Integrating a note editor inside a recorder/sequencer

Support & discussion regarding DAWs and MIDI sequencers.

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Aleks
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Integrating a note editor inside a recorder/sequencer

Postby Aleks » Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:43 pm

So, I've mentioned in the poll topic that an ideal recorder/sequencer i.e. a DAW for me would be the one that has a full featured audio editing and also a full featured MIDI editing that can be done with a notation editor, not just a piano roll, so that every mark that you add to the score, like legato, staccato, accenting, slide, crescendo, decrescendo etc. would affect the actual MIDI data, not just the look of the score. So far, only two apps had it done near that, that is Cubase in Windows and Rosegarden in Linux. Cubase's drawback with the notation editor is that it's a bit messy and kinda hard to work with. In Rosegarden you can add the notes with a QWERTY, but it's also looking messy, with no multiple voices ability, so that if for example you have a longer notes in the lower register and shorter in the high register which you'd like to sound at the same time, you'd have to represent the longer notes with ties. Also, Rosegarden is oriented more towards MIDI editing.

The ideal solution would be to integrate Musescore - the best score editing software on Linux IMO, ,or some score editing tool with similar features and Ardour. Is that so hard to do? In the Windows world there were such atempts with Reaper and Musescore, some users tried to create some add on for Reaper or something like that. In the Mac world there is ProTools with the integrated features of Sibelius, but where the most powerfull features of Sibelius are lost, that is, the ease of adding notes and symbols, just like you type words in a word editing program. Why is that so? Is it so hard to be done?

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Re: Integrating a note editor inside a recorder/sequencer

Postby paulmerchant » Tue Nov 06, 2012 2:08 pm

Aleks wrote:The ideal solution would be to integrate Musescore - the best score editing software on Linux IMO, ,or some score editing tool with similar features and Ardour. Is that so hard to do? In the Windows world there were such atempts with Reaper and Musescore, some users tried to create some add on for Reaper or something like that. In the Mac world there is ProTools with the integrated features of Sibelius, but where the most powerfull features of Sibelius are lost, that is, the ease of adding notes and symbols, just like you type words in a word editing program. Why is that so? Is it so hard to be done?


I don't think your ideal solution is very far off. MuseScore will only need to add jack transport support to work in tandem with Ardour. My guess is that this is in the works as MuseScore is still under somewhat active development. You should contact the devs and talk about this on their forums.

Aleks
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Re: Integrating a note editor inside a recorder/sequencer

Postby Aleks » Tue Nov 06, 2012 2:24 pm

paulmerchant wrote:
I don't think your ideal solution is very far off. MuseScore will only need to add jack transport support to work in tandem with Ardour. My guess is that this is in the works as MuseScore is still under somewhat active development. You should contact the devs and talk about this on their forums.


You're absolutely right about that. I was just thinking to myself, is it so hard to implement such a feature into a DAW in all of the OS's out there, since no one has ever done it so far, and that would be the most logical thing to do. If you ask users of notation editor app which is the best notation editor, most of them would answer that it is Finale and Sibelius in PC/Mac and Musescore in Linux. There are people that prefer to compose in piano roll editor, but some musicians are used to see music as, you know, notes :D And the above mentioned note editors are the most logical and easy to use for that purpose, and yet, in DAW's either there's no notation editor at all, either it's some overcomplicated or half functional notation editor, which is kind of strange to me.

Aleks
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Re: Integrating a note editor inside a recorder/sequencer

Postby Aleks » Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:08 pm

falkTX wrote:
I believe that for such thing to exist we first need a good team of developers and musicians working together. Considering how open-source projects easily get into flamewars, this first step is very difficult.


Well, I can partially understand that, since after all, I guess software developers are humans too, aren't they? :D But nevertheless, in the end, all of you guys are doing a great job for the linux musicians.

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Re: Integrating a note editor inside a recorder/sequencer

Postby TheSafePlaces » Tue Nov 06, 2012 7:03 pm

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but check out Laborejo. It is in early stages at the moment, but I think it might be working towards a similar goal - a score-centric sequencer (and it is also a GUI Lilypond editor). Development is moving very fast, I think. And the dev is in the project IRC channel very often.

