The KTabS Notebook
Using the KeyPad in KTabS

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This year, we are doing a series of articles that will explore the many features of KTabS, the totally wonderful Kalimba Tablature Software. This program allows me to be creative and efficient when I write down new or old kalimba songs for myself to remember or to instruct other folks, and my mission is to share my knowledge of this program with other folks so they can also enjoy the kind of creative boost that comes from using KTabS. If my tips about KTabS dribble out over the months too slowly for you, you can always go and drink directly from the fire hydrant—check out the extensive tutorial on the KTabS site.

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KTabS Templates for Your Kalimba

KTabS templates are so useful for KTabS users that we are promoting them again this month.

When KTabS starts up, the default kalimba is the 17-Note Treble, but you can set up KTabS to work as any sort of kalimba. There are two ways to do that: You could change the number of tines on the virtual software kalimba model to the number your kalimba has, then retune it and paint the tines, one-by-one, manually—OR you could simply load in a template file.

What sort of kalimba do you have? Chances are, we've already got a template for it! We have templates for all the Hugh Tracey kalimbas—in many different tunings. We've also got other instruments, including the mbira and amadinda.

Download the free zip file of over 80 KTabS templates. Save them in your KTabS/templates folder, and then just "Load Template" to be up and running on your instrument of choice in just a few seconds.

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KeyPad Shortcuts Speed Up Work

I am fortunate enough to have a laptop computer with a wide screen—wide enough that there is room for a numerical keypad at the right end of my keyboard! In fact, I selected a computer with a keypad because I know how useful the keypad is for running KTabS quickly.

The keypad provides shortcuts for different notes in the note bar, i.e., when "Num Lock" has been selected on your keypad, you can change the type of note of any selected notes by typing the correct key on the keypad.

Blank tablature
Rectangular box
indicates current point in
tablature. Light green
indicates tines that have
been selected.

Let's see how this works. Open up KTabS, go to the file menu, and select New. The Configuration window pops up. Now you can load a template (see above!), or you can just select "OK" to get tablature for a 17 note Treble kalimba.

When the blank tablature pops up, left click on one of the tines to select it. Then left click it again to display a quarter note at that spot in the tablature. If a note didn't appear, you must have clicked too far up or down the tine. Try again, making sure to click within the highlighted area until you get your note. If you click again on the note, it will disappear. Clicking on more than one note in the highlighted area creates a chord.

Blank tablature showing first note
Click again to get a quarter note.

Now, my computer has a little light that comes on when I depress the "Num Lock" key. Actually, pressing "Num Lock" toggles the Num Lock on and off. So, if the following instructions don't work, press "Num Lock" and try again.

Immediately after you make your quarter note, it will be selected. When a note is still selected, you can DO THINGS to this note. For example, if you press CTRL X, the note will be deleted and copied to the KTabS clipboard. To get the note back, you could press CTRL Z to undo the delete or press CTRL V to paste it back.

The March Special
The keypad's "2" inserts a half note.

But with the key pad engaged, you have even more options. Depress the keypad's "2" key, and you will get a half note. The "1" key gives a whole note. The "." key adds a dot to the note, and the "0" key adds a double dot. To remove a dot or double dot, type "." or "0" again to toggle the dot on and off. "3" gets us back to a quarter note, "4" is an eighth note, "5" is a sixteenth note, "6" is a 32nd note, and "7" is a 64th note. "9" toggles back and forth between a note and a rest.

These key pad shortcuts are great if you want to learn how to write KTabS music quickly. You can achieve all of these actions by selecting the note you want to change and then clicking on the appropriate type of note on the note toolbar, but the key pad method is faster. When I am flying through KTabS, writing music quickly, my right hand is on the mouse, selecting times and tines to get the basic notes, and my left hand is on the keypad changing the notes to their proper lengths, i.e., whole note, half note, etc.

Something else you can do using the keypad is select a group of notes and change them all at once. For example, you could place four quarter notes, select them all, and then type "4" on the keypad to turn them into eighth notes.

There are a few things that you cannot do with the keypad shortcuts. If we have our four eighth notes selected, we might want to connect them all with a beam, but there is no shortcut for that. We need to mouse-click the "beam" action on the tool bar. Similarly, if we need to tie two or more notes together, we cannot do that without using the "tie" action on the tool bar.

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What Are Your KTabS Questions?

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.

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