Free music composition software
larienna

Many years ago, I tried to find a music composing software that would allow non-musician with no keyboard dexterity to compose music. But my search were unsuccessful. It seem that the solution was only to wait.

10 years later, not only there are many software that does the job, but there is actually an open source version of these software called "MuseScore"

http://musescore.org/en

I gave it a try a few weeks ago and it gave interesting results. That could be a solution for those who want to make their own music for their video games.

Arthur Kalliokoski

I tried the Windows version for a few minutes, a bit confusing at first, but I got it to play a C scale. Not bad!

Bob Keane

I got it a while back. It took a bit of learning, but seems okay. I haven't used it for sometime.

larienna

There are video tutorial on their site that seems to teach the basics pretty well.

Tobias Dammers

Isn't musescore for writing, well, scores? If you just want to make something that sounds nice, you're better of with a tracker, a loop-based audio something, or even a DAW suite.

Ardour is very powerful, professional-grade, and free, but being a professional tool, it has quite a learning curve; and you'll have to combine it with something that produces actual sounds - instrument plugins, jackd sound generators, etc.

There's also LMMS, but I have no idea what the status of that one is. I haven't tried it, but from what I read, see and hear, it looks like it's less professional than ardour, but also easier to get started with, especially if you don't have a background in audio recording.

Gideon Weems

The installation of Ardour fails for me, as aptitude recommends uninstalling the very packages Ardour depends on... ?

MuseScore is nice. ModPlug Tracker is, too. I use the original open source release, before the groundlings got a hold of it. I'm still waiting for a Linux IT tracker that doesn't think early 90's paradigms are the pinnacle of interface design. ::)

jhuuskon

Free music programs have always and will always suck. If a free program stops sucking, it'll also stop being free.

Johan Halmén

MuseScore is for writing scores. Although it creates good sounding wav files, too, depending on what soundfonts you use. I've even imported midi files into MuseScore and exported it to a wav file without almost any changes. I write all my scores with MuseScore, though I could use Encore or even Sibelius, too. If I would earn my living writing scores, I'd immediately switch to Sibelius. I depend on Encore only because I have hundreds of Encore files that I still need occasionally.

Making music is never straight forward. You have to define what you want to create. There has to be an idea. And there has to be an end product. Is the end product a sound file or a midi file? Or a file in some other format? Maybe some music snippets that can be concatenated dynamically according to the gameplay? Is the principal idea a tune that you want to arrange? Should the end product contain recorded audio where you sing or play some instruments? Or do you want to click each note on its place or glue together 1, 2 or 4 bar loops on different tracks to create the audio? Creating a tune using a loop library is not always very "creative". You are forced to use already composed snippets and already composed chord progressions etc.

Here's something I found: http://soundation.com/studio
(There's probably not very much you can do without a premium account.)

Tobias Dammers

The installation of Ardour fails for me, as aptitude recommends uninstalling the very packages Ardour depends on... ?

Dunno, worked fine for me. Both the version from debian and the one I compiled myself.

jhuuskon said:

Free music programs have always and will always suck. If a free program stops sucking, it'll also stop being free.

Wow. Such wisdom.

type568

Wow. Such wisdom.

Yeah I'm also amazed. Guess I should quit using Netbeans, and I should uninstall VLC immediately. Oh God, and I'm afraid now I'll end up being stuck with IE :-/

larienna

I tried using trackers but it seemed very complex and the lack of instrument library was very frustrating.

Else, back then most software were time based, so you have to input the notes with a musician's dexterity which I did not have. Now with musescore, I can wait after each note and I can adjust the note after placing it which is good for me since I do not have yet enough practice to know how each note sound.

As for the format, considered it's already instrumentalized, saving it as a MIDI and play it with DIGIMID, or as OGG could be perfect for video games. If you want to add special effects (like echo), then I imagine you could use WAV and convert it as MP3 for the finished product but making larger files.

The only drawback so far is that it use real music notation which I do not entirely know because I am not a musician. But that is something that could be learned eventually. It's not like if the documentation was lacking. Not all symbols would also need to be learned.