My only gripe with it is that it uses a cursor-based input method, which the dev says is eventually faster than MuseScore's pitch spell, but I don't find it immediately faster, and I'd rather stick with something tried and tested than reinvent the wheel. With pitch spell, if you can type, you can use pitch spell fast, plain and simple - zero learning curve. Musicians have enough to learn as it is, Linux musicians even more, what with the software input method needlessly being counterintuitive. However, there's MIDI keyboard input too (I don't have one so I've to use VMPK for this, diminishing the intuitiveness somewhat), as well as a keypad input (haven't tried it, but I suspect it won't be good on laptops.), so atleast there are some options.

Still, in the score area alone it looks like it will eventually trump MuseScore in advanced features, even if not in initial ease of use. The tiny 'manual' in the Help menu is excellent for getting started extremely fast, and there seems to be a shortcut for almost everything.

Anyway, see the About page and see if you like what you see.
http://www.laborejo.org/about
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Aleks
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Re: Integrating a note editor inside a recorder/sequencer

Postby Aleks » Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:32 pm

TheSafePlaces wrote:
My only gripe with it is that it uses a cursor-based input method, which the dev says is eventually faster than MuseScore's pitch spell, but I don't find it immediately faster, and I'd rather stick with something tried and tested than reinvent the wheel. With pitch spell, if you can type, you can use pitch spell fast, plain and simple - zero learning curve. Musicians have enough to learn as it is, Linux musicians even more, what with the software input method needlessly being counterintuitive.


Yeah, that's exactly what I'm talking about. Cursor based, I guess that would be like the input method in Cubase or TuxGuitar/Guitar Pro. I find it too that pitch spell is far easier and more intuitive way to enter notes than move the cursor left and right, up and down with the arrow keys or what not. I really don't get it, maybe because I have zero programming skill and knowledge, but why they can't make something that would be spot on, perfect, most logical solution, but instead, it's always something missing in the application that you need?

For example, in MuseScore, which is perfect for entering notes you can't connect individual parts (tracks) to their respective tracks in Ardour or Qtractor through JACK. There's only one common output, so if you'd like to compose your MIDI data in MuseScore, which is far more convenient for me than the piano roll, you'd have to export the individual parts to MIDI, then import them to Ardour, then connect the tracks to their softsynths or samplers, and then sync all to the recorded audio file or record something over it. But what if I'd like to write an accompaniment to an already existing audio track, say for example, MIDI based piano, bass and drum tracks for an existing guitar or vocal part? It would be way much easier to have it all connected through JACK, and just do what is the most important in the whole thing - compose some music.

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Re: Integrating a note editor inside a recorder/sequencer

Postby nilshi » Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:01 pm

Everything except midi keyboard input is slow. You are then interested in the most flexible one-tool solution that does not require the midi instrument, and that is the cursor and the number keys, which allow to enter, choose and edit.
Using letter keys as note names is really stupid. You block most of your shortcut keys for important stuff like editing and adding symbols. You need the mouse then and anytime you use the mouse you have slowed down.

Musescore is not the state of the art notation program in Linux, it is Lilypond.

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Re: Integrating a note editor inside a recorder/sequencer

Postby Aleks » Wed Nov 07, 2012 8:52 am

NilsGey wrote:Everything except midi keyboard input is slow. You are then interested in the most flexible one-tool solution that does not require the midi instrument, and that is the cursor and the number keys, which allow to enter, choose and edit.
Using letter keys as note names is really stupid. You block most of your shortcut keys for important stuff like editing and adding symbols. You need the mouse then and anytime you use the mouse you have slowed down.

Musescore is not the state of the art notation program in Linux, it is Lilypond.


