What is a pattern?

A pattern describes what notes to play when. Different to a normal sequencer program like FruityLoops where you enter the notes directly in your pattern, a pattern in MelodyBuilder describes what notes to play relative the the chord that is currently used.

In a normal sequencer you would say: “on beat one play the note A, on beat two play the note C”.

In MelodyBuilder you say instead: “on beat one play the first note of the chord, on beat two play the second note of the chord”.

This way your patterns become independet of the real notes because those notes are provided by the chords you add to your sequence. This makes it very easy to play around with chord progressions and melodies and makes the pattern highly re-usable. In the extreme you can even take a song and replace the chords while keeping all patterns, resulting in a new song that is played exactly the same way but uses completely different notes.

There are two types of patterns

  1. Melodic patterns: These patterns work as described before. They describe when to play the first, second, third, … note of a chord.
  2. Drum patterns: This pattern type is to be used with drum instruments. The reason is simple: drums don’t depend on the chords you are playing. A hihat is a hihat no matter what the current chord is.

So, as there are two types of instruments there are two types of patterns, melodic patterns for instruments like basses, pianos, strings and drum patterns for drums.

Adding a pattern of a certain type is simple:

  • Method 1: In the pattern list next to the pattern editor, click the drum icon in the toolbar to add a drum pattern or the note icon to add a melodic pattern.
  • Method 2: In the sequencer right click into an instrument track where you want to add a new pattern and select “Add pattern here” from the menu. Depending on what instrument type is used in the track the right pattern type is created automatically.

The pattern editor

MelodyBuilder Pattern editor

MelodyBuilder Pattern editor

Row titles (1): On the left side of the pattern editor (1) you’ll see the description of what each row means. If you edit a drum pattern there you’ll see the name of the drum instrument used in this row.

If you edit a melodic pattern the row title on the left side describes what note is played in which octave. The first number is the index of the chord note. The second number is the octave.

Examples:

  • “1-2”: Play the first note of the chord in octave 2.
  • “3-3”: Play the second note of the chord in octave 3.
  • “5-4”: Play the fifth note of the chord in octave 4.

What happens if a chord is played that only has 3 notes and your pattern says “play the fifth chord note”? Well then it will just count forward into the next octave and play the second chord note of the next higher octave.

Pattern notes (2): The main section of the pattern editor is a piano roll where you can draw the notes you want to play in this pattern.

Pattern list and presets (3): All patterns used in your song are listed in the pattern list next to the pattern editor. There you’ll also find the presets, predefined patterns in case you don’t want to do all the work yourself.

How to edit a pattern?

The pattern editor is a piano roll as you know it from other sequencer programs.

Switching between drawing modes: On the top right of the pattern editor you’ll see two buttons, one with a pen on it, one with a rubber. The pen button activates the drawing mode allowing you to draw notes. The rubber button activates the delete mode so you can delete existing notes. To make it easier you can also hold the Alt key to switch between modes.

Drawing a note: In “drawing mode” click with the left mouse where you want to draw the note.

Deleting a note: In “delete mode” click on the note you want to delete. Alternatively, just select a note or several notes and press the Del key to delete it.

Selecting a note: In “drawing mode”, left-click on a note to select it. Hold the Ctrl key to deselect it.Holding the Ctrl key also allows you to add more notes to your selection. To quickly select a section of your pattern, hold the Shift key and draw a rectangle to select all notes within the boundaries of this rectangle.

Moving a note: Drag and drop a note or a group of selected notes.

Copy, cut, paste a note: Select the notes you want to copy and press Ctrl+C. To cut the selected notes press Ctrl+X. To paste notes, move the mouse cursor to the position where you want to paste the notes and press Ctrl+V. This method is a bit different to other programs but it makes things much faster once you get used to it.

How to change the note length and velocity?

To make a note longer or shorter move the mouse cursor to left side of the note until the cursor turns into a double arrow symbol. Then press the left mouse button, hold it and move the mouse to change the note length.

Each note has also a velocity value. On the top right of the pattern editor you see two buttons with an arrow on it. Press the arrow down button to expand the notes to also show a bar with their velocity. Press the arrow up button to hide it.

Altering notes

In order to provide a simple method to include more notes than only the plain 3 or 4 chord notes, you can alter notes. What this means and how it works is described in the following tutorial:

How to write a melody

Keyboard shortcuts

Ctrl+A Select all notes
Ctrl+C Copy all selected notes
Ctrl+X Cut all selected notes
Ctrl+V Paste copied notes at the position of the mouse cursor
+ Alter selected notes to play the next higher scale note
Alter selected notes to play the next lower scale note
0 Remove any + or – alteration from selected notes
Ctrl+Z Undo
Ctrl+Y Redo
Del Delete selected notes
Ctrl + Left Mouse button Add entry to / remove note from group of selected notes
Shift + Left Mouse button Draw a selection rectangle
Alt Switch between drawing mode and delete mode