Block operations

In this chapter we shall explore the many operations which you can carry out on whole areas of the score at once. Some can be carried out on a mall marked block, others to a whole stave or even the whole score. First we must learn how to mark a block

Marking a block

When you click on a score with the LEFT hand mouse button, the cursor is placed at that point in the score. If you use the RIGHT hand mouse button, the 'end of block' marker is inserted and the marked block will appear in grey. Note that the 'end of block' marker must be to the right and/or below the cursor. (To remove a marked block, therefore, all you have to do is right-click to the left of the cursor.) Note that you do not have to mark all the staves in the score,

If you press the SHIFT key down while RIGHT-clicking, you will find that the 'end of block' marker is placed at the very end of the score. This makes it easy to mark a whole stave (or group of staves).

Clearing, Merging and Inserting

Perhaps the most important things you can do with a marked block are the familiar operations of cutting, copying and pasting. But although these operationa are similar to the equivalents found in a word processor, because a score has a vertical dimension as well as a horizontal one the action of copying in particular is rather different. Also VBRgives you a lot more options as to what sort of things you want to cut or copy.

For example, to cut out a whole block form a score, you would choose the menu option 'Block > Clear > Everything' as illustrated below.

The reason we use the word 'Clear' rather than 'Cut' is that you do not have to cut out the whole block, you can 'clear' a number of different options like all the upstalk notes or just the text. Moreover, if the marked block does not include all the stave, only those staves which are marked will be cleared.

You can also selectively clear the contents of a whole stave; and you can also clear a whole score if you want to.

Previous versions of VBRhapsody had a primitive 'Cut and Paste' facility using the clipboard which, to be frank was of very little use. This has now been removed. Instead the 'Block merge' and Block insert' routines have been greatly improved so that you can merge or insert any marked block anywhere in either the same or a different score. For example, if you want to copy a few bars of a Violin part into a Viola part in a second score, first you mark the bars you want to copy; then you place the cursor at the point where you want the bars copied in the second score; then you go back to the first score and select 'Block > Merge > Notes and rests'. One thing that you should be aware of though is that the notes will be copied exactly as they are printed on the stave. If, as is often the case, the Viola part is in a different clef (or even in a different key!) you may not get what you want. It makes sense, therefore only to copy parts which (temporarily at least) share the same clef and key signature.

The 'Block insert' routine is similar but instead of merging the notes with the existing ones, the score is opened up and the new block is inserted. This is very useful if you want to add a written out repeat.

The only restriction on the Block merge and Block insert routines is that you cannot insert a block inside itself. This would result in an infinite regression!

Shifting and Transposing

If you insert a new clef somewhere in the middle of an existing score, all the notes up to the next clef on that stave will be moved up or down as appropriate in order that the score shall sound the same. None of the accidentals or key signatures will be changed. This is called 'shifting'. (Incidentally, if you want to insert a clef without this automatic shifting, use the RIGHT hand mouse button or press the SHIFT when inserting the clef.)

It is very useful to be able to shift all sorts of things as well as notes up and down. To do so, mark a block as usual, then goto 'Block > Shift ...'. The following dialogue box will open.

where you can do pretty well what you like. It is particularly useful to be able to shift whole blocks of text up or down so as to avoid clashing with note stems etc.

Now lets look at transposing:

If you insert a new key signature somewhere in the middle of an existing score, all the notes up to the next key signature on that stave will be moved up or down as appropriate in order that the score shall sound the same. This will involve inserting some accidentals and changing others. This is called 'transposing' and is a whole different ball game from simply shifting notes. (Incidentally, if you want to insert a new key signature without this automatic transposition, use the RIGHT hand mouse button or press the SHIFT when inserting the key signature.)

You can transpose a block by using 'Block > transpose' but what you get will not sound like the original and may not be very useful. Nevertheless, it will do what it says on the tin - namely, transpose the music up or down a given number of semitones. If you have written a melody and you want it to sound a note higher, the chances are you should be using 'Shift' to move it up a line rather than 'Transpose' to move it up two semitones.

The real usefulness of the 'Transpose' routine is when it is applied to a complete stave. Place the cursor on the stave you wish to transpose and goto 'Stave > Transpose ...' which leads to the following dialogue box.

