Composers' Forum

Music Composers Unite!




I post this as a new thread because I don’t want to pre-occupy anyone from Stephen's thread and composition of his variations on La Folia.

I have done years ago a set of variations for bouzouki on this Folia theme, but they're lost amongst my manuscripts.

The last two years I've been working on a big song cycle called "LIBYAN SEA TALE" where I thought of using modulations as instrumental interludes, and one of the themes that came first into my mind was La Folia again. I wanted something that could take me round the clock in terms of tone steps and as Handel is one of my favourite sets I started with his setting.

So my aim was to go quickly and smoothly from Dm to Em and imo this can be done as early as from the 1st or 2nd bar of Handel's setting, if you agree. Bars 17 - 18 in this pdf behave as if the 2nd triad in Dm is not diminished but Em itself. I marked the harmonic understanding with Roman numerals for both tonalities, and after bar 19 in the new tonality only. The change sounds fairly smooth to me.

What now remains is to write my own variation instead of repeating Handel's.  :-)


Perhaps what Stephen says about a competition on this theme could take ground and give all sorts of nice results.

Something like a "Composers Forum contribution to a Musical Cathedral", as the great cathedrals took centuries and many architects to be completed, so is Folia a cathedral still in progress.

How about it Gav? (After this summer preferably)

Views: 474

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

In continuing this thread with the sizes of various intervals and as far as Pythagorean sizes are concerned, which have been well established mathematically from antiquity, I was indenting only to provide a few links to them and let any discussion begin if some of us are more mathematically inclined and  interested into that kind of thing. I am quite interested in this, but only as a means of building up microtonal tuning systems to be used in different kinds of composition and by using MIDI only rather than human performers. To that end I thought it sensible to start with the equally tempered system of semitone=100 and tone=200 cents, before I proceed with other tuning systems and draw indexes of comparison between them, but also provide practical means of achieving these tuning systems by midi bend messages for sequencers and score writers.

I take it for granted that all midi devices default to equal temperament and I start from there.

By reading all the relevant information in Sibelius (very badly written, imo, manual), I find it a little confusing, to say the least. I copy-paste it here for your perusal.

Sibelius info from manual pages 379-380,

Playback of microtonal accidentals


Most playback devices provide a pitch bend function that can alter a note according to 32

equal divisions of a half-step (semitone), most easily accessed via Play > Plug-ins > Quarter-tone


To alter the tuning of a note, first add a quarter-tone accidental. Repeat as necessary, then

select the passage you want to retune (make sure to include the next note in normal tuning, so

that the MIDI pitch bend will return to zero). Choose Play > Plug-ins > Quarter-tone Playback,

and click OK twice.

Now the notes you want to retune have an invisible MIDI pitch bend command attached to

them (these invisible commands appear in gray if you switch on View > Invisibles > Hidden

Objects) that raises the pitch by a quarter-tone: ~B0,80. ~B0,64 returns the affected staff to normal

tuning. You can edit this pitch bend command to apply values other than a quarter-tone by

double-clicking it, and changing it as follows:

* ~B0,64 = normal tuning

* ~B0,80 = quarter-tone sharp

* ~B0,96 = half-step (semitone) sharp

* ~B0,48 = quarter-tone flat, etc.

Each increment is approximately 3 cents, a cent being 1/100th of a half-step (semitone).

Therefore, if you want a pitch, say, 15 cents flat, you can edit the pitch bend command to be 5

less (15/3) than 64: ~B0,59. (Lowering the third of a major triad by this amount will create a

more harmonious chord.) If you’re not using quarter-tones as such and don’t want the quartertone

accidental, you may now delete it and the pitch bend MIDI message will remain.

Note that, due to the nature of MIDI channels, only one pitch bend command is possible at a

time per instrument, so that different notes in a chord cannot be retuned by different amounts.

If you attempt to attach different pitch bends to two different notes in a chord, the plug-in will

mark the chord with an X to alert you to the failure to achieve your desired pitch bend.

For more details about the plug-in, see Quarter-tone Playback on page 586. For more

information about MIDI pitch bend messages, see Pitch bend on page 610.


Sibelius info from manual pages 586


Quarter-tone Playback

Inserts MIDI messages to make quarter-tones play back. To use this plug-in, either select a

passage or the whole score (using Ctrl+A or XA), then choose Play > Plug-ins > Quarter-tone


A dialog appears, allowing you to choose the amount of pitch bend required to produce a quarter-

tone. Usually you should leave this at the default – so just click OK.

