Monday, January 09, 2006

Droning Away

After years of struggle, it appears victory is at hand.
OK, maybe a little too dramatic but it has been years and it has been something of a struggle.

To the point..
Ever since I bought and started using the Bootcamp CD from Tune-Up Systems ( I have wanted to make a basic drone CD. Over the years I've tried many solutions with varying degrees of success.
Now, thanks to some freeware on the web, I'm close to a viable tuning CD. (Boring for you, maybe, but satisfying for me).
Here are the links for the freeware..
Wavepad Audio Editor:
NCH Tone Generator:

I think they've even updated this software over the stuff I've downloaded and am using. Since you can set the tone generator to any frequency, it only takes some patience (well, a lot of patience) and a pocket calculator.
2:1 octave
3:2 perfect fifth (or multiply the root frequency by 1.5)
5:4 major third (or multiply the root frequency by 1.25)
10:4 major tenth (root times 2.5)
I haven't done the minor chords yet but the following math should work.
6:5 minor third (root times 1.2)
12:5 minor tenth (root times 2.4)

Basically, I set up the frequencies I want, record them in wave pad and then mix them together (an option listed under "edit" in wavepad).
A few other comments:
I preferred triangle waves.
On major chords, I mixed the higher voices in at less then 100% so they wouldn't dominate.
In wavepad, I ultimately decided to include multiple octaves of one tone in a single file.
Also, save the files as .wav format, not .mp3. Much higher quality (sadly, much larger file sizes too).

The end result: something to play along with to ensure you are in tune. In other words, tuning with the ears, not the eyes. A little thing, maybe, but worth it's weight in gold. Here's a brief ten-second example of a major chord:

Soon, I'll at least have a CD for my students to practice with. I'm still not sure what else to do with this project. The files are too large to post on the web. Commercial product? Free zip files?

I do think this is a valuable tool everyone should be using.