As well as being able to transpose by a given number of semitones, a number of useful options are provided for dealing with what are known as transposing instruments (instruments which sound a different note from the one which is played). Clicking on 'OK' will transpose the whole stave and it will alter any key signatures as well. In addition, the 'Transpose interval' of the stave will be changed so that the music still sounds exactly the same.

In addition to being able to transpose individual staves, you can also transpose the whole score (but in this case the score will sound at the new pitch.)

Re-tailing, re-beaming and re-baring a block

To change the directions of the stems of all the notes in a block goto 'Block > Re-tail >' then chose either 'Default tails', 'Up tails' or 'Down tails'. You can also re-tail a whole stave.This is very useful when preparing a score before compressing it into a 'short' score. (see 'How to convert a full score into a short score')

In vocal music, it is customary not to beam quavers which are sung on different syllables. This often means that whole chunks of music are effectively not beamed at all. It would be tedious to go through every note adding a 'Break beam' flag so a routine is provided to do this for you. Got 'Block > Re-beam > No beams'. The 'Default beams' option will remove the 'Break beams' flags and restore them to their defaul state. You can also re-beam a whole stave.

If you need more control over which notes are re-beamed, you will find it by going to 'Block > Part style > Auto beams|Force beams|Break beams > etc.'

It occasionally happens (eg when converting a MIDI file which does not have any time signature information) that whole sections of a score have the barlines in the wrong places. The 'Block > Re-bar' option will strip out all barlines from the marked block and attempt to reinstate correct ones according to the current time signature.

Changing note and part styles

VBR provides seven different styles of note. Here is an illustration.

The crosshead style is often used for untuned percussion instruments and the diamond heads give a score a quasi mediaeval appearance. The small notes are often used to denote optional parts or perhaps cues. To apply any of these options to a block, goto 'Block > Note style > etc.' You can apply styles to all notes, upstalks or downstalks as you wish.

Note styles actually refer to individual note heads and it is possible to have different note styles within the same cluster. To change individual noteheads place the cursor over the notehead and press Ctrl-H to cycle through the options. For more details see the section on modifying notes.

In addition to the style of individual note heads, you can alter the style of a group of notes in a number of ways. Go to 'Block > Part style > etc.'

When applying the 'slurred' style to a group of notes, remember to exclude the last note of the group as this note is not actually slurred to anything.

The 'cue' style is quite independent of the 'small' note style but has the same general effect. Indeed, you can use any of the six note styles in a 'cue' part.

The 'stemless' style is most appropriate for mediaeval music but I suppose if you couple it with the 'headless' note style and put the notes on a blank stave you can play music for ghosts!

Changing the length of notes

Sometimes you may decide to change the lengths of all the notes in a block - or even in the whole score. To do this go to 'Block > Part style > Change note length > Double value|Halve value|Make triplet|Unmake triplet|Set value'. 'Double value' turns a crotchet into a minim etc.; 'Halve value' turns it back. 'Make triplet' and 'Unmake triplet' do what they say - but note that the former will (correctly) turn a dotted crotchet into a crotchet and the latter will turn a crotchet back into a dotted crotchet.

The last option, 'Set value' overwrites the old note value and sets it to the value selected in the note symbols panel.

Note that you may need to alter the time signature and/or add or remove barlines yourself to achieve the desired effect.

Changing the accents in a block

You can add or remove accents from a complete block by nusing 'Block > Accents > etc.' and as usual you can apply them to all notes, upstalks or downstalks. Don't forget that, having applied accents to a lot of notes, you can suppress printing them all using the 'Suppress accents' global directive. See here for more details.

Saving a block as a GIF image

It is often desirable to include a few bars of a piece of music as an illustration in a document. To do this, mark the bars that you need and select the option 'Save as GIF image'. (Note: this is only available on the Linear Format menu.) This will bring up a dialog box for you to choose a filename. Then you can nsert the image into your document in the usual way.

Note that the size (and resolution) of the image is the same as the resolution used to view the score on the screen. At the standard resolution of 44% the stave lines are exactly 7 pixels apart. At the maximum size of 100%, the stave lines are 16 pixels apart