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How to make the world’s best Music editor program

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How to make the world’s best Music editor program

Postby jpettit » Sun Nov 07, 2010 1:09 am

I made these sugggestion about a year ago but I have not see any of them implemented.
If you agree please let Notion Music hear about it. Thanks

In edit mode:
1. Auditioning of a note should respond according to the note duration not just pitch.
2. Dragging a note across the staff should echo the note pitch (and duration) at that staff position before clicking it into place.
3. Dragging a note to the left should reduced the note duration and dragging a note to the left should increase its duration.
4. Ctrl/Shift dragging a note should move it position ( even across measure bars)
5. Red (extra notes) should be allowed to be dragged to the next measure.
6. The arrow keys should not only just advance the cursor but also echo the notes with duration equal to the note value.
7. Highlighting (via drag) multiple notes or measure show allow for a repeated or looped play back audition of the section. (very useful while writing a part)
8. There should be an NTempo key available in Edit mode or some key that allows manually advancing/looping at any pace while writing a part.
9. Dragging a lyric should snap to the next note to fix incorrectly placed words

Thanks
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Re: How to make the world’s best Music editor program

Postby wglmb » Sun Nov 07, 2010 8:28 am

I completely, 100% agree with everything. I was thinking about some of the just yesterday.
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Re: How to make the world’s best Music editor program

Postby thorrild » Sun Nov 07, 2010 11:44 am

I disagree with most of the suggestions. Other suggestions are already a feature in Notion and have been for a long time:

Dragging a note up and down already auditions its pitch. Not with the arrows, though. I think it's nice to have one editing choice available that down't "talk back" to you. Highlighting a block of notes (even non-contiguous staves!) will play back, just not loop. But all it takes is hitting the spacebar, so this is not at all a big deal to me.

I don't personally have any need to know how long a note plays when I'm moving it. I use my eyes. Having full durations bleating every time a note is moved makes no sense to me, as they are heard "out of tempo." Can you imagine the racket if you were to drag a group of dotted whole notes around?

Dragging a note horizontally to change its position in the measure, or even across barlines, might have some use. However, I suspect that this kind of ability would necessitate so many additional edits to other musical element around the one you're moving that you'd be just as well off cutting and pasting. Incidentally, I think I like cutting/pasting better than dragging. Even in word processors, where this feature has long been available, I generally shy away from it as I find it harder to control. Of course, if the keyboard shortcuts for c/p were not available, I'd get tired of it pretty fast!

If I need to hear a section at a slow speed, I simply hit shift-hyphen and enter a temporary, slow tempo where I need it.

Notion has a few quirks in the editing department, just as every other program on the market, but I am sorry to say that this list doesn't get my vote.

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Re: How to make the world’s best Music editor program

Postby pcartwright » Sun Nov 07, 2010 3:37 pm

I'm inclined to agree with thorrid. There are other features and fixes; these ideas seem to be of little consequence to the function of Notion as a whole.
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Re: How to make the world’s best Music editor program

Postby jpettit » Sun Nov 07, 2010 8:06 pm

Wow, we all enter into Notation software from different doors I guess and I appreciate your comments Thorrild.

As a beginner in notation, having only played by ear in the past (guitar) , and worked exclusively in a DAW environment, audible feedback is important.

You are correct the dragging a note is already audible, but only after you have committed it to the page. Other programs such as Sebelius and Finale echo the note on the down mouse and only commit on the up mouse. (Big difference for those who hear the note but do not see it yet))

The arrow key comment was in reference to playing back in an audition mode (left to right). Sebelius as an example works this way.

Yes replaying can be done by restarting a block. Looping a section is just a mainstay when coming from a DAW background.

Again as someone who only played by ear and attempting to learn notation, note timing is not very obvious. Do I hear a 8th or a quarter notes in my head? The duration would of course come from the current tempo and it would be used when placing a note (even a whole note) not for mass moves.

The dragging a note to another measure has to do again with the learning curve with note duration. It is easier when you realize that you put the note in the wrong measure to drag it to the right as opposed to deleting it then recreating it again in the next measure. Some DAW notation programs already work in this fashion.

