Mouse & PC Keyboard music
One of the many features that come as part of Fractal Tune Smithy
With Tune Smithy you can play microtonal music directly from the PC keyboard or mouse - perfect for the microtonalist on the move! You can also explore alternative music keyboard layouts such as a Janko style alternative music keyboard The notes can also be played using the mouse - by clicking on the keys.
Quick start - select one of the presets from
the drop list, then press the
Make Selected Preset
button. The first one makes a beautiful Japanese scale.
Preset: Japanese Koto scale played from consecutive keys
Here it is is all set up to play a Japanese koto scale C D E Eb G Ab c (in just intonation) from
successive keys of the keyboard.
You can play the notes using the keyboard or the mouse or both simultaneously.
Click and drag with the mouse for fast runs.
You can use the space bar as a
sustain pedal to sustain notes, or alternatively use e.g. the Caps lock. You can click on a sustained note (or play it) a second time to switch it off again - this is useful if you want to remove notes from a chord one at a time, or change just one of the notes (click on it to switch off then click on the replacement note).
also set up a p.c. keyboard Sostenuto pedal (perhaps Caps lock again or Scroll
If you have a scroll mouse you can use its scroll wheel to vary the modulation
(amount of vibrato).
You can set it to be velocity sensitive - if you click towards the top of a key
then notes are quiet, click at the bottom for loud notes.When playing from PC
keyboard, then the volume matches the mouse volume - or you can move the mouse
up and down within the window but outside the playing area - then volume
depends on the position of the mouse in the window (this feature can be
switched off if you want constant volume)
PC .keyboards often have some limitations for playing polyphony - they work
remarkably well considering that they weren't designed for the job - they work fine usually for melodic lines and two note chords. But most makes of p.c.
keyboard will miss out notes in some of the triads. They just aren't designed
to play arbitrary triads of any three keys pressed all at once.
So to play
triads, if this happens, use the sustain "pedal".
The notes can be colour coded as you can see in the screen shots here. FTS comes with various preset colour codings or you can make your own colour schemes. You can get to these otions from To show button.
preset: C Major - Bach time tuning Werckmeister III - last two rows play triads and sevenths
This is a straightforward c major scale across the top two rows
What you can't see from the picture is that the last two rows of the
keyboard play chords.
The third row plays triads and the fourth row plays
They are set to auto adjust to fit the diatonic major scale (more generally, the current "arpeggio" in FTS)
triad on c will play cmajor, but the triad on d plays d minor, and so forth. The b chord plays a diminished fifth.
In other words it is all set up to play ordinary diatonic harmony wihout
chromatic alterations of the chords. The seventh chords work similarly.
preset: Twelve notes to keyboard row - in early keyboard tuning - quarter comma meantone - wolf fifth G# to D#)
This layout shows a twelve tone scale. Conveniently each row of the keyboard has twelve keys, so each row can play a complete twelve tone octave.
The scale here is actually is set to the Quarter comma meantone scale in common
use in the period immediately before and just up to the time of Bach. It has
nice mellow major triads in most keys but has one key with a "wolf" triad,
usually the triad Ab C Eb.
Here we see the wolf highlighted (in first inversion). You hear this sort of distinction
best if you have a synth or soft synth that will let you hear the harmonies
clearly. The wolf beats very
wildly and sounds quite extraordinary with suitable harmonic series based
timbres. But it is quite possible that on your soundcard it mightn't sound so
very different from the other triads.
preset: Guitarist's microtonal favourite: 19 equal major with sharps and flats
This layout shows the nineteen tone major scale. This is a scale which has a
distinction between flats and sharps. The scale runs:
C C# Db D D# Eb E E# (= Fb) F F# Gb G G# Ab A A# Bb B B# (= Cb) C
In this tuning, C E G is the conventional major chord, C Eb G is minor, and C
D# G, a sort of minor chord using C to D# as the minor third, is the wonderfully dark septimal minor chord. The nineteen tone scale is particularly noted
for its septimal minor chords, as they are close to being pure harmonic chords (i.e.