The other thing is that the instrument back does not seem to match the 256 midi instrument. So the selection of instrument might be more limited, but I am not really sure.

Johan Halmén

Commercial programs have always and will always suck. I never lose my nerves, when a free program fails for any reason. But when a commercial program, for which I've paid money, fails, I get annoyed to an extent that prevents my creativity from flourishing.

Mordredd

For quite some time we are using Ardour for music recording on top of the JACK audio server in our band, which works great. Of course, this is a professional program, so you need to get into it, but once you get the hang of it it is not that hard. However, Ardour is not available for Windows. For now, I got so used to it, I decided I better donate the money to the Ardour project for development that I would have spent otherwise for buying some crap proprietary software.

For stunningly real drum beats you can use the Hydrogen sequencer which comes with high quality drum samples (also on top of JACK). Check out the AcousticsKit samples, you need to switch over to them manually after you have created a new project. Of course, you can make your own or import samples in order to make any music you want. Again, on Windows, Hydrogen apparently is very buggy, but runs perfectly reliable on any free OS.

jhuuskon

I didn't know netbeans qualified as music software.

Mark Oates
jhuuskon said:

Free music programs have always and will always suck. If a free program stops sucking, it'll also stop being free.

Well I agree. :-/ I think eventually things will turn around, but for the time being this is the case.

Michael Faerber

For the sake of completeness, may I kindly propose Lilypond. It is the LaTeX of music score creation, and you can also create MIDI files with it. That said, it does not come with a GUI, so if this is not your cup of tea, then move along, please.

I have used it in several projects to create music scores and have been very happy with it. Usually, however, I drafted my pieces on paper before setting them with Lilypond.

Mark Oates

I give mad props to the developers of Lilypond. It's impressive work and attention to detail. It does take some work and tweaks if you want to get the output "just right" but the cool thing is that it can actually do that.

Finale, Sibelius, MuseScore, Notion all produce good output. But something lacks for each. Finale notation comes out a little bit too sterile, Sibelius scores have the appearance of being a little too proud of themselves, MuseScore's looks like a noob, while Notion outputs like a talented college freshman.

Nothing looks as good as engraving, though.

video

It may have something to do with the way the ink bleeds in micrometers after pressing; I've even gone as far as envisioning a ink/paper physics simulation to see if I could get it all to look just right. But, LilyPond is just close enough to it that I'd be happy with all music being set in Lilypond for the rest of existence. In the notation composition programs I've written so far, I output to Lilypond for printing.

gnolam

Finale, Sibelius, MuseScore, Notion all produce good output. But something lacks for each. Finale notation comes out a little bit too sterile, Sibelius scores have the appearance of being a little too proud of themselves, MuseScore's looks like a noob, while Notion outputs like a talented college freshman.

If this is what people care about instead of usability, it's no wonder that all music software sucks. :P

Gideon Weems

Hahaha... touché touché touché

... Can you see the "é?" Because I can't.

touché

EDIT: Woah, post form only.

Mark Oates
gnolam said:

If this is what people care about instead of usability, it's no wonder that all music software sucks. :P

For professionals, music publishing is about quality.

larienna

I just had an idea about music composition for non-professional. When I listened to the "master of magic" sound track, I have realized that most of the music are actually short samples of less than 30 seconds.

The reason why is that you have 3 long music, for the main screen, which gets interrupted by short event musics through the game. This ways, it prevent the need to compose a lot of music. It might not be suitable for all type of video games, but for strategy games, it could work.

Another thing they did is they made a unique 15 seconds intro for each character and then stick the same combat music afterward. I don't really like the idea, but it's another methods to have variety with little work.

So non-musician, could use similar techniques to reduce the amount of music composition required for their game without being too much noticeable that there is only 1 music for the whole game.

beoran

That's the idea behind trackers.

http://www.milkytracker.org/

Milkytacker is a nice open source tracker. If you take some time to learn it, you too can make decent enough music with it.

Michael Faerber

If you would like to try something tracker-like, I warmly recommend SunVox. This is a powerful tracker with an incredibly cool interface.

Todd Cope

Reminds me of Buzz.

Tobias Dammers
gnolam said:

If this is what people care about instead of usability, it's no wonder that all music software sucks.

Actually, LilyPond leads the board in terms of usability if you ask me. It doesn't have a fancy GUI like the rest of the pack (in fact, it doesn't have a GUI at all), but then, the GUI of every other music notation solution is horrible (violates every UI convention on any given platform, requires truckloads of repetitive manual work, what you see isn't quite what you get, etc. etc.) and utterly non-customizable. With LilyPond at least I can use my favorite text editor and get lightning-fast precise input for free, together with a whole zoo of scriptable text processing tools that I can hook into my editor, a makefile, or whatever I need.

And I maintain, not all music software sucks. Ardour is pretty damn awesome, though not entirely on par with expensive proprietary solutions (ProTools, Logic, what have you) - but then, those cost an arm and a leg, and you never know when support is going to cease and you'll have to cough up for the next version, and then you have to pray your stuff still works. Jack is a heavenly gift, absolute awesomeness, and I have yet to see something comparable on Windows or Mac (although I hear Jack does run on those, I doubt the experience is really the same). Linux itself (the kernel) is also quite a powerful beast; with realtime patches applied, it can deliver ~2 ms latencies over USB, with hardware that maxes out at 20 ms on Windows. The Calf and Invada plugin suites are pretty damn good; the UI is kind of spartan, but they sound nice. Linuxsampler, while kind of buggy, does sound great.

What I really miss is:

  • A killer session manager library to end the bickering and clumsiness - ideally, I want something that fires up all the programs I use in concert for one project, make them reload their state, and then connect everything in Jack. Lash is supposed to solve at least part of this, but not everything supports lash, and I haven't really gotten it to work reliably.

  • A decent MIDI sequencer. Everything I've tried so far is either a usability disaster (rosegarden, ardour's MIDI support, ...), an amateurish pile of bug-ridden feces (won't call names here), horribly under-featured, or a step sequencer. I'll just have to make something myself some day - how hard can it be?

  • A better selection of good plugins, especially instruments. I'd probably even pay for those.

Johan Halmén

It doesn't have a fancy GUI like the rest of the pack (in fact, it doesn't have a GUI at all)

I bet you use a command line version of Gimp, too.

Mark Oates

I bet you use a command line version of Gimp, too.

Only through a shell script. ;D

Jeff Bernard

Going with trackers, I still like pxtone. It only comes with basic instruments, but there's tool that come with it so you can make your own. Or you can grab instruments that other people've made. I made some cool tracks back in the day, not sure if I've still got them anywhere, though. It's been a while since I've done anything musical, there's actually a lot of good free royalty-free music out there.

Gideon Weems

Haha, that's the guy who made Cave Story. I like pxtone. It's fun cranking out tunes with it, but the format itself pales in every aspect compared to modules.

larienna

Trackers are probably way too complex for people with no knowledge about music. When I compare a tracker interface with a music score in interface, the music score interface learning curve seems much smaller.

Another problem with trackers is the lack of instrument bank since they must be supplied yourself compared to general midi and sound fonts that comes with their instruments that you just select from a list.

Gideon Weems

Very, very true. You can only get comfortable with trackers after overcoming those two obstacles.

Once you do, however, it's smooth sailing. I used to find tracker notation absurd. Now, I feel the opposite: Rows and columns are extremely intuitive in terms of rhythm.

If I remember correctly, the interface of pxtone blends the two schools of thought rather well--and there's a cute, little chicky to top it all off. :) If you're looking to get used to tracking, you might want to give it a try.

Jeff Bernard
larienna said:

Trackers are probably way too complex for people with no knowledge about music. When I compare a tracker interface with a music score in interface, the music score interface learning curve seems much smaller.

I've always felt trackers have pretty simple interfaces. They're just keyboards, after all.

gnolam
larienna said:

Trackers are probably way too complex for people with no knowledge about music. When I compare a tracker interface with a music score in interface, the music score interface learning curve seems much smaller.

Tracker notation is entirely straightforward. Sheet music notation takes a ton of theory to grok.

Bruce Perry

I've always sworn by NoteWorthy Composer, although perhaps not in isolation.

