Wednesday, 25 October 2017

When a duplet isn't a tuplet

I learned something this week, which resulted in a rapid update to Drum Score Editor just in time for the release 2.6 build that's been in beta for a while.

I though I understood irregular groups and how to write them, having been writing music for more years than I care to mention. Software can only do what it's been programmed to do, meaning if I misunderstand something musically then so will the software I write. OK there's artificial intelligence and machine learning out there now and maybe we'll bring some of that to Drum Score Editor one day, but stick with me here, software only embodies the knowledge of those that specified it!

I've been thinking that an irregular group, i.e. when you have a bind (or slur or tie, they all have become synonymous in pipe band drumming it seems) and it has a number under the arc, that to me means you play the number of notes there in the time of one less than the number in the arc. I.E. a triplet has a 3 under the arc and it means play these 3 notes in the time of 2.

Clear as mud so far I hope. Well apparently triplets and the like, as you can have any number in such an irregular group are something called tuplets in the music theory world, and they can be much more complicated than my simple description above (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuplet). I especially like the bit that says "Some numbers are used inconsistently: for example septuplets (septolets or septimoles) usually indicate 7 notes in the duration of 4—or in compound meter 7 for 6—but may sometimes be used to mean 7 notes in the duration of 8"

I have no idea how to deal with that!

In there though it talks about the compound meter, which for us mere mortals means a compound time signature. That's those where the beat note is divided into 3 underlying notes, e.g. in 6/8 time, it says there are 6 quavers (8th notes) in a bar, and the 8 means there's 2 beats (am not going to explain here, it's complex, well ... compound). So you have 3 quavers per beat. A simple time signature is one like 2/4 where you have 2 quarter notes (crotchets) in the bar - that's why it's simple!

OK we got through that I hope so back to the article - when there's a 2 used to group notes, and it's in a compound time signature it means something else - it's a duplet. And rules are different for duplets than tuplets! Duplets increase the duration of the notes grouped rather than decrease it. In a triplet it's 3 in the time of 2 therefore you are reducing the duration of each of the 3 notes to take the same time as 2 of those notes would usually.

How does this work and why the hell would you make it this complicated. The answer is it's all about temporarily shifting the time signature from a compound to a simple one. If your time signature naturally breaks into 3 notes and you only want to play 2 with the second on the half beat (note, not a third of the beat) how would you write that? Well we've all been writing it wrong, or at least lazily, probably because this stuff is hard to take in when you're learning to drum and understand music at the same time - that's a guess, I don't actually know why so many of us have this wrong, me included until now.

Let's take a well known 6/8 score ....
Those of us of a certain vintage will see that and go yup, I can play that get stuck in, in drummer speak it dut dzzut plup plup etc .... (honest).

But look how we played that first bar, if you know this score you'll know the 2nd and 4th notes in the bar are actually played on the half beat, go on, try counting it out! It's definitely not played 1 2 3 1 2 3. It's played 1 2 1 2, with the 2 being on the half beat. But it's definitely not written that way. How we write it is where duplets come in.

Note the 2 denoting that the 2 notes should be played in the time of 3. Yep, in a compound time signature this means play 2 in the time of 3, thus having the effect of playing the notes like they were in a 2/4.

How many of us would spot this in a score? I'd bet beer that very few of us would unless schooled outside the pipe band drumming scene.

Anyway Drum Score Editor is now "fixed" in that it recognises the duplet in compound time signatures and auto beam, beautify and the media studio all interpret them the correct way. Use them if you wish, it's pretty rare to see them in pipe band scores I think ... maybe your experience is different? Would be good to hear.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Textual Healing

This is a long overdue post about adding text to your drum scores. Yep, we've now got the ability to add images, but I get a reasonable number of questions about the text options so thought it was about time I write this up, as I've written it a few times in different emails!

There are 2 ways to add text in Drum Score Editor. Text Areas and Text Tags.

Text Areas

These we have all seen, examples are created by the New Score workflow you use when creating a new score. It creates the title text box, author, band name text boxes etc. You can add more of these type of text boxes, which can sit anywhere on the page using the Insert -> Text Area menu item. Wait, I hear you say, that menu option is greyed out, I can't select it! No, you can't, unless you enable page level editing.

