeed if they are slow enough, count how many beats per second there are for each one.
You can find out what the theoretical numbers are to expect, and what pitches to look for using the Beats window in FTS. See [#Beats Beats]. That's for a single chord.
What is the normal pitch acuity for melodic steps?
Ah, this is a vexed question. Almost guaranteed to start a heated discussion in some circles.
This question is about melodic intervals, but first should mention that it is much easier to hear the distinction if you use chords instead, since you can listen out for beats. If you use a rich harmonic timbre then some of the higher partials may beat rapidly and be fairly easy to hear (or learn to hear), at least as a sort of roughness in the texture, or indeed as beats.
The distinction between the pure and tempered major third for instance is only 14 cents, and some find that quite a small interval to distinguish as a melodic step - yet most find it easy to distinguish in a chord played on a harmonic timbre.
One can learn to distinguish smaller melodic steps with practice. A fine analogy here I feel is with night vision. When you first look through a telescope at a faint galaxy you may not see anything in the field of view at all, but if told there is something to see, then you look and wait and glance out of the corner of your eye and eventually it blinks into view for a moment. Then after a while maybe you learn to see it easily as a steady image and wonder where they difficulty lay in seeing it before. Pitch acuity for melodic intervals is sometimes a bit like that.
Something to bear in mind is that one may well not be able to hear the intervals in a particularly analytic fashion, but one may be influenced anyway while playing in the various temperaments, or when listening to the music. For instance, one might enjoy microtonal music, but one might be unable to disentangle the style, instrument timbre, and pitch aspects of music that one hears and plays in a particularly analytic fashion.
You don't have to listen to music analytically to enjoy it. It is fairly common, e.g. amongst scientists, to be unable to tell which is higher in pitch of two notes a semitone apart. This doesn't mean that your hearing is impaired in any way, it may just be a lack of training. You may be able to hear that the pitches are different, it is just that you haven't learned to recognise which of the two is the high pitch and which is the low pitch. With just a little training you can learn to tell which is the higher in pitch of the two. Shepard found many scientists like that, colleagues of his at Bell laboratories, when he did his preliminary hearing tests for his famous paper on the endlessly rising Shepard tones. He found that many of them, intrigued by the discovery that they couldn't tell which of the (obviously different) pitches was the highest, did a bit more experimentation with his hearing test, and soon were able to tell which was the highest in pitch.
Test your own pitch acuity using FTS
If you want to test your pitch acuity, try Bs | Scale... Try various numbers in the Equal Steps box. Then, move your mouse back and forth over the blue dots - or use Select all, and move it over the keyboard - or play them from the PC keyboard. Do you hear a melodic step from each note to the next, or does each one sound the same in pitch as its immediate neighbour? Try larger and larger numbers - eventually you will reach a point where each sounds the same as its neigbour.
Tip: zoom in to see individual dots in this window. when the number of notes per octave is small, make the Width in octaves small. Also the echo (click on the E... button next to the keyobard or dots window) this makes a larger version of it which you can resize.
Try 88 equal steps first perhaps - one note of 88-et is the same size approximately as the difference in pitch between the just and equal tempered major third. If you can't distinguish these steps, your pitch resolution isn't yet fine enough to distinguish the just and equal temperament major thirds melodically (these things change with exposure to microtones).
Try other equal temperaments too and see at what point you can hear them as separate notes. These things vary considerably. Some musicians are able to distinguish hundreds of notes in an octave, and some are able to hear distinctions as fine as a single cent or less as a melodic stp (1200 notes to an octave), though this is fairly rare, at least in Western music circles.
(note that a cent is a much smaller interval than a hertz in the range of middle c - the size of a hertz in cents varies depending on the pitch of the note so the step from 440 to 441 is 441/440 which is a little under 4 cents - it is not such a rare thing to be able to distinguish a single hertz at 440 hertz.).
Another thing to try is to set it to 1200 notes to an octave so each step is one cent - then see how many of those you need in order to hear the notes as melodically distinct. I.e. play say degrees 0 and 20 and see if you can tell them apart. If successfull, try narrower intervals, 0 and 15, and so on (or if you can't distinguish 20 cets, try 0 and 25, 30 etc).
When you get to the finest pitch distinctions of just a few cents, one tip is that the sharper of two notes played at the same volume may sound slightly louder (probably because high notes tend to sound a little sharper to our ears as they get louder - while low notes sound a little flatter as they get louder).
Interestingly, the confusion about which pitch is highest which some people have with semitones can also happen with really fine distinctions of pitch too. As you approach your pitch discrimination threshold, you may sometimes hear two notes and think they sound a bit different in pitch, but then you ask yourself which is the higher in pitch and you may not be quite sure - and if tested, e.g. by playing one or other note at random to see if you can tell which is which, you can't do it - but still you feel somehow that they don't quite sound "the same".
It's a bit paradoxical really. I think sometimes that can mean that one can in fact hear a bit of a difference but haven't really learnt to recognise it properly. Or maybe a better way to put it - that one has the potential to make the distinction, but that one needs practice and training, or maybe just to gain confidence in ones abilities - before one can do it.
You can double your pitch acuity in special situations
This is a fun thing you can do here. Let's suppose that you can reliably distinguish notes 16 cents apart, but not 8 cents apart, for sake of illustration (change these numbers as appropriate for your situation)
Set the scale to 8 cent intervals - set the window up to
1/1 8 cents.
as the scale.
Now play scale degrees 0 and 2 and you can tell them apart. Play 0 and 1 and you can't as the distinction between the two is only 8 cents.
Now play this little trill:
0 2 1 2 0 2 1 2
The 0 and 1 will sound distinct in this trill because you will hear a perceptible step down from the 2 to the 0 but not from the 1. You will hear it as 0 2 2 2 0 2 2 2. Which means you hear the 0 differently from the 1. So you have actually distinguished the 0 from the 1 even though you didn't distinguish the 1 from the 2.
Now play 2 0 1 0 2 0 1 0
This time the 1 and 2 will sound different. You will hear it as 2 0 0 0 2 0 0 0.
Another way of putting it - if someone gives you a series of bells tuned to 0, 1 and 2, you can't distinguish 0 from 1 or 1 from 2 by comparing them - but by playing this trill, you would soon be able to figure out which is which just by listening to pitch distinctions that you are easily able to hear.
