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Sound on Sound review of Notion 4

A Forum to Discuss NOTION

Sound on Sound review of Notion 4

Postby Szurcio1 » Sat Apr 20, 2013 11:46 am

There is a review of Notion 4 in the most recent (April 2013) issue of Sound on Sound. For the most part, very favorable - there is, however, a section with some critical comments (and I agree with the reviewer's remarks):

"When it comes to notating harmonically complex music, especially in ‘remote’ keys, spelling is everything. For example, a G# major chord has to be ‘spelt’ using G# B# D#, and not the identical-sounding G# C D# or (worse still) G# C Eb, because only the first reinforces the chord’s triad structure in a musician’s mind. The others are just confusing and will cause mistakes in the heat of performance. Unfortunately, it turns out that Notion’s spelling leaves quite a bit to be desired. First of all, there’s no way to specify any key signature based on G#, D# or A#. OK, majors of those keys don’t really exist, because they require double sharps, but minors and minor-like modes should be available, I think. A workaround involves choosing the relative majors of these keys, so all is not lost, but it feels irksome. Then, Notion’s default spelling is too often wrong. Even in F# minor, with just three sharps in the key signature, what should be E# leading notes are always spelled as F-natural when entered using any MIDI technique. It gets worse. If you’re in F# major and play chord V (which should be C# E# G#). Notion notates it using Db, F-natural, Ab. This is catastrophically bad. The mistakes can be corrected later using the Enharmonic tool, but it takes as many accurate mouse clicks as the chord has notes. Also, the tool seems powerless to substitute a double flat and sharp, which is essential for some situations. The only solution is to painstakingly re-enter each affected note manually with the mouse. Let’s hope Notion gets a major improvement in this area soon."

Are these problems going to be addressed with an update?
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Re: Sound on Sound review of Notion 4

Postby Surfwhammy » Sun Apr 21, 2013 5:54 pm

Szurcio1 wrote:Are these problems going to be addressed with an update?


[NOTE: This is an alternative perspective, so read it with a grain of salt and have a salt shaker handy. I have strong views on some aspects of music theory and music notation, and while I actually have had a bit of formal training and for example learned how to sight-sing soprano treble staff music composed by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and all those folks when I was in a liturgical boys choir, which I can do today but as a baritone or tenor, in some respects music notation was so oppressive and generally confusing that I switched to "play by ear" for over half a century, which actually was a stellar strategy, since "play by ear" is the best way to discover how to compose, because it is focused on the way music sounds, which is the general idea, really . . . ]

The perspective here in the sound isolation studio is that Notion Music not only (a) has done an excellent job of addressing all the problems but also (b) can do an even better job by following the vastly simple rules I prefer . . .

(1) There are a grand total of 12 notes comprised by the set {C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B} . . .

(2) There are 11 or so octaves ranging from 0 to 10 in scientific pitch notation, but there might be 13 if (a) you include subsonic deep bass and have better hearing than a whale, as I do, and (b) at the high-frequency side of the spectrum have better hearing than a dog, which I do not, since at the high-end pretty much anything past approximately 13.5-kHz is inaudible, which considering items (3) and (4) is a blessing, really . . .

(3) Flats exist only because horn players are lazy, but the use of flats can be limited to E♭ and B♭ by using Barre chords on a guitar and remembering that F is the third chord in the standard "Louie Louie" (The Kingsmen) pattern when you are playing the song and there is a horn section, since the horn players demand that it be played in A# rather than A, which they call "B♭" . . .

"Louie Louie" (The Kingsmen) -- 45 RPM Vinyl Record -- YouTube music video

(4) Cayenne and habañero pepper essential oils applied surreptitiously to the mouthpieces and reeds of horn players are quite effective in making them "go away" . . .

(5) In NOTION 4, everything can be done with the soprano treble staff when (a) you extend it to a few notes below the staff and a few notes above the staff and (b) specify the number of octaves or intervals higher or lower than notated for the notes to be played, which is beyond awesome . . .

[NOTE: C3 to C7 works nicely for the soprano treble staff and is not so difficult to remember, although C4 to C6 is easier for children to remember, and they all sing soprano. The general strategy is to become vastly skilled in using the 12 notes (see above) in a practical range of two to four octaves while knowing that there are one or two lower or higher ranges, the lowest of which is called "bass" and the highest of which if your musical group includes woodwinds and timid violinists is called "squeaks" . . . ]

Image

Consider the Hofner Bass on "Tell Me Why" (Beatles), which is easier to play with the first note of the "walking bass" being C rather than D, since it generally avoids needing to use sharps, although not entirely . . .

