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Converting a Musical Score to a Playable Melody?

Cliff posted about 9 years ago

Music 78

SA_Democrat asks: "As a geek who has recently discovered that he has a voice, I find myself looking for a particular style of software. I've joined a local chorale group, and am often the only bass singer in attendance. This means that I have to puzzle out fairly complicated pieces of music and pick out the melody on a keyboard between rehearsals. As a person who decodes music rather than someone who sight-reads, I find this extraordinarily difficult, especially when managing differing key and time signatures within a given piece. Does anyone have any experience with open-source software that allows the user to enter a piece of music using musical notation, and then plays that piece? I have found an astonishing array of programs that will play MP3, WAV files etc. but have not located anything that uses this more old fashioned method. If possible, the software should understand common notation like time signatures, keys, glissades, and so forth. What does Slashdot recommend?"

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Easy Question. (5, Informative)

students (763488) | about 9 years ago | (#13695328)

There are a wide variety of these programs. I use NoteEdit [berlios.de] . It was very hard for me to install it on my SuSE 9 machine, but it works well. Make sure you have TiMidity [sourceforge.net] server, which is used for playback, installed and running or else NoteEdit will crash as soon as you start it, giving a cryptic error message. Sometimes running TiMidity will interfere with other sounds on my box, which is annoying, so I have to turn it on and off. If you want to print music you've inputed to NoteEdit, you need LaTeX installed. Remember, the commands to convert a LaTeX file to a musical score are:

$ latex filename.tex
$ musixflx filename.tex
$ latex filename.tex

I got this wrong for a while, even with the VERY noticable reminder from NoteEdit.

One of the other programs available is Rose Garden [rosegardenmusic.com] . Rose Garden is more mature but also less intuitive and oriented towards synthesis as opposed to performances.

If you get to be hard-core about editing scores on your Linux box, the best program around for professional score engraving will already be installed on your computer with the LaTeX distribution you aquired for printing the output from NoteEdit. See this Giant Musixtex Manual [icking-music-archive.org] . I often typeset complex mathematics, but I have not yet been able to master musixtex, so good luck there.

Re:Easy Question. (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about 9 years ago | (#13696623)

ROFL

I'm sorry, but just reading that laundry list of problems with the program, I'm thinking that it still needs a bit more work. To sum up:

NoteEdit is a good piece of software except:

1) It's very hard to install on a popular modern distro
2) It requires another piece of software to also be installed and running, otherwise you get an obscure error message and a crash
3) Sometimes running this program will screw up the sound from other programs, you need to restart it until the problem no longer occurs
4) If you want to print, it requires yet another software package to be installed
5) To import previously saved music, you need to type in three commands

Anyway, I just found that funny. Usually when people recommend software, they don't follow it with a huge list of problems.

Re:Easy Question. (4, Insightful)

jrockway (229604) | about 9 years ago | (#13697242)

Problems? This is how UNIX works. One program handles sound. Another program handles typesetting. A third program handles data entry. This allows people to change one component without changing (or reimplementing) the others. It's a good thing. If you write your own typesetting engine, for example, you can still use the same software to edit and play the music. That's pretty cool. And it wouldn't happen if everything was one giant rolled-together piece of software.

As for it being hard to install, Debian didn't seem to have a problem with it. Not my cup of tea (I use emacs + lilypond + timidity), but it's not as bad as you would think. If you're a Windows or Mac user used to having everything under one GUI and one program performing thousands of tasks, it's a change in your workflow. But it's how UNIX works, and this program is not the first to work like this. (Look at any X program. It requires an X server to run. A sound program requiring a sound server is no different! Not every app can use the screen at once, so X manages it. Not every app can use the CPU at once, so the kernel manages that. Not every app can play/record sound/midi at once, so a sound server manages that.)

If there are other problems (with usability, etc.), I think the developers would like to hear about them so they can fix them :) If you know how to code, providing code would be good. That's how OSS works. Whining on slashdot about how something you didn't pay for is hard to use isn't going to get you sympathy or, for that matter, anywhere useful. Be part of the solution, not the problem :)

Re:Easy Question. (1)

students (763488) | about 9 years ago | (#13697776)

3) You don't need to restart anything. You need to turn of timidity server. Once.

5) The three commands are for converting music saved in latex format to DVI for printing. It was a simple matter to write a shell script that can simplify this. Then you can configure noteedit to run the script automatically.

Re:Easy Question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13698332)

Cakewalk

install, print, play, one app, no problems... *THIS* is why windows wins... Linux might be more stable, might be more secure, but I want an OS where I can install software and have it work, not where I have to make it work.

$ latex filename.tex
$ musixflx filename.tex
$ latex filename.tex

to print is unacceptable... CTRL-P works.

Re:Easy Question. (1)

Bjimba (31636) | about 9 years ago | (#13703636)

Except, of course, when Cakewalk freezes up the entire system, or forgets to send MIDI signals like "key off", or any of a million other things this all-in-one app might do wrong. And you'll NEVER KNOW WHY. You'll just reboot and try again.