So you have double your normal melodic pitch acuity in trills such as this one :-).
Following more elaborate procedures, playing various trills, you could distinguish even finer intervals just using your ears.
Examples of intervals that are easy to distinguish, and hard to distinguish melodically
Some microtonal intervals are much more easily distinguished melodically than others. The fifth 3/2 is so close to the nearest equal tempered interval that not so very many musicians can distinguish the two melodically - it is only two cents away - that's less than half a herz at the g above middle c. Some can indeed make distinctions like this, or even finer. Musicians who can reliably distinguish a single cent might be able to split the difference between the 3/2 and 700 cents and hear a melodic note in between the two. But this is rare.
However, to go to the other extreme, the 11/8 is nearly half a semitone away from the nearest equal tempered note - 50 cents, which most musicians will be able to distinguish fairly easily. The 13/8, 7/6, and 7/4 are also quite far away from the nearest twelve equal notes. When you hear a melody that uses any of these intervals then it may be very noticeable that it is a bit exotic and not quite the same as the normal twelve equal you are used to.
When it comes to tuning instruments and so forth, most musicians find they can tune more precisely by listening to beats rather than by listening out for melodic distinctions of pitch. Even if you can only distinguish say 15 or 20 cents melodically, you may well be able to tune an instrument such as a guitar say, to high precision by listening out for beats. That is the method piano tuners usually use to tune pianos - well except that nowadays many also use electronic tuning devices to tune their instruments of course.
Can you suggest a scale to use to play just intonation chords?
Here, just intonation chords are ones that use pure ratios exclusively for intervals between the notes, usualy involving small numbers such as 5/4 or 3/2. This corresponds to pitches in the harmonic series, and when you play harmonic series notes low down in the series on harmonic timbres such as most musical melodic instruments have, they tend to go well togetehr.
Well, the thing is that if you have any just intonation major scale then it's going to have some triads which are pure and some which aren't. E.g. using the roman numerals notation in which I is the major chord on the first degree, and ii (lowercase) is the minor chord on the second degree, it can have I, V and ii pure but not IV - or it can have I, V and IV pure and not ii because that is just how it works out if you reckon how the intervals can fit together
(If new to ratios, cents etc and other basic concepts of tuning theory, be sure to see [Scales_and_Fractal_Tunes.htm#Newbie_notes Newbie notes] first)
Let's look at a smaller scale instead, the just intonation pentatonic - with fewer notes then there are less triads to need to place in tune.
1/1 9/8 5/4 3/2 5/3 2/1 C D E G A c
This just consists of notes of the harmonic series reduced to the octave, apart from the A at 5/3. So any chord you make using any of the other notes, leaving out the A, is going to be a a pretty ?icely tuned chord.
The 5/3 also goes fine with the 5/4 and the 2/1. Even with the 3/2 - the ratio there is 10/9 which is harmonious enough though rather a small step - it is frequently used in just intonation dominant seventh chords. In fact if you play all the notes except the 9/8 you have 1/1 5/4 3/2 5/3 2/1 which is the same as 3/1 15/4 9/2 5/1 6/1 transposed down by a tritave (by 3/1) which is a harmonic series chord - a nicely tuned C E G A, in fact it is an Am7 chord. It is tuned as harmoniously as any tuning of those notes could expected to sound. Choose any subset from those four notes and it will also sound harmonious.
So the only pair of notes that don't go well together in this scale are the 5/3 and the 9/8. The ratio between these two is 40/27, an interval that doesn't sound particulary harmonious (sounds like a well out of tune fifth in most harmonic contexts).
So, you can make music in this pentatonic scale, and it will be tuned just fine so long as you never pair the D with an A in any of your chords. The 40/27 would normally be thought to be too complex to count as a just intonation ratio on its own - possibly if you add in an extra note it could be - e.g. in D E A the ear may pick up on the pure E A ratio and the D E and so accept the out of tune D A as composed out of two acceptable just intonation intervals, depending how it is used.
So - if you are set on using just intonation non beating chords, then you could use a scale with a small number of notes like this one, and get to know where the just intonation chords are in that way. This is a particularly simple example but you can get to know your way around more complex just intonation scales too and then compose music to fit the scale.
Another thing you can do is to try the Lambdoma scale, which you can explore in View | Lambdoma. This is a particular pattern of ratios - and if you play notes in any column or row of the table then they will make beatifully tuned just intonation chords consisting of notes from the harmoni series, or the subharmonic series (for utonal "minor" type chords).
Or if you want to stay with conventional twelve tone type scales, then you can try changing the tonic as you play. See [faq_mus.htm#tonic_shifts How do I change the tonic as I play?]
Can I tune my synthesizer using FTS?
Well, you can if it is one of the few that use the Midi Tuning Standard sysex - this mainly applies to synths by Proteus, and some modern soft synths from Native Instruments (the FM 7 for instance).
Apart from that, no you can't yet at present. The reason for this is simply that Scala already has excellent support for it, so most musicians who need this will use Scala - there seems little reason therefore to duplicate that work in FTS.
The way it is done is to go to the Opts button in SCALA (with the hammer icon). Then go to the Midi tab, and then to Synthesizer tuning options - and see the SCALA help for the SEND command for help.
Get Scala from Scala downloads if you don't yet have it.
I may possibly add support for some synthesizer tunings to FTS in the future - the main reason for doing that would be so that musicians can use some of the special FTS features such as changing the tonic as you play, or changing the tuning as you play using a controller or a tonic / scale shifting region of the keyobard. Another reason for doing it would be so that algo-comp enthusiasts can use their keyboards with fractal tunes which have a high degre of pitch polyphony such as the Fibonacci t?ne scape. This probably won't be until the next beta / release cycle if I do it.
If you are particularly interested in support for this, let me know so that I know that there is demand for the feature. Then I'll also make sure to include the particular tuning method you wish to use when I do it (if possible). It probably won't be that hard to do for any particular format if the data is available for the file format, but adding them all would be a longer task indeed.
My synth has several instruments for each voice number. How do I chose between them in FTS? (bank select)
They are generally selected using bank select. Go to Parts, select Bank , and then experiment with the MSB type box - the required setting here will depend on your synth. The Roland Sound Canvas by way of example needs it to be unselected. The SB Live! sound card needs it to be selected. If you don't know which one your synth requires, just try both until you find the one that works.