I also noticed today, (when evaluating the top 3-5 notation programs to see how close they come to my wish list), that the position that you insert a new note with a mouse is interpreted by some (Sebelius) and will pad with pre and post rests, and others (Finale, Notion3) ignore your position within the measure and assume no rests. My current DAW with minimal notation support (Sonar) actually lets you drag the note to a new position and back fills with rests or rewrites the note to a shorter duration.

As an ex-programmer for the last 30 years, I am also a big fan of cutting and pasting, especially for duplicating, but I like dragging for re-arranging things.

I have found most of my requests in one notation program or another but not all in one. I believe the companies all start from a slightly different philosophy on the approach to the applications. Notion3 has clearly stated their philosophy as "the playback must sound good”, and I know other companies are very serious about the quality of the printed page.

I think Notion3 has made good strides in making things more intuitive. I’m just wishing for a few minor improvements to make it even easier for us beginners, and all of them could be implemented as toggle on or off via preferences, ( just like the auditioning of a note is today), for those who do not need them.

Thanks
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Re: How to make the world’s best Music editor program

Postby Surfwhammy » Mon Nov 08, 2010 8:01 am

jpettit wrote:1. Auditioning of a note should respond according to the note duration not just pitch.

I see no added value in this, and having a whole note hold for the entire time would be a bit annoying, but from a different perspective especially for "play by ear" folks, the goal is to learn how to map the intervals that you see on the staff or clef to what you hear in your mind, so there is a subtle aspect to not hearing the original note, and it is that this essentially requires you to learn how to hear it in your mind and to be able to relate to the new position of the note in terms of a specific interval . . .

[NOTE: Mostly I "play by ear", but I had enough formal training as a child to understand music notation, and I can sight-sing classical music (treble clef), so it is a bit easier for me to work with music notation, but I still adjust everything by ear. The formal music theory helps with getting whatever I want to do at least "ballpark", which makes it a bit easier to do the fine-tuning by ear . . . ]

jpettit wrote:2. Dragging a note across the staff should echo the note pitch (and duration) at that staff position before clicking it into place.


This is the way it works now for vertical movements, and if you want to hear the original note after you started moving it upward or downward, simply move it back to its original position . . .

jpettit wrote:3. Dragging a note to the left should reduced the note duration and dragging a note to the left should increase its duration.


There probably is a shortcut or hot key for changing the duration of notes, but if not then I think this is more of a "bell and whistle" that would add complexity without any significant gain, and it would be a bit strange for folks who already know how to use Notion 3 . . .

jpettit wrote:4. Ctrl/Shift dragging a note should move it position ( even across measure bars)


I understand the logic for wanting to be able to move everything around, but the other side of the coin is that the way Notion 3 currently works requires you to do a bit more thinking in terms of music notation, planning, music theory, and so forth, which at first can appear to be a bit of extra work, but over the long run is a worthy goal, because music notation is not the same as "playing by ear", and it is important to be able to develop a mapping between what you see and what you hear . . .

Also, from the perspective of software design and engineering, the more stuff like this that is added, the more complex everything becomes, and I think it is better to keep everything as simple as possible, because it is working very nicely the way it is, and when you add a new behavior, it can affect everything, so again I would avoid this type of new "feature" . . .

jpettit wrote:5. Red (extra notes) should be allowed to be dragged to the next measure.


Again, strange as it might be, you can delete the red notes, but they also are a subtle type of "penalty" that over time encourages you to learn how to use the program, and being able to move everything from place to place tends to introduce the possibility inadvertently of making a bit mess of things . . .

jpettit wrote:6. The arrow keys should not only just advance the cursor but also echo the notes with duration equal to the note value.


I never use the arrow keys, and the only shortcuts and hot keys I use are for cut, copy, and paste, so adding more stuff for the arrow keys to do has no added value from my perspective, and the duration aspect is covered in a previous observation, which basically is that I think it would be more of an annoyance than a benefit . . .

jpettit wrote:7. Highlighting (via drag) multiple notes or measure show allow for a repeated or looped play back audition of the section. (very useful while writing a part)


The Melodyne Editor has a feature like this, and it is nice, but it is not so difficult simply to click on the "Rewind" button, which positions the playhead at the last starting point, and then to click "Play" . . .

