ePiano In Action:
Phone message leads to song creation…….. by Charles Johnson
The call came from my father - “Mark’s going away party is Sunday—and we want the choir to sing him a special song. The problem is nobody has the music. However, one person in the choir knows how to sing it. Can you print music for the choir to read from?”. This sounded like the kind of thing that could take all week, time I didn’t have, but I had an idea. “Dad, have Elaine (the singer) call my message machine tonight and sing the song into the answering machine, twice if possible”. Here’s what happened from there….
TAKING A MUSICAL MESSAGE When I got in the next day—sure enough I had a singing message from Elaine. So I took my cordless phone over to the ePiano. I plugged a cheap microphone into the pink mic jack on the back of the ePiano’s computer and opened the Creative Digital Audio Recorder on the Create Menu. I selected record from Microphone, boosted up the volume, and played the message back through the microphone. Convinced that the record levels were high enough—I pressed record and let Elaine finish the song before pushing stop. I named the song “Irish Blessing” and played the song back to make sure I captured it ok. It sounded scratchy, but good enough for what I had planned.
TRANSCRIBING A MELODY Next I opened up Cakewalk Home Studio and created a New Project using the ePiano template. The Audio Recorder was still open—and I pushed play. As it played— I started picking out the notes of the melody on the ePiano - and as I found the right notes—I used the “pencil” in Home Studio to “write” those notes onto the staff as I discovered them—without worrying about timing values—yet. Since the Audio Recorder let me start, stop, and play from any part of the song easily, I was able to work on small sections at once. It went surprisingly quickly. After a number of plays, I had all the melody notes down—but there was no timing - I did everything in quarter notes just to get the melody down.
GETTING THE TIMING I printed out the basic melody I transcribed. I opened a new file in Home Studio. Then I played back the original message using the Audio Recorder while playing the music I had just printed into the new file I just opened. Since I played along with the file and since Elaine had excellent timing—things matched up and now my timing values were correct too.
ADDING THE LYRICS Cakewalk has a really cool feature that lets you match lyrics up with a melody line. I opened the email from my father with the lyrics—copied and then pasted this into the Cakewalk lyrics window. Everytime Cakewalk sees a space between words or syllables it matches it to the next melody note. I added a couple of spaces to words like “upon” to make it “up on” and everything matched up. Almost done.
PRINT, SEND and DONE I printed the music—put a proper title to it—and faxed it off to Dad. The choir sang it that Sunday—Mark loved it. What could have been a weeklong project 5 or 10 years ago—was done neat, clean and rather simply in about 35 to 40 minutes. Gotta love that ePiano…..