If you don't know how something works, you're up the creek when it doesn't. That's why I do all my music tasks with Linux.

Re:Easy Question. (1)

Eideewt (603267) | about 9 years ago | (#13699219)

You won't need Timidity if you've got a working hardware MIDI synth, and Noteedit installed easily for me on Debian. So you may have no trouble with it at all. You can use it to export a MIDI or just play back the notes from within the program. Rosegarden is a neat program but Noteedit is simpler and probably a better fit for your needs. If you ever want to produce a printed score I recommend exporting to a Lilypond file and running "lilypond file.ly". Naturally you would need to install Lilypond to do that.

Midi? (3, Informative)

jZnat (793348) | about 9 years ago | (#13695357)

I'm assuming you don't want MIDI despite its wide range of support and whatnot. It is limited, however, so I can see why you'd like something better. Honestly though, have you tried using MIDI? It's decades old and still used widely.

Re:Midi? (2, Informative)

mabinogi (74033) | about 9 years ago | (#13695672)

MIDI is a wire protocol and physical interface for communicating between different instruments. (Musical Instrument Digital Interface)
It has nothing whatsoever to do with notation.

Re:Midi? (1)

jZnat (793348) | about 9 years ago | (#13695780)

Yeah, but there are several MIDI editors that work based on musical notation. I don't remember any offhand, but I do recall working with them before. You could export the score as a MIDI.

Re:Midi? (3, Informative)

bleaknik (780571) | about 9 years ago | (#13696400)

Anvil Studio [anvilstudio.com] was one of my favorite editors... no less than three years ago when I last used it.

You may wish to investigate FInale, although I believe that will cost you a pretty penny these days.

Re:Midi? (4, Insightful)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | about 9 years ago | (#13696548)

MIDI is a wire protocol and physical interface for communicating between different instruments. (Musical Instrument Digital Interface)
It has nothing whatsoever to do with notation.


And MP3 is a compression codec and has nothing to do with music, right?

MIDI is both a wire interface/protocol and a file format; it lends itself to describing music in terms of notes as opposed to waveforms, which is what this guy was asking about.

Re:Midi? (2, Informative)

mabinogi (74033) | about 9 years ago | (#13696904)

MIDI has something to do with Music, but nothing to do with Notation.
It does not describe music as notes, but as events, and has no direct representation of most score notations.

Some (most) Notation editors may well have export to MIDI files, and will probably allow playback via a MIDI device.
Also, most MIDI sequencing software will probably have some sort of notation view for entry. But that still doesn't change the fact that MIDI is not the answer, software that allows entry of Notation, and playback by some (any) means is what he's asking for.

He most probably wants a notation program, like Finale, Sibelius, or Harmony Assistant / Melody Assistant (There's OSS ones too, but I'm not familiar with them) as MIDI sequencers like Cakewalk, Cubase and Logic tend to have fairly poor notation entry capabilities, and you have to make a tradeoff between accurate playback, or correct notation.

OSS Musical Notators (1)

SeanDuggan (732224) | about 9 years ago | (#13711473)

LilyPond [lilypond.org] is a pretty good one, although it has an odd interface for some (text files) and is primarily a TeX interface to create pretty notation, not for playing. Personally, I find that the text input means less fighitng with a GUI to get it to do exactly what you want.

MIDI (0)

ForestGrump (644805) | about 9 years ago | (#13695359)

YOu could make your own MIDI files. open source? i have no idea. But you'll do what you need.

Re:MIDI (1)

ottothecow (600101) | about 9 years ago | (#13699130)

The general standard for doing things like this is one of the finale software packages. The full on yearly releases of Finale are capable of way more though so you would just need to go on ebay and pick up a used copy of Finale PrintMusic or something or you could go here:

http://www.finalemusic.com/notepad/default.aspx [finalemusic.com]

and pick up a FREE copy of finale notepad which isnt really the supreme "composing" software but will work for entry and playback. Unfortunately, the free Finale Notepad doeasnt support scanning IIRC which can be nice (scan in a piece of sheet music and it interprets the notation) though its not so hard to find a copy of Finale 2006 floating around if you look.

Free music notation software (5, Informative)

Ugmo (36922) | about 9 years ago | (#13695382)

For simple songs and melodies there are various utilities that use abc music notation.
Here is a page listing them: http://staffweb.cms.gre.ac.uk/~c.walshaw/abc/ [gre.ac.uk]

This lets you enter music using letters and other utilities will convert it into midi or wav files.

Something similiar and free is the Guido system. It is designed to handle more complicated pieces:
http://www.informatik.tu-darmstadt.de/AFS/GUIDO/ [tu-darmstadt.de]

Another free system is Rosegarden:http://www.rosegardenmusic.com/ [rosegardenmusic.com]

Re:Free music notation software (2)

tonsofpcs (687961) | about 9 years ago | (#13697049)

and for the DOS user in you, you can use the PLAY command in QBASIC or QuickBASIC.

