In this monthly column, I will be exploring the many features of KTabS, the totally wonderful Kalimba Tablature Software. My hope is to share my knowledge of this program with others so they too can enjoy the creative boost that KTabS affords. But if the KTabS Notebook installments dribble out too slowly for you over the months, you can always go and drink directly from the fire hydrant—check out the extensive tutorial on the actual KTabS site.
There is a lot more music available for the Alto than for the Bb Treble, mainly because more people own Altos. The Bb Treble is very similar in its note layout to the Alto, but it differs in that the low central note is a Bb rather than a G. It goes up two octaves to another Bb, and then it has two extra high notes that the Alto doesn't have, one on either side. Anything that you can play on the G Alto, you can also play on the Bb Treble, it will just be transposed up by a minor 3rd, or by three half steps.
KTabS can easily transpose music from the Alto to the Bb Treble. To start with, go back and reread last month's KTabS Notebook which explains transposing. We will be using that exact same technique today to transpose from Alto to Bb Treble.
Next, you need a KTabS file for the Alto - hey, here is the KTabS file for First Look Inside, one of my favorite songs. Download it and open it up with KTabS.
You also need to download the Bb Treble KTabS template. By the way, the zip file of over 80 such KTabS templates is still available for free download. Save the templates in a folder on your computer. By the way, the natural place to save them would be the Templates folder underneath your KTabS folder. By default, KTabS will install under Program Files on your C drive, but when you install KTabS you could choose a different location. I run KTabS out of my personal folders as I am always adding Templates or Music into those folders.
After you saved the Bb Treble template, go to the KTabS application that you opened First Look Inside with, and open up a new KTabs document. When you get the configuration window, click on Load Template to get the list of available KTabS template files - select the Bb_Treble template and click on OK, and you now have an unnamed empty document for the Bb Treble, in front of the Alto version of First Look Inside.
Before we do anything else, why don't you save the empty KTabS as FirstLookInside_BbTreble.
Actually, we are almost done now! If you set up the problem properly, you find that the solution just sort of falls out. In other words, the work of setting it all up properly is most of the work of solving the problem. To finish, click on the Alto tablature, type "Ctrl-A" to select it all, then click on the Bb Treble's blank tab and type "Ctrl-V" to paste the copied notes into the Bb Treble. However, up comes a window asking you if you want to transpose these notes - YES! We need to transpose up by 3 semitones (half steps) to get the melody up from G to Bb. Ignore the warning that says some tines will not work.
As a final step, play through the Bb Treble version to make sure everything is as it should be, and delete the last 16 blank beats worth of tablature, and then save the file.... and you are DONE!
Screen shot of KTabS about to copy and transpose the song from Alto to Bb Treble. The light green on the upper tablature indicates it has been selected. The little green strip on the blank tablature indicates the position where the copied, transposed notes are going to be inserted.
You can do the exact same trick for the Treble kalimba. Open up a new file with the same KTabS, and the configuration window automatically defaults to the Treble kalimba. Just click on OK and save the new empty file as FirstLookInside_Treble.
You should go back to the original Alto tablature, and everything is already selected. Type "Ctrl-C" again to copy, select the blank Treble version, and then type "Ctrl-V" to paste. This time, we don't want to transpose, because both the Alto and the Treble are in in the key of G. Again, ignore the warning that some tines don't match up from Alto to Treble. However, this time, after the notes are pasted into the new KTabS file, some of them do fall off the kalimba - the Treble is lacking the Alto's low G and A notes, which it turns out are instrumental to the song First Look Inside. The missing notes show up as a slightly discolored blank spot on the tablature, and I've also noted them by writing "HEY!" to the right of them.
After transposing to the Treble, some notes are missing!
So, what can we do about the missing notes? Well, some songs were just not made for the Treble, so you could always give up or try a different song. You could actually transpose up an octave, but then you may have the issue that some notes have fallen off the top. You could look for alternative notes that the Treble does have that might sound good in the place of the missing notes. You could try to play just the missing notes an octave up or a fifth up, though this often won't work. Or you could retune the Treble kalimba to the key of C (by changing the F# notes into F natural) and then transpose the song from G to C - this is sure to work, but actually requires physical effort.
The 8-Note kalimba is a great place for people to start out on kalimba, but most people will want to go beyond that. A common place to go is the Alto. You can read about how the Alto and 8-Note relate here. And if you know a lot of songs on the 8-Note that you learned from KTabS, you can actually transpose them from the 8-Note's key (probably C) up or down to G.
If you want to go down to the lower octave of the Alto, you don't really need to do anything, because the 8-Note tablature will totally work for the lower 8 notes of the Alto (unless you are actually playing KTabS, and then you do require a transposition).
The procedure is the same as what we've seen above. Open the 8-Note file you want to copy, and then open up a new KTabS file, loading in the Alto template to make a blank Alto file. Select the 8-Note window, copy, select the Alto window, and paste. Now you have a choice. In going from C to G, we could transpose down by 5 semitones to put the songs in the lower octave of the Alto kalimba, or we could transpose up by 7 semitones to put the songs in the upper octave. You may want to take a moment to think about this - you have an entire empty octave where you can fill in some extra notes. If you transpose the 8-Note song up, you can then write some chords for the lower octave. The drawback is that the melody is on the opposite side from what you learned. So, especially at first, try transposing down, and adding a few extra high notes for special effect.
Note: Some of the KTabS files from the KTabS website are write protected and do not permit copying to other files. The current policy, which applies to any new KTabS files, is that they will not be protected, so you will be able to copy and paste and transpose them. KTabS files, which I generate and distribute for free or as part of a paid download, will not be write protected - so you will be able to transpose them.
Next month, we will take a look at making a printed hardcopy of your KTabS music. In particular, we will explore the various controls that KTabS gives you to fine tune the way the music gets printed on the page.
Next month, we will look at transposing music into a different key, copying or transposing from one kalimba to another, and how to retune your kalimba in KTabS to see what it will sound like before you actually retune any tines.
I am just guessing what people will find interesting or useful about KTabS. While I do have a list of dozens of topics for the coming months of the KTabS Notebook, my list may not include your ideas. You can help steer this ship by sending me your ideas and suggestions about what you would like to learn about KTabS. Similarly, you might have a great use for KTabS that Sharon and I haven't figured out yet! Hope to hear from you.