Forum rss-feed


Pico: How to create a 7/8 or 9/16 time signature beat with pico

Most Recent

written by: Thierry

I am trying to get the tempo to change from 6/4 to 4/4 and the explanation above confuses me since the beat tap button is not the lowest one on your right, according to the manual (page 1) but the number 7 from the top right side of the Pico. Any better explanation??

written by: djogon

Fri, 8 Jul 2011 00:55:57 +0100 BST

I'm sure it's something simple, but how do I create a beat with 7/8 time signature or something else uneven like 9/16 ?


written by: keyman

Fri, 8 Jul 2011 03:53:12 +0100 BST

With Belcanto (it's on the wiki - Metronome):

Setting the number of beats per bar:

empty join
metronome hey
beat input to 7 set

(You can change the number of beats per bar using:
beat input to X set
where X is the desired number of beats per bar, e.g.
beat input to 9 set)

With STAGE, you have to be running at least 1.3.17 or the last 1.4.1 experimental release to get the DRUMMER tab, or you can use my
DRUMMER tab from HERE there's a widget for BEAT INPUT or beat per bar.


written by: djogon

Fri, 8 Jul 2011 04:33:50 +0100 BST

Great! Thanks! I'll give that a try.

written by: Tenebrous

Fri, 8 Jul 2011 16:34:35 +0100 BST

I think you can do it without using Belcanto too, with just the
Metronome Beat Tap and Bar Tap keys in Drummer & Metronome Control. The keys are shown in the Pico reference.

However I can't remember which order you press them in... sorry!

That's how I did it prior to Stage. I had to do this when practicing Tubular Bells which starts off at 15/8.

written by: djogon

Fri, 8 Jul 2011 16:43:06 +0100 BST

If you figure out how to do it directly using the keys - please let me know. That would be very useful

written by: keyman

Fri, 8 Jul 2011 17:04:01 +0100 BST

Well, how to put this... reading the PICO reference as Tenebrous said;

Main Mode key + Drummer and Metronome Control - key 1 at you're rigth (holding it with the breath pipe up to bow)

you then have acces on you' re right (lit ambar) to the 6 Drummer voice loop browse the remaining two keys (on this colum) the next is used for METRONOME BEAT TAP, just tap 6 times and then the next key METRONOME BAR TAP for 7/4 for example

What's up with STAGE?!?


written by: john

Fri, 8 Jul 2011 17:09:51 +0100 BST

You should be able, Keyman points out, use the tap tempo keys, just tap the beat for 7 instead of 8, ie hit the bar tap every 7 beat taps. That should set you in 7/8. Please let us know how you get on.


written by: djogon

Fri, 8 Jul 2011 18:14:20 +0100 BST

I tried it both ways - here are the results - both are not what I really need

a) If I use the Metronome bar tap button - I can never get out of 4 beats per measure regardless of how many times I tap. Maybe there is a technique involved, but I simply could not get it right or change anything

b) If I use STAGE I can change the beats per bar to 7, but there is nothing to change the note duration so it is always set to a quarter note resulting in 7/4 signature not 7/8 I then have to double the tempo but that obviously produces unwanted results.

What am I missing?

written by: keyman

Fri, 8 Jul 2011 18:48:28 +0100 BST

About B).... have to agree, was something I was thinking since yesterday; only double the tempo. I have a piece in 6/8, but in reality is a 6/4 speed up, don't know how to change that lower fraction number...

Kindly asking wise John about this also ?


written by: john

Fri, 8 Jul 2011 18:57:55 +0100 BST

The beat/bar key behaviour sounds like a bug, we'll look into it.

In EigenD the beats are always considered to be crotchet beats, so you will get a halving of tempo if you define a bar as having 7 beats. However I believe that you can use floating point (fractional) values of the beat input for the metronome. Have a go at setting the beat input to 3.5 and see if this works for you. You can to this in the commander or with Stage. Using the commander type:

metronome hey
beat input to 3 . 5 set

note the space between numbers and decimal point, you need that as they are all distinct Belcanto words.

You can also easily do the same thing in Stage. The Stage control for beats has a default increment set of 1 for convenience. Using the edit tool you can change that - select the edit tool and click on the control (after unlocking the tab with the unlock on the top LH corner) the increment is at the bottom in the edit widget pane, set it to 0.5 you'll be able to adjust it in half beat increments instead.

I'll be intrigued to see your results, I don't think anyone has tried this yet., please let us know how you get on. I don't have an Eigenharp handy here to test it for you, I'll try to have play over the weekend.


written by: djogon

Fri, 8 Jul 2011 19:55:56 +0100 BST

Interesting idea :), but it didn't work.

