Tip #3: Building On The Kick Drum Tutorial

OK, here’s Part 2. It builds on the first tutorial to add some hi-hats & snare with the noise channel, shows you how to copy and paste data around in patterns, shows you some advanced features of the Pitch Table and a little trick to add a bit of groove to your Song!

Like before there’s a .sav file which is where you should end up (sort of) but follow the tutorial first before loading it up. You might learn something :)

ntrq-tutorial-02.sav


Getting Started With NTRQ
-------------------------

This info is correct as of NTRQ V1.1

Part 2 : Adding Some Hi-Hats using Noise (Track D)
--------------------------------------------------

NOTE : You should follow the first tutorial or load up the .sav file that was included with it so you are at the right starting point.

So, time to add some "hi-hats" and a kind of "snare drum" using the NES's noise channel which is Track D in NTRQ.

First we'll make the basic closed hi-hat sound. Move down to Instrument 02 and put this in the ADSR parameters (the first two numbers)

00 72

and set the Gate (GT) parameter to 01. This will give us a short envelope with about medium volume. The "00" tells NTRQ that we don't want an Attack or Decay phase for this envelope so it will start immediately with amplitude 7 and fade out quickly from there. Let's try it out.

Go to the Pattern Editor and put a "02" in the command column on the first tick. Then continue to make the first 8 lines look like this (you'll see why only 8 lines in a minute):

02 02
-- --
00 --
-- --
00 --
-- --
00 --
-- --

You've probably spotted that there's no note names. That's because NTRQ doesn't use them for Track D (or Track E - DPCM). Instead you're just specifying the "pitch" of the noise, "00" being the highest and "0F" being the lowest. I'll come back to this later as there's another aspect you should know about.

So you've put four hi-hat sounds in the Pattern. The reason I suggested putting 02 on the first of the four notes is just to accentuate the first beat a little. What about the remainder of the Pattern steps though? I thought it would be a good opportunity to show you copying/pasting in Patterns.

Go to the first step/tick and put the cursor on the note (right-hand) column (all still on Track D). Hold B+A (a good indicator of whether you've held them for long enough is when the hint text changes) then tap SELECT. A little red triangle will appear. This marks the start of the Pattern block we are going to copy. Move to step/tick 07 but this time put the cursor in the command column (left-hand). Hold B+A then tap SELECT to mark the end of the block. You should now have little red triangles down both sides of the Pattern from step 00 to 07.

To paste this block somewhere else, move the cursor to the step/tick you want it to be pasted at, in this case 08, hold B+A then tap RIGHT. Good eh? :)

Now, you could repeat this by performing the same paste command (B+A then tap RIGHT) on steps 10 and 18 and you'll fill up the Pattern nicely. However I want to show you something else before we move on. You'll see that on step/tick 07 that both the note and Instrument number has been copied i.e. it shows 02 02. This is because when you perform the block marking across the two columns in a Track, both the note data and command data is copied.

However, you can just select one side of the track i.e. the note column or the command column. To try this move to step 00 again in the note column, B+A then tap SELECT to mark the start but this time when you move to step 07 to mark the end of the block, leave the cursor in the note (left-hand) column. This time the red triangle block marks only appear to the left of the note column. Move down to step 10 and paste (B+A then tap RIGHT). You'll see this time that the Instrument command is not pasted. This would be the preferred way of copying in this case as we do not need four copies of the Instrument 02 command in the Pattern. Paste again on step 18 then move up to step 08 and remove the Instrument 02 command (tap B) from the command column there to tidy up.

You should now have:

02 02
-- --
00 --
-- --
00 --
-- --
00 --
-- --
02 --
-- --
00 --
-- --
00 --
-- --
00 --
-- --
02 --
-- --
00 --
-- --
00 --
-- --
00 --
-- --
02 --
-- --
00 --
-- --
00 --
-- --
00 --
-- --

Give it a try - press START to hear the amazing hi-hat in action! :)

Just a quick one before we make the "snare" sound. Some (most?) of you should be aware that the NES can also make that "metallic" noise sound that it's pretty famous for. In NTRQ, the way to access this is by using "notes" 10 to 1F (00 to 0F being "normal" noise). Go ahead and try changing a few of the 00 notes to 10 to add a bit of interest to the hi-hat pattern. Actually, you'll probably want to put in notes like 15, 16, 17 to hear the difference. For the sake of the next bit, try to leave a "02" on steps 08 and 18 as this is where we'll put the snare sound.

