Composing Activities - Melody

Tempo, Volume and Timbre

Now that you have created a few tunes, it's time to decide what can be done to enhance them. A good question to ask is "How can I change the music without changing the music?". Invariably, this will be met by puzzled frowns. Hopefully, you may have replies which suggest changing the speed of the music (Tempo), the loudness (Volume or Expression) and the sounds being used (Timbre).

The following notes will explain how to edit these features within PrintMusic.

Playback ControlsTempo can be controlled from the Playback Controls toolbar, which also contains buttons for fast forward and rewind, play and stop. To make the music play faster, enter a higher value; a lower number makes the music play slower. The number entered refers to how many beats (the note value in the box to the left of the number) are played every minute. A little maths work could be carried out here for pupils to work out how beats per second are played if the Tempo is set to 120? Note that the record button can only be used if a MIDI equipped keyboard is attached to the computer.

Expression ToolTo change Volume throughout the music (as opposed to setting a global volume), you insert standard musical terms of volume using the Expression Tool. When selected, the mouse pointer changes to a crossed-arrow shape. To insert a volume marking, double-click at a suitable position in the music and choose a suitable volume (range from ppp - almost inaudible to fff - deafening). Normally, only the markings pp - pianissimo (very quiet) to ff - fortissimo (very loud) are used. Set suitable volume markings through the music, perhaps making the music louder where it goes higher and quieter when lower or getting louder towards the halfway point and quieter towards the end. The musical term for volume and changes of volume is dynamics.

Expression DesignerYou will notice that in the Expression dialogue box there are other items which can be inserted into the music. These are terms of tempo or changes of tempo. Note, however, that when placed in the music, they appear to have no effect on the tempo! You will have to edit the terms to give them a specific tempo value. To do this, double-click on the small, white box on the lower left of the marking after it has been placed in the music to display the Text Expression Designer. Clicking on the Assign Tempo button allows you to set a specific tempo marking for any text item in the Expression box or even text of your own! Enter some tempo markings into the music to hear the effect. What is the best tempo to use for your music? Should it get faster or slower anywhere? Find out the meaning of the terms Moderato, Allegro and Andante and assign tempo values to them. What do you think accel. (short for accelerando) and rit. (short for ritenuto) means? Play the music to others in your class and ask them to describe the expression elements you have inserted.

Instrument DefinitionTo change the instrument (sound or Timbre) assigned to the stave, Select Instrument List from the Window menu. This dialogue box displays all of the sounds assigned to each stave in the music. To change the sound, Select the box in the B column to display the Instrument Definition dialogue box. Here you can change the name for the stave and choose a sound by Selecting the pull-down menu in the General MIDI section. When you change the instrument you should change the instrument name to avoid confusion when playing the music! Note that changing the Instrument name here does not change the name attached to the stave.

Staff ToolTo change the name attached to the stave, Select the Staff Tool and double-click on the stave to be changed. In the dialogue box, change the full name for the stave, e.g. Clarinet as well as the short name e.g. Cl. Select OK to finish.

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