This Morse Code experiment turned out to be harder than I thought it would be. I knew I could do it because it is simply a matter of notating each single element and then combining them together. What I didn’t expect was to produce something very messy looking. Let’s first look at the rules and then see where it took me. You can just watch, the mechanics are way beyond the scope of where I intend to take you.
- a dot gets one unit
- a dash gets three units
- there is one unit between parts of a letter
- there are three units between letters
To represent “SOS” in musical notation the procedure is rather straight forward. I chose the shortest note value available to us in NotePad which is the 32nd note, the one with three flags.
The letter “S” is three consecutive dots.
A “dot” within a single letter would be a one-unit note followed by a one unit rest. So the first four characters are 32nd-note, 32nd-rest, 32nd-note, 32-rest.
The last dot would be a 32nd-note then followed by three 32nd rests. Those three rests end the first character. You can see the first eight notes and rests in the first picture below.
The letter “O” is a series of three dashes. Those get a value of three units or three 32nd notes, the first two followed by a single 32nd rest and the last followed by three 32nd rests. I tied each of these groups of three 32nd notes together (those are the little arcs between notes, we will discuss those another day).
Finally, we repeat the first figure for the final “S” and don’t worry about any extra at the end of the measure.
That was too hard to perform, although the computer has no trouble playing it. It sounds like “SOS” in Morse Code only slower than you might have heard in a movie unless someone is tapping it against a wall with a brick.
To make this a little easier to look at I combined each pitch sounded with the first rest immediately following it. That made the first three 32nd notes into 16th notes. It made the groups of tied notes into eighth notes. This retains a similar amount of space between “letters” of the code.
In order to make the measure work out evenly I made groups of triplets. I’d rather not cover that today but a triplet is commonly meant to play three notes in the time of two notes of the same value used. So the first triplet of eighth notes below would be played in the time of two regular eighth notes.
Still messy although I can at least play it. Let’s further distill this down and make it really easy. We could use three shorter notes followed by three longer notes followed by three shorter notes. Let’s use eighth notes and quarter notes for this. THAT is reasonable!
I’m going to write a short piece using this pattern. This is hard and I don’t expect it of you. Today is a sit and watch day except you should enter the final piece in order to listen to the result and maybe sing along!
Let’s suppose that our metal band is called “Seduction”. Over time a huge number of fans have banded together to support and follow the band everywhere we play. These fans have called themselves The Servants of Seduction. During a rehearsal we discuss these fans and we decide to dedicate a song to them. Someone suggests we use a motif (a riff, if you must) that is like the Morse Code with three fast notes, three slow notes, and three fast notes. That way, not only do we honor our fans, but we put a rhythmic code that maybe no one will ever notice. Here is a bit of the song we might write, the bass clef has the basic motif and I’ll also try to put it in the treble clef for the lyrics/melody (crap, now I have to write the thing).
It loses something without The Scorpions lead singer over the guitars of Black Sabbath with the sensuous percussion of Godsmack. Oh well.
If you try to enter that, make sure you select the three over four time signature and create at least 17 measures.
Next time we look at an overview of chords related to the C Major Scale. We’re getting close to talking about actually writing music.