[NOTE: This fellow is amazing, and it is the exact bass part that Paul McCartney played on the original recording . . . ]

"Tell Me Why" (Beatles) -- Bass Part -- YouTube music video

[NOTE: This is the start of the "walking bass" part a whole step lower, which makes the first note C rather than D. I usually drop it an octave so that it starts on what normally would be "Middle C" on the treble soprano staff, in which case the Transposition is one octave lower rather than two octaves lower, but for beginners doing it two octaves lower keeps it mostly on the soprano treble staff rather than below it a bit, but so what . . . ]

Image

[NOTE: This is the way the soprano treble staff for the Hofner Bass part is defined in NOTION 4 using the Transposition feature to cause it to be played two octaves lower than notated . . . ]

Image

[NOTE: This is how it plays in NOTION 4 (a whole step or two frets lower), where it is notated on the soprano treble staff. I usually do this with two staves to have more control over the panning, and I augment it with another pair of staves that have the same notes but an octave lower to add subsonic and deep bass. And in some instances I also add a pair of bass synthesizers to add a bit of deep bass growl, which is a nice way to enhance the overall texture . . . ]

"Tell Me Why" (Beatles) -- NOTION 4 "walking bass" -- QuickTime Movie -- MOV (762KB, approximately 8 seconds)

THOUGHTS

First and foremost, this strategy is mathematically and geometrically elegant, and it greatly simplifies the note placement aspect of music notation. it is a nice match for the way people visualize a piano keyboard, as well as the way they remember singing in the first range they usually learn, which basically makes it primal . . .

It is important to conceptualize flatting and sharping, and in some respects one cannot avoid flats entirely, but I prefer doing the simple mapping using sharps, where although you "flat" the third for a minor key, I like to use the corresponding sharp, where in some keys the "flatted" or "minor" third requires neither a flat nor a sharp, which is handy . . .

Doing everything on the soprano treble staff keeps everything simple, and all you need to know are the ranges for the various instruments, where bass and cello usually are one or two octaves lower, but violas might be one octave lower, and so forth and so on, which works nicely with defining instruments as spanning the set {low, middle, high} or some set of ranges, depending on how much detail one finds convenient, where "low" might be mapped to the set {subsonic, deep, low, middle, high, ultra, chimes}, except that this is just more detail for the generalized set {low, middle, high} that applies to every instrument . . .

All the observations made by the reviewer in the "Sound on Sound" review probably are logical and correct in some universe, but the perspective here in the sound isolation studio is that such a universe is vastly confusing and is not conducive to being able to compose music with a clear understanding of what actually happens . . .

In some respects, one certainly can argue all that stuff makes sense, but I suggest it is vastly counterproductive with respect to the goal of actually being able to compose music, because it arbitrarily creates a virtual maze of rules that only a lawyer or accountant could appreciate, which is easiest to understand when you look at the keyboard of a grand piano for a while . . .

There are 88 keys, and the perspective here in the sound isolation studio is that having more than one name for any specific key is mathematically and geometrically inelegant, as well as quite illogical . . .

There is "Middle C" (C4 in scientific pitch notation), and I see no added value in allowing {B#, C, D♭♭, and so forth}, although at some point I think it is important to know the alternative names, but only for times when one has nothing better to do . . .

Keeping track of 88 different things requires a lot of work, but keeping track 12 things {C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B} and remembering that they can appear in perhaps 11 different integer locations (a) is much easier; (b) covers the 88 notes in a completely sufficient way; and (c) has the great advantage of being conducive to understanding the facts that octaves, flavors, and textures are separate aspects, characteristics, components, or elements of composing and are separate and independent of notes . . .

The practical aspect is that it becomes possible to compose the Tenor Saxophone part for the following song without needing to use any flats or sharps, in part by using glissandi and selecting a Tenor Saxophone VSTi virtual instrument that has the required articulations, which in this example is the Tenor Saxophone in MachFive 3 (MOTU) . . .