I call it page level editing because it’s about creating, moving, resizing and deleting the text, music or image areas on the page. It’s disabled by default because mostly folks don’t do that very much, and have in the past done things like accidentally copied and pasted entire music areas over each other causing all sorts of confusion. Example, if you copy and paste the main music area on the page exactly on top of the original, then go in and try to delete a note it will look like it's still there. It's not, you've actually deleted it, but the music area underneath the one you're editing hasn't changed so you'll see it's note come through. When someone called in with "I'm deleting notes but they're not going away" this had me stumped. It then dawned on me that making it a conscious choice to edit the page level components of the page was probably a good thing, as folks tend not to do that very much.

OK so we have these page level components, for text, music and images. The new score workflow creates all you need for most situations but say you want to put 2 scores on one page. There's no built in workflow to do this so you're getting down and dirty in the weeds doing it manually.

There are however consequences and effects so please bear with me. If you want to use advanced features such as the mp4 movie production of you playing the score while the animated metronome shows the beat notes, then be aware it only works on the music area generated when the score was created. Drum Score Editor has nothing builtin (at the moment) that understands you've put two tunes on the page ... watch this space though, v3 will support this. 

Meantime, you can put as many text and music areas on a page as you wish. So if you’ve already perhaps written two tunes into one music area and are looking to split them out, you can do the following:
  1. Enable Page Editing using the menu Edit -> Page. A check should appear next to it showing it’s enabled.
  2. Click on the border of your music area, it will turn blue and little drag boxes will appear. Click and hold the bottom one, and drag the mouse up the page. This will compress the music area leaving you some space on the page.
  3. Using the Insert -> Text Area menu item create a new text box where you next click the mouse. You can resize it etc same way as we did for the music area above, and even move it the same way, by clicking and dragging anywhere else on the border.
  4. Click inside the text box and type the title of your next tune.
  5. Next click on the border of the music area you compressed above, then use Edit -> Copy to copy the music area to the clipboard.
  6. Next use Edit -> Paste to paste a copy of the music area onto the page.
  7. Click on the border and drag it to where you want it to be, presumably in the bottom half of the page.
  8. Then delete the lines you don’t need from each of the 2 music areas, you’ll be keeping the lines for the first tune in the top music area and the lines for the 2nd tune in the bottom area.
This is perhaps the neatest way for printed music to show the two tunes separately on the same page, however to stress, the mp4 feature will not work on the 2nd tune.

Text Tags

I mentioned right at the top that there are two ways of doing text. If you've ever used the 2nd time workflow you'll have already seen an example of text tags. It creates one on the bar of the 1st time line saying "1st Time", and creates on on the  bar line at the start of the 2nd line saying "2nd Time".

You can add a text tag to any item you create on a staff line, i.e. a bar symbol, a rest, a note. To do so select the item you want to have a text tag and hit ctrl-t, or use the right-click drop down menu to choose Note -> Text Tag. If you want to remove a text tag it's the same process, select the item with it on and hit ctrl-t, it's a toggle on/off action.

Note that if you want to do this to bar lines, you'll need to take the safety harness off by using Edit -> Bars to enable bar editing. Note with this enabled you can move bar lines, delete them etc so I'd recommend switching it back off again as soon as you don't need it anymore.

Once you've got a text tag on an item on the staff you have some further options. 
  1. To edit the content of the text tag click within the text area and use the usual text editing options, select, overwrite, arrow keys to move etc. Should be second nature.
  2. By default Drum Score Editor places the text tag at a fixed space above the item it's attached to.To move the text tag to appear underneath the item, click inside the text and use the Alt key and the Down arrow key. Similarly to move it up it's the Alt and Up arrow key.
  3. To change the format click inside the text and then use the Format -> Text menu options to alter as wanted, i.e. Bold, Italic, Underline, font size.
In the earlier example of two tunes on one page in the same music area, what you could do, it you wanted to be able to use the mp4 feature while, is put a text tag on the the opening note or bar of the second tune, just to identify where it starts.