Re:Free music notation software (1)

dan_bethe (134253) | about 9 years ago | (#13701011)

Thanks but there is no DOS user in me. ;->

Re:Free music notation software (1)

tonsofpcs (687961) | about 9 years ago | (#13701037)

Then find a version of BASIC for your OS, most of them have SOUND or PLAY or something similar. If you post your OS and BASIC version, I'm sure someone can reply with the how-to :)

Re:Free music notation software (1)

jonadab (583620) | about 9 years ago | (#13703513)

> and for the DOS user in you, you can use the PLAY command in QBASIC or QuickBASIC

For DOS users there is Pianoman, which is fairly advanced in terms of what it can do, up to and including timesharing the monophonic PC speaker between parts to simulate harmony. Pianoman was *the* way to go for music on the PC, until sound cards came along.

Re:Free music notation software (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13709999)

PLAY can take advantage of a sound card [in some versions] if used properly.
DOS != PC Speaker

Re:Free music notation software (1)

jonadab (583620) | about 9 years ago | (#13711358)

> PLAY can take advantage of a sound card [in some versions] if used properly.

This is the first I have ever heard of this, despite that I have done *substantial* QBasic programming. (The prof in my Data Structures and Algorithm Analysis course told me I did things in QBasic that should not be done [in QBasic]. I used it for all of my assignments for that course, and then proceeded to continue to use it for the bulk of the programming I did for several more years until I learned Perl.)

Are you certain you aren't thinking of QuickBasic?

Denemo (1)

PunkOfLinux (870955) | about 9 years ago | (#13695403)

Denemo is decent, too. Simple to use and has quite a few features, including playback, which i'm not sure is fully working.

Lilypond (3, Informative)

Matt Perry (793115) | about 9 years ago | (#13695410)

This might be more work than you want to do. You can re-enter the music in Lilypond's format [lilypond.org] and then use Lilypond to convert the score to a MIDI file for playback. You can covert a score by doing the following:
lilypond -m score.ly
which should output a MIDI file for you.

As an alternative you can use the ABC format [gre.ac.uk] . You can then use abc2ly to convert to Lilypond format and then use the command above to convert to MIDI. Example:

abc2ly score.abc
lilypond -m score.ly

I know you asked for open-source software, but if you are using a Mac or Windows machine you might want to look at Finale Notepad [finalemusic.com] . It's free and should let you drag and drop notes to recreate the score and then play it back as MIDI.

Re:Lilypond (1)

bcrowell (177657) | about 9 years ago | (#13695973)

You can re-enter the music in Lilypond's format and then use Lilypond to convert the score to a MIDI file for playback.
And if he does that (and the original edition he's working from is public domain), he might want to submit it to Mutopia [mutopiaproject.org] . And in fact, before he does that, he might want to check whether the piece he's learning is already on Mutopia. However, for choral music, CPDL [cpdl.org] seems to be the place that has the most music; unfortunately, they use a proprietary format (Finale).

get a keyboard (1)

marimbaman (194066) | about 9 years ago | (#13695416)

You should think about picking up a cheap digital keyboard, like for ~$50, and learning how the keys correspond to notes. This should be pretty simple compared to wind and brass instruments. Since all you need to do is pick up the pitches, you don't need to actually learn how to play the piano. Think of it as learning to hunt-and-peck, versus actual touch typing.

Plus, you'll then be able to practice anywhere there's a piano, rather than being tied to your computer.

Re:get a keyboard (0, Troll)

jonadab (583620) | about 9 years ago | (#13703559)

> Plus, you'll then be able to practice anywhere there's a piano, rather than being tied
> to your computer.

Oh, yeah, that'd be great, because pianos are so much more common than computers. I mean, sure there are a few computers here and there, but there are pianos in practically every building -- homes, offices, schools, libraries, ... even airport terminals often have pianos, so that travelers can peck out a few notes on the way while they wait for their flights...

Maybe you should learn to sight-sing? (4, Insightful)

jrockway (229604) | about 9 years ago | (#13695442)

I don't think this is a problem that a computer can solve for you. I think you need to learn to sight-sing like everyone else. If you can at least sing major scales, then I think practicing from a book like "Music for Sight Singing" by Robert W. Ottman (ISBN 0-13-189662-8) might be helpful. Knowing "how music works" is essential for singing it -- the notes on the page aren't randomly generated, you know. Therefore, knowing something about music theory would also help you. More than some computer program, anyway.

Anyway, I'm a music minor so maybe I am too much of a purist.

Re:Maybe you should learn to sight-sing? (2, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | about 9 years ago | (#13695685)

> Anyway, I'm a music minor so maybe I am too much of a purist.

You are.

> Knowing "how music works" is essential for singing it -- the notes
> on the page aren't randomly generated, you know. Therefore, knowing
> something about music theory would also help you. More than some
> computer program, anyway.