Your synth may well use either the Yamaha XG or the Roland GS system to get those extra instruments. If so go to Voice | Ed Voice Menu and look for the custom voice menus. You will find the Roland Sound Canvas there and an example Yamaha XG menu. Using those as a basis, you can edit them to add new instruments in the same pattern or remove instruments that your synth doesn't have. The method is very flexible as you can add extra instructions at the top of the file to say for instance whether the synth uses the LSB or MSB method and which number in the row of numbers is the patch number and which is the bank number. This can be useful for instance, if you have a table of numbers that you can copy and paste from the synth manual but with extra numbers in it that you want FTS to ignore. Rather than delete all those numbers individually (if you can't delete a column all in one go) just paste the entire table in and then add instructions at the top to say how it should be interpreted.
I haven't yet done any help for this option yet, but the examples given will get you started. If you have any questions just ask me Robert Walker, firstname.lastname@example.org
How do I do a mid merge in FTS
This is easy. Select In | Ok to use several at once . Then in the In menu, select all the midi in devices you want to be able to receive notes from - and FTS will merge them all and retune all the notes to your current Scale and Arpeggio.
Sometimes one may want instead to merge notes from various sources and keep the original pitch bends. In that case, you need to select In | Options | More Options | Relay notes in exactly the tuning received .
If you want to merge the output of other programs (rather than actual midi input devices) in FTS, you need to install Midi Yoke Junction first (or similar software). Then set up the programs to play in Midi Yoke Junction 1, 2, etc, and proceed as before. See [midi_relaying.htm#Midi_Relaying Midi Relaying] for some details about how to use Midi Yoke Junction with FTS.
How do I use FTS with my music notation software or sequencer?
The idea is to play music from your notation software or sequencer through FTS using a software virtual midi cable or a physical midi cable to daisy chain the two programs together. Then you can use FTS to retune the music to your desired tuning.
This means that you can work with your score or sequence in the normal way, but all the notes are retuned through FTS so that you hear it in the new tuning. This means you can compose directly in the tuning. In effect you are using FTS as a kind of a playback sound module to play your score in another tuning system. You can hook into all the wonderful notation facilities of your notation software and use it to play in whatever tuning you like.
You have to use twelve equal notation of course, as that is what your sequencer or music notation program will use. However it is possible to retune any of the notes on the score to any arbitrary pitch - and so you can reinterpret the standard notation as you like and use it for other tuning systems.
This approach is a natural for keyboard work as keyboard players can read such a score immediately with no training at all on a suitably tuned keyboard. Their keyboard training and hand eye coordination takes care of everything. They may get a surprise at some of the notes they hear as they play, and the score they have to play may look very strange indeed, but once they are over that, if they just play the notated notes, a keyboard player can play such a score straight off.
So the idea is to use a conventional score, retune it to some other system of tuning, and so play any tuning you wish. The later examples in [midi_relaying.htm#retune_score How use FTS to compose microtonally ]should make it clear. I call this the [scordatura keyboard method.
It is perhaps stretching the name a little, it is a use of the word I've coined myself, but don't know of a better. Traditionally scordatura is used for instruments such as strings. A typical example is the score for Bach's sixth 'cello suite which has one of the strings tuned differently. The score is written just like a normal conventional Cello score- so the player can play the piece using their familiar hand eye coordination, though the notes heard on the A string (retuned to G) are quite different from what they would normally expect for the fingering. Scordatura scores are also used in some fiddle music, and was the standard notation for the historical arpeggione during its short life (the instrument Schubert wrote his Arpeggione sonata for).
A scordatura keyboard score can be played by any keyboard player. It could also be played by a harpist if they are able to retune their harp appropriately - or make a custom harp for it. It is also a possible method to use for hand made zithers and so forth.
Adapting this method for instrumentalists
Most of these keyboard type scordatura scores aren't easy to read at all if you need to work out what fingerings to use for the notes on a wind or string instrument say - or need to know the exact pitch to sing or play before you make the note. However, with care, you may be able to use some of these keyboard scordatura type scores with other instrumentalists too.
The main thing that will help instrumentalists to read your score may be to do it so that though the notes are strangely tuned, the system repeats at the conventional octave of the score. So for instance do it so that every C on the score notates one pitch in different octaves, every C# notates another pitch and so on. Then the instrumentalist has only twelve pitches to learn or possibly less.
Of course your tuning may have more, or less, than twelve notes to an octave. But you can repeat notes if necessary to fit it in, so e.g. a pentatonic could be notated using only the white keys of the score, with two of them repeated. I include one scordatura type instrumentalist's score in the midi examples section - [midi_relaying.htm#rs_oct_pad_ex my recorder trio for the hexany tuning].
Large scales can spread the notes over two or more octaves and still achieve octave repetition except that two or more octaves of the score correspond to one playing octave. So for instance you could spread a thirty one tone system over two octaves of the score.
The accidentals in this sort of score might confuse an instrumentalist. If you score it using just the "white notes", and leave the clef sign out of your score or design a new one - maybe the player can learn to treat it as a new microtonal notation which happens to still have five lines, but now you can decide for yourself how many lines to do to an octave. It is still technically the same thing, a scordatura keyboard type score - but by removing the clef sign and perhaps adding a new one, it looks like something new.
All these type of score are easy to set up with the Tune Smithy retuning. The challenge is for the instrumentalist to learn the pitches to play - it may help if they have audio clips to listen to to learn the pitches, or reference instruments to play them on.
Scores with accidentals
This is another approach, where the score notates the exact pitch to play. So the pitches are interpreted normally, and accidentals are used to specify the pitch more exactly than usual. This is harder for a keyboard player to read but may be easier for an instrumentalist.
The more normal way of writing for twelve tone trained instrumentalists is a system where the music is notated using the nearest twelve equal note, with special accidentals by way of an indication of how much to sharpen or flatten each note. It's because conventionally trained instrumentalists are used to pitching the notes to twelve equal, and any instruments they use are normally designed to achieve those pitches too. So for instance a wind player might play an Eb 6/5 above C at 1/1 by starting with the tuning for an Eb in twelve equal, then tune it just a bit sharp until they hit the sweet spot where it is in tune. Or play a 7/6 similarly by tuning the Eb a bit flat.
