The pitch grid and scales
- • Melodyne's scale functions
- • The pitch grid and display options
- • The scale and reference pitch rulers
- • Adjusting the master tuning
- • Selecting the tonic and scale variety
- • The Open Scale window
- • The Scale Pool and file management functions
- • Saving scales
In this tour, you will learn about Melodyne’s pitch grid and find out how to select different scales for the grid.
Melodyne's scale functions
In Melodyne, you can change the pitch of notes either continuously or in such a way that they snap to a grid. If the snap function is active, notes can only be moved to pitches allowed by the grid. The grid can be based on the chromatic scale, the scale of C Major or any other scale. Melodyne offers you a wide choice of scales and a comprehensive set of functions for the editing and creation of scales that even extends to the ability using the Scale Detective to detect the scale used in one recording and apply it to another.
All these functions and options are reached via the pitch ruler. They are organized in such a way that you only ever see the parameters you actually need for the task in hand. Think of a drawer that can either be pulled slightly open or else opened to its maximum extent. In this tour, we are concerned with the selection and use of scales, so we will pull the drawer only a third of the way out.
The pitch grid and display options
The context menu on the pitch ruler offers you three basic settings for the snap function:
- No Snap: the pitch ruler displays for purposes of clarity only faint lines between the notes.
- Chromatic Snap: notes snap to the nearest point on the chromatic scale and the lines on the ruler are more boldly displayed.
- Scale Snap: uses initially the nearest major or minor scale, as determined by Melodyne based on its analysis of the audio material. The tonic (or ‘keynote’) thus ascertained is highlighted in the pitch ruler. Naturally you can alter the scale and tonic but we will come to that in a moment. Let’s just look first at the other options in this menu.
- Pitch Background: here you can choose the appearance of the background in the edit pane.
- Keyboard: the darker beams represent the black notes of a piano keyboard and the paler beams the white notes – a layout with which users of most MIDI editors will be familiar.
- Scale Notes: the lighter beams are assigned to the notes of the scale, whilst the darker beams indicate notes foreign to it. When Scale Snap is selected, therefore, notes will invariably come to rest on the lighter beams.
- Pitch Lines: the degrees of the scale are indicated by bold lines instead of beams – with thinner lines reserved for notes foreign to the scale. This is useful in the case of poor intonation, as the precise pitch of each degree of the scale is clearly indicated.
- Pitch Names: here you can choose whether the ruler displays the names of the notes or the degrees of the scale.
The scale and reference pitch rulers
Considerably more is hidden behind the entries in the Scale Editor submenu. Now as you move down the list, you will see the drawer we mentioned earlier opening further and further. To select and use scales, choose the second item: Selection and Master Tuning. Now, to the left of the pitch ruler, two new columns appear.
Adjusting the master tuning
The narrow column on the very left is the reference pitch ruler. Drag up and down the mark alongside any note – A4, for example. A frequency ruler appears for you to consult as you fine-tune the note in question – and with it, of course, all the other notes of the scale. What you are doing here is adjusting the master tuning for the entire pitch grid. A tip: increase the vertical zoom factor, as this will make it easier for you to locate the value you want.
By right-clicking any of the marks on the ruler, you can open a small context menu. This offers a number of pointers to help you bring the pitch grid swifly into line with a particular tuning:
- At the top, you will see the current frequency of the note selected.
- Standard: bases the tuning on modern standard concert pitch (where A4 = 440 Hz).
- Default: bases the tuning on the frequency currently assigned to A in the Preferences dialog.
- Detected: bases the tuning on Melodyne’s analysis of the music being edited – the original tuning.
- Set as Default: tells Melodyne to use the current value as the default tuning for new documents and adjusts the value in the Preferences dialog accordingly.
The various values for A4, incidentally, can be found quickly by clicking the tuning fork icon at the top of the reference pitch ruler. By typing into the box immediately below this icon, you can assign to A4 any frequency you like.
Selecting the tonic and scale variety
The wider ruler next to the reference pitch ruler is the scale ruler. Here you can select the ‘tonic’ (i.e. the first degree or keynote) of the scale as well as its mode or type. First click on the note you wish to use as the tonic. The following menu opens:
- Related scales: in the top part of the menu, you will find a varying number of scales preceded by a “=” sign. These are scales that correspond to the current scale but are differently named. Please note that when you select a related scale from this menu, only the main structure of the mode in question is adopted: the scale is simply given a new name and, if applicable, a new tonic. It can be, however, that the exact definition of the related scale in question contains additional secondary degrees or fine-tuning. If you wish to use these, please choose Open Scale... from the Scale drop-down menu.
- The current note: in the middle of the submenu, grayed out, you will see the name of the note you have clicked on and which you can now make the tonic.