What's wrong with using the computer as a learning tool? Like the OP, I would like to learn to read music (he's farther along than I am). With the program I am looking for, I could enter bits of notation and see if it means what I think it does. Why would that not be helpful?

When I last looked into this a year or so ago the available tools were either so buggy as to be useless or excessively complex for my purpose (or, in some cases, both)

Re:Maybe you should learn to sight-sing? (3, Informative)

bcrowell (177657) | about 9 years ago | (#13695984)

The OP sounds like he wants to do some pretty serious choral singing. If he wants to do that, it's going to be extremely limiting if he doesn't learn at least a little bit of sight reading. The simplest thing to do would be to enroll in a musicianship course at a community college (typically 1 unit).

Re:Maybe you should learn to sight-sing? (2, Insightful)

gowen (141411) | about 9 years ago | (#13697497)

I agree that some sight-reading is necessary, but it takes a hell of a long time to become really proficient at it. And, in the absence of dedicated teaching, or sufficient skill on an instrument to play it for yourself [which won't help if you can't figure out complicated rhythmic notation], you'll need some method of knowing how it should sound.

Which leads us back to the original question...

Re:Maybe you should learn to sight-sing? (1)

the phantom (107624) | about 9 years ago | (#13698233)

I have been paid to sing a choir for several years now, and my sight reading abilities are crap. I sing Baritone/Bass, and generally either (a) pick up my notes from the chord or (b) take it home and have my gf help me bang it out on a keyboard (she has more talent than I do). Fortunately for me, I can generally learn a piece of music after hearing it only once or twice. I have worked with several people over the years, attempting to learn to sight read. I have had little to know luck. I figure out rythms and time values fairly well, but going up a third or down an octave is damn near impossible for me without hearing it. Those intervals are just not internalized, and nothing I do seems to get them there. So, I see no reason why one should have to read music if one can find another method to learn the music. The point is performance, not methodology.

Re:Maybe you should learn to sight-sing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13695725)

I agree with the parent, taking a year to learn how to read music and basic theory will enable a person to not be a burden to the musicians around him that did take the time to properly learn their art. Don't do something half assed and look for quick fixes, you'll be a hinderance and annoyance. Don't expect people to take you seriously if you yourself do not.

there is no kings road to geometry..

Re:Maybe you should learn to sight-sing? (4, Informative)

bcrowell (177657) | about 9 years ago | (#13695941)

If you can at least sing major scales, then I think practicing from a book like "Music for Sight Singing" by Robert W. Ottman (ISBN 0-13-189662-8) might be helpful.
A free alternative to Ottman: Eyes and Ears [lightandmatter.com]

Re:Maybe you should learn to sight-sing? (1)

jrockway (229604) | about 9 years ago | (#13696862)

Thanks for pointing this out. It looks like it will be an excellent supplement to Ottman. I do like the fact that Ottman has a lot of introductory melodies -- ones that don't have much complex rhythmic aspect to worry about. I don't personally have a problem with sight reading non-trivial rhythms because I've played the flute for many years, but my classmates who are just learning music have enough to worry about regarding the pitches... adding too much complexity too quickly isn't instructional, it's just hard. So I think it would be nice if this book had more simple tunes, but otherwise, it looks great.

Parent is dead on (4, Informative)

Corf (145778) | about 9 years ago | (#13695981)

Several semesters of music theory in college - three hours a week analyzing and two hours a week singing - did amazing things for my sightsinging ability. Go to your local university music department and audit a class, if that's an option. You will learn far more than you thought you would. Before that class, I couldn't find middle C on a piano. Now, I can sing just about any interval you like, up to and including twelve-tone stuff. It ain't just me.

Also in my case, playin' French horn tends to make one need to know this stuff, since the intervals are too close to just mash the keys and hope the right note comes out. :P Singing isn't really too much farther off.

Re:Maybe you should learn to sight-sing? (4, Informative)

fm6 (162816) | about 9 years ago | (#13696187)

Knowing "how music works" is essential for singing it
Nonsense. There was music long before there were books about it. Music is hard-wired into the mammalian brain. The skills you learn from a music teacher is extremely helpful and useful, but music itself is something you're born knowing how to do.

Irving Berlin [wikipedia.org] is a case in point. Despite being a gifted songwriter (literally hundreds of hits), he never learned to read music at all, and only learned to play the piano in one key. Solution: hire somebody to build a special piano that could transpose with the pull of a lever, and somebody else to transcribe the music and songs he created.

OK, not a solution for everybody. And besides, the musical skills you mention are certainly work acquiring. But there are passable technological substitutes. Berlin had no trouble finding them 80 years ago. He'd have even less now.

I'm told that Danny Elfman [wikipedia.org] also resorts to technological substitutes for musical training. But I find his work predictable and repetitive, so never mind.