The goal is to learn how to map what you hear to the notes, and vice-versa, and once this begins to happen, you will discover that you do not need to listen to a short phrase over and over . . .

And the more proficient you become in music notation, the faster everything happens, so it is important to understand that when your background primarily is "play by ear", a lot of what you are doing is learning music notation and doing the required mapping of visual notes to what you hear in your mind, which largely is separate from the software . . .

For example, in the "Feel Me" (The Surf Whammys) song (see below), it took me about an hour or so to discover how to write a rapid double-kick drum part in music notation, since I while I can play it on a real drumkit I never actually knew the duration of the notes, which after a bit of experimenting I discovered are 32nd notes when the tempo is 136 beats per minute, and once I got it working for one measure, it was easy to copy and paste that measure over and over, which I typically do in a binary sequence (2, 4, 8, 16, . . . ) or whatever makes the most sense and is fastest at the time . . .

It also took me a while to discover how to get notes to be very crisp, which after a while I discovered is done in music notation with the staccato accent marks, of which there are several flavors, so if you do not know this stuff, then it simply takes a bit of experimenting to discover how it works, which overall is a part of the learning process . . .

Once you discover a good set of basic rules that work for you, then everything happens more quickly, and it becomes a more fluid composing environment . . .

jpettit wrote:8. There should be an NTempo key available in Edit mode or some key that allows manually advancing/looping at any pace while writing a part.


I do not use NTempo, and at present have no need to know what it does or to use it, but as a general rule anything that maps to something complex is best avoided, because it is too likely to require a lot of programming for no practical gain . . .

jpettit wrote:9. Dragging a lyric should snap to the next note to fix incorrectly placed words


Again, I think this is a matter of learning how Notion 3 works and then adjusting how you think it should work to the way it actually works, but from a different perspective there are times when the behavior of the "Lyric" tool provides a clue that you forgot a note; need to change a longer duration note to several smaller duration notes; or perhaps need to revise the lyrics . . .

COMMENTS

Our backgrounds are similar in the sense of doing a lot of computer programming, and since I have done C/C++ programming for decades, my general thinking is that I am quite amazed by Notion 3, since nearly everything it does tends to be in the group of programming activities that are the most difficult to do . . .

Simply showing the notes and moving the playback line in real-time as the notes are played requires advanced skills with painting screens and so forth, plus it is a computer intensive process . . .

And all the VST and other sample-sound library interfacing is not the same as writing text to a "flat file" or whatever . . .

Additionally, there is the matter of having a dual set of source code--one for the Mac and one for Windows--so making even a tiny change becomes a big deal, because while some of the algorithms probably are the same for both platforms, a lot of the other stuff is different . . .

At present, I have done three songs with Notion 3, and I have done vocals in Digital Performer 6.02 (Mac) for one of them, where I get the Notion 3 instruments into Digital Performer soundbites via controlling Notion 3 with ReWire, which works very nicely once you discover the rules for ReWire, which on the Mac requires doing a few experiments but is not difficult to do . . .

The song with vocals continues to be in development, and there are not real instruments at present, but overall the Notion 3 instruments represent approximately 200 hours of work, some of which was focused simply on remembering all the music notation stuff I learned decades ago, as well as making sense of ReWire and using Digital Performer as a ReWire controller for Notion 3, so while I have worked on this song for approximately 200 hours, a good bit of the time was devoted to learning how Notion 3 works and how it interfaces with Digital Performer . . .

