A Visual Aid to Using Musical Patterns

by Don F. Porter

The download visually illustrates patterns in music using common objects such as as colored squares and rectangles.  For example, phrases are drawn as blocks, colored to show which which phrases repeat and which do not so that the user can see the pattern of repetition and contrast.  Hopefully this will help the user remember the pattern and recognize it in the future.

The program shows how "building blocks" of patterns can be created, combined and re-combined into different music compositions, by allowing the user to change the on-screen patterns.   In the example above the user can change the order of colored blocks, or keep the order the same and change the music shown by one or more of the blocks instead.  (Note - the program is not entirely mechanical; there is as yet no automatic resolution of dissonance between melody and chords.)

As can be seen from the screenshots, the program is not completely restricted to visual images but uses letters, numbers, words and phrases as well:   phrase patterns are shown not only by colored blocks but also by letters of the alphabet; phrase shapes or contours are shown by not only by visual lines but also by descriptive words; chord progressions (patterns in themselves) are shown by Roman numerals; bass line pattterns are shown not only by colors but also by descriptive words and phrases as well.


See more details and screenshots here .

  Setting Up

Download an installer and follow the instructions to install and run the program .

  Tutorial Demos

The tutorial demos are based on an old version (1.3.3) of the program and are slightly out of date.  The current screens have a few more buttons but the differences are not likely to be noticed at first.

The tutorial demos are based on the making of the main sample file, Example.ser, which comes with the installer of the full program.

When you view the tutorial demos, you will see moving screen shots but you will not be able to hear the corresponding music unles you first start up the program and then open the Example.ser file from within the program.


Not surprisingly, a program intended to teach form (patterns) produces music composed of patterns which are fairly easy to pick out.  For example, listen to the music resulting from the making of the Example.ser file, on which the Overview demo / tutorial is based.  See if you can pick out the patterns!

When you listen to the Example.ser file, you will hear sound, but to see the corresponding program screens you will have to start up the program itself and then open the Example.ser file from within the program.


View the table of contents from the program's manual, especially the Basic Patterns chapter, for a better idea of the purpose(s) of the program.

The program's manual is slightly out of date, so where it conflicts with these web pages consider these web pages to be correct.

  What's New

The current version of the program is 1.4.23.

The Quicktime audio utility no longer works well with the program and you should use the program's default, JavaSound, instead. If you are nevertheless interested in using the Quicktime utility then you will have to take extra steps to install Quicktime for Java.


The program is free, written in Java and distributed under the GNU General Public License (GPL).


jMusic  -  The program uses jMusic to play audio, add a drumbeat and show notation.  The tutorials on the jMusic site introduce a wide variety of forms, including but going beyond the binary kind used here.


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