Making The Snare Sound
----------------------

As we want the snare to be a bit louder and have a little longer envelope we'll use a new Instrument, 03.

Set the ADSR parameters to "00 A3". Similar shape to the hi-hat but louder (A instead of 7) and slightly longer release (3 instead of 2). Again set the Gate to "01".

Go back to the Pattern and on step 08 and 18, put 03 in the command column to select Instrument 03. Then to make sure the sound switches back to the hi-hat, put 02 in the command column on steps 0A and 1A. Play the song. You might want to change the pitch of the notes for the snare to something like 04 but the choice is yours.

So this sounds OK-ish for a snare but we could make it better by adding some Pitch Table modulation to it. Jump back to Instrument 03 in the Instrument Table and change the PT parameter to 06. We're using 06 because this is the next unused entry in the Pitch Table after the entries that are used for the Kick Drum. All Pitch Table sections should end with the FF (jump) command so this gives you a visual guide when you're looking for a place to add some new entries in the Pitch Table.

With the cursor still on the "06", hold SELECT and tap right. Add these entries to the Pitch Table:

06:00 F0 ;play with pitch offset 0 for 1 tick, full volume*
07:02 F0 ;play with pitch offset 2 for 1 tick, full volume
08:FF 06 :jump back to index/position 06

*I'm not explaining this, read the manual :)

Play the song again. You should hear the pitch of the noise now "flutter" when the snare plays. You might need to modify the "02 F0" entry at position 07 to be "04 F0" to make it more noticable. OK, it sounds a bit more clappy than a snare but you can experiment.

One last thing on this (and another trick). A nice way to get a more defined start to the snare sound is to add 1 tick of very low pitch noise to the start, something like 0E or 0F. But we've already defined the section of the Pitch Table for the snare so how do we add an entry at the beginning of that section? Easy: put the cursor on index/position 06 (the start of our snare sound) hold B+A then tap DOWN and a row will be inserted into the Pitch Table. A few things to note here;

- the end of the Pitch Table is at index/position 3F. When you insert rows this way, the last entries will be pushed out of the Pitch Table and lost forever.
- you might have noticed that the jump command "FF 06" now reads "FF 07". This is beacuse NTRQ adjusted the jump command to point to the entry it was pointing to before you inserted a row into the table. Good eh? :)
- if you had any Pitch Table sections defined further down the table, they'd also have their jump commands corrected.
- not that we've touched on this in these tutorials but similarly, if you've any Pattern commands that override the Pitch Table setting for an instrument, they will be updated too.

Anyway, technical info aside, set the newly inserted row (at index/position 06) to this:

06:5F F0 ;sets absolute pitch F for 1 tick, full volume

The complete section for the snare should look like this:

06:5F F0
07:00 F0
08:02 F0
09:FF 07

The observant of you will probably have spotted that because the Pitch Table starts at 06 but jumps back to 07, the cycle of modulation will only play the entry at index 06 for the very first tick of a note. This is exacly what we want.

Play the Song again to hear the effect.

With the Song playing, jump over to Instrument 03 and toggle the PT parameter between 06 and 07 to hear what that new row in the table has added to the sound (with the PT parameter set to 07 you'll skip the "5F F0" row).

Wrapping Up For This Installment
--------------------------------

One last quick thing. The drum pattern sounds a bit straight, no? Here's how to cheaply inject a bit of swing into the mix using just the Speed Table.

Stop the Song. Jump up to the Speed Table (top right) and make it look like this;

00:03 01 ;set speed 3, jump to speed table position 01
01:03 02 ;set speed 3, jump to 02
02:03 03 ;speed 3, jump 03
03:00 00 ;speed 0, jump back to 00

Oh, important! When playing the Song, hold start for a little while (a second or so) and then let go. This makes sure the Song is started from the very beginning. Tapping START will kind of "unpause" the Song and (sorry) there's currently a little bug that messes up the Speed Table stuff if you have multiple entries defined in a chain (like the above example). It doesn't break anything, it just doesn't play back properly.

Anyway, it should now have a bit of a swing/groove. Set the first line back to "02 00" if you want to go back to the "straight" version.

Enjoy!

4 comments to Tip #3: Building On The Kick Drum Tutorial

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