chords made up entiredly of notes of the harmonic series). The image shows the
septimal minor chord being played
preset: Jazzy tuning: Pentachordal Major in 22 eq, last two rows play seventh chords
This is in a ten note scale from twenty two equal by Paul Erlich called
The notation here though is the Maneri Sims notation which uses twelfth tones,
and I just did that to give you an idea of where they are compared to the
twelve equal pitches. So ^ means just a little higher in pitch than the twelve
equal note, and > means it is quite a bit higher (a sixth of a tone higher
in pitch).This notation system is in quite common use though it doesn't let
one notate the very finest pitch distinctions one might want to make. It just
gives you an approximate idea of where these pitches are. In the Maneri Sims
system as in twelve equal, there is no distinction between flats and sharps -
Eb is the same as D#
Anyway this scale is one useful for jazz music particularly as it is a good one
for seventh chords.
The third and fourth rows of this keyboard layout are set
to play seventh chords, though again you can't see that from the picture. They
play the harmonic seventh 1/1 5/4 3/2 7/4 - except that the notes get adjusted
to play the closest pitches in Paul's ten note scale, so they get transformed
into various flavours of seventh chord depending on the position in the scale.
For fun the preset is done with a mixture of instruments for the chords -
ContraBass,Acoustic Bass, Warm synth pad, Finger picked electric guitar. You
can change these from Voices | Custom | Edit Custom Melodic Voice. This only changes the instruments for the chords. The instrument for the individual notes in the first and second rows is the one you have set up in the first (or highlighted) part in the Parts window - you could
set the first part to say jazz guitar.
preset: Lattice of major & minor chords - triangle patterns play pure chords, octaves detuned
This is a layout in which notes increase by fifths horizontally and major
thirds diagonally down to the right. Upward pointing triangles play minor
triads and downward pointing triangles play major triads.
You can move the chords around (and hear how they change as you do so) using
the arrow keys on the keyboard. Either keep the chord held down as you do so,
or you can use Caps Lock sustain so that you don't need to keep the space bar
held down to hold the chord.
The up / down keys move the chords diagonally up to left and down to right. Use Ctrl + up / down arrow to move your chord in the other diagonal direction (down to right).
This preset uses pure harmonic series based thirds (frequencies in the ratio
5:4) and fifths (ratio 3:2) which can't be stacked to make pure octaves (2:1).
This means that for instance, the E and e in this picture aren't an exact
octave apart. In fact they differ by the minor diesis, which is the difference
between the result of stacking four pure thirds and the octave. The c and c''
here differ by the syntonic comma - the result of going up by four ppure
fifths, then down by a pure major third
If you want the same layout but with pure octaves then you can do it in twelve
equal instead, which is included as another preset.
You can get the best of both worlds though - pure octaves and pure triads, by
using this option in the Out Menu:
This option gives pure triads - but will probably cause minute shifting about
in pitch if you use it to retune normal triadic harmony music. I.e.each chord
you play is a pure harmonic series chord, but sometimes a note may be a
fraction of a semitone sharp or flat compared with the "same" note in the
previous chord. This may sound like a small melodic step and be perfectly
acceptable, or may sound "out of tune" - depends on the listener and on the
musical context. It dovetails with the previous chord's notesas much as it can
but can't always do so.
You can also play notes in a rectangular layout:
This shows the Lambdoma - an arrangement of notes in which each row follows a harmonic series and each column follows a sub harmonic series.
This means that if you play several notes along any row you will get a subharmonic or minor sounding chord and if you play any column you get a major sounding chord.
You can see the normal major andminor chords in the middle of this picture as 1/1 5/4 3/2 vertically for the major chord and 1/1 6/5 3/2 horizontally for the minor chord.
These show the keyboard as a rectangular pattern of pitches, as that is useful when you play using the p.c. keyboard. It can also be shown as a diamond pattern of pitches - the same pitches arranged slightly differently.
The dark blue area shows the part of the window that you can play in from the PC keyboard. You can move this region around in the window using the arrow keys in the numpad area of your keyboard. The ordinary arrow keys can move the chord around and in this example, will let you explore various flavours of minor sounding chords..
Here the Lambdoma has been expanded to a twelve by twelve region. The pc keyboard can play all the notes in the highlighted blue region. Since the bottom row of the keyboard has only ten keys,the extra two notes at bottom right are played using the right shift and right control keys which are normaly conveniently placed to the right of the keyboard.