[NOTE: I have a bit of FUN making silly observations about horn players (which includes woodwinds, flutes, piccolos, and whatever), but I actually like horns, since they have fascinating textures . . . ]

"The Darkest Hour" (The Surf Whammys) -- Basic Rhythm Section and Melody -- MP3

Explained yet another way, I think that the elaborate, if not obsessive, focus on having a virtual maze of rules for keys, notes, modes, scales, and all that stuff originated several centuries ago when the only practical way for most people to have access to an orchestra required either (a) a lot of money or (b) generally perceived vast knowledge, and usually required both (a) and (b), hence one way to demonstrate "vast knowledge" involved devising and knowing a virtual maze of rules that ideally were so elaborate and abstruse that nobody else possibly could understand them, which basically lead to becoming a self-defined expert, even though it had little to do with composing in any sensible way . . .

~ ~ ~ Continued in the next post ~ ~ ~
Last edited by Surfwhammy on Sun Apr 21, 2013 6:42 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: Sound on Sound review of Notion 4

Postby Surfwhammy » Sun Apr 21, 2013 5:59 pm

~ ~ ~ Continued from the previous post ~ ~ ~

At the dawn of the early-21st century--beginning for all practical purposes with the release of NOTION 3 several years ago--everything is dramatically different, because anyone who has a suitable computer can have a deep and rich virtual orchestra; a festival of other virtual instruments; and the ability to compose songs using music notation without needing to know much of anything beyond a few primal rules, including knowing that if you put a sharp in front of a note it is a half-step higher but if put a flat in front of a note it is a half-step lower, as well as knowing that the "natural" symbol undoes whatever you temporarily altered for a specific note in a measure or whatever . . .

It is not necessary to know keys, since you can do everything in the key of C, even when it actually is in a different key, and you can do everything in 4/4 time, even when it actually is in a completely different time . . .

[NOTE: There are various theories which suggest that different keys and the classic seven diatonic modes (Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Locrian) convey different moods, feelings, ambience, and so forth, but (a) the modes are nonsense; (b) all that matters are scales; and there are considerably more scales than modes, even when one includes all the historical and more modern modes; and (c) songs typically span many modes, which makes the entire thing a bit frivolous unless you focus on scales rather than modes. In other words, scales are the important things, not modes . . . ]

Even with symphonic music, if there is a grand piano in the orchestra, then there are 88 or so fixed pitch notes, although it is possible for some of the instruments to play "in-between" notes, which can be interesting, but so what . . .

So what!

While I think that most of the folks who participate regularly in this FORUM actually have formal training in music theory and all that stuff, overall I think that there are more folks who like me primarily are in the "play by ear" category and after a while found it useful to devote a bit of attention to music notation to be able to have access to more instruments via NOTION and the virtual festival of VSTi virtual instruments, where based on what I know at present I think it is reasonable to suggest that it is practical to have several hundred thousand different types of instruments with respect to sounds, articulations, dynamics, textures, and so forth, and in some instances it is both possible and practical to have specific musicians in your virtual musical group, where via Addictive Drums and its Diabolic MIDI Pak (XLN Audio) you can have Daniel Erlandsson (Arch Enemy) as your drummer (a personal favorite) . . .

Daniel Erlandsson Drum Solo -- YouTube music video

SUMMARY

If adding the considerably more complex rules for music notation does not divert development resources from doing more practical functionality enhancements, then it might make sense, but considering that the music notation functionality provided in NOTION 4 is sufficient for composing and playing songs in every popular genre without being too complex, I am not convinced there is much actual added value in adding all that stuff . . .

And I qualify this perspective with "if", because there are different sets of rules for music notation, and some of them do not require all that stuff, where the primal set I provided (12 notes and 11 or so octaves) is an example . . .

Consider this observation by the "Sound on Sound" reviewer:

. . . there’s no way to specify any key signature based on G#, D# or A#. OK, majors of those keys don’t really exist, because they require double sharps . . .


Why should NOTION provide functionality for something which is excluded by definition from being within the generally accepted rules?

It is like suggesting that an arithmetic program somehow is incomplete or dysfunctional because it prohibits dividing anything other than one by zero or treating infinity as if it were finite . . .

Explained another way, all the nonsense the "Sound on Sound" reviewer wrote regarding flats, sharps, keys, scales, modes, and so forth is the primary reason that otherwise bright children learn at an early age to hate music notation, because instead of doing everything in an easy and intuitively mathematically and geometrically elegant way, it becomes an albatross, which is more than sufficient reason to ban it from the known universe for the betterment and enlightenment of others, which is fabulous . . .