I tried to run your program, but I get this error

Traceback (most recent call last):
File "./laborejo-qt", line 11, in <module>
import laborejoqt #initialize the GUI. We do this after parse init because if it were just --help we don't need to start the whole Qt chain.
File "/home/Downloads/nilsgey-Laborejo-9ee6933/laborejoqt/__init__.py", line 9, in <module>
from PyQt4 import QtCore, QtGui
ImportError: No module named PyQt4


I've installed PyQt4 beofre that, and yet it doesn't run. Also, in README file it says: "To learn how to use the API directly please read script-example.py", but that script is empty.

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Re: Integrating a note editor inside a recorder/sequencer

Postby nilshi » Wed Nov 07, 2012 4:02 pm

You have installed PyQt4 for Python2, but not for Python3. Do that and it will run.
Also install libsmf and pysmf by invoking the build script with Py3.

Nils

TheSafePlaces
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Re: Integrating a note editor inside a recorder/sequencer

Postby TheSafePlaces » Thu Nov 08, 2012 6:17 am

NilsGey wrote:Everything except midi keyboard input is slow.

True, that is the fastest possible.

NilsGey wrote:Using letter keys as note names is really stupid. You block most of your shortcut keys for important stuff like editing and adding symbols. You need the mouse then and anytime you use the mouse you have slowed down.

That is true as well...I guess I am too used to MuseScore. I suppose this kind of made sense in MuseScore because one has to edit the layout of symbols etc by hand, but IIUC one doesn't really need to do that in LilyPond.

I suppose the fastest way possible would be, enter your notes by MIDI, then sit down to edit non-note stuff like symbols etc. No switching back and forth between MIDI keyboard and mouse-and-keyboard, or Alt+Tab-ing between VMPK and scorewriting program. Cursor input for minor edits and changes...

I ought to try this, I guess.
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Aleks
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Re: Integrating a note editor inside a recorder/sequencer

Postby Aleks » Thu Nov 08, 2012 8:31 am

NilsGey wrote:You have installed PyQt4 for Python2, but not for Python3. Do that and it will run.
Also install libsmf and pysmf by invoking the build script with Py3.

Nils


Well, I've install Python3 via the Synaptic before installing PyQt4.....Or there's something else to be done. How do I install PyQt4 for Python3?

Also, does Laborejo have the option to connect separate tracks to their respective tracks in Ardour or Qtractor? Because I'd like to use a notation editor more as a MIDI editor, and not that much for score layout.

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Re: Integrating a note editor inside a recorder/sequencer

Postby tnovelli » Sun Jan 06, 2013 3:48 pm

falkTX wrote:Speaking for myself, I would never be able to do such things because I don't know enough about music theory.
I have plans to do my own sequencer someday, but it will be something basic (just a quick way to do drum beats, patterns, and sequences).

I believe that for such thing to exist we first need a good team of developers and musicians working together. Considering how open-source projects easily get into flamewars, this first step is very difficult.


I'm a programmer and musician, I should join this club. Trouble is, I've got my own opinions and goals, different from most of what I see in this thread. I find JACK unreliable and almost unnecessary. I hate C++. Python's a pain in the ass. And most open-src audio software is overbuilt and unpolished... I think that's asking too much from open-source. I don't have time to play music, make a living, AND develop a DAW-sequencer-notation program to rule them all, AND help maintain a musician's Linux distro :)

Your basic beat/pattern/sequence thing sounds about right to me. Kinda like Seq24 maybe. I think Hydrogen would be great for a lot of things, actually... works with ALSA and JACK, has a decent sampling synth and a very awkward sequencer... "just" needs a better UI and variable-length patterns. Add audio recording and you've got a DAW. If I could merge Hydrogen with the UI from Traverso DAW, that'd be freaking awesome.

Meanwhile I'm muddling along with Fedora 17, Audacity, MuseScore, Hydrogen, occasionally Qtractor/Qsynth/etc.

Argh.

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Re: Integrating a note editor inside a recorder/sequencer

Postby tnovelli » Sun Jan 06, 2013 4:07 pm

NilsGey wrote:Everything except midi keyboard input is slow. You are then interested in the most flexible one-tool solution that does not require the midi instrument, and that is the cursor and the number keys, which allow to enter, choose and edit.
Using letter keys as note names is really stupid. You block most of your shortcut keys for important stuff like editing and adding symbols. You need the mouse then and anytime you use the mouse you have slowed down.

