Teaching Pitch Bend on a MIDI Synthesizer
Mary Pappert School of Music
600 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh PA 15282
TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:
Electronic Musical Instruments (MIDI Controller Techniques)
Graduate TI:ME Level – IA Course or TI:ME Level 2A
MIDI Synthesizer Lab with Pitch Bend Joystick or Wheel and pitch bend calibration capabilities
Classroom Audio Controller (Korg GEC) w/headphones
Prior Knowledge and Skills:
Basicknowledge of their instrument (MIDI Synthesizer)
Ability to solfege
MENC Standards Addressed:
1. Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
- Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
- Reading and notating music.
- Evaluating music and music performances.
Pitch bend exercises (contained herein)
The students (IST participants) will develop the necessary skills and techniques to perform pitch bend on a MIDI synthesizer.
Students will learn how to calibrate (program) the pitch bend range on a MIDI synthesizer. This information can be utilized for all synthesizers, in addition to software based virtual synthesizers.
- The teacher will demonstrate the performance techniques for playing pitch bend (with joystick or wheel) to the class:
<<The instructor may choose to first show the students a video and/or audio example of pitch bend on a MIDI Synthesizer [ex. Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater: Portnoy, M. (Director). (2001). Metropolis 2000: Scenes from New York (DVD). New York, NY: Elektra Entertainment Group Inc.], and pitch bend on a non-electronic instrument>>
*Place your index finger and thumb on the side of the joystick.
*Anchor the base of your hand in a comfortable position below the joystick. Depending on the size of your hand and/or joystick, some lifting or i>travelingÕ of the base of your hand may be necessary in order to execute the full range (+/-) of pitch bend.
*Place your thumb in the middle of the wheel
*Anchor the base of your hand in a comfortable position below the wheel. Depending on the size of your hand and/or wheel, some lifting or ÔtravelingÕ of the base of your hand may be necessary in order to execute the full range (+/-) of pitch bend.
Pitch Bend Up (+)
*Strike and hold (sustain) the starting pitch key with the joystick/wheel at the ÔzeroÕ or center position.
*Now move the joystick/wheel up (+) to sound the desired pitch.
*With the joystick/wheel down (-), strike and hold (sustain) the desired pitch key
*Now move the joystick/wheel up to zero (center position) to sound the desired pitch.
Pitch Bend Down (-)
**Strike and hold (sustain) the starting pitch key with the joystick/wheel at the ÔzeroÕ or center position.
*Now move the joystick/wheel down (-) to sound the desired pitch.
*With the joystick/wheel up (+), strike and hold (sustain) the desired pitch key.
*Now move the joystick/wheel down to zero (center position) to sound the desired pitch.
Note: When releasing a note while playing with pitch bend, be sure to lift the depressed key before releasing the pitch bend joystick/wheel. Otherwise, a fall-off or glide may be sounded.
- The students will practice the techniques mentioned above on MIDI synthesizers.
- The teacher will hand out the Pitch Bend Exercise Worksheet.
4. The teacher will instruct the students on the procedure of calibrating the range of pitch bend for the program/patch being used (see user manual).
Note: A program with a clean tone, unlimited sustains, and no effects (ex. sine wave) should be used for this lesson in order to ensure audible and accurate pitch bend execution. Also, if the program uses more than one oscillator, be sure to calibrate the same pitch bend range for all (oscillators) of them.
5. The teacher will instruct the students to initially play each exercise without pitch bend to establish the tonal center of the given exercise.
6. The teacher will instruct to students to sing (solfege) the exercises.
7. The students will begin practicing the exercises using pitch bend.
- Using the classroom audio controller (GEC), the teacher will eveÕs drop on students practicing to assist when necessary.
- Once the students have had ample time to practice the exercises, the teacher will select students to perform the exercises for the class by way of the classroom audio controller (GEC).
- The students conclude the lesson by performing ÒMary Had A Pitch Bend WheelÓ.
Pitch Bend Exercise Worksheet
Pitch Bend: +/- 2 semitones
Pitch Bend Exercise Worksheet (continued)
Pitch Bend: +/- 3 semitones
Pitch Bend: +/- 4 semitones
(OPTIONAL) One week after the lesson, individually schedule students to perform all pitch bend exercises at a steady tempo.
1. Students can attempt the exercises in different keys.
2. Students can attempt the exercises with larger pitch bend ranges (+/- 5, 6É12).
3. Teacher can assign students to arrange and notate a melody using pitch bend.
4. Teacher can assign students to find musical examples of pitch bend.
- The students acquire the basic MIDI controller technique pitch bend and knowledge of pitch bend calibration on a MIDI synthesizer.
- The students successfully perform all of the exercises accurately at a steady tempo.
- The students develop intonation skills.
Suggested Artists for Research and Listening:
Jordan Rudess (http://www.jordanrudess.com)
Jan Hammer (http://www.janhammer.com/)
Keith Emerson (http://www.keithemerson.com/)