Re:Maybe you should learn to sight-sing? (2, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | about 9 years ago | (#13696208)

> OK, not a solution for everybody. And besides, the musical skills
> you mention are certainly work acquiring. But there are passable
> technological substitutes.

Like me, the OP appears to be looking for technological learning tools, not technological subsitutes for learning.

Re:Maybe you should learn to sight-sing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13701426)

Music is not hard-wired into our brains. We are able to process a range of sound, but the actual design of music is a linear system created by us humans. Music theory is not a system caused by sound. We have what we call "tempered sound" -- the chromatic scale, which is built up from 12 semi-tones. From those 12 tones we develop music. As for any argument of "perfect pitch" -- that is a learned skill developed from infancy on up.

By the way, Berlin is not an argument worth mentioning. Why you ask? It is because our voice can not be equipped with some "lever" or capo, and this Slashdotter's instrument is his voice.

It is very important to know the theory of music when dealing with other musicians on the performance level. Without it you will almost positively have difficulties; much of the discussions between performing musicians will require a suitable level of theory. It is just the way it is in your typical Western music.

As for using technology for ear training as well as other music areas, it has had outstanding success.

Re:Maybe you should learn to sight-sing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13701876)

Bingo.

A computer will not help your musical progress - in fact, it will almost certainly hinder it. If you want to become a musician, even a part time one, you must do it the hard way, just like the rest of us. Practise singing intervals, identifying them by ear, (minor second, major second, minor third, major third, perfect fourth, augmented fourth, perfect fifth, minor six, major six, perfect octave, etc, etc) and buy a simple piano learning book for adults. Everyone who wants to sing or play an instrument should be able to at least read one clef (be it bass or treble - don't worry about tenor or alto, unless you play bassoon like me).

Once you understand that each note on the staff corresponds to a specific note on the keyboard, it's easy to visualise the intervals in your head, and, thus, be able to sing them. The most important skill for any musician (I believe, anyway) is to be able to play or sing what you hear in your head. You could have the most beautiful melody or most kick ass solo that could put Miles Davis to shame...But if you can't, or don't have the tools and training to realise it, it's worthless.

A tip: When learning intervals, associate common or famous songs with them. A perfect fifth going from a lower pitch to a higher one is like the beginning of the Star Wars theme, and so forth. I find that really helps. Except when you get into the crazy intervals above the octave. Then I'm just hopeless.

Practise, practise, practise. You'll learn in no time.

Re:Maybe you should learn to sight-sing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13704229)

Also, a perfect fourth is the beginning to "Here Comes the Bride." Good mnemonics are very useful for musical intervals.

Re:Maybe you should learn to sight-sing? (1)

gymell (668626) | about 9 years ago | (#13714452)

Interval mnemonics can be helpful, but I've found that for sight-singing it's important to have a good sense of the tonic and the key, and to keep that in mind throughout the piece. That not only helps in sight reading, but also with intonation. If you remember where the tonic is, you don't usually have to think in terms of individual intervals, which in and of themselves have no context. Rather, think of how each note relates to the tonic, and where things resolve. Also, solfeggio can be very useful (you know, "do-re-mi", where "do" is the tonic of the key/mode you're in) because it does just what I described. It also helps with singing in different clefs.

I suggest that you find an intro to music theory course at your local community college, which should provide a basic understanding of keys, intervals, chords, voice leading, sight reading, ear training, etc. I'm not saying that formal music theory is necessarily a prerequisite for being a good musician, but for the type of music you're likely to be singing, will probably make things much easier and more enjoyable than simply learning by rote.

Re:Maybe you should learn to sight-sing? (1)

gymell (668626) | about 9 years ago | (#13714563)

Sorry for the double - another thing I meant to mention is that since you're singing bass (and often by yourself), you're really the foundation on which the rest of the choir depends. Your pitch, which will often be the root of the chord, is what they'll be tuning to, and the root movement in your part is what drives toward cadences. Uncertainty on your part will affect everything above you. This means that a basic knowledge of music theory will help you, and your choir, all that much more!

Re: Maybe you should learn to sight-sing? (1)

gidds (56397) | about 9 years ago | (#13703337)

Seconded.

If you're not sure of the basics, then learn them: read a book, or find a music teacher. There are probably some good resources online, too, of course.

But once you know what the notation means, then it's just a matter of practice. Lots of it! Spend time on your own, note-bashing; attend lots of rehearsals (especially if you're the only voice on your part, coz that forces you to work it out for yourself); get a friend or two to help if necessary.

I speak from experience here. Ever since I was little, sight-reading and sight-singing was always my weak spot; a few years ago I joined an early music group, singing stuff in 5 or 6 parts with one voice to a part. And all the others were good: we'd go through books of stuff, singing pieces only once, unaccompanied, at full speed, in the original languages (mostly Italian, French, Latin, or German), with all the dynamics, ornaments, and other subtleties. Leaving me bobbing along in their wake, desperately trying to keep up. Believe me, after a few months of that, my sight-singing had improved tremendously!

