Getting Started

To get you started using VBR as quickly as possible, this topic will tell you how to do the following tasks:
  1. load and play an existing score
  2. create a new score
  3. add notes to an existing score
  4. add a new stave to an existing score
  5. save a score
You may find that a few of the menu items have changed since this manual was written but these changes should not cause any problems.

Loading and playing an existing score

When you run VBR you will see a large empty window. At the top left hand corner are some familiar menu items. Click on File>Load existing score.

This opens the standard file browser which you can navigate to select your chosen score. You might like to choose the file 'Arabesque 1' by Debussy in the file of examples provided with the program.

Select the file you want to load. On clicking 'Open' at the bottom of the dialog box the score will load in a window contained within the main Rhapsody window.

(An alternative way to load a score is to drag it onto the main VBR window. You can also start VBR and load an existing score in one go by simply double-clicking on the score.)

Tp play the score, click on 'Play from > Play score from the start' as shown below.

With a little bit of luck, you should hear a pleasing rendition of one of Debussy's most beautiful compositions. (If you don't, you may like to open your Control Panel, click on 'Sounds and Audio Devices', select the 'Audio' tab and check the settings of your MIDI music playback device.). You may also have to tell VBR which driver to use. For more on this click here) .

Nice as it is, you will probably want to stop playing the score at some time. To do this, notice that the 'Stop playing' item on the main menu bar is now flashing.

Click on this to stop playing.

Alternatively you can hit the 'ESCAPE' key

(You may be wondering why the menu item to play is on the score window but the menu item to stop playing is on the main window. The reason is that, if you have many scores open at once, you select the score you want to play by using the menu on the appropriate score. Since VBR can only play one score at a time, it makes sense to place the 'Stop playing' button on the main VBR window where you can always find it, even if you have closed all the windows on that particular score. I hope you agree.)

Creating a new score

From the main window menu, click 'File > Load new template...'

A small dialog box opens which invites you to choose what kind of score you want, its time signature and its key signature. Choose a Piano score in the key of F major (1 flat) with a time signature of 2/4, like this:

When you press 'OK', a standard 'Save file' dialogue box will open up. Navigate to a suitable folder, enter the following name - To a wild rose - and press 'Save'. This is what you will get:

On the left of the stave some useful information about the stave is listed including its name, the MIDI channel it is assigned to and the MIDI voice associated with the stave.

You will also notice that the score contains a large yellow box. This is called the 'cursor' and is where all the editing takes place.

In addition, every score that you open has its own menu bar and its own panel of editing icons. We shall look at these in great detail later. For the moment, lets simply use them to enter a simple sequence of notes. You will soon get the idea how the panel works.

On the left are four arrow buttons which move the cursor left and right and also move the red arrows up and down.

Naturally, the cursor keys on the computer keyboard do the same thing.

Next along is a group of coloured buttons which enable you to enter and delete symbols in a score.

We shall be using these a lot.

Much of the rest of the panel is taken up with the symbol selector.

The upper row of buttons is used to select between 15 different sets of symbols. When you open a new score, the first set (notes and rests) is automatically selected.

Now lets try entering some music.

Entering musical symbols

Here is the score we wish to transcribe.

First we need to enter a couple of quavers. Click on the quaver in the Notes and Rests panel above the score. Note that the white box shows which symbol is currently selected like this:

Next, make sure that the red arrows inside the cursor are on the correct line (or space) on the stave using either the arrow buttons in the panel or the arrow keys on the keyboard. (It is probably easiest to move the arrows up and down with your left hand on the keyboard and use the mouse to select the desired note and to click on the Insert button. Eventually you will find out how to do all this from the keyboard alone but it is best to learn the standard method first which you can always fall back on, even when you have forgotten all the keyboard shortcuts.)

Now click on the 'Insert-Next' icon which looks like this.

Move the cursor up a couple of notches to the next note and click 'Insert-Next' again to enter the next quaver.

Select a crotchet for the next note and so on.

If you make a mistake, press Ctrl-Z. This is one shortcut you will definitely want to remember. It undoes your last operation!

By the way, did you notice that the barlines were put in automatically for you? Was't that nice!

How did you get on with the dotted crotchet and the rest at the end?

There are actually three ways of selecting and enetering a dotted crotchet! The most fundamental way is to insert the crotchet first. Then select the single dot by clicking on it, like you would a note or a rest. Then click on the Insert-At button which looks like this: This simply adds the dot to the note which is already there.

The second method is even simpler. Having selected the crotchet note, click on the dot using the right hand mouse button. Now both the crotchet and the dot are selected and that is what you will get when you click on the Insert-Next button

The third method is simpler still. Just double-click on the crotchet symbol and away you go.

This is what you should end up with:

You may have noticed three little buttons on the main window looking like this: . These buttons determine the direction of the stalk when a note is entered. They are currently set to 'Auto' mode. In other words, low notes have upstalks and high notes have downstalks. This generally works quite well but the first quavers of the first three bars look a bit lost. If you want to change the direction of the stalk on a note, place the cursor on the note and press Ctrl-S. Do this.

Now for the second stave. Since all the stalks on this stave are pointing downwards, Click on the 'Downstalk' button of the three stalkmode buttons.

Adding notes to an existing score

Adding notes onto a new stave is a bit different from adding notes onto the end because the slots into which the notes must go already exist. First put the cursor on the new stave in the first empty slot (immediately after the time signature) and select the minim symbol from the first group of symbols (notes and rests etc). Either by clicking on the correct line or using the cursor control keys, position the red arrows on the correct line (eg the second line down for a note F) Now click on the Insert-At button . This will insert a minim with a downstem at the cursor position. Move the red arrows up two notches and click Insert-At again. Repeat for the third note of the chord.

Are you beginning to get the idea now? It is simple really. Select what symbol you want; position the cursor where you want it and click on the correct Insert button. If you are thinking that this is not simple at all and that there must be an easier way, I should like to point out two things. Firstly - entering musical notation is far more complex than typing a document and secondly, VBR does provide numerous shortcuts and other features which you might expect like entering notes from a MIDI keyboard - but it is best to start with the methods that always work and are easiest to remember.

Enter the remaining chords in the same way.

One of the chords has an accidental in it - a B natural. Enter the notes (3 minims) first without the accidental. Now position the red arrows over the right note, select the natural symbol by clicking on it and finally click on the Insert-At button.

Entering a tempo directive

If you try playing the score at this point, you will probably agree that it plays much too fast. This is because we have not entered a tempo directive. To do this, put the cursor over the treble clef; select the tempo group symbol (the one with the metronome); enter the desired tempo in the first box (eg 60 crotchet beats per minute) and click on Insert-At.

(The second numeric up/down box is for entering gradual changes in tempo)

Saving a score

It is a good idea to save your work regularly when you are entering notes. Bring up the standard Save as dialogue box as follows:

I suggest you close Rhapsody and go and have a cup of coffee. You have earned it!