Additionally, I realized that I can use Notion 3 instruments and panning to create elaborate motion within what I call the "Spherical Sonic Landscape™", where my avatar is one vector plane of the Spherical Sonic Landscape, and the technique basically is to create one instrument with a phrase of notes but then to create some number of identical instruments, where I copy the original phrase of notes to the additional instruments, followed by sequencing the notes across the entire set of instruments by replacing notes with rests. Then I set the panning position of each of the instruments to a different location in the range of far-left to far-right, with the result that what once was a single instrument playing a series of notes in one fixed location now is a set of instruments that play the same series of notes but in different locations, and the utility of this technique is that it does not require using elaborate automation, which is the other way to do it, although automation is done with Digital Performer, and it takes a while, plus it is a hassle to edit sound blobs rather than notes. Also, sound blobs are less precise than notes . . .

If you listen with studio quality headphones like the SONY MDR-7506, you can hear stuff moving around in the current version of "I'm Going Goo-Goo Over Ga-Ga" (The Surf Whammys), where the Surf Whammys are my pretend Rock and Roll musical group, although at present I have gone DISCO crazy, for sure . . .

[NOTE: I have not done the Melodyne Editor vocal processing on the singing, so the vocals mostly are raw with a bit of echo and whatever, although I did global pitch correction with Melodyne Editor to do a quick bit of enhancement, which just takes a few minutes. The current plan is to work on the vocals in Melodyne Editor to do custom echoes and a lot of other stuff, which probably will map to 100 hours or so, which is fine with me . . . ]


http://www.surfwhammys.com/Im-Going-Goo-Goo-Over-Ga-Ga-10-25-2010-MP.mp3

For sure!

The reality is that it takes a while to do all the stuff that is done in hit records like "Bad Romance" (Lady Gaga), for which the song is a bit of a parody, and "Who Owns My Heart" (Miley Cyrus), for which I am doing yet another parody . . .

If you listen carefully to the vocals for "Who Owns My Heart", it is not difficult to understand that there probably is at least 200 hours of sophisticated vocal work most likely done by a vocal producer and an engineer or two. There are custom echoes, pitch and formant adjustments, and a virtual festival of stuff, all of which takes at least an hour or two for each tiny enhancement of whatever . . .

[NOTE: This is the YouTube music video for the European Single of "Who Owns My Heart". Nobody on this planet actually sings like she is singing, and it is an highly-elaborate auditory illusion that is constructed with a lot of sophisticated equipment, techniques, and so forth and so on. Doing the custom vocal echoes probably took a few hundred hours, but there is a lot more stuff happening . . . ]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coqbx4C8z0o

And "Bad Romance" (Lady Gaga) also is a virtual festival of elaborate signal processing, where what I call "sparkles" are particularly fascinating . . .

[NOTE: This is the YouTube music video for "Bad Romance" (Lady Gaga), and it has a lot of sparkles, where "sparkles" are the short phrases of notes that happen every once in a while, typically in different places at what appear to be random times, although once you study them for a while you will discover that they are not the least bit random. And some of them are so subtle that unless you are a remarkably trained listener, you simply do not hear them until you have listened to the song pehaps 50 to 100 times, at least until you discover how to identify sparkles in an immediately conscious way. For reference, in music theory I think that what I call "sparkles" are variations of embellishment, counterpoint, and ornamentation, but sparkles are a bit different in DISCO and Pop music, and their primary purposes are to add texture but more importantly to capture and to focus the listener's attention, which makes sparkles a bit like tiny alarms or "bells and whistles", and one of the more interesting and somewhat puzzling sparkles is the white noise that is heard typically at top-center in "Bad Romance", although it also is used in the Miley Cyrus song. Other types of classic sparkles are tambourine, maracas, guiro, castanets, claves, and so forth and so on (primarily Latin percussion instruments), but there are other types of sparkles, including rapidly repeating synthesizer phrases, and so forth and so on, all of which are very easy to do with Notion 3, but with the caveat that it takes me a few hours per sparkle, since on the Mac there is a limit of 51 instruments, so I do a bit of cloning and keep an archive of each iteration of the Notion 3 project file as I replace existing instruments with different instruments to add new sets of sparkles, where for example if I sequence the notes of one instrument over a set of eight instrument clones and then pan each one to a different location, this maps to one instrument actually being eight instruments, so with a limit of 51 instruments, if you do elaborate motion for each instrument, it maps to having only six or seven distinct instruments, but by cloning the Notion 3 project files, you are not limited to 51 instruments, which also is the case with Digital Performer and the way it does tracks, where at some point you simply can have more tracks than Digital Performer can handle, at which time you do a "bounce to disk" and replace those tracks with a single stereo "soundbite", which is the way George Martin used analog magnetic tape machines to create a multiple track recording environment for the Beatles, as well as being the way that Phil Spector created his "Wall of Sound" by "bouncing" or "ping-ponging" already recorded instruments and voices to another tape machine while recording new stuff on top or along side it. All this stuff takes a while, but if you want to produce songs that sound like state-of-the-art hit records, then this is the way it is done in the home studio universe, which is fine with me . . . ]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrO4YZeyl0I