If I set it to 3.5 in the STAGE app, rather than producing 7/8 or 3.5/4 it produced regular 3 beats and half of the fourth one.

written by: john

Sat, 9 Jul 2011 09:55:11 +0100 BST

Yes, that's what I'd expect. I assume that it didn't behave quite how you want it to. If you want to have a true 7/8 you will need to set the bar length to 7 beats, and set the tempo to the appropriate quaver (eighth note) bpm, ie twice what you'd normally set it to for the same kind of feel in a crotchet BPM. The Drummer unfortunately doesn't have a metronome divisor, so your loops will play faster than you want. This may be a nice feature to add, I'll chat with the team on Monday.

This is actually a normal kind of problem in music notation, one that we don't really solve in EigenD's metronome as yet (and I'm not sure that where it needs to be solved actually). If you were writing 6/8 or 12/8 you'd normally have a BPM in dotted crotchets, ie. 3 quaver beats long. I would assume that 7/8 would be written with a quaver bpm as 7 is prime, I can't quite see how it makes sense any other way.

The solution may be for us to add a MPM (measures, or bars, per minute) BPM value to the metronome, this is a musical time notation sometimes used, although this really just shuffles he problem around - your drummer and arranger would still be using beats not bars to play so would be going faster than you expect as you've moved the BPM to quavers.

I'm curious though, what element of EigenD doesn't behave as you want when you set the beat per bar to 3.5? Is it the loop player doing sometlhing unexpected? Or the arranger steps still being in crotchets? If its just the oop player, we may be able to easily add a way to solve that.


written by: djogon

Sat, 9 Jul 2011 14:53:45 +0100 BST

There is a distinct difference even in the drummer component when you use crotchets with 2x the tempo instead of quaver with normal tempo.
Certain sounds will get distorted while player is trying to double the playing speed. Things like snares, shakers or tambourines sound "strange".

I will be primarily using my Pico with Logic (or main stage) so I will not be using the built in loop or metronome functions that often so this is not a huge problem for me personally. While practicing stand-alone - I can always set the bar length to 7 beats, double the tempo and at least get a proper metronome ticks from it.

The real solution is obviously to add note length to the number of beats. Maybe something like the button where you could tap to determine the number of beats per bar (which did not work for me by the way). You could tap once for a whole note, twice for halves and so on. You would only need 6-8 taps to select almost any note length.

written by: keyman

Sat, 9 Jul 2011 23:54:06 +0100 BST

I would like to pursue, if I may, the "which did not work for me by the way" METRONOME BEAT TAP.

Could you please open EigenBrowser (cmd+B) and EigenCommander (cmd+C) and the type in bencanto:
metronome browse

You should see in the EigenBrowser the Browsing Metronome and with it have a "reading" of the tempo, beats, running, etc... try the METRONOME BEAT TAP.... (go thru the quick-reference-guide once more...)

good luck

written by: bwong

Sun, 10 Jul 2011 18:43:56 +0100 BST

This is a very interesting thread!

I compose algorithmically using Python scripting and have created what I call a rythym programming system for dealing with these issues.

Instead of being based on standard Western music notation it instead works by time division. You can check out the song blog for my piece "Nearly Normal" at to see a basic description of how it works and hear the piece.

This approach allows me to create much more complex rythyms, dividing up different beats and bars into different numbers of beats and sub-beats for any particular bar without restrictions. If anyone is interested you can see the source code (in Jython scripting) in my piece "Tritium Tea" which is included as an example in recent versions of blue (the Csound front-end I use). Obviously I would love to see EigenD adopt a similar approach.


written by: john

Mon, 11 Jul 2011 12:09:15 +0100 BST

Hi djogon

Jim and I have been talking about this morning, and looking at the way the drummer works at present and we are confused as to what you are experiencing. As far as we can tell, setting the metronome bar length to 3.5 should be completely equivalent to setting a quaver beat and 7 beats per bar, they are logically the same in the system. The drummer will play loops for 3.5 crotchets, then start them over, which is correct - if you have a 7/8 loop that you've created or downloaded this should then play correctly, and you can count the two quavers for every metronome crotchet tick. The only areas we think where it might be meaningful to have the system be aware of quaver beats would be the clicker (to help you count time) and possibly the arranger grid.

