Video created by:

Gruber Music

Written Tutorial!

(video transcipt - visual aids to be added)

In Pico-8 most of the music you're going to write will be in duple or quadruple time, which is just a fancy way of saying it'll be divisible by 2 or 4.

Each SFX in Pico-8 has 32 rows, which makes duple and quadruple time easiest to organize and visualize.

Triple time and on-time signatures are possible in Pico-8, see another lesson.

So I have two bass drum patterns here. They both sound the same, but are organized differently.

And here's the second one.

The main difference is that this longer pattern has a more complex meter. Meter is a common term in music theory, it's just a fancy way of saying hierarchy. One way to think about this is we have two groups of four, and the first beat of each group is the highest of the hierarchy. And the third beat of each group is the second in the hierarchy. 

In Pico-8 we also experience this hierarchy visually, so even if I put lower volumes on the notes with higher priority, we're still going to experience this hierarchy. There's still this sense of finality and resolution on beat one every time.

Actually, this hierarchy is so ingrained in us that even if I shift this beat up a row, we'll still experience this silence as an important part of the hierarchy.

So now that we understand this, we can observe in ourselves how we feel at each point of the cycle. For example, when we get to beat one, there's that sense of finality and resolution.

But if I move beat one down a row, all of a sudden this tension and conflict that's been built up here at this point in the cycle doesn't resolve where we expect, and there's this slight feeling of deception. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just something to play with when you're composing your own tunes.

I'm going to change this to a snare. So we can forgive this minor deception here because over the span of two groups of four, it's ultimately resolved here. Actually I bet even if I shifted this down here, this hierarchy is so strong that we still feel resolution here on this silence.


24 Mar 2023