Fabulous! :)

P. S. NOTION 4 is a deep and rich Gestalt, and it makes a few arbitrary but logical presumptions regarding various aspects of music theory toward the goal of maintaining and enhancing its practical focus, which is vastly important . . .

Once you discover how NOTION 4 works and understand all the stuff that is happening behind the scenes, it is not so difficult to realize that there are good reasons for the various software design decisions with respect to the best ways to handle the more esoteric aspects of music theory and music notation . . .

And if one has what I consider to be obsessive requirements for printing sheet music, one can compose in NOTION 4 and hear everything very realistically but then export the composition as MusicXML and import it to Sibelius 7 where one can do all the elaborate complex stuff required for certain types of musicians, which I understand and is fine with me, since the reality is that doing everything in the digital music production universe requires NOTION 4; a full-featured Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) application like Logic Pro 9 (Apple) or Digital Performer 8 (MOTU) on the Mac; Reason (Propellerhead Software) and a nice set of Rack Extensions; ReWire (Propellerhead Software); a cornucopia of virtual instruments and sampled sound libraries; a carefully selected set of effects and signal processing plug-ins for mixing and mastering; ideally a few real instruments or at least a MIDI keyboard; some microphones for singing; an external digital audio and MIDI interface like the MOTU 828mk3 Hybrid; and if desired for purposes of moving some of the work to recording via microphones the real universes of instruments and singing where musicians and singers require elaborate sheet music, a specialized program like Sibelius 7 for advanced engraving . . .

A Mac Pro (Apple) is a supercomputer, as are its Windows counterparts, and a supercomputer can do a lot of computing, but the reality is that doing digital music production requires doing the work in some instances and genres which in the real world is done by perhaps 100 or more highly trained human musicians and singers, as well as arrangers, composers, conductors, audio engineers, producers, so forth, with much of the work needing to be done in real-time on the fly, which requires a huge amount of computing power and resources and at present requires software design engineers to devise algorithms that do everything within what at times are virtually mind-boggling processing constraints, which is yet another of the practical aspects . . .

But perhaps most importantly, NOTION 4 on the Mac is the unique foundation for a digital music production system that makes it possible to do everything when combined with the other stuff I listed (see above), and I can prove it, for sure . . .

For sure! :ugeek:
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Re: Sound on Sound review of Notion 4

Postby melonsoda » Mon Apr 22, 2013 6:35 am

@surfwhammy: Maybe you're interested to learn that in most part of European "classical" music, a C# has a different pitch than a Db. Only in equal temperament C# and Db have the same pitch. The piano with its 12 notes is just a compromise – there were many harpsichords with split keys until around 1700. Compromises with temperament were done until ca. 1800 (for example, on a piano, a C# was tuned a bit lower to make a better third to A). Many professional violinists/singers/windplayers today intonate sharps a bit lower and flats a bit higher than a piano (for playing Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, etc.) – or the other way around ("Leittönig" for Wagner and Co.). Anyway: traditional music notation is complex because it was invented to write down European "classical" music, which is complex music. I agree that for other music there are more suiting, and therefore easier ways to notate than traditional music notation, the same goes for much of non-European music, for which people have found ways more suiting to write down (like with Chinese symbols, etc.). So I would encourage you to invent your own notation system which fits your music, that's the natural thing to do. Well or adopting traditional music notation and make it fit your needs. However for music software like Notion it isn't an option to dumb down music notation because there isn't a market for that – most customers who buy a music notation app want it to be able to do music notation correctly.
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Re: Sound on Sound review of Notion 4

Postby pcartwright » Mon Apr 22, 2013 9:38 am

Melonsoda is quite right, but even in an era of equal temperament, flats and sharps indicate different harmonic function.

Surfwhammy, I suggest you take a few courses on theory and voiceleading before you characterize flats as unnecessary and those players who read them better than sharps as lazy. Your comments are way off base.
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Re: Sound on Sound review of Notion 4

Postby reztes » Mon Apr 22, 2013 10:31 am

I'm agree with the enharmonic issue. Surfwhammy, your notation style is very odd and I think it only makes sense in simple tonal music or atonal music, and I have my doubts beacuse flats and sharps are useful in voice conducting.

At least, I think that Notion has to improve its enharmonic tool which is so clumsy.
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Re: Sound on Sound review of Notion 4

Postby Surfwhammy » Mon Apr 22, 2013 1:30 pm

I appreciate all the comments and bits of information, some of which I did not know, where the first example is that in some types of Classical music C# is not the same as D♭, and the second example is not knowing that harpsichords had split keys for this purpose, although I have seen harpsichords that had two keyboards, which I am guessing might not be the same as splitting a single key to make two thinner adjacent keys, which is intriguing and something I plan to investigate . . .