It's great if you want to meticulously enter every note (although of course you can copy and paste). That lends itself to the same level of detail that classical composers went to; you can end up with a composition without a single note out of place. This is in contrast to typical sequencing software where you define blocks of notes that later get visualised as black boxes and can then be copied around and transposed and so on. If you're not careful with those programs, you can end up with a loop that sounds cool, and then you decide you want a new chord and you do it, but the melodic elements of the loop don't get joined up properly. For example.

It's also nice to have everything presented clearly in musical notation, rather than either glorified hex (trackers) or hidden away inside black boxes (typical sequencers). If you're trying to get multiple parts to sound good together, you never have to memorise what you've written for the other parts, because it's right there.

Another thing that's nice about NoteWorthy Composer is that it doesn't contain any 'magic'. Everything you do feels well specified and predictable, just like in programming. Also, for the most part, everything you do is specified directly on the source data; you never make a tweak on anything 'generated' and then find it gets horribly disrupted when you change something. This all makes me trust it more than I would trust Sibelius (possibly the only giant I've tried in fairness).

There are downsides. It always seems to lack those one or two little extra things you want. For me, the main things still missing (that I can think of) are trills, 8ve marks and n-tuplets where n isn't 3. (Multi-bar rests were recently added; double accidentals were added not long after we first bought it.) Development of new features is always very slow.

It does have a human-readable text format and user tool support though, so if you get into it, there are usually ways to hack the features you want. Before multi-bar rests were added, I still managed to download a font with the necessary symbols, and write my own tool to fake them.

Finally, the developer has always been exceedingly generous with how long the licences last. My mum bought it for me nearly 20 years ago, and I've only ever had to buy one upgrade. I don't think we've spent more than $50 or $60 in total.

If you're aiming to produce printed music, NoteWorthy Composer certainly gets the job done with the caveats described above. If you're aiming to produce computer music, then its playback (and MIDI export feature) supports all the articulations (staccato etc.) and does so very consistently. It's mechanical but at the same time rather well tuned, so, if you're just getting started, it will give you something pretty nice and solid - as if the performers involved have flawless technique. But if you want to make it sound expressive, then it doesn't really do it. I have in mind that next time I want to do that sort of thing, I will probably plan it all in NoteWorthy Composer and then use some other methodology to make a performance of it. The first thing I'll try is using my MIDIBoard with the East West virtual orchestra, but it'll be interesting to see if I end up with shoddy timing and unreliable articulation that way.

[EDIT]
Mark, do you have an opinion on the look of the printed page with this one?

beoran

Hey, that sunvox seems brillliant, as does the rest of this guy's software. Thanks for the tip.

Mark Oates

Mark, do you have an opinion on the look of the printed page with this one?

You make me not want to say something bad 'cause you seem to like it so much. ;D

I'm trying to find some examples to look at. Do you have a PDF example of some relatively complex notation?

[edit]Oh neat, there's an exporter for NoteWorthy Composer to LilyPond.

Bruce Perry

No, please speak your mind :) Having thought about it, I think the printed stuff looks a bit clinical compared to professional editions of stuff; but I'm not familiar with the printed look of any other software.

I guess you could download the viewer and try printing one of the samples? I don't have any PDFs to hand...

[EDIT]
Actually wait - at the risk of dredging up a sad memory though... https://www.allegro.cc/forums/thread/599306/795906#target

[EDIT 2]
Since I did that score, they've added support for collapsing systems that don't contain any notes for a while. They also have a feature for compressing all the semiquavers together so that the timpani roll looks less spacious. Of course, actual trill notation is still missing.

LennyLen
gnolam said:

Tracker notation is entirely straightforward. Sheet music notation takes a ton of theory to grok.

I agree. I've had enough musical education that I can read music, and can pick up most instruments and play basic pieces, but I can't compose anything using classical notation. I've created several pieces of music using tracker software however, (especially back in the Atari ST/Amiga 500 days) and it was very easy.