And this is the "basic rhythm section" for the parody of "Who Owns My Heart" (Miley Cyrus), which is "Feel Me" (The Surf Whammys), where all the instruments are done with Notion 3, some of which I simply cloned from the Notion 3 project file for "I'm Going Goo-Goo Over Ga-Ga" and then modified, as well as increasing the tempo to 136 beats per minute (BPM), since the Miley Cyrus song is at 136 BPM, while the Lady Gaga song is at 119 BPM . . .

http://www.surfwhammys.com/FeelingYouFe ... 0-2010.wmv

Notion 3 is fantastic, and after using it for 500 or so hours, it continues to do whatever I need to do one way or another, and my primary focus is on having some way to do what I want to do rather than on it being done in any specific way, since I can adjust what I am doing to the way the software works, provided the software can do it . . .

It takes a while to do all the elaborate stuff, but it takes a while to do it even if you have millions of dollars of state-of-the-art stuff in your recording, mixing, and mastering studio, so it makes no difference to me that it takes a while here in the sound isolation studio, and when you consider everything from a practical perspective, it is a lot faster for me to do a string section in Notion 3 than to hire a real string section and do all the live recording stuff, plus it costs a lot less to do it with Notion 3 and sampled-sound libraries, and for all practical purposes it sounds the same to most people, really . . .

Really!
Last edited by Surfwhammy on Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How to make the world’s best Music editor program

Postby thorrild » Mon Nov 08, 2010 9:47 am

Thanks, jpettit, for taking the time to expand on your ideas and explain in more detail how you work and what you want to achieve. I was reminded of a post by another member, posssu, a while ago, in which he mentioned a fascinating application called Ableton Live. I checked out the web site at the time and ultimately decided that it was not for me just now, but you may have a different reaction. This page has a video demonstration of it: http://www.ableton.com/live?a=what_is

Ableton Live seems like a perfect environment to experiment with sounds on a timeline without having to commit them to notation (which, in a variety of situations, is greatly inadequate as a means of communication), and I'd be interested to know how you react to its demo, or if you know about it already. As I recall, fellow member posssu had figured out how to use Ableton Live in conjunction with Notion in some way. You can search through his posts and find what I am talking about (I hope!).

All best,
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Re: How to make the world’s best Music editor program

Postby Unfinished » Wed Nov 10, 2010 6:40 pm

I may be reiterating what's been already said here but it is an awful idea to playback notes according to their length when you are trying to find the right note. Imagine dragging a slow semibreve up a sixth...
I think in terms of dragging notes across to the next measure, it might be good to have a shortcut that can (in the selected passage) push the red notes along until the bars don't have more notes than it has room for. That or make Notion interchangeable between the two modes (one as is and one where (newly made) red notes are automatically pushed into the next bar).
For your suggestion no. 3, it is just as quick or quicker just to select the note duration you want and write over the note you have to increase its length. Also how would you propose to deal with the note lengths featured? If you included all the dotted notes or made another shortcut to dot selected notes it wouldn't be a particularly fast shortcut, and if you didn't, time signatures where the numerator is a multiple of three (12/8, 6/8, 3/4 etc.) would be at odds with the shortcut as you would want the dragging to be dotted a significant amount of the time.
No. 6 suggests that you often do quick auditioning of phrases of individual instruments while writing, but it's really not that hard to select the phrase and press the spacebar.
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