On the other hand I know about (a) equal temperament, (b) well temperament, (c) just intonation, where the latter is what vocalists naturally favor and the former is the way an electric piano should be tuned, as is the case with electric guitars, although there are differing opinions even on this, with one of them being an intriguing company in Sweden that makes several different types of custom guitar necks for Stratocasters, including what most likely is a corrected equal temperament fretboard, which they do by bending the fret wire to follow patterns they determined by extensive testing . . .

Image

True Temperament Fretting System

I took a lot of mathematics and physics courses when I was in college, and this makes it easier to understand the various tuning systems, scales, modes, and all that stuff, especially since it is logarithmic, which is where "cents" comes into play in acoustic physics, and there also is the Pythagorean concept of tuning, but after doing as much research as I considered practical, I eventually decided that since I primarily play American style lead guitar, the most logical tuning system is the one on a Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster with a two-point tremolo system, which basically is a variation of equal temperament, and it is a variation because the frets are parallel but the diameters of the strings vary based on pitch, where the low-pitch "E" string in a set of Ernie Ball "Rock N Roll" Power Slinky strings (a personal favorite) is 0.048 inches, while the high-pitch "e" string diameter in the same set of strings is 0.011 inches, which (a) is a bit of a problem when you work through the physics and (b) is the problem that the True Temperament Fretting System folks strive to solve, which as best as I can determine they probably do . . .

After a number of years playing lead guitar, what happens is that lead guitar players who are not tone deaf develop an intuitive set of techniques that compensate for the problems caused by the way most guitar necks are fretted, and it is something one just does rather than being something with a clearly defined set of rules and procedures, but so what . . .

So what!

On the other hand, while it is fine to suggest that C# is somehow different from D♭, I strongly recommend that everyone visit a authorized Steinway dealer and study the keyboard of a Steinway concert grand piano, where you will discover (a) that there is just one black key between C and D and (b) that you can call it C#, D♭, B##, and quite a few other names which become increasingly absurd as the number of flats and sharps increases . . .

And I use 440-Hz as "Concert A", which in NOTION 3 and NOTION 4 requires modifying the default reference tuning pitch . . .

Regarding the concept of being a "purist" or whatever, the folks who originally played Mozart stuff used a different reference tuning pitch and had entirely different types of strings on their violins, violas, cellos, string basses, and so forth, and there were a lot of other differences including but not limited to the total absence of the modern valve thingy for tubas, which I had to look-up, since I forgot the name of the fellow who devised it (Blaikley-style compensating valves), but so what . . .

I remember the tuba valve, because I thought it was interesting, and it might have been something someone explained in a post to this FORUM a few years ago, and for reference I like that type of stuff, which is like a harpsichord having separate keys for C# and D♭, which is an interesting thing to know . . .

Another interesting and somewhat surprising thing I learned only recently is that most Stradivarius' violins do not have the original necks and fingerboard, where instead the only original part is the violin body, which I suppose makes sense but was a bit of a surprise, if it is correct, which I have no way to verify at present. It makes sense from the perspective that having your hand on the violin neck tends to prevent it from doing a lot of vibrating, hence diminishes it contribution to overall tone, and it makes sense that a violinist would want a neck and fingerboard that were as perfect as possible (as contrasted to being warped, weakened, and worn with peaks and valleys, which would make it much more difficult to play), so I think this is accurate information, but I recall reading it in only one place, which is a bit troublesome . . .

THOUGHTS

I understand the logic and desire for being able to be as precise as possible when doing what I call "Classical" music, which is fine with me, but while I enjoy that type of music occasionally and am amazed by it, the reality here in the sound isolation studio is that I play a custom-modded Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster with a finely tuned two-point tremolo system, hence for me "Classical" music really is Rock and Roll from the 1950s and 1960s, which was a time when C# and D♭ were the same note played at the same fret. They are just two names for the same single note, and as observed in my previous posts to this topic, after pondering it for a while, I decided that I prefer to use sharps, although from singing in a liturgical boys choir, I am just as comfortable with flats as with sharps, and at least with minor keys it makes a bit of sense to use flats, except that it does not always work so elegantly, which is the case with A Minor, where the third when flatted is C, since the major third is C# . . .

