Tutorial 2 - Time


Time is one of the 3 key elements of music. This tutorial will explore how to manipulate time in Codetta.

Time Signatures

In the previous tutorial we connected many "four four bars" to our speaker block.

"Four four" is the blocks time signature, shown in the image above.

This means that we can fill the bar using 4 crotchet notes (as 4 x 1/4 = 4/4).

Codetta has many other time signatures. Hence, different bars can be filled with different amounts of notes.

For example, look at the three four bar above. This time only 3 crotchet notes can fill the bar (as 3 X 1/4 = 3/4).

TASK: How many two four blocks does it take, to last as long as a single four four bar?

Hint: The picture above may be able to help you?

Repeat Blocks

Often in music we will want to repeat a musical idea over and over again.

This is sometimes refered to as a loop.

Above is an example of a repeating musical idea written in Codetta. Now dosen't that look irritating. Imagine having to rewrite the same notes over and over and over again

Navigate to the "Time" tab on our toolbar.

This is where the repeat blocks are useful! By placing these either side of our bars, we can let Codetta know how many times to play the same thing.

Have a look at the same peice of music, this time written with repeat blocks.


Tempo is how fast or slow music is played.

We typically measure this by saying how many beats happen per minute i.e. our "beats per minute" (BPM).

Find the global tempo widget in the top right of the program.

This will control the tempo for all of our blocks within the program.

To help us remember that this changes all the blocks, a picture of a "globe" is shown!

Task: recreate the screenshot below. Then try changing the tempo to 400bpm, then try 50bpm. Can you hear the difference?

NOTE: You can also just use the end repeat block, which will repeat back to the start block (just like in standard music notation).

Tempo Change

Allthough the global tempo is an easy way to control the speed of the entire music, sometimes we may want to change the tempo part way through our composition, or have 2 different tempo's happening at the same time.

To do this we can use the tempo setter block (shown above). The blocks colour matches the global widget to help us remember.

This works exactly like the global tempo, however, this changes the tempo at the point in time it is connected.

TASK: recreate the music shown in the image below and listen for the slow effect.

Steve Reich: Piano Phase

Steve Reich is a contemporary composer, who writes music in a minimalistic style.

Minimalism dosen't mean the music is boring and not much happens. It means that a single process is cleverly used to create a really cool and sophisticated effect from very little musical material.

Piano phase is a good example of a simple minimalist process creating interesting music, from a small number of "blocks".

The video above shows plays a rendition of Steve Reich's piano phase in Codetta.

The piece is structed like so:

  1. Reich has two lines of music playing the same phrase.
  2. He repeats this for a small amount of time.
  3. Then one of the two lines changes the tempo every so slightly.
  4. The entire process is repeated again

To increment or decrement the tempo within Codetta, you can use the final block under time, the tempo changer.

This will add the number specified to the current tempo. It can also move towards negative numbers for a gradual slowing of the tempo.

Task: Make your own composiiton inspired by Piano Phase. Can you too repeat a small phrase and shift its tempo?

The global tempo is set to 144.

Below is a screenshot of piano phase to help you: