PureTones

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PureTones User Guide

Here is a quick user guide to start using the PureTones App. You can also learn more about Indian Classical music through in-depth articles and interactive audio demonstrations at our Learn page.

You can reach the PureTones App at any time, by clicking on the App link in the top navigation bar. It has four main sections:

  1. Common Parameters
  2. Drone
  3. Scale
  4. Sequencer

Each of these sections is explained below.

Common Parameters

As you may well know, in Indian Classical Music, all musical notes are defined in relation with the fundamental note Sa. The Common Parameters control the Key and Offset of Sa. This enables you to select a Sa according to your preference and comfort. You can also select it using the dialog below. You will notice that your settings persist across pages.

Common Parameters

Key
Offset

Drone

On the App page, click on the Drone tab below the Common Parameters section to get to the Drone section. Once in the Drone section, use the following steps to start a drone track and tune it according to your requirement and preference.

  1. Click on Start under Drone Controls. This starts a generic Pa-Tanpura in the key you selected using the Common Parameters above. You can click on Start below to hear the generic drone track. This is the same track you would hear and tune in the Drone section.
Generic Drone without tuning controls
  1. Change your octave using the Octave selector.
  2. Use Period to control the playing tempo and Level to control the volume level.
  3. There are six tunable strings accessible via the string tabs.
  4. Select which note the string should play and use the Fine Tune and Ultrafine Tune sliders to finetune the pitch of each string. You can also input a number directly into the input boxes, for precise data entry.
  5. Use the Variance and Timbre controls to fine tune the harmonic content produced by each string, and Gain to adjust the relative gain levels of different strings.
  6. To turn a string on or off, use the Loop toggle switch.
  7. If you are familiar with a tanpura, then you should be able to relate the adjustment of the thread under the string, to the Variance and Timbre controls. Variance controls the speed of unraveling of the harmonics, while Timbre controls the emphasis of specific harmonics which may be necessary to support specific notes in a Raga.
  8. When you are satisfied, you can save your tuning to a file by clicking on Save which can be uploaded later using Restore.
  9. To start afresh, just click on Reset.

Scale

On the App page, click on the Scale tab below the Common Parameters section to get to the Scale section. Once in the Scale section, use the following steps to start a 12 note musical scale and tune it according to your requirement and preference.

  1. Click on Start under Scale Controls. This starts a musical scale in the key you selected using the Common Parameters above, as per the Venkatamakhin-Ramamatya Tuning. You can click on Start below to hear the generic scale. This is the same scale you would hear and tune in the Scale section.
Generic Scale without tuning controls
  • Sa
    re
  • Re
    ga
  • Ga
  • ma
    Ma
  • Pa
    dha
  • Dha
    ni
  • Ni
  • SA
  1. You can play the scale using your computer's QWERTY keyboard. This can be turned on and off using the Computer Keyboard toggle switch.
  2. The different notes of the scale can be played using the keys described below: a - Sa, w - re, s - Re, e - ga, d - Ga, f - ma, t - Ma, g - Pa, y - dha, h - Dha, u - ni, j - Ni and k - SA.
  3. Change your octave using the Octave selector. Or use the z key to shift to a lower octave and the x key to shift to a higher octave.
  4. Use Sustain to control the sustain and Level to control the volume level.
  5. Use the Note tabs labelled as SareRe,... to access each of the 12 notes.
  6. Use the Fine Tune and Ultrafine Tune sliders to finetune the pitch of each note. You can also input a number directly into the input boxes, for precise data entry.
  7. When you are satisfied, you can save your tuning to a file by clicking on Save which can be uploaded later using Restore.
  8. To start afresh, just click on Reset.

Sequencer

On the App page, click on the Sequencer tab below the Common Parameters section to get to the Sequencer section. Once in the Sequencer section, use the following steps to start composing musical works based on the Drone and Scale settings you have tuned so far.

  1. The Sequencer section provides you with three voices which can play musical tunes simultaneously.
  2. You can set the Octave and Tone of each voice, using the corresponding Octave and Tone controls.
  3. There are four tones available: String 1, String 2, Bow and Reed.
  4. Type your musical compositions in the appropriate textboxes labelled as Composition Editor. For details about the syntax and grammar for specifying musical compositions, see the Grammar documentation below. We have also provided some examples below which you can play and read the notation alongside to understand how the notation corresponds to musical notes.
  5. If you fine-tuned the notes of the musical scale using the controls in the Scale section, then those settings are automatically incorporated in the Sequencer. For example, if you made the ga sharp in the Scale section, then if you type ga in a composition, the Sequencer would play the sharpened note ga.
  6. Similar to the other sections, you can save your compositions to a file by clicking on Save which can be uploaded later using Restore.
  7. To start afresh, just click on Reset.
  8. You are at liberty to use the Sequencer to create musical works and use them as you like. We would be grateful if you acknowledge and credit PureTones by linking to this website.

