The pitch grid and 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:

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:

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:

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.

On the Internet, you will find at 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.

Three further entries also appear in the context menu of the scale ruler.

The following entry, however, is only found here:

Saving scales

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.