Software to write Theory book?

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etienne
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Software to write Theory book?

Postby etienne » Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:37 am

Hi there!

I know I haven't been on Linuxmusicians.com for about 6 months now, so I'm sorry, and I can't tell you enough about how good it is to be back!

I have found the free / public domain / Creative Commons books on music theory to be somewhat lacking in comparison to the ones that can be bought. I am thinking specifically of Music Theory for Dummies, a copy of which a friend of mine has, and it is absolutely excellent. Thus, when I needed music theory for some students of mine, I had to find some way to work around the problems.

I have thus decided to start a project, run by my own music company Mic Professional Music (which at this moment is just me!) in which a free / Creative Commons music theory syllabus, equivalent to the Royal Schools syllabus, is made available. The idea is that schools and other lower-income groups can have something available which they can copy for students without paying exorbitant license fees.

All I need, therefore (and here is the summary of this post) is software in which to write this music theory book. I am simply not sure how I should go about it.

Would the best way to be, perhaps, using OpenOffice.org with the Lilypond plugin?

Or does anyone know of any better solutions?

Thanks!

Etienne
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Re: Software to write Theory book?

Postby Pablo » Thu Jul 08, 2010 9:03 pm

Just an idea for you to look at:
LYX, a WYSIWYM document processor based on LATEX.

Cheers! Pablo

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Re: Software to write Theory book?

Postby raboof » Thu Jul 08, 2010 9:52 pm

etienne wrote:I have thus decided to start a project, run by my own music company Mic Professional Music (which at this moment is just me!) in which a free / Creative Commons music theory syllabus, equivalent to the Royal Schools syllabus, is made available. The idea is that schools and other lower-income groups can have something available which they can copy for students without paying exorbitant license fees.

lyx/latex might be nice if you're comfortable with that. If you want to take contributions, putting it into a version control system is useful.

If you'd like as many people as possible to contribute, a wiki approach might be a good idea. Once the content is there, it should be possible to export it to a more traditional book format (pdf etc).

Wasn't there someone here who once set up a public mediawiki with the lilypond plugin enabled?

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Re: Software to write Theory book?

Postby Scary Hallo » Fri Jul 09, 2010 6:18 am

raboof wrote: If you want to take contributions, putting it into a version control system is useful.

If you'd like as many people as possible to contribute, a wiki approach might be a good idea. Once the content is there, it should be possible to export it to a more traditional book format (pdf etc).

Hello etienne,

I like this idea. If you put it in a version control system (svn, or so) maybe I can help, and write a few articles or chapters. Please keep us informed, about the progress of your projekt.

Scary H

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Re: Software to write Theory book?

Postby looplog » Fri Jul 09, 2010 7:54 am

Hi Etienne,

I am wondering if you are aware of the wikibook on the subject? If so, are you unhappy with it? Can you comment on its weaknesses? Any reason for not wanting to contribute to improving it as opposed to starting your own project?

Anyway, to answer your question, you could always develop your own book in the same manner, using a mediawiki installation plus the wikitex plugin for latex/lilypond integration.

-michael

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Re: Software to write Theory book?

Postby etienne » Fri Jul 09, 2010 10:08 am

Thanks for the great input, everyone! Here are my replies:

@raboof and @Pablo:
I have thought a lot about using LaTeX, or even something like LyX, but if I want to get some of the local people involved, I'm a bit worried about the learning curve. That doesn't mean, however, that I will forget it immediately. The only thing that worries me is the importance of user-friendlyness. I've never had much luck with LaTeX, and I'm a Linux user, while most of my friends struggle to use computers at all!

@Scary Hello:
I definitely want to have some sort of version control. I have no idea as of yet how to USE svn, even though I know it is widespread. I will definitely look into that. Even things like Microsoft Word have tools like revision.

@looplog:
The wikibook on the subject is, unfortunately, basic at best. More than that, I don't just want to create a book, but rather a book with an accompanying syllabus, which can be printed with little or no help. Directing a 50-year-old underpaid school music teacher to a Wikibook will not be that easy really.

@Everyone: What I have in mind is a theory textbook, with different levels of exercise books for the different grades. Something like a Wikibook, or anything related, will be excellent for the textbook, but for the accompanying exercise syllabi, perhaps something else? Maybe LyX will be more suited.

Thanks for the help, and especially thanks for the offers to be a part! I will come back in a day or 2 and post a reply here with further developments. Please feel free to post more suggestions and questions in the meantime.
Etienne Snyman
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Re: Software to write Theory book?

Postby etienne » Fri Jul 09, 2010 11:25 am

I have read a bit on various blogs and internet posts, and have come down to the three most feasible options at this stage:


All of the above options, however, require knowledge in Lilypond, but that is not so much of a trainsmash. If I am working in LyX or OpenOffice.org with some musicians who are computer users but cannot use LilyPond, then they can write the music by hand and scan it in, or use something like MuseScore (or even Finale/Sibelius) and send me the music, explaining where which diagram must go.

Any thoughts?

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Re: Software to write Theory book?

Postby raboof » Fri Jul 09, 2010 2:04 pm

etienne wrote:want to get some of the local people involved


Yeah, then latex would be a poor choice as a source format (might be an intermediate format, but that's beside the point here).