This can be done in FTS
You can make a score that can actually play arbitrary accidentals, using conventional notation software again, with a bit of extra work to set it all up. First you set up a scale in FTS which is large enough to include all the accidentals you need. Also set the arpeggio to play the naturals (white keys) of your tuning. It doesn't need to be diatonic, you can make the arpeggio any tuning, ditto you can have as many accidentals as you need.
Then you need to add suitable notations to the score, and the thing then is - how to tie the two together? How can you get those notations in your score to be respected by FTS so that FTS plays the correct accidental for each note?
Anyone familiar with midi will realise at this point that you need to be able to send some midi event to FTS as that is the only means of communication from the software to FTS (at least if you are using conventional midi software and can't collaborate with the programmer to devise other ways of communicating from one program to the other).
We could use the MTS sysexes - but that's not easy to use or widely supported by notation software.
So, since there isn't any midi event we can send that is built into notation software as standard, we have to invent new ways of interpreting the standard midi events that you can send.
How to do it in FTS
FTS has a wide range of options here. You can find them in the Accidentals symbols and special opts window (Ctrl + 61)
Volumes as accidentals
One simple approach is to use volumes as accidentals - play all the notes at half the usual volume in the notation software and get FTS to double the volume before it plays the note.
Then any note above say 64 midi volume is interpreted as an alternative accidental, and as its volume it uses double the offset of the volume from 64. E.g. a volume of 70 means to play the alternative accidental very quietly with a volume of 12 i.e. 2*(70-64). A volume of 127 will play the alternative accidental at maximum volume (well 126 instead of 127, but it is close enough).
An example may help make the technique clear. Suppose you want to distinguish D# from Eb. To get the D# with volume 80, you might just play an Eb/D# at half that volume, 40. If you want the Eb at the same volume, play your Eb/D# at half volume again - but with a volume boosts of 64 to give a total volume of 104. FTS will then retune your note to an Eb at volume 80. This may seem a bit complicated - but if your notation software has the flexibility to let you enter in volumes for individual notes, it shouldn't be hard to get used to the system.
As your scale you would use a scale in FTS that runs
... D D# Eb E
and as the arpeggio in FTS, choose the pitches you want to use for C D E ... from the same scale.
The other methods all follow similar principles, but differ in the midi events you use in the score to communicate the choice of accidental to FTS.
Unused midi instruments as accidentals
Another method is to use some of the rarely unused midi instruments to indicate accidentals. Most scores won't need the helicopter or bird tweet or sea shore for instance, so those could be inserted into the score as accidentals immediately before the note you want to change. This particular one works best with monophonic lines, or if used with chords, you have to ensure somehow that the notes of the chord are sent in the right sequence so each accidental is sent immediately before the note it applies to (e.g. always slightly arpeggiate the chord, as imperceptibly as possible if it is meant to be crisp).
You would make a graphic for the accidental and a particular instruments - and just insert that graphic and instruments before every note that needs to be changed. By using several instruments in this way you can distinguish fine shades of accidental in the score, for instance to get three sizes of sharp and three sizes of flat you need six unused instruments. Then make sure FTS interprets them appropriately.
Since the thing can't currently be achieved at all in most notation software then this may well be an attractive first step forward for some. Eccentric seeming, but it works which is the main thing when there is no other way to do it at present. See [midi_in.htm#patches_as_accid Patches as accidentals] and [midi_in.htm#Playing_accidentals Playing fine shades of accidentals from the music keyboard]
scores with accidentals for keyboard players to use
A keyboardist may also be able to use a score with accidentals if they have a specially designed keyboard, maybe with split keys - and spend some time learning the accidentals for it. Also maybe they could learn to use the volumes as accidentals too in this way - to just play a note louder for a quiet sharp - I've tried it myself and find it tricky to use, to start with anyway, especially if you want to play your sharp quietly, ppp. It feels odd to play a loud feeling note to achieve a quiet sound - but it is more than that - it is a matter of learning such fine control at that volume level. If you make the note just a fraction quieter than you intended, it changes your quiet ppp sharp into a sudden loud fff flat which is rather disconcerting.. But a professional trained keyboard player would probably find their way around it easily enough. Maybe others too can learn how to do it with enough time to learn how to use the technique for ppp passages.
Some of the other options in the window are particularly meant for use by keyboard players - for instance to use the sustain pedal or sostenuto etc pedals as accidental shifting keys. But they could also be useful for notation software as well - anything the keyboard player could send as a midi event you can also notate on the score.
In the introduction I assumed that the accidentals were shifts in pitch away from twelve equal. But as you can see the way it is implemented in FTS will let you use any pitches you like as the accidentals. The shift is just a fixed number of scale degrees, not a particular interval - so depends on what you have set up as the "master tuning" in FTS for the complete scale including all the accidentals.
The other general system one can use with accidentals uses a number of fixed size accidentals. Then you start from the nearest Pythagorean twelve tone note as a basis. This scale is very close to twelve equal, but can be more suitable as a basis for getting to just intonation notes, as exactly the same size accidental is needed to get from E (pyth) to the 5/4 major third or (in the opposite direction) from Eb (pyth) to the 6/5 minor third, and so on. So if you want to show just intonation ratios using the twelve tone system with accidentals, it may be best to notate them in pythagorean. You need fewer accidentals, yet you can notate the pitches exactly rather than approximately. This is the approach used in the just intonation version of Sagittal (the new general purpose notation system for this kind of thing). It is soon to be supported in FTS hopefully.
This doesn't mean your player has to be able to find those base pitches or pitch the notes relative to them to that extreme level of precision - but for just intonation music for instance, they won't get that far wrong if they treat the accidentals as pitch shifts from twelve equal instead as a first approximation, then can find the sweet spot by ear around that pitch. As a composer of just intonation music, one will feel happier with this system perhaps, because one knows that the score notates the pitches exactly, so anyone well up on the notation who reads it immediately knows that you meant a 6/5 here, a 7/4 there, and a 13/8 somewhere else, and so on.
Ideas for the future to use with Sagittal
Sagittal type accidentals can be supported in existing notation software again using the same patches or volumes as accidentals idea - but it would be far easier to do with fixed sizes of accidental rather than to try to work with a huge scale that already has all the combinations accidentals in it that you might ever need.