Bruce Perry

Surely they both have advantages. Traditional musical notation gives you a visual up and down contour you don't get with trackers. It also gives you extra semantic information such as key signatures, a choice between F# and Gb, a choice between two-groups-of-three and three-groups-of-two...

Maybe it's like comparing English and Chinese. Chinese is harder to learn because there are more symbols, but you can then lose the language-processing part of your brain and still understand it, because you form a direct association from the pictures to the things they mean.

Tobias Dammers

I bet you use a command line version of Gimp, too.

No; image editing is one of those things where a mouse-driven GUI is actually appropriate. I also use ardour, which also has a very mouse-heavy GUI; it makes sense for audio editing. But for music notation, I prefer a source-code-compiler setup a la LaTeX, because it gives me full control and allows me to work on the actual data structures instead of taking the detour via the graphical representation. There are actually quite a few things about lilypond that annoy me, so I wrote my own... it's not quite there yet, and I'll have to rewrite it from scratch some time, now that I have developed my Haskell skills a bit more...

LennyLen said:

but I can't compose anything using classical notation.

Nobody can. You compose music in your head, most likely with frequent feedback from playing it on a convenient instrument like a piano or guitar. Classical notation is merely a vehicle to write it down so you don't forget it. The misconception stems from the fact that many composers like to write down their ideas and such while they work, but you "use" classical notation to compose things about as much as a poet "uses" the latin alphabet to write poems.

That said, being fluent in traditional music notation is definitely an advantage for a composer, because it means you can easily fixate what you have so far - but it is not a substitute for good musical intuition and composition skills.

Raidho36

There was aleady milkytracker suggestion, so I just second it.

Don't bother with LMMS. Last time I checked it, it was garbage, and windows version would consistently crash and forget settings. If you're not afraid of Flash and actual hardware stylized interface, then use http://audiotool.com/app . If you own touchscreen device and midi keyboard, then you can actually play your music the way you would do with real hardware, with minus, well, real hardware in your hands.

Tobias Dammers
Raidho36 said:

Don't bother with LMMS. Last time I checked it, it was garbage, and windows version would consistently crash and forget settings.

You do realize that the "L" in "LMMS" is for "Linux", right? Because this means that a windows version (which I am surprised to hear even exists) is probably an afterthought and a second-class citizen at best. If anything, my complaint about LMMS would be that it doesn't integrate into the rest of the Linux audio ecosystem as nicely as other solutions do.

Raidho36

I had Linux and it was trash there, but it worked. With windows it didn't even let me write a dozen of notes dare I pick the wrong one plugin to generate sound.

Admittedly, LMMS is a cheap Fruity Loops clone, that is a clone of a program that was garbage to begin with.

Dizzy Egg
Raidho36 said:

clone of a program that was garbage to begin with

NOOB.

Also, has anyone mentioned ModPlugTracker yet? I used to use it for game music, sounds very FF7.

Chris Katko

FL Studio is fairly cheap and I've been using that for years. Honestly, if you're serious enough about writing music that doesn't make people's ears bleed, then you're serious enough to at least spend a little money on your hardware/software to get an ASIO compatible setup and software/synth patches that don't suck complete ass.

Here is an example of one of my last songs (before my back went out and took a break from music) with FL Studio.

media player
(Warning: Severely draft quality vocals! I suck.)

The song uses my ~$100 acoustic guitar, a free bass with a broken neck, synths/drum patchs, and a $1 microphone I got from a church sale. Recording is with an Audigy ZX 2 and FL Studio 8 XXL that I got for ~$150 on sale.

p.s. I also lost a ton of my music to a harddrive failure a week or two ago. :'( BACKUP YOUR STUFF.

Dizzy Egg

Whilst I appreciate that you've clearly put this together with craft, and as an FLStudio connoisseur, and also whilst not receiving the best response for my OWN music made in said software, I think it could have been better in places in order to support my slating of Radio or whatever he's called (na-na-nana-na), circular panning laws and the knowledge that reverbs are just mental delays, along with the science of compression/eq, could have made this pound a bit more, and fit the 3-4 bands into their proper slot.

That said, some of my stuff is proper shit, and 99.9% of the time I sample my vocals, and I also synth/step-sequence EVERYTHING (no guitars here), so I have to give you props on this song, good work.