I definitely want to have some sort of version control. I have no idea as of yet how to USE svn, even though I know it is widespread. I will definitely look into that. Even things like Microsoft Word have tools like revision.


The revision control present in word processors like Word is not very powerful/convenient imho, on the other hand I'm not sure there are good SVN client for non-programmers to use.

The wikibook on the subject is, unfortunately, basic at best.


Still, it might provide a nice kick-start over starting from scratch entirely.

More than that, I don't just want to create a book, but rather a book with an accompanying syllabus, which can be printed with little or no help. Directing a 50-year-old underpaid school music teacher to a Wikibook will not be that easy really.


I think it should be possible to take a convenient book-like PDF 'snapshot' of a set of wiki pages. I might be interested in helping out there, evaluating existing ways to do this and perhaps writing some scripts of our own.

@Everyone: What I have in mind is a theory textbook, with different levels of exercise books for the different grades. Something like a Wikibook, or anything related, will be excellent for the textbook, but for the accompanying exercise syllabi, perhaps something else?


Why not put the syllabi in a wiki (wikibook or another one)? Sounds like a reasonable fit to me.

As an aside: wikibook doesn't want to support the lilypond plugin for security reasons, but perhaps we could create a script that periodically checks the wiki for lilypond snippets, creates pictures with lilypond and uploads them. Or something.

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Re: Software to write Theory book?

Postby etienne » Fri Jul 09, 2010 4:03 pm

@raboof: Thanks for the input! I understand what you're saying, and I guess that you administer/contribute to that music theory WikiBook?

The thing is, I am looking at what is probably the same problem from another point of view: I would like to create a publishable result, with all sorts of aesthetic details, which can be read on a computer, or printed and published. (In fact, publishing it on a small scale here in South Africa might not be a bad idea at all...)

Why not put the syllabi in a wiki (wikibook or another one)? Sounds like a reasonable fit to me.

The reason I am steering clear of the idea of using a wiki is simple: I am thinking of people without internet access, or even without computers. This entire syllabus is focused at lower-income students and children. That is why I would like to create it simply from a different point of view. I would be more than willing, however, to allow content to be contributed to the WikiBook. That is why I was thinking of publishing it under Creative Commons.

All I am actually looking for is a feasible software solution to write the book. Writing my sheet music in MuseScore makes me happy. All I need now is a place to write my music theory. An internet connection cannot be a given, unfortunately.
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Re: Software to write Theory book?

Postby etienne » Fri Jul 09, 2010 5:00 pm

Does anyone know if it is possible to implement all the same LaTeX markup and classes in LyX? I will ask around, and even try it out, but if you take a look at the following page...
http://lilypond.org/doc/v2.12/Documentation/user/lilypond-program/LaTeX
...you can see that it is possible to include Lilypond notation in a LaTeX document.

If this is possible in LyX, then I will have my software solution. But, at the moment, it seems as if OpenOffice.org with the Lilypond extension/plugin is looking to be a slightly better option...
Etienne Snyman
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Re: Software to write Theory book?

Postby raboof » Sat Jul 10, 2010 9:32 am

etienne wrote:I understand what you're saying, and I guess that you administer/contribute to that music theory WikiBook?


Nope

etienne wrote:I would like to create a publishable result, with all sorts of aesthetic details, which can be read on a computer, or printed and published. I am thinking of people without internet access, or even without computers.


I understand that. You could use a wiki (either WikiBooks or your own) as an editing/collaboration/version-control/web-access system, and generate the publishable result (e.g. PDF) from the wiki content. For example, check out the 'Create a book' feature of WikiBooks. It would need some tweaking, but I think the concept is pretty good.

Does anyone know if it is possible to implement all the same LaTeX markup and classes in LyX?


Basically, yes: you can add any LaTeX to the header, and include LaTeX snippets into your text using the 'Evil Red Text' feature.

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Re: Software to write Theory book?

Postby sciurius » Sat Jul 10, 2010 10:46 am

etienne wrote:All of the above options, however, require knowledge in Lilypond,

I you're going for a collaborative effort, the best (only?) option is a Wiki. Flexible, open, controlled, version control, it's all there.
MediaWiki has a LilyPond plugin, you can read about it (and see it in action) here: http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Extension:LilyPond

Moreover, the LilyPond folks are extremely helpful people (I'm one of them :wink: ).

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Re: Software to write Theory book?

Postby Pablo » Sat Jul 10, 2010 10:55 am


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Re: Software to write Theory book?

Postby sciurius » Sat Jul 10, 2010 11:03 am

etienne wrote:The thing is, I am looking at what is probably the same problem from another point of view: I would like to create a publishable result, with all sorts of aesthetic details, ...

I sincerely hope you know that writing the contents of a book requires different skills than creating a publishable result, especially if you are facing the complex problem of music typesetting.
For publishable content tools like LaTeX and, sometimes, OpenOffice.org are great although the LilyPond integration can be tricky.

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Re: Software to write Theory book?

Postby sciurius » Sat Jul 10, 2010 11:18 am

sciurius wrote:I sincerely hope you know that writing the contents of a book requires different skills than creating a publishable result, ...

Please do not get we wrong, I'm not tryin to discourage you. Au contraire! But if you're good at writing this theory book it would be such a waste if you got stuck in hairy typesetting details.


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