There probably is a need to make some modification to the system to support a quaver beat length, if for no other reason than to make the tap tempo function support 7/8 without all the loops playing faster (as Apple loops are intrinsically stored with beats in crotchets, or rather with just beats that seem to be assumed to be crotchets for the purpose of BPM descriptions), and we can look at this but we'd really like to understand what issue you are facing using 7/8 that isn't solved by setting the metronome beat to 3.5. Are the loops doing something that you don't expect, or think is wrong? 4/4 loops should play the first 3.5 beats then start again, missing the last quaver as one would expect moving from 4/4 to 7/8. Or did you want them to do something else?

Your input on this matter would be greatly appreciated as making the time signature handling of EigenD correct is important for us - we debated metronomes a lot in the early design phases - this is a surprisingly complex and difficult area.


written by: djogon

Mon, 11 Jul 2011 14:41:34 +0100 BST


I am very new to Pico so it is entirely possible that I am missing something.

I wanted to create a 7/8 or 9/16 beat, but initially - I just wanted the metronome so that I can practice the playing. Setting the beats to 3.5 would indeed count 3x crotchets and one quaver correctly, but I still have to count rather than rely on the metronome. My counting may or may not be correct while playing though.

I guess I could also set it to 2.25 for 9/16 beat and count semiquavers myself, but at that point - I might as well not use the metronome at all.

I have not recorded my looks and play them back. I understand that time-wise it should work just fine, but the main problem is finding the workarounds for the perfectly normal time signatures.

Allowing someone to enter the bar length in quavers, semi quavers or even demisemiquavers and have the metronome count properly would go a long way towards the usability of the instrument.

written by: john

Mon, 11 Jul 2011 16:15:02 +0100 BST


We've had a further (lengthy) discussion about this here. There are two conclusions that we have reached.

Firstly, right now, your existing solutions are to use a full 7/8 by setting the bar length to 7 beats and setting an appropriate tempo as a quaver bpm, so nearly twice as fast as you might normally set if you were setting a crotchet bpm. This will make the loops we ship play back fast but as I don't think we ship any 7/8 loops anyway, this may not be such a problem - all the existing loops would play quite oddly in 7/8 anyway as they're all as far a I'm aware, using multiples of 4 beats as lengths. This will make the clicker and tap tempo work for you as well. The alternative is to set a bar length of 3.5 which will make loops play back at the bpm they are written for, but will make your clicker count oddly, as you point out, and tap tempo won't work.

Secondly, we've created a feature request to make some changes to the metronome and clicker to help this situation in the future. We're going to keep the system beat clock delineated in crotchet beats (it's a good thing to have a normalised value for things like this as it seriously cuts down on the potential for bugs everywhere) but we're going to add another signal to it. At present the metronome signals carry a beat clock and a bar clock (that counts how far into the bar in beats one is). We're going to add a 'beat unit' signal to this, that the clicker can use to determine how often per crotchet beat it should tick, so if for example the 'beat unit is set to 8 it would assume that the beat unit is quavers and tick twice per crotchet. The 'beat unit' will be like the bottom of a time signature. We're also going to add a couple of ports to the metronome, 'beats per bar' and 'beat unit', effectively the top and bottom values of a conventional time signature, and rename the current 'beats' to 'beats per crotchet' for clarity. Logically all three of these are not really needed, but it will certainly save getting a calculator out to work out a basic time signature - we will have it so that changing one changes the others appropriately. We'll then update the clicker to use the 'beat unit' signal to decide when to click. The exiting tempo will remain the same, set in crotchet beats, some simple arithmetic may be needed sometimes to set an explicit tempo in an odd beat unit.

We've scheduled this to go into 1.4, if it goes well it will, otherwise it'll end up in the 2.X series.

Comments welcome..


written by: john

Mon, 11 Jul 2011 19:19:36 +0100 BST

Hi bwong

That piece 'Nearly Normal' is fun, and the timing certainly does do some quite strange things to ones head after a while.

The EigenD Metronome is an Agent, and you can create as many of them as you like and hook them up to different things, with different tempo and bar lengths. I can imagine some quite weird things going on using multiple recorders, metronomes, drummers and some smart talkers to tie it all together, especially if those talkers were on Arranger courses.

On a more technical note, if you want to mess around with timing inside EigenD and can code (which it seems you can) then I'd like to encourage you to have a go. The metronome and the drummer are both part of the open source release available on Github, and you could have a lot of fun writing different metronome sources - the beat clock is a signal like any other and one could imagine some quite strange possible metronomes. I think that this could be good fun, and if you start with the basic stock metronome not too difficult. You could even write one to allow the use of Python to manipulate the timing.


written by: bwong

Mon, 11 Jul 2011 19:46:35 +0100 BST


Thanks for the tips John. I have downloaded the EigenD source code, and will definitely reference this thread in future when I start studying it!


Please log in to join the discussions