Musical Grammar of the PureTones Sequencer

PureTones Sequencer uses a simple grammar to write compositions using notation from Indian Classical music as specified below:


    <motif> = <note> + ' ' + <motif>
    <note> = <identifier> + ' ' <timing>
    <identifier> = <name> + <octave> + <shake>
    <name> = Sa | re | Re | ga | Ga | ma | Ma | Pa | dha | Dha | ni | Ni
    <octave> = null | " | '
    <shake> = null | '(G)' | '(G)(<start>,<end>,<rate>,<times>)'
    <timing> = null | <jati> + <repeats>
    <jati> = null | . | ; | ,
    <repeats> = null | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8
    <start> = <name> + <octave> | number
    <end> = <name> + <octave> | number
    <rate> = number
    <times> = number

  1. motif refers to a musical composition. It is a sequence of note's separated by whitespaces.
  2. note is a pair of an identifier and a timing separated by whitespace.
  3. An identifier is a triplet of nameoctave and shake without any separators.
  4. name could be any one of 12 notes from an octave denoted as follows Sa re Re ga Ga ma Ma Pa dha Dha ni Ni where notes beginning with a lowercase are Komal (flat) notes and those beginning with an uppercase are Tivra (sharp) notes. Of course, Sa and Pa are always capitalized.
  5. An octave specification is optional. There are three Saptaks (octaves): Mandra (low), Madhya (middle) and Tara (high). A " symbol denotes Tara Saptak, a ' symbol denotes Mandra Saptak and no octave specification means Madhya Saptak.
  6. shake denotes whether or not the note is shaken or rendered with a Gamaka. A shake specification is optional. It is denoted by (G) to mean a note with Gamaka or not specified to mean an unmodulated note. It can also be specified with additional parameters like (G)(start,end,rate,times) where start is the starting pitch, end is the ending pitch in cents, rate is the rate of the shake, and times is the number of times for which the shake is to be repeated (including fractional numbers).
  7. The pitches start and end can be specified either as notes identified by a name and an optional octave specification, or in terms of cents with respect to the pitch of the current note. For example, ga(G)(36,12,2.5,3.34) specifies a shake which oscillates between 36 cents above ga and 12 cents above ga. Another example is Re(G)(Re,ga,1.5,1) which specifies a shake which oscillates between Re and ga.
  8. The parameters rate and times are specified as a number.
  9. timing is a pair of jati and repeats without any separators. It is an optional specification. If a timing specification is not provided, it means the note specified in the previous token is a whole note (or has a duration of 1 period).
  10. jati denotes a subdivision of a period. It is an optional specification. A . symbol denotes a 12\frac{1}{2} note, a ; symbol denotes a 14\frac{1}{4} note and a , symbol a 18\frac{1}{8} note. If jati is omitted, it denotes a whole note.
  11. repeats specification determines the factor by which a note duration derived from its jati is extended. It is an optional specification. It can take any numerical value from 1 to 8. If a repeats specification is omitted, it means a default value of 1.
  12. As an example, a timing specification of .3 denotes a note of duration 3×12=1123\times\frac{1}{2} = 1\frac{1}{2} notes, since the jati is 12\frac{1}{2} note and the repeats is 3. As another example, a timing  specification of 2 denotes a note of duration 2 whole notes, and a timing specification of ; denotes a note of duration of a 14\frac{1}{4} note.

Example Compositions

Here is an example composition using the grammar specified above. Click on Start below. The composition will start playing and the text of the composition will be displayed. You can try to follow the music and correlate it with the text.

Example 1
ni' Sa Ga ma dha(G) ni dha(G) Pa(G) 2
ma Pa(G) Pa .3 ma .3 Ga 2 Ga ma Ga 2 Re Sa 4
ma' dha' ni'(G) 2 Sa Ga ma dha ni(G) 2 ni Sa" 4
ni Sa" Ga" ma" Ga" Re" Sa" 4
ni Sa" dha(G) Pa .3 ma Pa(G) 2 Pa ma Ga 2
Ga ma Ga 2 Re 2 Sa 4
dha' ni' Sa 8

Here is another example showing the use of the full specification for a gamaka using the syntax of (G)(start,end,rate,times). Again, click on Start and try to relate the music to the text.

Example 2
Sa(G)(ni',Re,-0.7,1.2) 2
Sa ga(G)(36,12,2.5,3.34) 2 Re Sa 2
ni' Re(G)(72,Re,7,4.35) 2 ni'(G) Sa 2
ga(G)(30,-30,6,3.3) Re 2 Re ga(G) 2 Re Sa 2
Sa ni' . Dha'(G) Pa' ma' Pa' ni'(G)(30,-30,7,3.3) 2 Dha' ni'(G) ga(G) 2 Re(G) ; Sa 2
Sa Re(G)(Re,ga,1.5,1) ga(G) ma Pa ma ga ; Re(G)(Re,45,7,3.5) 2 Sa 2

You can also scroll up, play the drone and come back and play these example compositions along with the drone. This may provide you with another perspective on how the drone and composition tracks interact musically.