Edgar Reynaldo

It's cool Chris, but the opening section is choppy until the guitars come in. I like the rhythms in the voice and keyboard though. Just fix the opening... :/

gnolam

I just tried out MuseScore. And I can't tell if it's a case of "all music program UIs suck" or "all open source UIs suck". :P

Chris Katko
gnolam said:

or "all open source UIs suck".

If you find one that doesn't, I'd sure be surprised. It seems like that's the last thing to be implemented or refined (if at all) so people in the OSS community become super attached to the "it's hard to learn but it's super easy if you weren't so stupid" elitism.

It's like suggesting UI improvement to Dwarf Fortress. They'll burn you at the stake even though it's a pathetic pain in the ass to do military management so much so that third-party tools have been made just for that purpose. So third party tools exist to patch the problem, but saying "there's a problem" gets you yelled at. It's like trying to argue with a bowel of spaghetti.

Dizzy Egg

Listen, I want to end things here by saying I made all of this with FLStudio and Windows Movie Maker, and if you don't like it you can certainly inform me of that, but I think to date it's my best work (in 'this' field), I mean, I get paid a shiteload to work my arse of 6 days a week but still...wait what am I doing? Oh yeah, check out this song/video I made, it's great ;D 8-)

video

Johan Halmén
gnolam said:

I just tried out MuseScore. And I can't tell if it's a case of "all music program UIs suck"

Could anyone elaborate a bit more on the "all music program UIs suck". I mean, is there some common idea about how the UI in music programs should be, and no music program follows that idea? And why does no one create such UI for a music program? Or is it so that no "generic" rules for good UI can be applied on music programs? Or is it so that everyone believes that there could exist an ideal UI for music programs, but no one has yet discovered it?

Music score writing is difficult. I bet Lilypond does a good job, when the end product is in concern. And personally I like MuseScore a lot, when doing the editing in a GUI. But that again depends very much on what kind of score I write. Lately I've been writing for a mixed choir, where I write soprano and alto parts in two different voices on the treble staff, and similarly for tenor and bass in the bass staff. And switching between the voices while editing is a great pain. Though I know I could decrease the pain by using programmable hot keys. Then again, if I only want to write a single staff song melody with lyrics and guitar chords, MuseScore works like a charm.

Raidho36

it's a pathetic pain in the ass to do military management

That's by design, it's just you don't get it right. Just like ASCII graphics is by design. If there's a third party tools is because players were too lazy to play fair, like DiabloII users have maphack and such - it's just players who use it are way too pussy to rely on themselves, particularry with DII is when there's chances to actually lose their character if they fuck up. So all of this is anyones' problem but the game's. ;D.

All music composition interfaces suck, period. Mankind yet to find a decent pattern there. So far there's actual music composition hardware (keyboads, samplers, etc) and there's electonic tracker interfaces and legacy-stuck track & notes layout, which track part is fairly OK but notes part always suck really hard. That's probably because some smartass decided it would be convenient to replace numerical representation with narrow bar which position you'd have to track across the screen with high precision, and for some reason at a time every single interface designer decided to follow that idiotic pattern. The programs also hide all the possible modifiers to your sound deep within niggaz' ass. And some programs have knobs you want simultaneously on different tabs that you can't have both opened. Like, why would you want spin these knobs, leave them alone. Classic trackers had notes and tracks combined, so that was both benefitical and inconvenient at the same time, everyone knows that. As for real hardware, you'd wish you had 8 hands like a spider.

Edgar Reynaldo

Anyone who thinks military management in DF is efficient or effective or useful is out of their bloody mind. :P

gnolam

Could anyone elaborate a bit more on the "all music program UIs suck". I mean, is there some common idea about how the UI in music programs should be, and no music program follows that idea?

There are common ideas about how UIs in general work. But for some reason, every single music-related program out there feels it needs to come up with its very own widgets and UI paradigms.

