Why do you sing off the key

Summer Splash Music solution

Pick a simple song that you enjoy singing and choose the key!

As an example we take the song as sung by Esther and Hannah: Banana Song

The melody of a song usually ends on the root note, the 1st note of the scale from which the sound material originates.

  • First you have to decide whether the song sounds happy or sad. If a happy song ends with a C, it is probably in C major. The root note is C. If a song ends with an F, it is probably in F major. The keynote is F. In which key do Esther and Hannah sing this song? Did you recognize the last note No not yet?
  • There are many different ways to find a tone.
    • When you learn an instrument, you can search for the tone on your instrument.
    • If you don't have an instrument, you can search for the sound on the BBC micro: bit.
      • Open the programming environment [1]. In the Music category you will find a command for playing sheet music. You drag this command into the block editor.
      • If you click on the displayed note, a piano keyboard appears and you can play all the notes.
      • Sing the note first, then play the keyboard until you find the note.
      • The name of the note is displayed below the keyboard. Juhu, you already have the first note for your song accompaniment.

How can you elicit sounds from the BBC micro: bit?

Have you already gone to the programming environment [2]? In the Music category you will find many commands for making music.

Now you have to make a fundamental decision.

  • You can program the accompaniment to play in the same way over and over again. With the appropriate blocks from the Music category, you program the playing of the notes with the desired pitches and note values. When singing, you then have to adapt to the programmed accompaniment.
  • You can also program the accompaniment so that a sound is only played when a certain event occurs, e.g. the closing of a circuit. In this case, you can control the accompaniment while singing. You can also make music with a friend.

We decide here for the second variant, as Esther and Hannah did. The playing of a tone is triggered by a certain event, e.g. by closing a circuit.

Build circuits for the loudspeaker and for sound output!

Do you want to control the sound output during the song?

  • Build a circuit for the speaker! Use pin 0 and GND for this.
  • Build a circuit for the root note! Use pin 1 and GND for this.
  • Build a circuit for the 5th stage! Use pin 2 and GND for this.
  • If you build a switch into the circuit for a tone, you can control the output of the tone by opening or closing the circuit.

Esther and Hannah use two water containers as switches for the circuit to output a sound. If you immerse your two feet or your two hands in a water container each, you close the circuit with your body. A tone is emitted. With this battery-operated experimental set-up with a voltage of 3 volts and a current strength of a few milliamperes, you can safely enter the circuit.

As soon as you connect a device to a socket, you are no longer allowed to reach into the circuit! Even at a voltage of more than 24 volts and a current of over 0.1 A, it becomes uncomfortable or even dangerous for people! So never reach into a circuit that leads through a socket!


Note 1

Make a plan!

  • What is your input, what is your output? How are input and output related?
  • Your program needs to be started. As soon as it has started, it should run continuously until you end it by pressing switch A.
    • You ask whether the circuit with pin 1 is closed. If this circuit is closed, you output the keynote.
    • You ask whether the circuit with pin 2 is closed. If the circuit is closed, you spend the 5th stage.

Not that complex, right?

Note 2

Have you already made all the blocks and put them together correctly?

  • Start by adding a variable to store the keynote of your song. Set the value of the variable on the note pad.
  • As the second note for accompaniment, take the 5th note of the scale on the note pad (5th step from the root note).
  • The sound is output as soon as the associated circuit is closed. If the circuit is closed, the pin has the digital value 1. When opening, the digital value changes to 0.

Compare solution

You can compare your program here. blocks

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