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Free music composition software
Johan Halmén
Member #1,550
September 2001

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.

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Years of thorough research have revealed that the red "x" that closes a window, really isn't red, but white on red background.

Years of thorough research have revealed that what people find beautiful about the Mandelbrot set is not the set itself, but all the rest.

Raidho36
Member #14,628
October 2012
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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
Member #8,592
May 2007
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Anyone who thinks military management in DF is efficient or effective or useful is out of their bloody mind. :P

gnolam
Member #2,030
March 2002
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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."

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Bruce Perry
Member #270
April 2000

Wow, Korval :)

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Johan Halmén
Member #1,550
September 2001

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Years of thorough research have revealed that the red "x" that closes a window, really isn't red, but white on red background.

Years of thorough research have revealed that what people find beautiful about the Mandelbrot set is not the set itself, but all the rest.

gnolam
Member #2,030
March 2002
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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.

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Jeff Bernard
Member #6,698
December 2005
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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.

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I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken.

SiegeLord
Member #7,827
October 2006
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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.

"For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow."-Ecclesiastes 1:18
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gnolam
Member #2,030
March 2002
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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).

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Mark Oates
Member #1,146
March 2001
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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
Member #1,550
September 2001

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Years of thorough research have revealed that the red "x" that closes a window, really isn't red, but white on red background.

Years of thorough research have revealed that what people find beautiful about the Mandelbrot set is not the set itself, but all the rest.

Raidho36
Member #14,628
October 2012
avatar

gnolam said:

the difference between destructive and non-destructive editing

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

Tobias Dammers
Member #2,604
August 2002
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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.

---
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---
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gnolam
Member #2,030
March 2002
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Raidho36 said:

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

What.

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Chris Katko
Member #1,881
January 2002
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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."

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Raidho36
Member #14,628
October 2012
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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
Member #5,337
December 2004
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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?

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Chris Katko
Member #1,881
January 2002
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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

-----sig:
“Programs should be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute.” - Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
"Political Correctness is fascism disguised as manners" --George Carlin

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