Tune Notater

Purpose: Put a brief musical idea into notation.

Difficulty: Easy.

How it works:

This is not an exercise; it's a writing tool, though it could be seen as helping you to understand music notation. To begin recording touch the "Start recording" button, then use the screen piano to play a tune you've been thinking about. When you're done press the Stop button (the square icon left of the Play button) and you'll see your idea appear in standard music notation. To hear what you recorded press the Play button.

When you start a recording, you'll hear the metronome begin ticking and see a beat counter moving in time with the beat, marking each beat of the measure. The beat marker allows you to begin your melody on the correct beat of the measure. Lots of tunes begin on the 4th beat, for example, as a "pickup" to the melody.

In order for Musica to notate your melody accurately, it's very important to play in careful time with the metronome, i.e. not expressively. To help you keep a steady beat, by default, the metronome is set to sound a "divided beat." One sound marks the main beat divisions while a second sound marks the subdivisions within the beat. If you'd rather not hear a subdivided beat, turn off "Use divided ticks" found in the Tempo options window (touch the metronome icon to view). You can also change the tempo by touching the metronome icon.

To add on to what you've already recorded press the "Start recording" button again. Musica will begin playing what has already been notated. When it reaches the end of the notated segment begin playing the notes you want to add. Make sure you begin playing exactly in time with the previously recorded segment. When you touch the Stop button you'll see the newly recorded segment added to the end of the previous segment. If the melody is long and you don't want to listen to it from the beginning you can set the "Play from here" marker anywhere before the end. Touch and hold above the staff where you want to set the marker and the menu item will appear.

To remove the music and try again there are several alternatives. The "Erase melody" button is a quick way to delete the entire contents of the staff except for the clef, key, and meter. If you touch the Undo button right after finishing a recording that will also clear it, and this is useful if you're adding some more to an existing melody and just want to remove the last part added. There are several layers of Undo. Finally you can select notes and swipe left to delete them, or hold down a touch to bring up the edit menu with "select all" and then swipe left.

The buttons above the keyboard allow you to set the clef, key and meter of your melody. Add chords to your melody, or modify existing chords using the chord tool (more about chords below). Slide the keyboard octave control right and left to change the octave of the screen piano. (The octaves are labeled if you turn on the option to show note names. Touch the keyboard info button to bring up Keyboard settings.) You can change the instrument sound of the keyboard, staff or chords by touching the info button for each.

Adding Chords

To enter chords, touch the chord tool, and pick the chords you want to enter from the chord tool palette. The palette will automatically show the typical chords for the key you're in, but you can choose any chord you want or modify any of the pre-selected chords. Touch a chord to select it, then touch in the music to enter it using the beat markers above the staff to guide you. If you want, you can enter several measures of chords in advance. Once you've laid down the chords, you can record the melody and chords together, or touch Play and improvise on the keyboard along with your chord progression.

The "Harmonize" button at the top of the screen will add chords to your melody for you. You can then experiment with the chords suggested by Musica using the chord tool. Using the chord tool palette you can replace one chord with another, alter the chord's quality, and even change its "playpattern." If you have selected several chords at once your choice will apply to all that are selected.

You can transpose the whole thing to a different key from the Score Options window. To view Score Options touch the "Options" button at the top of the screen or double-tap the page. Musica will take care of figuring out the right key signature, etc. - you just tell it how much higher or lower you want it to sound. If you use the transpose command it will take care of transposing the chords, too.


Editing in this activity is very limited since the purpose of the Tune Notater is to record short, simple ideas which can be further developed using the Composition or Lead Sheet activities. To continue working on your idea, just save your file and open it from within one of the Composition activities.

You can, however, delete anything by first selecting it and then swiping left. The Undo button (left facing arrow at the right of your screen) will undo the last segment you recorded. You can change pitches by dragging notes up or down. The Up Down arrows (found in the micellaneous tools palette on the right side above the keyboard) are convenient for raising or lowering selected pitches. Also found in the micellaneous tools palette are tools for changing stem direction, beaming or unbeaming notes, and adding ties or slurs. These all work the same way: first select the note or notes to be changed and then touch the tool button. For more detailed information and tips refer to the About Musica Touch instructions.

Once you have the music on the staff use the share button to send it to someone else as a music file (SW3) that will open in their own copy of Musica Touch, or send a printable PDF file.

Since the touch screen is very sensitive you'll want to use a different technique than when playing a real piano. Lift your fingers high as you play, to avoid accidentally touching an unintended note - the screen will catch the slightest touch, deliberate or not. Be sure to treat the keyboard like a normal piano otherwise - that is, keep your finger on a note as long as you want it to keep sounding. Be aware that it is the touch of your fingertip that registers with the screen - your fingernail will not work! Aim for the middle of the key- the very bottom of the key is less responsive.

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