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MMD > Archives > April 2003 > 2003.04.19 > 10Prev  Next

Using Cakewalk to Adapt Music for Street Organ
By Bob Essex

Arthur Nicholls' enquiry about using Cakewalk has generated the usual
responses in the "I don't quite know, but I think" category.  In fact,
Cakewalk is a superb medium for such rearrangement work, but certain
preparatory learning is needed to use it successfully.  You don't
necessarily need to be a musician but you do need a basic understanding
of the structure of music scales and how they transpose up and down by
semitones to form the various key signatures.

Then you need to understand the various tools available in Cakewalk.
Some are old favourites, such as Cut, Copy and Paste.  Transpose and
Interpolate are two wonderfully powerful tools which are explained
fully in Arthur's downloaded manual and would form the basis any
rearrangement work.  Arthur knows I would be only too happy to explain
these in detail the next time he drops in at my place.

Ingmar Krause asks "I would be interested to know if anybody has CAL
scripts that can filter certain notes out of a track and/or reposition
them to a different note, e.g., shift C1 to C2 while leaving the notes
in-between unshifted, etc."  That function can be done easily using the
Interpolate function without resorting to a CAL program.

It is somewhat beyond a single MMD posting to explain how to use
Interpolate, but it is a fantastically powerful tool, well described in
the manual, that has a myriad uses.  Learn to use it and the world of
music rearranging is at your feet.

The other fabulous tool is, of course, the CAL [Cakewalk Application
Language] function.  CALs are simply macros of procedures you do
regularly.  They can be created just by going to View, CAL, Record.
Then Cakewalk just records the procedures you perform, such as cut,
paste, interpolate, etc., as you do them.  Then stop the recording and
save the CAL program you have created.

The CAL can then be run for any new music you need to rearrange and it
repeats the procedures you have recorded.  You can also write your own
CALs in code if you wish, but this requires an understanding of
Cakewalk's specific language.

One trick I have used CAL for is to delete all the notes which do not
appear in the 26 note format.  This is used after the rearrangement
work has been done, such as transposing some bass notes up an octave
etc.  After the CAL has been run the piece is played on the PC to see
how it sounds.  This highlights any missing notes which may then be
replaced in other ways by "extemporising".

One slight comment on a previous posting of a correspondent.  It is not
normal to transpose the music into the key that the organ plays.  You
will find that most MIDI music that you can download from the Internet
is already in the key of C Major.  A MIDI-controlled organ would
normally have its decoder board configured to accept notes in the C
Major scale.  The outputs of the decoder may well play the organ pipes
in another scale, but this transposition would occur naturally.  (An
understanding of scale transposition needed here to accept this).

The C scale is by far the easiest scale to work in when rearranging
music to fit a certain note-scale, such as 26 notes, because C major
has no sharps or flats of its own.  Sometimes it is necessary to
transpose a piece of music from C Major down to another key such as
B flat, two semitones down, so that the high notes of the piece fall
within the 26 note range.  Often the available 26 notes will permit
this and play all of the transposed notes, it depends on the piece
of music and it is difficult to generalise, each piece being quite

Also the use of the Piano-Roll View in Cakewalk is one which I would
not agree with.  It has its uses for observing the final arrangement
for the purpose of trimming or extending notes and having these
presented visually, but it does not have the versatility of the Staff
View when working with a piece of music.  I suppose it is the
difference between looking at pictures or reading text.  I suppose
it is what you get used to.

Bob Essex
Warwickshire, England

(Message sent Sat 19 Apr 2003, 18:29:30 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Adapt, Cakewalk, Music, Organ, Street, Using

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