The MIDI messages created by this plug-in are automatically hidden, so you will not be able to

see them unless you have View > Invisibles > Hidden Objects switched on (shortcut Shift+Alt+H

or xzH).

This plug-in has a built-in Help dialog that describes its operation and limitations in more



Sibelius info from manual pages 610 (598 ?)


Pitch bend


Pitch bend normally allows you to alter the pitch of a note by up to a whole step (tone) up or

down, although there are a couple of ways to increase this range – see below.

The syntax of pitch bend is ~B0,bend-by, e.g. ~B0,96.

Bend-by is a number between 0 and 127, where each integer represents 1/32nd of a half-step

(semitone). ~B0,64 produces a note at its written pitch; values lower than 64 flatten the note,

and values higher than 64 sharpen it. To make a note sound one half-step (semitone) higher

than written, use ~B0,96; to make it sound one half-step (semitone) lower, use ~B0,32.

You could, for example, use this control change to make a note play back sharp or flat without

adding an accidental, e.g. if you want to make ficta – editorial accidentals above the staff –

play back, you can insert the accidental from the Notations > Symbol > Symbols gallery, and then

use a MIDI message of e.g. ~B0,96 to play the note a semitone sharp. Don’t forget to use

~B0,64 to return the channel to its normal tuning on the next note!

You can also use the pitch bend control change to create a portamento or glissando effect by

creating a number of MIDI messages one after another. The pitch bend does not last for just

one note – it remains indefinitely, so you usually put a pitch bend in the opposite direction on

the next note to revert to normal pitch.

If you want finer control over the pitch bend, you can change the initial byte, also in the range

0–127, to give very small deviations in temperament (1/128 x 32 half-steps) e.g. ~B127,64 will

sharpen the written note by a small amount.

To create a pitch bend effect over an interval wider than a whole step (tone), you can either use

the portamento control change (see Control changes below) to make a pitch bend, or use the

following method:

* First, set up the range over which the pitch bend can operate: insert the MIDI messages

~C101,0 C100,0 C6,half-steps in your score, where half-steps is the total range of the pitch

bend in half-steps (semitones), from 0-12. For example, to set up pitch bend with a maximum

range of an octave, use ~C6,12. (It’s best to put these messages at the start of your


* When you want to add a pitch bend to your score, insert a ~B0,bend-by command as usual,

except that now you must divide the bend-by parameter into the number of half-steps (semitones)

set up with your ~C6 command, e.g. if you entered ~C6,12, each half-step (semitone)

adds or subtracts 5.3 (64 divided by 12) to bend-by. So to bend upwards by four half-steps

(semitones), you would enter ~B0,85.

This method requires that your MIDI device supports standard “Registered Parameter Messages”

(RPMs), which is common but not universal. If you intend to use other RPMs in the

same score, you should remember to “close” the parameters, by adding ~C101,127 ~C100,127

after the ~C6,half-steps message.


Before I continue with my experiment I want to ask from members the following:

 1. Do you find any of the above information from the manual confusing or contradictory?

 2. Would you agree with me that a semitone of 100 cents divided into 32 equal steps would give

100/32=3.125 as a unit for this division? Therefore if I wanted to go from C to C# I would need to take my initial bend message value as 64 and proceed by adding 3.125 to each of the 32 steps?

(I did the experiment but by step 20 I was already up a tone rather than a semitone, so if any member is more mathematically inclined and midi knowledgeable, and I know there are quite a few in this forum, please explain what I am doing wrong and where I misinterpret the provided Sibelius information

 3. The Sibelius manual does say later that from bend message 64 we can go up or down one tone and it gives the semitone increment/decrement as bend 96 & 32 respectively. Therefore the "32" steps for a semitone = 100 cents should be calculated as 32/100=0.32 cents (?)


Thanks for any help.

Perhaps in the previous post my mistake has been in my naively assuming that midi values 0-127, or 1-128 represent decimal integers which should correspond exactly to the division of tones and semitones in cents, but on second thought their structure seems to me now hexadecimal, in which case what is needed is a hexadecimal-decimal converter to determine the values of intervals in human terms and outside hexadecimal logic, and then give appropriate midi bend messages.

Any thoughts?

Reply to Discussion


Sign up info

Read before you sign up to find out what the requirements are!


© 2018   Created by Gav Brown.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service