When support for Sagittal gets added, I plan to add optional fixed size accidentals for patches (rather than the present ones which are numbers of scale degree steps) and a distinction between temporary and key signature accidentals, also a way of setting which note the accidental applies to by using an extra controller before the patch. All that should make it possible to write Sagittal scores directly in any conventional notation software and immediately hear them suitably tuned when played in FTS. It would be a matter of making a suitable midi events + graphics symbol for each accidental you need - and to save the need to edit the symbol for each note name one might do it for each twelve tone degree (so twelve copies of each symbol you use). Also a suitable Sagittal preset to set up FTS with the appropriate accidental sizes for each one. After that it would just be a matter of copy and paste to add the Sagittal symbols to the score.
If you have any comments or suggestions for the future, or ideas or want to give feedback about your findings about using any of these new tools in FTS do contact me Robert Walker email@example.com
Unfortunately there is no kind of routine way to convert the two types of score - keyboard scordatura scores for keyboardists - and ones with fine shades of accidentals for instrumentalists - into each other. This is a must have feature for anyone who wishes to write a proper microtonal notation program. As of writing, I don't know of any such program - plenty that have some support for microtonal accidentals in twelve equal, but none that allow easy conversion from the scordatura type layout convenient to a keyboardist to the accidentals type layout suitable for a string player, wind player or voice say.
One should certainly have both as the scordature score is by far the easiest way to play microtonal music for a keyboardist with a conventional keyboard. Mainly because you don't need to learn new fingerings or systems of notations to use it. It is also quite refreshing for a keyboardist, when you get unfamiliar sounding chords from the familiar fingering patterns. But alas at present it means you have to make two separate scores if you need to support both systems.
Also I don't know of any notation software that will let you show a score with a layout of any number of notes to the stave, e.g. sixteen notes to a stave or whatever. You can experiment with such layouts in the Tune window in FTS, but it is for display only. It is not editable after you have played your notes, and it is very rudimentary too with notes positioned spatially according to the timing, and with no notation differences between the notes of different sizes, just the spacing to show the length of the note to play..
I have plenty of ideas for such a program and would love to write one but it involves a _lot_ of work. That rudimentary window took far more work than you might think to get it done - you are talking there about some months of work at least over the years, possibly more. Though I may learnt some new coding techniques since then, and got a bit faster at coding some things, I hardly dare to think how long it would take to get anywhere near a reasonably functional editable notation software that would please microtonalists.
For instance to write a microtonal version of something like NWC - you would need a team of maybe a dozen programmers like me for a few years to get it done. Programmers who are particularly skilled in that particular area, maybe could do it much more quickly. There must be many programmers around who have long term experience of writing notation software already, or who may have tools and techniques to hand that will make it far easier for them to do this.
Though often asked to add this as a feature to FTS, and though I have plans to tentatively add a very rudimentary piano roll type score maybe some day - I rather hope someone else will write it first :-).
How do I retune a piece in FTS that needs more than 16 Midi channels?
If you have several midi out devices to use in the Out menu, or soft synths, then you can try playing your piece on several devices simultaneously selecting Out | Play on several devices at once
Choose which parts to play on which port from Out | Midi out devices - Parts to Play .
So for example if part 1 is the microtonally demanding one, choose to play it on all sixteen channels on one of your output devices. Then use another one for all the other parts.
The help for [midi_out.htm#multiple_out_ports Midi Out Devices - Parts to Play] explains more.
You can use this method to make audio recordings in FTS when you run out of channels. Your recording can't be save in midi format however, since the midi file spec has no provision for specifying the output devices to use for each part.
If you want to retune a large orchestral score you may already have more than sixteen instruments in it, in which case it isn't enough to just use more Out devices to retune it. Your notation software may have an option to send different parts to different out devices to get over this limitation. In that case you may be interested to use the new Out for In devices option which lets you set a separate Out device for each In device - then use multiple virtual midi cables to connect the notation software to FTS.
Rick McGowan has written an introductory tutorial explaining his system and findings for working in this way with GPO (the Garritan Personal Orchestra) and Finale. You should read that if you want to use GPO as there are various eccentricities of it that you need to work with and he has explored them and presents his findings about how to use the various particular instruments in the orchestra. It is also a good general introduction to using FTS for large scale orchestral work. He has kindly given his permission to include it in this help. It is here:[FTS-HowTo-Files/MicroOrchestra.html Microtuning the Orchestra]
The Out for In devices option needs a new section in this help - it is one of the new features that will get explained later after the release as I haven't the time to explain everything without delaying the release further for some months. Meanwhile if you have particular questions about it, then contact Robert Walker - firstname.lastname@example.org
How do I change the tonic as I play?
The basic idea here is to change the tonic as you play in order to have pure just intonation triads. The same methods can be applied fpr other scales and desired intervals too. This lets you modulate and yet have just intonation as well, but you have to allow the possibility of sudden small tonic shifts, or alternatively, gradual tonicdrift.
Here, best to just refer you to the appropriate section of the help:
[midi_relaying.htm#tonic_shifts Tonic shifts and Tonic Drifts] (recently updated to explain it more clearly and concisely).
How do I play lattice scales from the PC keyboard or use it as a Janko keyboard?
Introduction and motivation
The PC keyboard is very conveniently set out with a basically hexagonal, or honeycomb type layout. You will see that the keys run in three directions - the horizontal rows, and diagonally up to right and to left. This makes it ideal for exploring lattices or the innovative Janko keyboard layout.
You have one interval running horizontally, one common choice is the major fifth 3/2. Then another interval is used for the diagonals - perhaps as you go up diagonally to the right you go up in pitch by a major third - then if you set it up like that - it turns out that as you go down diagonally up to the left, you go down by a minor third. With this layout, if you play two adjacent keys in the same row, and add in the key in between them in the row above, you will get a major triad. This works anywhere on the keyboard - you always get the same chord when you use that particular pattern, shifted in pitch. With this same pattern, if you play two adjacent keys, and add in the one between from the row below, you get a minor triad. Again you get the same chord with this pattern, anywhere on the keyboard.
That particular layout gives you a just intonation lattice which is especially interesting for exploring pure ratio type intonation and sequences of chords, but perhaps not that useful if you want to use it to play a particular tune, say. However, there are many other layouts you can explore using tone / semitione type tuning systems, which you can use to play tunes and conventional music.
A very common layout is to have whole tones running horizontally, and semitones diagonally. This is the Janko layout, which lets you play conventional major and minor scales very easily.
The nice thing about this style of keyboard is that you only ever need to learn one fingering for any chord or scale. There is one fingering pattern which will play all the major scales in any of the keys - including the nineteen major scales in in nineteen equal, or the thirty one major scales in a thirty one equal and so on. This is an approach that was first developed for twelve tone pianos in the nineteenth century by Paul Janko and pioneered by Liszt and Rubenstein - but for some reason despite their endorsement, it never really caught on at the time. However, you can see how it has even more advantages in microtonal systems with many more steps to an octave, and the idea has been kept very much alive by microtonalists. It also has been an inspiration for several new electronic keyboards which have gone on sale in recent years. To find out more about this type of keyboard, and it's history, you can start at the Wikipedia page about the Janko keyboard, or search on-line for Janko keyboard.
Limitations of the PC keyboard
Unfortunately the PC keyboard isn't ideal for this approach. You will find that some triads play fine, but with other combinations of keys on the keyboard some of the notes of the chord will fail to sound (at least, on all the keyboards I've tried).
Never mind though, you can still play all the triads by using a sustain pedal - or use the option to treat the space bar as a sustain, and you can get used to the eccentricities of a paritcular keyboard. Another way you can get around some of the limitations is to use two computers or laptops and play the PC keyboard on both simultaneously, one for the left hand and one for the right hand.
How to set up your PC keyboard like this in Tune Smithy
Okay, that's the motivation. Now for the practicalities - pretty easy really. Look for this icon in the main window:
A click on this will bring up the PC keyboard player. You can also bring up the PC keyboard player at any time using Ctrl + K (or Ctrl + 112 ).
To configure the player, click on the To Play button to bring up the Notes to play for PC Keyboard keys Ctrl + K2 (or Ctrl + 24 )
Look for the button Make lattice or Janko (changes main scale)
Before you use the button, you need to choose which intervals you want to use for the horizontal and diagonal intervals. You set these in the text box below the button. For instance to try out the major and minor chords layout, choose 3/2 6/5.
To try out the nineteen equal layout choose 3//19 2//19 - this will set the horizontal interval to three steps of nineteen equal - the nineteen equal whole tone, and the diagonal interval to two steps - the larger diatonic semitone. The other diagonal will play one step of nineteen equal, the smaller or chromatic semitone (e.g. C to C# or C# to Db).
Other presets can be used to explore the seventeen equal and thirty one equal Janko layouts, or various interesting pure ratio type lattices, and you can make more of your own following the same format. For more about this see the [User_guide2.htm#hexagonal_lattice Hexagonal lattice] help for this window
Displaying the notes appropriately
You will want to set the keyboard player to display the notes appropriately for your chosen lattice. To do that, use the To Show button in the Player window. This will bring up the What to show on PC Keyboard pics, sustain & controller window - Ctrl + K1 (or Ctrl + 123). Then you can select how you want to show the notes using the Show drop down list in this window.
For the ratios based systems then you can select Ratios from the drop down. Or to configure it in other ways - for instance to show cents, frequencies in hertz or whatever, set it to Anything Else - current notation for scales - and use the Current Notation.. button to configure exactly how you want to show the intervals.
For the nineteen or thirty one tone systems you may want to choose Note names from the drop down, then choose an appropriate system from the drop list. For instance nineteen tone notation will give you distinctions of sharps and flats as suitable for the nineteen tone system, also show the "extra notes" such as E# / Fb of nineteen equal. You can further configure how the notes are shown using the Note names as drop down.
Dealing with wide ranging keyboard pitches
Depending on the layout, the keyboard may span a large pitch range. For instance this happens if you use 3/2 for the horizontal interval - then the keyboard will span a little under seven octaves (from 1/1 to 1594323/128000). There are two ways you can deal with this.
If you go to the Parts window, then you can transpose the keyboard part down in pitch - highlight the first part there (or whichever part you want the PC keyboard to use) and transpose it down by three octaves (say) by setting the Octave shift to -3. The PC Keyboard Player normally uses whichever part is currently highlighted in the Parts window. You can change that in the To Play window (Ctrl + K2 ). Or if you want to transpose all the parts down in pitch - highlight them all and set the octave shift - or use the Pitch window (Ctrl + 10).
The other thing you can do is to use the Note Ranges window (Ctrl + 22). Highlight the part you want to adjust and set the highest and lowest note you wish to use for that part.
At times when you work mainly with the PC keyboard you may want to use the Mouse & Pc Keybd Music task which you will find in the purple Tasks for Tune Smithy 3 folder on your desktop. You will find the droplist of presets includes some lattices.
How do I play the Erv Wilson CPS sets?
These are musical geometry scales. For an introduction to musical geometry see the [mus_geom/musical_geometry.htm Musical Geometry] page - which has a picture of a hexany at the end.
Since in essence they are three dimensional, it can be hard sometimes to find the triads in the scale, which increase in only one dimension from left to right across the keyboard.
So, that's the motivation for this section - a way of quickly and easily selecting the triads and other chords from a CPS set.
To find out more and get started, see [midi_relaying.htm#CPS_config Combination Product Sets Layout].
If you don't know what one is - then the help link just given explains a bit about it, enough to get one started I hope.
You can now also make these musical geometrical models yourself too using Virtual Flower with FTS.
How do I stop FTS from sending Instrument selections (aka Program or Patch changes) to my synth?
Select Out | Skip Midi Out Voice Selections .
Usually users who want this option have a non GM synth or sampler - and set up the instruments?at the synth.
So, for the occasions when you do use voice selections in FTS, it may be worth knowing that you can change the instrument names for the voice menu using Out | Options | Customise voice menu names .
If you have a synth that plays only one (polyphonic instrument) at a time in each channel, you will want to unselect Out | Options | More Midi Out Options | Multiple simultaneous voices per channel .
Also Adjust the Non Melodic Percussion channel in this same window - you can set the channel to 0 for a non GM synth, to mean that all the channels are melodic. Then FTS can relay to channel 10 in the same way as it does to all the others.
To do both these things at once: Out | Options | More Midi Out Options | Non GM Synth .
How do I make a polyrhythm metronome?
Go to Bs | Seed Options | Polyrhythms .