Where "all music program UIs suck" and "all open source UIs suck" really intersect is in the propensity to make really shitty usability decisions and then stalwartly defending them instead of listening to user criticism ("Wow, a lot of people are criticizing how [feature] works/are requesting [workflow]. Let's write a condescending post defending our current ways instead of implementing it!"). Like for example MuseScore's developers thinking that the right thing to do if a user increases a note's duration is to delete following notes in the bar.

I'll finish with Korval's old quote:

Korval said:

Anytime anyone says "once you get used to it, it is really powerful," that almost always translates to, "The interface was clearly designed by retarded monkeys; is poorly, and cryptically, documented; and you'll never use most of that power anyway."

Bruce Perry

Wow, Korval :)

Johan Halmén
gnolam said:

Like for example MuseScore's developers thinking that the right thing to do if a user increases a note's duration is to delete following notes in the bar.

What would the logical alternatives be?

  • shift all following notes to the right in the whole score

  • shift the notes to the right only in one bar, deleting notes at the end of the bar

  • changing the time signature at the bar to fit the changed note duration

  • do nothing, it's the user's responsibility to count all notes and rests to make them even up

I can't come up with a better alternative. I remember my Encore did something like the last alternative. Except it usually corrupted the whole file.

gnolam

shift all following notes to the right in the whole score

We have a winner!
Editing one element should not be destructive to other elements. That's about as basic as it gets.

Jeff Bernard
Raidho36 said:

That's by design, it's just you don't get it right.

Ok, so since it was designed to be like that, it doesn't suck.

Quote:

All music composition interfaces suck, period.

The interfaces are by design, so they don't suck.

SiegeLord
gnolam said:

Editing one element should not be destructive to other elements.

Not entirely sure how screwing up the positions of every single note after the inserted one counts as non-destructive. What Musescore does is a very sensible compromise, minimizing the disruption that is caused by a change in an inherently positional set of elements.

In terms of UIs in general, I wonder where are these mythical perfect commercial GUIs. No commercial program I (occasionally) use has anything thats remotely perfect (this includes Matlab, Visual Studio, MS Office, Windows Explorer).

Incidentally, I found Musescore (with its classical notation) to be a lot easier to use than a free-form tracker. It's like using a programming language vs writing assembly. The structure that the classical notation adds (and classical notation is easily learned, speaking as somebody who has had no formal introduction to it) makes composing melodies a lot easier.

gnolam
SiegeLord said:

Not entirely sure how screwing up the positions of every single note after the inserted one counts as non-destructive.

Because no information is lost, which is the difference between destructive and non-destructive editing.
Change the note back, and everything after it falls back into place. Or shorten another (e.g. the followng) note, and everything after it falls back into place.

The current system is only good if you a) are only using the program to transcribe an already fully written score (in which case you could be using Lilypond or, heck, raw MusicXML) and b) never ever make mistakes (or, for that matter, never decide to mess around with the timing of anything).

Mark Oates

One realization that I quickly arrived at is that these "Music Composition Programs" are not at all designed for classical music composition, they're designed for notation. It's like the difference between Adobe Illustrator and Windows Paint. As a composer, you want to do inversions, transformations, fit melodies into different scalar contexts, slice and re-contextualize, and none of that is native to the interface.

One simple example of what has been wrong, why is a "measure" the thing that contains the notes? Measures are more like the lines on graph paper, they help tell you where you are but shouldn't be in charge of containing anything. The reason we get into debates about... if notes should be pushed back or deleted or should a measure's time signature be re-adjusted... is because the musical content isn't in the correct context in the first place; we're trying to fit the musical concepts as viewing them through notation.

Protip: Here's a snippit from the score to Up, broken into two relevant musical cells. The red arrow shows how the cell anchors to the measure grid (in this case it's attached to beat 1).
{"name":"607601","src":"\/\/djungxnpq2nug.cloudfront.net\/image\/cache\/c\/a\/ca2fe8f86750e241c63428b655cae296.png","w":431,"h":84,"tn":"\/\/djungxnpq2nug.cloudfront.net\/image\/cache\/c\/a\/ca2fe8f86750e241c63428b655cae296"}607601
Now, if I wanted to change the time signature of the second measure, it doesn't screw up the intention that the 8th notes in the second cell are pickups to beat 1.