Reading music is like reading text: the more you do, the easier it gets. And singing is the same. (Those are two different skills, I think, but closely related, and practising works for them both.)

Oh, and be thankful you're a bass; tenor is harder! (I'm a baritone, so I sing both; it depends upon the style of music, of course, but in general bass is noticeably easier.)

Face time with the Director (1)

SnailNobra (903090) | about 9 years ago | (#13706589)

I have sung in professional and ametuer choirs also. The one thing that helped me the most was getting a few minutes, maybe fifteen at most, with the director before or after rehearsal to go through the material you haven't mastered yet. Just remember a minor third is the second note of "Mary had a little lamb". Those little musical mnemonics can help a lot. I often jot them onto my score so I can remember particularly tricky passages.

Re:Face time with the Director (1)

jrockway (229604) | about 9 years ago | (#13710115)

The second note of Mary Had A Little Lamb is the second scale degree (starts on 3). The interval between these two notes is a major second. The interval between the first and third notes is a major third. I don't know where this minor third of yours is coming from.

Re:Face time with the Director (1)

SnailNobra (903090) | about 9 years ago | (#13712625)

I was thinking of that after I posted it and figured it was completely wrong. It's been almost 7 years since I did any major chorale singing and I forgot to check my resources. There were so many little things I used to know, but alas, age fades them.

Nothing. (-1, Flamebait)

black mariah (654971) | about 9 years ago | (#13695456)

There is nothing useable on Linux for that sort of thing. Anything you'll run across is buggy and half-assed. I know this, because I've used it all before. Rosegarden MIGHT be useful now, but I doubt it.

The best program I've found for doing what you want is Guitar Pro [guitar-pro.com] . So you have two choices. Either nut up and use a Windows box, or don't do anything.

Re:Nothing. (1, Flamebait)

black mariah (654971) | about 9 years ago | (#13695779)

Whoever modded me flamebait has obviously not actually tried to use any Linux sound software. Three fucking years I used Linux as my only OS, and in that time I found THREE sound apps worth using.

Hydrogen [hydrogen-music.org]
Audacity [sourceforge.net]
Rezound [sourceforge.net]
Those three apps got me through a shitload of home recording. I'm considering doing a small Fedora setup just so I can use Hydrogen again. Nothing else I used was worth the effort it took to get it to the half-assed stage it was at. Rosegarden, Muse, Beast, Ardour... all total shit. If you don't believe me... actually TRY those sometime.

Re:Nothing. (1)

Eideewt (603267) | about 9 years ago | (#13699846)

Despite disagreeing with you minutes earlier and calling you a troll, Hydrogen seems like a pretty cool program; thanks for cluing me in.

Re:Nothing. (1)

Eideewt (603267) | about 9 years ago | (#13699821)

NoteEdit seems pretty good to me. I just entered the Free Software Song into it with no trouble at all, and created an attractive printable version by exporting it as a Lilypond score. It's the easiest Linux program I know of for doing what you want, and NoteWorthy Composer is the easiest Windows program for it. So you have two choices. Either try out some of the programs people are listing, or listen to trolls and don't do anything.

Noteworthy Composer (1)

tonsofpcs (687961) | about 9 years ago | (#13695774)

I used the Noteworthy Composer [noteworthysoftware.com] demo a while back, it is a nice score-based midi editor.

Re:Noteworthy Composer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13731910)

My wife uses Finale, she's a band director. She is usually frustrated with it due to its non-intuitive interface. She's tried a Sibelius demo a while back, loved it, but it's too expensive. So I'm curious, does Noteworthy Composer import from/export to Finale/Sibelius files? Does it scan printed sheet music into an editable file?

Finale!!! (2, Informative)

Keick (252453) | about 9 years ago | (#13695778)

Try Finale at http://www.finalemusic.com/ [finalemusic.com] from Code software.

It will let you enter music note by note, or from a midi keyboard. Best of all, it will let you import sheet music with your scanner, very slick.

I know that at my local college I can pick up the student edition for next to nothing.

Anvil Studio (1)

Rod Beauvex (832040) | about 9 years ago | (#13696084)

Not that I have any real musical ability, but I like to screw around with Anvil Studio [anvilstudio.com] . Not a bad piece of software, and the 20 dollar add ons look fun too.

My take (3, Informative)

SocialEngineer (673690) | about 9 years ago | (#13696291)

As a composer and instrumentalist, I love Rosegarden. I haven't had a chance to produce any major works in it yet, though; I'm still familiarizing myself with it. Regardless, the power of it is incredible.

Only problem is it can be a bit of a hassle to get working. Other than that, I love it.

Most of my recent pieces I have done in Steinberg Cubasis VST (Creative Edition), just because I can use the Sampletank2 Free VST instrument with it (in Windows). If you'd like to hear some of my stuff, you'll have to visit my site and find em' (sorry, gotta save bandwidth, so lazy people aren't just downloading because they have phat pipe :)).