Now choose which numbers of beats you want to a bar. Suppose you want to make a metronome with 3 against 2 beats. Then set the numbers to 3 and 2 in the Polyrhythm beats per "bar" box. You probably want a beat for the start of teh bar too, so you would enter it as 3 2 1 . That's 3 beats to a bar, 2 beats to a bar, and 1 beat (to mark the bars).
In fact that one is already in the drop list of polyrhythms - so you just need to select it.
Then click Make slow metronome, with preset non melodic percussion instruments , which makes the metronome.
Go to the Main Window now ( F6 ), and click the play button, and you will hear it.
You can also make a [Seeds_options.htm#web_page_of_polyrh web page of polyrhythms].
For other options - see the help for the [Seeds_options.htm#polyrhythms Polyrhythms] window. See also the [polyrh_metronome.htm Polyrhythm Metronome] view.
How do I try out Margo Schulter's sesquisexta, and Graham Breed's variable comma meantone?
Go to Tasks | Midi Keyboard Retuning - then you'll find them in the Presets drop list.
For more about them: [midi_in.htm#sesquisexta Margo Schulter's Sesquisexta], and [midi_in.htm#variable_comma_meantone Graham Breed's variable comma meantone].
Is there a quick way to swap between different scales / arpeggios when playing from the PC keyboard?
Yes, show one of the scales you want to use in the main window. Use Bs | Arpeggio (or the Arpeggio button) to show an Arpeggio window. In this new window unselect Sync. Arp and Sync. scale with m.w. This means that any changes you make in the main window will no longer affect this arpeggio window.
Now show the other scale you want in the main window.
Show the Pc keyboard layout window in the usual way using the icon with the white squares.
Now if you click on the main window title bar, and back to the PC Keyboard layout window, you can play in the main window arpeggio. If you click on the Arpeggio window title bar and back, you can ?lay in that one instead.
You can only show one of the PC keyboard layout windows at a time, but in this way you can quickly change the arpeggios that shows in it.
There's a shortcut to make it even faster. While playing from the PC keyboard, use the tab key (above the caps lock key) to swap between the two arpeggios.
You can show any number of the Arpeggio windows in the same way, each with its own scale and arpeggio. You can then use shift + tab to cycle round through them in reverse order.
How about from the music keyboard?
You can use the same method as for the PC keyboard - as you click on the title bars - or alternatively, use the tab key to move between the windows using the PC keyboard, the scale and arpeggio you play from the music keyboard also changes accordingly.
However, it would be neat if you could change the scale from the music keyboard too - just by pressing one of the keys. How about this idea - to use the left few notes of the music keyboard to change the scale? Well you can do that too.
Here is how you do it.
Select In | Options | Scales for Parts | Scale depends on part .
Now select or make one of the scale and arpeggio you want to use in the main window, and use the Get main window scale & arp button to copy itinto the Scales for Parts window.
Now highlight another part, make your next scale, and proceed in this fashion until you have it set up with all the scales you want to use.
Now go to In | Options | Presets for Scales for Parts
In the drop list at the bottom, choose the option Select part by left-most 16 notes .
This option is preset to work with a four octave keyboard - so if yours is larger than that, change the note shown for Left-most note of keyboard to use to select scale .
Now when you press the first few notes of your keyboard, the scale will change. You will see the part number change in the Presets for Scales for Parts window as you do so. The main window scale itself doesn't change - because for as long as you have Scale depends on part selected, the scale and arpeggios in the Scales for Parts window are used for midi relaying instead.
For more info see the help for the [midi_relaying.htm#Scales_for_parts_presets Scales for Parts].
How do I use FTS with the FM7?
You will need to send the midi out of FTS through to the midi in of the FM7. Either use a physical loopback, or better, a software loopback. See [midi_relaying.htm#Midi_Relaying Midi Relaying], also take a look at [midi_relaying.htm#quick_start Quick Start for Midi Relaying] - there you can use the Non GM Synth preset with the FM7.
Then in FTS, select Out | Use MTS tuning programs .
Now just use FTS in the same way that you always have done but it will now retune your notes using tuning tables instead of pitch bends.
If you select Out | Use MTS tuning programs , and save to midi as you play, you will save the MTS sysexes to the midi file too, and can? then open the midi file you make in the FM7 later.
It's worth knowing that you can show the FM7 preset voices names in the Voices menu in FTS by selecting Out | Options | Cusomise voices menu names . You'll see the voices for the FM7, and the FM7 demo in the list, and can also add your own versions of the Voices menu names here as you wish. See [tips.htm#tip_59 tip of the day 59].
For more details see the help for [midi_relaying.htm#mts_tuning_programs MTS tuning programs], and the [midi_relaying.htm#mts_quick_start Quick Start] for that section.
Two FAQs about the FM7 (which you'll also find in that section_:
1. Why doesn't the retuning work with the demo? The FM7 demo doesn't receive sysexes - you can get an idea of its voices from the demo, but you need to buy it to use its MTS tuning capabilities.
2. How do I use it multimbrally? The FM7 is monotimbral. If you want to have several FM7 voices in play at once, then start several instances of the FM7 and assign a channel for each from System | Midi Settings in the FM7 - then in FTS, assign those channels to the parts you want to play from Out | Options | Out Channs .
How do I use the feature to make audio clips for all the file names in a web page?
[#intro_mus_geom Intro], [#audio_clip_links audio links], [#image_maps image maps (clickable images)]
For an example to try out, see my [mus_geom/musical_geometry.htm Musical Geometry] page. Follow the instructions at the head of that page to make all the clips and you will see how it works. If you have quicktime, go the the version where you open the midi clips in a new window and follow the instructions there to make the clips and remake the page. The on-line version of the page is at Musical Geometry (on-line).
It's probably best to make a new folder for your web page for all the audio clips.
The file names you use for your web page need to give the desired pitches for the clips you want to make.
So for instance if you want to link to a clip of a septimal minor (subminor) chord, you would do it like this:
href=" 1/1 7/6 3/2.mid "
Note, that isn't a valid file name because of the './'s, but that doesn't matter - FTS will convert it into a valid file name for you.
