The following is a simple example of a song file for 8-Beat. If you have already downloaded the program, you can find the song in the 8beat folder. Songs tend to end with a .song extension, but .txt will work just as well.

tempo = 60
A4 4
C5 4
C5 8; D5 8
D5 8; R  8

F5 16; E5 16; F5 16; E5 16
F5 16; E5 16; C5  8
C5  8; D5  8
D5  8; R   8

It should be fairly obvious what song that was ;-) The syntax of 8-beat is very straightforward. The first line sets the tempo to 60 quarter note beats per minute. The subsequent lines represent pitch values and durations. A4 means middle A. C#2 means C sharp in the second octave. Db6 means D flat in the sixth octave. A rest is specified by the letter R. The value after the note pitch is the note duration. A whole note is written as 1. A half note is written as 2. A quarter notes is written as 4, and so on. Don't forget, each note or tempo change is separated by a semicolon.

Please note that the first line may also be written as tempo 60 instead of tempo = 60;. That is to say, the equals sign after a tempo is optional, and semicolons are optional at the end of a line. This is because semicolons serve as separators between notes and tempo statements, not as the ending point of instruction (e.g. for programmers, the difference between semicolons in C and Python).

If you want, you may write commas in to separate pitches from their note values, i.e. C4, 4 is the same as C4 4, with spacing being entirely optional in the version using a comma.

Relative Octaves

The above example shows a song using absolute octaves. The example below shows the different ways of using relative octaves.

tempo = 120

octave = 4
C 4; D 4; E 4; F 4; G 4; A 4; B 4

octave up
C 4; D 4; E 4; F 4; G 4; A 4; B 4

octave down
C 4; D 4; E 4; F 4; G 4; A 4; B 4

octave 0
+; C 4; +; D 4; +; E 4; +; F 4; +; G 4; +; A 4; +; B 4
-; C 4; -; D 4; -; E 4; -; F 4; -; G 4; -; A 4; -; B 4

C 16; OCTAVE=5; C 16; +++; C 16; --; C 16

This example is obviously a little less pretty, but it displays the flexibility of 8-Beat's syntax. Spacing is irrelevant in octave directives, just like tempo directives, and equals signs are optional. Octaves may be specified absolutely such as octave = 4 or relatively, such as octave up, octave down, +, or -.

Note that + and - are shorthands for octave up and octave down, respectively.

Implied Duration

The last basic feature to cover is implied note durations. Whenever you fail to mention the duration of a note, 8-Beat will assume what you mean. At the beginning of a song, the duration of notes is assumed to be quarter note length. This can be changed at any point throughout the song, just like octave or tempo. See the example below.

C; D; E; F; G; A; B

duration = 16
C; D; E; F; G; A; B

duration = 32
C; D; E; F; G; A; B

C; D; E; duration=16; G; A; B

It may be worth noting that in this last example, the final G, A, and B notes are played with a sixteenth note duration, whereas the C, D, and E notes before it are thirty-second notes.

Feel like you've got it down? Then head over to the Advanced Tutorial