C-64 (0, Redundant)

tsa (15680) | about 9 years ago | (#13696812)

I wrote such a program on my Commodore 64, many years ago.

Try LilyPond (2, Informative)

Michael Duggan (124223) | about 9 years ago | (#13696830)

I have had much the same problem myself. As for me, I use LilyPond [lilypond.org] . Technically, it is a music typesetting program, but has MIDI output capability, primarily for proofing scores. Whenever my wife or I need an accompaniment, I type in the score, and produce MIDI files for voice, accompaniment, and both.

Like TeX, LilyPond uses text input rather than a GUI (although GUIs exist which output in LilyPond format). It is a little awkward at first, but with practice I (and several others) have found that inputting scores is much faster via this method.

"Church oriented people"... (0, Offtopic)

afd8856 (700296) | about 9 years ago | (#13697403)

see subject.

linux-sound.org (2, Informative)

zerblat (785) | about 9 years ago | (#13697404)

Since nobody has mentioned it yet, the best place to find music and sound related software for Linux based systems is Dave Phillips's site linux-sound.org [linux-sound.org] . It lists, among other things, lots of notation software [linux-sound.org] and helpful tools for musicians [linux-sound.org] .

sheet music to midi converter (0, Redundant)

motulist (901974) | about 9 years ago | (#13697588)

I don't have any names, but there are programs out there that convert image files of scanned in sheet music and turns them into midi files that any media software could playback.

to quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13698613)

As a person who decodes music rather than someone who sight-reads

that's like the people that say "I'm not book-smart", trying to diminish the value of what is generally known as "smart", thereby admitting that they are stupid.

learn solfege (2, Informative)

hanwen (8589) | about 9 years ago | (#13698672)

There are some packages for dealing with music (in the sense of notes), like RoseGarden and LilyPond (which I wrote, incidentally). You could use them to enter the score, and then play it back to you over MIDI.

However, I think that improving your solfege skills directly a much better investment of your time, since you won't have to muck around with producing notation. It's something you can practice with a piano, but there is also software. If you run linux you can consider GNU Solfege [solfege.org] . It's got a lot of theoretical stuff that's not useful for a beginning singer, but there are also a lot of practical excercises IIRC.

Breakdown of what is needed (1)

mysticgoat (582871) | about 9 years ago | (#13698762)

As I understand it, what you've got to work with is the bass portion of the musical score, and what you want is to hear it played. Based on this, you've got the following sequence of problems to deal with:

  1. digitize the information on the hardcopy musical score
  2. convert that file to a sound file of some kind
  3. play the result through the computer's speakers

Without a very good, specialized OCR (think big $$$), the initial digitizing is going to have to be by hand. I recall looking at a plain text notation system developed maybe in 1930s or 1950s for guitarists who didn't know musical notation. Notes were entered as A-G with sharp and flat symbols and a number for duration. Since bass lines tend not to have a lot of trills and complexities, it would probably be easy to transcribe from the music sheet into a text file using this system. I cannot recall the name of the system or even think of a good search term, sorry.

I do recall that there was at least one freeware music editor from the early 1990s that could read these text files and would generate a simple MIDI file as output. Again I don't recall any names, sorry. Also it was DOS software so I doubt that it would be relevant today.

There are any number of freeware MIDI handlers out there that would take care of actually playing the result.

Have you given any thought to looking for a free library of music that would have the pieces you are singing? It might be easier to locate mpgs or whatever and use the playback software to filter out everything but the bass portion.

In any event, probably the easiest approach is the low tech one: ask someone in your music group if they would mind playing the bass line for you on a piano or organ. That could also give your director a chance to clarify what *he* wants from you, which might well be a bit different from the original score.

HTH

bass singer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13700098)

> and am often the only bass singer in attendance

Wait. I'm not an expert on the preparation of fish, but my guess is that you're the only one that singes your bass because everyone else knows it tastes better unsinged. Try lowering cooking at a lower temperature or at least lower the flames a bit.

Yes, I'm a homophonic rat bastard. ;-)

Software that supports musical notation & play (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13700692)

Check out here: here. [acadiau.ca] Personally I use guitar pro 4: -supports wide range of instruments -import/export midi -pretty easy to use -mysongbook.com has a massive archive of pretty much any song I want -supports musical notation and guitar tab -gp5s software processing sounds AWESOME Sibelius is a music program that keeps getting highly recommended to me. I tried it once. I don't mind it, don't like it as much as gp4. I think this is because I'm just used to GP.

Music recognition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13701468)

I may be wrong, but I think what you're looking for is categorized under "Optical Music Recognition."

Try the following: http://www.music-notation.info/en/compmus/omr.html [music-notation.info]

Optical Music Recognition (2, Interesting)

Paul Lamere (21149) | about 9 years ago | (#13702952)

There's a nice table of OMR programs (some free, some commercial) maintained by Don Byrd of the School of Music at Indiana University: OMR Systems [iu.edu] .

