ScaleMaster 2 presents huge advances as far as instruments are concerned. Right off the bat it adds 4 brand new instruments, violin, viola, cello and double bass. Of course the most important instrument is the one you play, but some play more than one instrument or have a side interest in something like the mandolin or even have a family where multiple instruments are being played. In short, more is always better.
Another advance in ScaleMaster 2 is that instrument behave much more naturally when clicked in and they are huge. Since ScaleMaster 2 is full screen compatible you can have a near complete piano on the screen with up to 88 keys or a very long neck. We also revisited handedness for string instrument and are now displaying left-handed stringed instruments with the nut on the right side of the display. It seems much more natural that way and easier to read.
What good is an instrument without sound. Luckily ScaleMaster provides a full General MIDI compliment of your favorite sounds that you can select from by clicking the sound settings button in the center toolbar. Sounds settings are document-specific. But there is more. We have another little popup button in the top margin of the sound selection window - the instrument selector.
With this little popup we can change the instrument of our current scale document. While this option is great in many circumstances it may become cumbersome in the long run. For that very reason ScaleMaster has in its general preferences an option to set a default instrument. Once set every new composition will be with using instrument.
Note: Changing the instrument of a scale document on the fly will regenerate the current exercise. This could be trouble if you had recorded a custom exercise.
The position selector is yet another toolbar button and will present an instrument specific popup window. For the piano instrument it shows the 5 main octave positions (notated in C1, C2, C3 and so forth) and for string instruments the first 12 frets indicated as Roman numerals. Those 12 positions shown are not all that is available, just the most common ones. Again, we have 24 frets available. Another way to shift an instrument to a different position is pf course by dragging.
Documents save an instrument's position. This is an important feature in ScaleMaster. The thought behind it is that we want to enable the creation of position specific exercises. This way it is possible to create a guitar exercise with the instrument in the fifth position. Select A major as scale maybe and then generate an ascending two-octave scale with the [gen] feature. Now we can play this document back at any speed we desire and even engage auto-reverse to have ScaleMaster play the pattern up and down for us.
Lastly let's mention once more the default position button. It sends string instruments back to first position and centers the piano instrument around middle c.
You may remember that we mentioned Auto Follow when discussing the window toolbar at the beginning of this documentation. It is the 4th button from the right (>-<) and also available via menu command (cmd-shift-F) or as Auto Follow from the Scale menu. This feature can be on or off and basically makes the instrument follow the notation. In reference mode there is not that much to it, but in exercises where the range of a scale pattern may exceed what is currently visible in the instrument view this feature may come in handy when playing along.
String instruments like the violin, cello or banjo can be detuned (scordatura). The tuning button in the tool strip opens the tuning window with an appropriate amount of sliders for each instrument. And while that is true, for some instruments like the banjo, bass, guitar and mandolin there is a bit more to it. That is because these instruments also have tuning presets.
To facilitate presets we have in the top of our tuning window another one of our ubiquitous popup buttons and this one pops a window on top of the tuning window.
We are presenting images for the bass instrument here for a reason. It is the only instrument that can take on different numbers of strings (4 - 6) and there is an interesting point about that. Now typically when a tuning is selected (i.e. Drop D (4)) and one makes an adjustment via any of the sliders the popup menu automatically moves to Custom. That is a fantastic feature because we can take a tuning preset as starting point or template and make an adjustment to it and voila. And of course one could as well just go directly to the custom tuning and then make some adjustments.
As a bass player however one might however be puzzled as how to create a custom tuning for 5 strings. So the trick here is that if the custom preset does not have the necessary number of strings one must first select one of the regular presets - namely one that has the required number of strings. At that point making any adjustments will drop that preset into custom mode and we are done.
One final note. All tuning settings are document specific and the current tuning will be displayed in the Scale Detail view of the document view. That is great news for those of us who play several tunings and want to create scale documents that maybe similar or identical but are to be used for different tunings.
ScaleMaster prints the notation and instrument views in a printer friendly layout with the goal to present all pertinent scale information on one sheet. Dark backgrounds like the wooden textures of necks are removed as are intricate position markers. Instruments will print in the range that is shown on screen. Of note here is that since the main window is resizable there may be differing amounts of keys or frets visible at the time of printing. Since hard copy pages are of course not resizable ScaleMaster will try to fit the entire visible instrument range by shrinking the instrument view as necessary. So before printing please adjust the window size accordingly.
Banjo, Bass, Cello, Double Bass, Guitar, Mandolin, Piano, Viola, Violin. There are very few people that play all of these, but as long as the one instrument that counts - yours - is included, we are making headway. Of course most of these instrument have particular clef requirements. So let's head over to the notation view and check out how it can help us with everything.
The next chapter will focus a bit more in detail on the notation view and things like changing clefs.