Site update: audio for tune settings
Here’s the gist of the latest update: if you want to listen to a tune, you no longer have to download a midi file (and hope that you’ve got software that plays it). You can now play the audio directly in your browser.
Under the "sheet music" tab for every tune setting there’s now a button that says "play audio". That does what it says on the tin.
If you’re looking for the "download" button that was previously there, the functionality has changed a little. You can now find a "download ABC" button under the "ABC" tab of every setting.
Okay. That’s the short version. Check it out and see how you find it.
The long version…
The situation with midi files has been frustrating for quite a while. It’s a long time since browsers played them by default. It’s getting harder and harder to find software to play them, especially on phones. Having to download a file just to listen to a snippet of a tune was less than ideal.
Thanks to the excellent ABCJS software by Paul Rosen—which was already being used to generate the sheet music for each tune setting—the sheetmusic can be translated directly into audio.
I know that it sounds similar to midi (which means it doesn’t sound great), but it’s technically not a midi file that you’re hearing. It’s more like a synthesiser: it plays samples in quick succession. There are separate audio files for each note of the scale that are put together in the right order and with the right duration.
After listening to the results using samples from many, many instruments, I settled on the accordion sound as the best …or the least worst. Let’s face it, any computer-generated audio file is never going to be great, but I think this is good enough for just getting the idea of a how a tune goes. And the "play audio" button is discrete enough that you can ignore it if you never want to hear the generated audio.
If you experience any difficulties playing back the audio, please let me know (and let me know what browser you’re using). I know that the volume isn’t very loud—I can’t seem to figure out a way to fix that, but I’ll keep plugging away.
Anyway, I hope that you’ll like the change.