In some respects, it might have been smarter to have used integers from the beginning, but after having a bit of FUN with a simple xylophone as a toddler I switched to piano, and by the time I knew enough about mathematics, physics, acoustic physics, and music I already knew most but not all the various naming conventions, hence I make an effort every so often to forget all of it, in part because it is too much information to be useful toward the goal of being able to compose and to play unique lead guitar solos in real-time on the fly, which basically requires rewiring the Frontal Eye Fields (FEF) region of the brain, since this particular region of the brain can handle audio information as rapidly as 24 milliseconds, which is considerably faster than the auditory cortex is able to process audio, and the only practical way to engage the FEF region is temporarily to suspend all immediately conscious thinking so that the unconscious mind can do what it already knows how to do . . .

Image Image Image Image
Broadmann Area Map ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Brodmann Areas #4, #6, #8 (left to right)

But the truly fascinating aspect of the FEF region of the brain is that it is bounded by Brodmann areas #4, #6, and #8, which are located at the top of the head, which makes the observation, "I played it off the top of my head" surprisingly accurate anatomically and neurologically . . .

OBSERVATION

In some respects, the most intriguing aspect of this discussion involves determining how sampled sounds are tuned and intonated, as well as the specific rules NOTION 4 follows . . .

My expectations are (a) that pianos, keyboard synthesizers, guitars, and so forth are tuned to equal temperament--including NOTION 4, Kontakt 5 (Native Instruments), MachFive 3 (MOTU), IK Multimedia, and so forth and so on--and (b) that C# and D♭ are the same note in NOTION 4, which if this is the case maps to the folks who prefer C# and D♭ using NOTION 4 as an music notation engraving application rather than as an application to play the various virtual instruments . . .

In other words, if C# and D♭ are the same note in NOTION 4 by default, then it must require doing something extra to cause them to be different notes, which I suppose could be done with a VSTi virtual instrument which has a sampled sound library designed specifically for this purpose . . .

So, if anyone has insights into what NOTION 4 does in this respect, please reply, since I think this is an important thing to know . . .

For reference, my presumption is that C# and D♭ played on the NOTION 4 bundled Piano are the same note, as is the case with the pianos in Kontakt 5, MachFive 3, Addictive Keys, and all the IK Multimedia VSTi virtual instruments and sampled sound libraries, as I expect is the case for electric guitars and electric basses . . .

So, I did a quick test using the NOTION 4 bundled Piano, and C# is the same note as D♭ . . .

However, there are other accidentals in the NOTION 4 palette, so there is a way to play what I call "in-between" notes, and while this is not something I plan to do anytime soon, it is interesting in a curious way, which is fabulous . . .

Image
NOTION 4 Accidentals

Fabulous!
:D
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Re: Sound on Sound review of Notion 4

Postby Surfwhammy » Mon Apr 22, 2013 2:46 pm

pcartwright wrote:Surfwhammy, I suggest you take a few courses on theory and voiceleading before you characterize flats as unnecessary and those players who read them better than sharps as lazy.


[NOTE: I have a bit of FUN making silly observations about horn players (which includes woodwinds, flutes, piccolos, and whatever), but I actually like horns, since they have fascinating textures . . . ]


It was a just a bit of music humor, mostly due to playing in nightclubs in various musical groups starting in junior high school when I was 13 years-old and the piano player was 14 years-old, although he looked older; had a car; was married; and owned a house; and there usually were a few horn players who were older, so the piano player and I had a bit of FUN with jokes about horn players (trumpets and saxophones), in part to alleviate the stress caused by their always wanting to play songs in difficult keys, which is worse for pianists than for bassists, really . . .

Really! :P

I prefer to play songs in E, G, A, B, or C, but I can play just as easily in B♭ and F, although E♭ is a bit difficult, because the lowest note in a bass is "E", which makes E♭ a bit of a mess, since it requires playing a lot of stuff upside-down . . .

So, it was not all that bad, until I switched to playing guitar, but it got better when I discovered Barre chords, and at some point it is easier to tune the guitar a half-step lower, which is fabulous . . .

Fabulous! :)
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Re: Sound on Sound review of Notion 4

Postby Surfwhammy » Mon Apr 22, 2013 3:09 pm

reztes wrote:Surfwhammy, your notation style is very odd and I think it only makes sense in simple tonal music or atonal music, and I have my doubts beacuse flats and sharps are useful in voice conducting.


