software resources for science and technology education
Christmas Music Project from Mr Bit
Make your micro:bit play a Christmas tune.
Mr Bit shows you how to take a tune from a music score and enter the notes into a program for the BBC micro:bit.
Whether loud or soft, fast or slow, sad or happy, a tune always has a series of notes, one after another. A note can be high or low in pitch or short or long in duration. To make music with your micro:bit all you have to do is to put notes in the right order and specify the pitch and duration of each note.
© 2019 Insight Resources
What you need:
The notes on a music score show all that you need to know about pitch and duration.
Pitch is shown by the height of the note on the 5-
Duration is shown by the style of the note and its stalk.
The most common note is the crotchet, a solid blob with a plain stalk. When a tune has a regular beat, this is the note that shows the beat. Most tunes have between 60 and 120 beats per minute making the duration of a crotchet typically between 1000 milliseconds and 500 milliseconds.
In our Christmas tune, as well as having crotchets, we have two other types of notes:
Quaver: this has half the duration of a crotchet, so 2 quavers last as long as one crotchet.
Minim: this has twice the duration of a crotchet, so 2 crotchets last as long as one minim.
The quaver looks like a crotchet with a tail.
The minim looks like a crotchet with a hole in the blob.
Skip this bit if you are familiar with music notation.
Scientific notation of pitch
Since the letters for notes are used in a repeating cycle, at several different pitches, we need an additional code to give a unique indication of pitch. Scientific notation does this by adding a number to indicate in which octave (sequence of 8 notes) the note occurs. C4 is middle C on a piano; C5 is an octave above; C3 is an octave below. The octave number increases by one every time you go from B to C. Insight Mr Bit uses this notation for pitch.
Pitches of notes you can program with Mr Bit:
Step 1 – Prepare the tune
To prepare for making your program, the first step is to write underneath the stave the letter name for each note:
You now have a choice of coding editor:
Step 2 – Select the control blocks
To build and program the control system with Mr Bit:
The dialogue for coding the tune now appears.
Step 3 – Type the tune notation
When a different duration is needed, type the new note value.
When the note is F, type a sharp # as well.
Step 4 – Program button A to start and stop the music
The control program should read “When button A gets pressed, switch on the piezo sounder, until button A gets pressed again.”
Step 5 – Prepare the micro:bit
To hear the tune, you need to connect an earpiece or headphones to pins GND and P0. You can use crocodile clip leads as shown here.
Step 6 – Select ‘Control’ mode
You are now ready to play the tune:
Taking it further
You can extend the control system to show a “Merry Christmas” message on the LEDs while the tune is playing:
Mr Bit rule for duration: The next note will have the same duration, unless you choose a quaver (2 units) or a minim (8 units).
Mr Bit rule for pitch: The next note will have the same octave number, unless you choose the up (á) button or down (â) button.
Download these scores to create more Christmas tunes.