Lightweight notation editor with a fast startup time

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Basslint
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Lightweight notation editor with a fast startup time

Post by Basslint »

Hello, I need a lightweight notation editor with a fast startup time when a .mid file is loaded.

I don't need audio, but MIDI input would be nice.

I tried the most popular ones while trying to configure them in the most optimal way (audio backend disabled, ALSA or portmidi for MIDI input, no soundfonts loaded). I tested them on a short, single-instrument MIDI clip in the public domain, this one. These are my results:
  • Canorus - Reasonable startup time, very lightweight but doesn't have a way to load .mid files from the command line
  • Denemo - Slow startup time, also some CPU hits when I use it
  • MuseScore - Slowest startup time, in general it's more of a full-featured package than a lightweight program, I don't think there is a way to change that
  • nted - Fastest startup time and very fast but it's abandoned, lacks many features others have and most importantly, doesn't have a way to pass a .mid file via the command line
  • Rosegarden - Reasonable startup time, notation editor is very full-featured. The interface is not that MIDI-friendly though, since Rosegarden is also a DAW
From this test, there is IMHO a tie between Canorus and Rosegarden. If some minor modifications to Canorus are made, Canorus is the clear winner for its lightweight design, but Rosegarden on the other hand trades a bit of simplicity with an higher number of functionalities.

These are my tests/opinions and I think there is still some room for improvement. Please note that I am talking about graphic notation software, I can get almost zero load times by using LilyPond or ABC.

Do you have any suggestions or recommendations?
Last edited by Basslint on Sun Jun 07, 2020 1:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. [Acts 4:32]

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Basslint
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Re: Lightweight notation editor with a fast startup time

Post by Basslint »

I was able to significantly shorten Rosegarden's startup time by deleting all tracks except for the first MIDI track and by setting that as the default studio (Studio > Save current document as default studio).

In other terms, unused tracks have an impact on startup time. Rosegarden starts with a bunch of MIDI and audio tracks which are obviously not used until needed.

So, despite the fact that it has a lot of DAW-like functionalities, Rosegarden is IMHO the best compromise between speed and feature-completeness, as far as MIDI notation editors go.
The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. [Acts 4:32]

Wanna make music on openSUSE? Check out GeekosDAW!

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andersen
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Re: Lightweight notation editor with a fast startup time

Post by andersen »

Hi Basslint,

Dunno if you're still looking, but if you're talking about an editor to generate a score, I've found Frescobaldi, a really able environment. It takes midi controller input. It generates a pdf score, and a midi file. And, you can import midis but that's a can of worms unto itself. I compose regularly and quickly using it.

It works well with Lilypond, (one button compilation) and it's fast. I'm using 3.0 and I've got no complaints. There are even some templates out there that can be imported to change the background from white page (except for the pdf output) to an easy on the eyes deep bluegreen. Also colorize the various notation components. I work almost daily in it.

It's a smart editor that also supports debugging. I've seen some negative reviews, but I'm not sure why but Lilypond is quite a learning curve.
Frescobaldi is a well integrated toolset/enviroment. I've been able to focus on improving my Lilypond usage versus wrestling with the editor I used before Fresc.

A smart editor like notepad++ or some other coding editor can handle bracket matching. Frescobaldi responds to most of the Lilypond structures and keywords. Works in Win and Linux. I've got it on both.

Cheers
Less talk, more music - andersen

Basslint
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Re: Lightweight notation editor with a fast startup time

Post by Basslint »

Thank you for your suggestion of Frescobaldi, @andersen :D I had it installed for years but since I am no big-brain composer, I never had a chance to use it. I tried it with Ardour, it works rather nicely. One thing I wish it did though is sync the MIDI player to the selected note :shock:
The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. [Acts 4:32]

Wanna make music on openSUSE? Check out GeekosDAW!

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andersen
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Re: Lightweight notation editor with a fast startup time

Post by andersen »

Hey Basslint!
I've always enjoyed creating. Since I've had a means to write things down and hash them out quickly (with midi controller), I am making use of all the ideas, that I always get and then... forget about. I have this cool... vehicle, in Frescobaldi. I used to write from a guitar neck. Not so much now, and I don't usually work from a keyboard. I write down the idea in notation, (usually just a snippet - but enough) and try to get the original key I heard it in right. As soon as I'm in Fres. I have a piano part up in no time and can listen to the midi realization to refine it. When I can't stand the midi voices, I import to CbB and add a synth or two to see what it sounds like.
I don't program much anymore, so I guess this appeals to my sense of logic as well as creativity.

What are you about when you're working in Ardour? Gots to be some creativity/curiosity going on? Hang on, are you with the Drunk Dolphins? I followed that link last week when I was on.
Less talk, more music - andersen

Basslint
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Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 2:25 pm
Location: Italy

Re: Lightweight notation editor with a fast startup time

Post by Basslint »

andersen wrote:
Mon Nov 23, 2020 3:53 am
What are you about when you're working in Ardour? Gots to be some creativity/curiosity going on? Hang on, are you with the Drunk Dolphins? I followed that link last week when I was on.
Sorry for the late reply, I am not sure I got notified for your post :?

I am not with any drunk dolphins, I am afraid :lol: I am an Ardour user and spend there most of my music-making time.

I would just like to right-click a MIDI clip in Ardour, edit it with a fast and playback-less notation editor and have the changes be immediately reflected into the the Ardour MIDI track when saving. That's it. I don't think it's an unreasonable request, I looked into doing it via a Lua plugin in Ardour synced to nted or Rosegarden but since Ardour does not allow live-editing MIDI clips, I am afraid this is impossible. So the only option so far looks working with Ardour (which handles synths, automation and effects) + Rosegarden (strictly for sequencing), which is by any means not a bad solution but not as modular as I'd like.
The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. [Acts 4:32]

Wanna make music on openSUSE? Check out GeekosDAW!

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