The way I name notes is based on scientific pitch notation, but the non-standard aspect is that I do everything with soprano treble staffs, and I do it this way because I sang in choirs starting at 5 years-old and continuing until I was 12 years-old, during which time I was soprano, so soprano treble staff is very easy for me, since it was the only one I learned until I decided to play string bass, which was thoroughly confusing, because the bass staff made no sense to me, and I had to do real-time transpositions, which at the time I could not do quickly enough . . .

Scientific Pitch Notation (wikipedia)

By doing everything with soprano treble staves that are transposed for playing as needed, I am doing something that I know how to do, and for me this is the natural way to do it, which is fabulous

Fabulous! :)
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Re: Sound on Sound review of Notion 4

Postby melonsoda » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:50 pm

@pcartwright: of course you are right, flats and sharps are nowadays still important because for some styles of music it is necessary to "know what your doing" when composing – and for all other styles it doesn't hurt to know either… My point was just that Db isn't necessarily at the same pitch as C# – it is on a modern piano, but well, in a (professional level, real humans) string quartet it isn't.

@surfwhammy: the two keyboards of a harpsichord is to create dynamics, the upper manual is usually only with one register (8') while the lower manual can have one or two registers (8' or 8'+ 4' or coupled with the above 8'+8'+4'). With a split-key harpsichord the black keys are split (horizontally, otherwise you'd need tiny fingers!) to have both a chromatic (C-C# = 4 comma) and a diatonic semitone (C-Db = 5 comma).

It is true, most baroque violins like the ones of Stradivari got new necks in around 1830. That's not because the old necks were not perfect, it's just that the style of playing changed. The older necks were a bit thicker and less angled, resulting in a shorter string length. That was perfect for holding the violin without resting your chin on it (the thicker neck ideal to shift positions), however after about 1825 holding the violin between chin and shoulder became the standard and some adjustments had to be made. Also that changed the sound of course, but not as much as the change to metal strings in the 1930ies. By the way, the bows were constantly changed from around 1600 to 1910. Nowadays we play Bach, Beethoven & Co. very often on period instruments (that is instruments exactly built in the style of the time the piece was written). It doesn't have anything to do with being a "purist", it's just fun and inspiring to discover how "the old ones" played their instruments, how different they sound with gut strings instead of metal strings.

About temperament, that is longer story – not enough time to write here… I worked as a piano and organ (+all sorts of harpsichords) tuner for quite some time and well, it's much more complicated than just equal, well temp. and just intonation. To make it short, there is no "true temperament", at least not for our music (that is if you have chords with thirds and fifths), one will always have to make compromises because of the Pythagorean and the syntonic comma. 12 pure fifths don't give the same pitch as 7 pure octaves, and 3 pure thirds don't give a pure octave. Even "just" intonation isn't just. That's physics, and in equal temperament the compromise is not to have any pure intervals, except the octave. Some are better than others, the fifth for example is nearly pure but the major thirds are 14 cent to high… Not nice sounding, and of course, if you can just move your finger a bit to make it better (like if you are a violinist) or sing a bit lower then you do it. Having # and b therefore helps a lot to intonate well.

Regarding fretted necks, well that's an old story (older than the piano), even Galileo Galilei's father Vincenzo wrote about it, there were double frets (little wooden frets, called tastini) for lutes in the 16th century. The frets on this Stratocaster however look quite crudely done. Anyway, at least here you can see that the G# is a bit lowered, so it will sound nicely in an E major chord, but you can't use it for an f minor chord, because that requires Ab. This problem could be solved using double frets, but even that wouldn't be "true", one only could make sort of a mean tone tuning. String diameter is a topic of course, but in practical life much less of a problem than the frets or inharmonicity. Of course, always depending on what style you play; for heavy metal, you would tune the fifths and octaves pure (Phytagorean tuning) so the distortion (overdrive, etc.) for power-chords are smoother. I've even seen some metal bands that managed to do pure thirds with two guitars, which sounds cool with distortion.

Anyway, all that doesn't matter much to our topic: For whatever you use Notion – it makes use of standard music notation and since it does it should do it the correct way. You know, if you had a word processor which every time you type an "R" writes an "L" and "B" instead of "W" this would be getting on your nerves. Of coulse Japanese people (my bife is Japanese) bould just say they don't need it as they can blite evelything they bant, but fol you it bould be a bit tilesome to lead and go back to collect all the time, bouldn't it?
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