Now make a file called clips.txt in the same folder. This tells FTS the location of your web page(s) and specifies how the clips are to be made. It should look something like this:
/REDUCE 2/1 /NOPREFIX /CHORD /END_REST 0.5 /END_PAUSE 0.5 /REPLACE_URLS musical_geometry_new_win.htm /MAKE_CLIPS_FOR_AND_REPLACE musical_geometry.htm
That example is the one in the mus_geom folder. You could copy it into your new folder, and edit it to show your web page where it currently says musical_geometry.htm . The musical_geometry_new_win.htm page is the one for quicktime users, and you can follow the same example and have two versions of your web pages - more later.
/REDUCE 2/1 /NOPREFIX /CHORD /END_REST 0?5 /END_PAUSE 0.5 /REPLACE_URLS your_web_page_new_win.htm /MAKE_CLIPS_FOR_AND_REPLACE your_web_page.htm
Now to explain some of the other lines in this file:
The line /CHORD says that you want to make chords of all the clips.
If you want to make broken chords, use /BCHORD .
If you want to reduce the notes into the octave, use /REDUCE 2/1 , as here, otherwises use /NOREDUCE
If you want to reduce most into the octave, but have a few clips that are played exactly as written, then in the web page itself, you prefix the ones that you want played as written with ix (i for instruction) like this:
/END_REST 0.5 ends the midi or audio clip with a rest of 0.5 seconds to let the resonances of the last note die away - if you use a voice with a lot of sustain you may want to set this higher to say 1 or 2.
/END_PAUSE 0.5 adds a pause between each recording and the next, again useful if the notes take a fair while to die away.
There are various other instructions you can use in your clips.txt file see [make_midi_clips.htm Making midi clips for a large list of chords].
Now that you have your folder with your web page ready to be converted, and the clips.txt file, you need to browse to the folder with in FTS. Perhaps the easiest way is to copy the clips.ts file from the mus_geom folder into your new one as well, and then browse to find it in FTS from File | Open | Files of type | Tune Smithy Files (*.ts)
Now choose the instrument and pitch of the 1/1, and any effects etc that you want to use. in FTS as desired.
To make Midi clips go to Bs | Scale & Arpeggio Playback , select Midi for the type of files to make, and click the button Make a list of arpeggios, broken chords or chords into audio files...
FTS will then make them all. It will also resave the file clips.ts so that you can open this again to remake the clips in the future using the same pitch, instrument, etc as you had last time you made them.
If you want to make audio clips then unselect Midi for the type of files to make, and choose the appropriate type of clip from Bs | Record to File Options . e.g. mp3s say. In this case it plays the clips and records them as it plays. See [faq_gen.htm#audio_formats How do I save, and open other audio formats (mp3s, Sun au, etc)?]
The line where all the work is done is the
When FTS reaches this point, it goes all the way through your_web_page.htm looking for links to audio clips, and it makes them into chords, and saves them.
It also makes all the file names url safe, e.g. makes "1/1 5/4 3/2.mid" into "1o1_5o4_3o2.mid". What it does exactly is to change spaces to underlines, and any non url safe characters into corresponding letters. It alters your original html file when it does this - that's so that all the links point to the new files that it makes. Of course you could also use the 1o1_5o4_3o2.mid type notation in the first place.
replaces the clips in a second version of your page. The idea here is that it links to the same audio clips - so the clips don't need to be made, just the urls in the page updated.
Since the second version of the page is identical as far as the audio clips are concerned, the urls in the page get updated, but the audio clips don't need to be made, as if one did make them, they would only get made again a second time in the next line. So it is just /REPLACE_URLS , instead of MAKE_CLIPS_FOR_AND_REPLACE .
You can see what the web pages looked like before the substititions in the files musical_geometry_orig.htm and musical_geometry_new_win_orig.htm
[#top top], [#make_midi_clips start of section]
You need two versions of the page.
There is another way of doing this with just a single page and a radio button, but it only seems to work in Internet Explorer, and not in Netscape or Opera. So I'll mention that at the end, in case it is useful to anyone (maybe you can improve it?), but will describe the two page method first.
It show a message if the user clicks on a region of the image map with no audio urls:
See [#image_maps image maps (clickable images)]
In the version for Quiicktime, the extra header reads:
The popup function there opens the url in a new window - and you set the size of it to 20 by 400 pixels (or whatever you want) and give it a name - here, mus_geom_image_map_audio . Try to make it a name that another web page is unlikely to use.
Here is the method to do both at once, for reference. Maybe someone can improve on it?? Be sure to let me know if you find a solution that works for all the browsers!!
Note Bene - it doesn't work at all in Opera. In Netscape it works, but if you choose to open in the same window , then play one of the clips it will reset the browser layout for the original web page to have View | Navigation toolbar and Location toolbar both selected, and Personal toolbar unselected. It works fine in Internet Explorer.
Add this code to the head of the page, before the </head> tag:
Then add this code in the body of the page:
When you click on one of the pictures on this page, you may hear a clip played in the background, or it may take you to another web page. In particular, Quicktime normally plays them in another page. Select how to open them depending on which you have.
<form name="open_in"> <input type="radio" checked name="new_win" value="true">New window <input type="radio" name="new_win" value="false">Same window </form>
Here the form is where the work is done - and the paragraph before explains how to use it.
[#top top], [#make_midi_clips start of section]
Image maps (clickable images)
This explains how to make the type of picture where you click on a particular position to hear a note.
You need a program to make / edit these types of clickable images. Technically these are?called client side image maps. See Image Map Help (on line web page) for more about them, and advice is given there about programs one can use to make them.
I use Map This! which is freeware and an excellent tool.
Here is a quick intro to making the image map in Map This:
Go to Map This! File| New . It will ask you to select an image for the map so select whatever you want to use.
Now click on the rectangle, circle or polygon tool and use it to draw your region. Then click on the arrow tool and go through all your regions entering the mid clip names.
You can use any notation recognised by FTS so you can use 3^2*5^-1 etc (^ for exponentiation) or whatever. You need to enter urls for all of them before it lets you save the image map.
alert("Click on note or chord");
to show your custom message.
Choose something suitable forthe map name - best if it has no spaces or unusual characters. Then save the map itself in html format.
Now to add it to your web page, first open the web page you have just made in a text editor such as Notepad, and copy the map into your web page - everything between:
or whatever, and
To link the map to your image, do it like this:
<IMG src="triad.gif" alt="Major Triad - Clickto hear the notes or chords" border="0" usemap="#triad">
where usemap="#.." has to refer to your new map.
[#top top], [#make_midi_clips start of section]