Musescore is not the state of the art notation program in Linux, it is Lilypond.


Lilypond does beautiful typesetting, even for oddball stuff like renaissance tablature... but it's soooo slow to translate in your head between notation and lilypond code. WYSIWYG is the way to go. Yeah, avoid the mouse, except for jumping around.

To my surprise I found that MuseScore ABCDEFG keyboard entry works about as well as a MIDI keyboard.. because you've gotta have one hand on the keyboard to enter note lengths, rests, ties/slurs, etc. Could be improved of course. Might be better to use the ZSXDCVGBHNJM keys as a piano keyboard especially for music with a lot of accidentals.

tnovelli
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Re: Integrating a note editor inside a recorder/sequencer

Postby tnovelli » Sun Jan 06, 2013 5:32 pm

There's quite a mismatch between MIDI and notation... Notation is a shorthand, with details left for the performer's interpretation... MIDI needs some tweaking to get the right timing, volume, timbre, etc for each note... Notation needs visual tweaking... and there's no standardized file format capable of representing all those different tweaks (as far as I'm aware)

Notation programs like MuseScore have no concept of patterns... so when I export MIDI from MuseScore to a DAW/sequencer, I get the whole song from start to finish... that's ok for classical music... but pretty useless for rock, dance, trance, and pretty much everything else.

Oh yeah, more hidden complexity: Notation programs have an internal concept of "voices" that doesn't directly correspond to what you see on the page, nor with "tracks" or "channels" in DAWs/sequencers. For example, two violin parts written on the same staff (one up-stem and one down). Or a piano or guitar part with 2 to 4 semi-independent melody lines.

So.... it's unlikely we'll ever have separate sequencer and notation programs working together in harmony. And if we try to combine them, we'd end up with one hopelessly complex program like MusE before they pulled MuseScore out of it. The best I can hope for is a sequencer with piano-roll mode, maybe simplifed notation/tablature modes... then if I need beautiful notation, I export to MuseScore or Lilypond, tweak it, and update it manually when I make further changes. Actually a simple notation mode might be enough... in the classical group I play in, we just enter bare-bones notation in MuseScore, print it out, start rehearsing, THEN hand-write dynamics/articulation after we make up our minds. For that workflow, I could probably export to Lilypond and print without any tweaking, or (eventually) print directly from a simple builtin notation mode.

Lastly, getting away from C++ would be great. We kinda need C++ or plain C for efficient DSP, but most of the code should be written in embedded Javascript (V8 engine) or Lua (LuaJIT). Umm... I've tried embedding Python.. don't go there. Python wants to be the master, loading your custom C/C++ as DLLs. You end up with multiple Python versions installed on a machine, and a rat's nest of libraries... dependency hell. Plus Python has 20 years of baggage. It can be handy for prototyping though.

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Re: Integrating a note editor inside a recorder/sequencer

Postby raboof » Sun Jan 06, 2013 9:03 pm

tnovelli wrote:MIDI needs some tweaking to get the right timing, volume, timbre, etc for each note... Notation needs visual tweaking.


This is a hard marriage, indeed.

I haven't had a use for DAW's for ages, but back when I did, Rosegarden was pretty decent, and it has the best marriage between sequencing and notation that I've seen.

Having notation and DAW-like functionality in separate apps, and syncing them up with JACK transport, seems interesting but I haven't yet seen it work very well.

Notation programs like MuseScore have no concept of patterns... so when I export MIDI from MuseScore to a DAW/sequencer, I get the whole song from start to finish... that's ok for classical music... but pretty useless for rock, dance, trance, and pretty much everything else.


I'd say that's where an 'integrated' app like Rosegarden should really shine - though as you mention, it'll get complex.

Also, in my experience the Rosegarden guys are *really* nice and professional (I made some minor contributions).


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