For fun, Don also maintains the Extremes of Conventional Music Notation [iu.edu] where he records the extremes found in written music. Some interesting excerpted tidbits:

  • softest pppppppp (8 p's) in Ligeti's Etudes for Piano, 1st Book
  • loudest ffffffff (8 f's) in Ligeti: Etudes for Piano, 2nd Book, (the 1812 overture only reaches ffff)
  • Instruments to be played by one performer in a piece - *Mahler: Symphony no. 5 calls for one clarinetist playing six different instruments.
  • Most repeated notes in a melody - 32 in Prokofieff: Toccata, Op. 11 (1912)

There are many others, quite interesting.

Re:Optical Music Recognition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13709821)

We all know that dynamics are relative.

Obvious (1)

justforaday (560408) | about 9 years ago | (#13703888)

I'm going to go with the obvious answer (which has already been stated several times), which is just to plain old learn to read music. Sure, a computer can aid in that process to some degree, but really, your best bet is sitting down with the music, a pianoish instrument, and learn to play out the lines and sing along with them. If you're only dealing with the bass lines, it's not like you'll need to be terribly proficient at piano playing to do this.

time signatures and keys (1)

justforaday (560408) | about 9 years ago | (#13704006)

Also, something that the original parent mentioned that is being neglected by nearly every comment is that choral music often has odd time and key changes thrown in from time to time. Not necessarily your typical 4/4 with a measure of 3/4 thrown in, but oftentimes 4/4 switching to 5/8 to 7/8 to 3/4 back to 4/4 (yeah, a somewhat extreme example, but still...things can easily get far more complicated than that). Throw in a key change or two during all of that and you'll easily get lost in some basic program that doesn't have good facilities for these sorts of changes. You'll end up spending more time dealing with the program than you would dealing with the music. If the time changes alone are enough to throw you for a loop, sit down with a tape recorder and clap and count out the rhythms (yeah, basic intro to music theory type stuff). Again, the solution will most likely be a low tech one based around learning the basics. You don't walk up to a writer and say "I don't write good. Do you know of a computer program that will make me write like Shakespeare?" (Or to put it in geek terms, "I don't care about learning programming fundamentals, but I want to write an app that does x, y, and z.")

Why is OSS so important? (1)

MooseTick (895855) | about 9 years ago | (#13705446)

I understand that noone wants to pay $500 for a piece of software for most hobbies. I don't understand why people are always looking exclusively for free software. Often there are packages for $20-50 that exactly fill the needs of what people are asking. I have seen several packages that fill this need in that price range. While it is true that he won't be able to modify them, they meet the needs of what he is asking.

Don't get me wrong. OSS is cool and is changing the way people think about software. I just don't think that it should always be a crucial factor when looking for software to solve a problem.

Re:Why is OSS so important? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13708111)

open formats that is why

Software interpretting the music, musically (1)

tjwhaynes (114792) | about 9 years ago | (#13705635)

I remember fondly Sibelius on the Acorn Archimedes. This was not only a great platform to write music on, it had some ability to actually interpret the music and "perform" it, phrasing the music as a human performer might with emphasis on the lead-in to phrases, accelerating subtly through runs of notes and so forth. If I remember rightly, it was even used to perform (at a concert) a piece by Ligeti which was deemed too hard for a human player to play.

Now if anyone knows of any open-source software which can musically perform, I'd be interested. Most computer playback has all the nuance of a calculator.

Cheers,
Toby Haynes

Learn to sightread, you jerk. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13716240)

see subject

How about this? Learn how to sight read... jeez.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13717804)

As a geek who has recently discovered that he has a voice, I find myself looking for a particular style of software. I've joined a local chorale group, and am often the only bass singer in attendance. This means that I have to puzzle out fairly complicated pieces of music and pick out the melody on a keyboard between rehearsals. As a person who decodes music rather than someone who sight-reads, I find this extraordinarily difficult, especially when managing differing key and time signatures within a given piece.

How about this: just learn how to sight read. You're simply avoiding the inevitable by using technology as a crutch. What did musicians do for hundreds of years before computers? They read the scores. Maybe not perfectly the first time, but very, very few sight read well enough to play it perfectly right off. Considering numerous different fingerings or techniques that could be used on a given instrument, vocalists really have it pretty easy.

You're basically asking this group for a speech synthesizer that you can load a book into because you're too lazy to learn how to read. But even the best speech synthesizer can't simulate the nuance of phrasing and tone of the best orators. Don't be a lazy whiner: learn how to sight read.

OCR the score (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13772231)

I understand your question as to how read a score in and make the computer play the music that is encoded in the score:

I just have found a software made by an austrian company that scans in a score and parses the score (OCR for music scores) and then (after possible corrections) play it back or export it as midi or ...

Look here : http://www.vivaldistudio.at/ [vivaldistudio.at] Sorry, description seems to be in german only.
Good luck

Disclaimer: I did not test this software, I just read the description.
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