Adding Music

In this section:

Playing Notes

One of the unique things about Stepworks stories is that they can contain music. A step doesn’t have to be just words spoken by a character—it can be notes played by an instrument! To try this out, go back to your tutorial story spreadsheet and add a new character called “Piano,” like this:

Alisha Charles Piano
Hey Charles!
Hi Alisha!
How are you today?
I’m great, thanks.

You can add notes for an instrument to play by typing them right into the spreadsheet cells, in this common format:

[Note name][Octave]

So, for a middle C you would type “C4”. Go ahead and add some notes to your story to accompany the dialogue of your two characters, like this:

Alisha Charles Piano
Hey Charles! C4
Hi Alisha! D4
How are you today? E4
I’m great, thanks. D4

Now, return to the stage window, click “Reload,” and try it out. Music!

But wait, something’s strange. Stepworks is treating the Piano character like any other character and displaying the notes it’s “saying” (singing?) as part of the text chat with the rest of the dialogue. Interesting for music buffs, maybe, but not what we’re going for. To fix this, return to your spreadsheet and add “-hidden” to “Piano” at the top. This lets Stepworks know that any content in that column should not be displayed visually. Now, your spreadsheet should look like this:

Alisha Charles Piano-hidden
Hey Charles! C4
Hi Alisha! D4
How are you today? E4
I’m great, thanks. D4

Now, return to the stage and click “Reload”. You should see the character dialogue and hear the music as before, but minus the actual note names.

This is good for playing single notes, but what about chords? To set up a chord, simply type Option-Enter (Mac) or Alt-Enter (Windows) to move to the next line in the current cell, type the new note, and repeat for as many notes as you want to play simultaneously, like this:

Alisha Charles Piano-hidden
Hey Charles! C4
Hi Alisha! D4
How are you today? E4
I’m great, thanks. D4

Return the stage and click “Reload.” Now you’re cookin’ with polyphony.

If you want to learn how to trigger multiple notes after delays, instead of all at once, see Delays, Timing, and Tempo.

Adjusting Note Volume

You can set the relative loudness of a given note by using the @ character. For example, F#6@pp will play a quiet, high F sharp. (Note that the @ character must come after any use of the + delay shortcut—learn more about that shortcut in Delays, Timing, and Tempo.)

Here are all the available volume values:

Shortcut Dynamics
@pp pianissimo
@p piano
@f forte
@ff fortissimo

Picking Instruments

What if you want some other instrument other than the piano? Or in addition to the piano? Here are the various instrument names Stepworks will recognize:

  • piano
  • chromaticpercussion
  • organ
  • guitar
  • bass
  • strings
  • ensemble
  • brass
  • reed
  • pipe
  • synthlead
  • lead
  • synthpad
  • pad
  • syntheffects
  • soundeffects

Drums are available as well—each type of drum sound is treated as a separate instrument and should be given its own column in your spreadsheet:

  • kick
  • snare
  • hat
  • hatopen
  • conga
  • cowbell
  • clave
  • tom

These drum sounds ignore pitch, so feel free to just use “C4” (or anything, really) for each note played by one of these instruments. Remember to add “-hidden” to prevent the specific notes played by each instrument from being displayed on the stage.