Johan Halmén

As a composer, you want to do inversions, transformations, fit melodies into different scalar contexts, slice and re-contextualize, and none of that is native to the interface.

Very true. Although things like diatonic transposing, inversions, retrograde, augmentation etc. are being discussed frequently on MuseScore forums. MuseScore is in version 1.3 now and I've heard that the unstable 2.x version includes at least diatonic transposing. I wrote a plugin for diatonic transposing that works in 1.3 and it would be easy for me to expand the plugin for the other transformations, too.

I'd say that you can find a lot of analogies between text editors and sheet music editors. A text editor is as much a tool for writing novels as a sheet music editor is for composing music. A creative author can benefit from all kinds of features the text editor offers. A creative composer can benefit from the features in the score editor. And last but not least:

SiegeLord said:

The structure that the classical notation adds (and classical notation is easily learned, speaking as somebody who has had no formal introduction to it) makes composing melodies a lot easier.

And the analogy is that if you can read and write, you will become a better author it's easier for you to become a good author.

Raidho36
gnolam said:

the difference between destructive and non-destructive editing

I think you guys have insert mode disabled. Try pressing Insert button.

Tobias Dammers

shift all following notes to the right in the whole score

Acceptable in many cases. It does change the position of each note inside the measure though, which may or may not be desirable.

Quote:

shift the notes to the right only in one bar, deleting notes at the end of the bar

Hell no.

Quote:

changing the time signature at the bar to fit the changed note duration

Hell no.

Quote:

do nothing, it's the user's responsibility to count all notes and rests to make them even up

Acceptable, as long as an "auto-rebar" feature is available.

But you forgot the best solution of them all:

*Use a data model that is correct.*

With an event stream data model, the problem goes away. You don't need to introduce measures as a hierarchy level of their own (except for the later stages of rendering), but for some reasons, all the major players do this, which leads to all sorts of BS. And while we're at it, why do they all insist on using some artificial "timing unit" or "ticks" to represent durations, instead of using actual fractions? Granted, those are trickier to implement, but for all that's sacred, just pick a fractional number library and call it a day.

gnolam
Raidho36 said:

I think you guys have insert mode disabled. Try pressing Insert button.

What.

Chris Katko
Quote:

Chris Katko said:
it's a pathetic pain in the to do military management

Raidho36 said:

That's by design, it's just you don't get it right.

My point entirely about the community's attitude... ::)

Dwarf Fortress uses a very simple method for interfacing. That is what makes UNIX great. The problem however, is that it doesn't let you combine simple things to make complex ones. You're forced to spam keypresses like a monkey instead of doing using something elegant like "grep axemen | equip weapon"

The entire point of a (micro)management game is the management process, not trying to figure out how to get the game to do what you ask. That'd be like running a theme park and refusing to use radios and telephones to communicate and tracking down every staff member in person. Yeah, you can do it, but you'd be an incompetent manager. Or being an accountant who doesn't use a calculator or excel. The game is Dwarf management not "find the button."

Raidho36

My point entirely about the community's attitude.

Oh come on, that was a joke. Everybody perfecly realize that it's awkward to do it, it's just it won't change for long time so better get used to it. Feel free to suggest more convenient management controls anyway.

Quote:

grep axemen | equip weapon

Sounds about right. Now that I think of it, literal text input controls would be far more convenient than using hotkeys.

m c

I have used acid loops or w/e that was called, modplug, impulsetracker in dosbox and schism.

I tried to learn renoise but its too confusing for me. And no playback library means there is no point.

My interest is making cool sounding music that is smaller in file size than vorbis so 30-100kb for a 2-7minute song that sounds good enough.

But modern computer music just sounds so much more hi fidelity than average tracker music these days you know?

Chris Katko
Raidho36 said:

Oh come on, that was a joke.

My apology.

Quote:

Sounds about right. Now that I think of it, literal text input controls would be far more convenient than using hotkeys.

I'd kinda like to see someone implement bash/*NIX commands into a videogame like DF. Combining a good label/tag system for Dwarves with bash seems pretty powerful and allows you to learn DF at the same time as *NIX

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