- Major / Minor: Allows you to select a major or minor scale with the note selected as tonic. To select C Major, for example, click ‘C’ in the ruler, followed by ‘C Major’ from the submenu.
- Open Scale... : opens Melodyne’s Open Scale window, which offers access to a wide variety of additional scales.
- Analyzed: this offers you rapid access to two options derived from Melodyne’s analysis of the material: the closest major or minor scale and an exact microtonal scale.
- Notes Reflect Scale Changes: normally when you change the scale, Melodyne adjusts the pitch grid but does not change the notes themselves unless you double-click on them first, in which case they will snap to the grid. If, however, you wish the notes to adjust automatically to any change of scale, select either “Tuning” or “Tuning and Mode”. Then any changes will take effect immediately and you will hear them at once during playback.
- Play Scale: plays the current scale.
Tip: Initialize the key prior to the transfer/load: In the case of monophonic or polyphonic audio material, Melodyne also recognizes the key of the music. With short melodic phrases, however, the key chosen is often not the one intended, simply because too few notes are available for a correct appraisal. To prevent this happening, you can set the key using the Scale ruler of an empty instance of the plug-in or an empty document (if using the stand-alone implementation of the program) before the transfer or loading of an audio file. To do this, simply click on the desired keynote in the scale ruler and select the desired scale from the context menu. Melodyne will then retain this initialized value, regardless of its own subsequent analysis.
The Open Scale window
Welcome to the fascinating world of scales and temperaments – a world of the greatest cultural as well as emotional diversity! Whether you’re working with western, eastern or contemporary music, Melodyne’s Open Scale window offers a multitude of scales you can select, listen to, and use.
To open the Open Scale window, select Open Scale from the context menu of the scale ruler.
Now choose a category from the left-hand pane followed by the desired scale from the pane on the right. Click the loudspeaker icon to the right of each entry to hear the scale selected.
If you have activated the option ‘Notes Follow Scale Changes’, during playback you will hear immediately the effect of applying the scale selected to your audio material. The window allows you to try out (or ‘audition’) different scales quickly and easily. If you wish to adopt the changes, exit the window with OK; otherwise click ‘Cancel’.
From the lower pane of the window, you can select between the parameters of your existing scale and those of the scale selected in the Open Scale window.
- Mode and Tuning: you can adopt either the parameters of your existing scale (on the left) or of the scale currently selected in the Open Scale window (on the right).
- Tonic: you can choose between the selected tonic or the tonic from the preset.
- Pitch: here you can choose between current tuning, the pitch from the preset or various standard tunings.
- Stretching: here you can select whether or not stretched tuning should be applied to the scale.
- External Scales Folder...: this button allows you to open a folder containing scale definitions in Scala format (filename extension “.scl”) which will then appear as an additional category in the Open Scale window.
On the Internet, you will find at http://www.huygens-fokker.org/docs/scales.zip a collection of over 4,000 Scala files that you can copy to any part of your hard disk and audition and try out in this way using Melodyne editor.
You can also load scale definitions created in Melodyne studio (filename extension ‘.mts’) with this button.
The Scale Pool and file management functions
A drop-down menu at the top of the scale ruler offers you access to the Scale Pool as well as various file management functions.
The Scale Pool is designed to provide temporary storage for the scales you are using in the current piece so that you can switch quickly from one to another. In each case, the tonic is stored along with the scale. The Scale Pool is document- and instance-independent: in other words, if you store a scale in one instance of the plug-in, you can then also access it from another.
- Scale Pool: this submenu offers you access to the scales in the Scale Pool.
- Add ... to the Scale Pool: adds the current scale to the Scale Pool.
- Remove from Scale Pool: this allows you to remove scales from the Scale Pool.
Three further entries also appear in the context menu of the scale ruler.
- Open Scale... : this opens the Open Scale window.
- Notes Follow Scale Changes: determines which characteristics should be applied automatically to the notes when scales are altered.
- Play Scale: plays the current scale.
The following entry, however, is only found here:
- Save Scale As...: this opens a window that allows you to store the current scale in the Open Scale window.
The Open Scale window allows you to experiment swiftly and easily with a large number of scales as well as combine elements of your existing scale with those of the presets in the Open Scale window. In the process, you are bound to hit upon interesting combinations that you will want to save and use again later. The command “Save Scale As...” allows you to do just that: store your own scale presets so that you can access them later in the Open Scale window. For this purpose, it opens a window that looks very like that of the Open Scale window and offers you the following options.
- Name: here you can enter a name for your scale.
- Category: select the category under which you wish the scale to be filed. Click “New Folder” to create a new category.
- In the text field below, you can enter a comment to be stored along with the scale.
- In the lower part of the window, you can assign names to the mode and tuning. All aspects of a scale are invariably stored along with it. By placing ticks (checkmarks) here, however, you can specify which aspects of the scale are considered relevant when it is opened subsequently.