software for trad music

software for trad music

I intend to invest in some music software. I want to be able to play traditional tunes on a keyboard and have the notation come up on the screen or play some other instrument directly in through the mike on my imac. I intend to print out the music. I want it to look professional and, as I am totally uninitiated in this art, I want it to be foolproof as well! Any ideas?

Re: software for trad music

Impossible. If human can’t do it, how can a machine?

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Re: software for trad music

I’m not sure why you say humans can’t do it, if you’re referring to transcribing, Michael.

Transcribing is easy enough, if you’re a trained musician. It’s taught in basic aural classes at school, and then at a more advanced level in university music courses. Naturally, it’s all about training your ear and practice.

These days fewer musicians are any good at transcribing than in centuries past, when compositional piracy was all the rage. It was far from unknown for 18th and 19th century composers to hire young music students (or send their apprentice/protoge) to eavesdrop on rival composers as they toiled away on their newest works. Strauss (J, not R) was a victim of pre-first-perfomance plagiarism several times over, if memory serves, thanks to pro-transcribers lurking below his eaves.

Software-wise, most decent music apps will allow you to use a midi keyboard to play in your tunes, and then display it as sheet music. Often this looks a mess, because it can be quite exact transcription, and you may not be playing directly on the beat so lots of tied demi-semi-quavers litter the page. Not to worry, these appz also have a function that fairly easily trims the notes to what they should be (according to settings you can tweak). I suggest Cakewalk (or whatever they’re calling it now). Even the early versions of Cakwalk from almost 10 years ago can do this without hassle. Just make sure you’ve got a midi keyboard and you’ll be fine.

You’ll have to really, really want to do this though, ‘cos it can prove fairly expensive getting the keyboard & the software.

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Re: software for trad music

Humans can transcribe music but it’s still an approximation. Carl Seashore carried out experiments in the thirties. Basically, his results showed that "what happens in a real performance is not as rigid as conventional notation indicates". He showed that "the beginnings and endings of notes are not always clearly defined, and the placement of the notes can also be flexible". I would suggest that this even more so with traditional music.

A good musician would interpret the written music in his/her own style, of course, but probably wouldn’t play it quite the same way as if he/she had learned the tune by ear.

John

Re: software for trad music

John, you’re absolutely correct, and Michael - okay, I see what you were getting at - but I don’t think Feadog needs a specific performance recorded in notation format.

If the end result is required to look something like the tune .gifs stored in this here thesession.org database, then the recipe above will work just fine.

However, if you adjust the trim settings you *can* record a much more specific transcription up to the 64th note (er, that would be a hemi-demi-semi-quaver I think). It will look a mess, I promise you, but the playback will have - to the human ear - the exact same rhythm & nuances as it sounded when it was first played in.

Midi can be a lot more precise than many give it credit for - you can tweak individual note attacks (velocity), tune duration, pitch and more besides. The tone colour / timbre can also be tweaked but that depends, really, on the output synth.

For my final Music tech course at varsity, about 8 years ago now, I sequenced an Antonio Jobim bossa nova tune from a recording (piano, strings and brush-kit), and the piano, which carried the tune, was very lazy - never exactly on the beat at all, and by getting into what was pretty much the "code" of the midi, I could move individual notes forward a bit, back a bit, adjust durations, attack and decay of specific tones etc. until it sounded exactly like the recording (apart from the tone quality/timbre). Bloody time-consuming - took me a month just to do the piano part, but it can be done.

Er, y’all aren’t planning on throwing those dangerously sharp-looking objects at *me* are you?

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Re: software for trad music

The sampling duration of midi is no where near the speed we play rolls

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Re: software for trad music

I’m pretty sure it can be, or at the very least effectively fudged by overlaying channels, but unfortunately I can’t prove it right now so I guess I’ll have to defer 🙂

It would make an interesting project, though. Wish I had more time.

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Re: software for trad music

The MIDI standard timing system is quit adequate to express roles far too fast to play.
http://users.argonet.co.uk/users/lenny/midi/help/qanda.html#q7
I know what you mean Q having to go into every bar and move notes around until it feel right is so much harder than actually playing it!
I often use a keyboard to enter a rhythmic feel and copy the best bits.
I use Cubase and have made some trad music groove quantise templates that I find very useful.
PP

Re: software for trad music

Yeah, I use Cubase from time to time too, it’s an excellent package.

MIDI uses a serial data connection running at 31250bps and 10 bits per byte. So, it can send 3125 bytes per second. A typical MIDI note command is 3 bytes, so the fastest sequence of notes you can send is 1041 notes per second, about one per millisecond. That’s pretty fast for a single track of music.

I typically play reels at around 220-240bpm. Taking 240bpm as an example means 4 quarter notes per second, and usually a roll has the duration of one quarter note. The roll itself has five components, so each is around 1/20th of a second, or 50 milliseconds. In reality they’re not all equal in length, but that’s close enough. Triplets are about 83 milliseconds slurred; if you’re single bowing (which stops the sound as you change bow direction) then the actual tone is probably more like 60 milliseconds.

MIDI is fast enough for relatively simple compositions, but it cannot trigger more than one event at a time. So when you score a chord, or otherwise want many notes to sound at once, they will at best be staggered in 1 millisecond increments. If you have a 32-track piece and want 32 notes at once, this staggering will become audible/noticable. Using multiple MIDI interfaces can mitigate some of this delay.

(And tying back to a previous thread - with MP3’s finest time resolution being 26 milliseconds, a lot of fine detail in rolls/triplets can get lost/muddied in an otherwise decent recording. Yet another reason I will never pay money to a commercial web site to download MP3s of music I want to hear.)

Re: software for trad music

(Oh, another note about triplets: generally they’re not even either; the first note is longer then the other two. So I’d push my guess down to about 40-50 milliseconds again.)

Re: software for trad music

hot damn, I like it when you talk dirty. Groove quantise… not just a funky airline 🙂

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Re: software for trad music

This is all very interesting. I never knew the length of time a triplet too before! The sugestions for the software is great. I’ll be investing soon. I know that the written trad music will never be nearly as good as the sound of the tune but we all know that the written note is only a representation of the music we play and all trad music should be written and read with that in mind. Thanks for the help,
feadog.