I’m endebted to J. Simon van der Walt for (inadvertently) alerting me to a free, open source, music score-writing programme entitled MuseScore. It is intuitive to use for anyone accustomed to the basic commands which feature in most programmes e.g. hitting the space-bar to start/stop playing.
The program saves in its own file format but opens a variety of other file types, including Midi files.
While it’s not Sibelius, it’s not £449.95 either and, in these difficult times, it might be the only way for some to get their foot inside the score-writing software door.
In the spirit of open source, the first thing that happens, upon opening the program, is that you are invited to join the community. The news menu of this is reminiscent of Twitter with many (shortened) urls leading to how to videos such as this one on how to transpose a score. A quick search for similar videos on YouTube revealed about 1,000 results.
You can download the programme (Windows, Linux or Apple) here.
And, finally, congratulations to Simon on his recent PhD in composition! You can hear some of Simon’s work here.
Congratulations to my colleague, Liz Woodsend, for identifying the snag which had prevented 4 out of 5 midi files of Bohemian Rhapsody from playing. The problem lay in having the character “%” in the file name e.g. Bohemian Rhapsody – Performance Speed – 10%. The names have now been changed and “%” has been replaced by “percent.”
If you’re wondering why the usual formula e.g. Rondo 80, Rondo 90 etc. was not used, it was simply becuase the metronome speed changes several times in this piece. That’ll teach me to be pedantic 🙂
The fixed files can be found here.
Tickets for the Showcase are selling fast. Make sure not to miss out by contacting the Queens Hall asap.
Last rehearsal this Friday (18th) in NBHS from 13:15 to 15:15
Corrections have been made to the midi files of Scottish Medley on the Guitar Group Midis page. Congratulations to Danielle of MGS for noticing that the repeats were missing – and apologies for not believing her when she first mentioned it last week! I’m assuming that it was a kind attempt to spare my blushes that prevented anyone else from mentioning this (or noticing it) as the files had been up for 16 days. It surely couldn’t have been that nobody else had tried them, could it? 🙂
New midis of Ca’ The Ewes for the NBHS PTA Burns Supper (Fri 30 Jan) have been posted on the Guitar Group Midis page
Pupils! For your listening and dancing pleasure, midi files of Hungarian Wedding Dance have been uploaded to the Guitar Group Midis page.
This is the first of our East Lothian Guitar Ensemble pieces (next rehearsal – St. Mary’s PS, Haddington, 1:30 – 3:30)
The date for the Showcase Concert is Friday 27th March 2009 – the performance will take place in Musselburgh Grammar School – tickets will go on sale 4 weeks before the concert – in the Brunton Hall Box Office – this ensures equal access regardless of which school you attend.
I conducted a short experiment over the last couple of days, concerning who gets what part in the first of our East Lothian Guitar Ensemble arrangements. The piece is in three parts – top, middle and bass. I’ve also created four heterophonic parts so you could say the structure of parts is:
1, 1a, 2, 2a, 3, 3a, 3b
Using Sibelius, I played the score to the pupils at performance speed – which is pretty brisk . In addition to the speed there are two other unusual factors:
there are 7 beats per bar – grouped as follows 12 12 123
it is based on a very unusual scale (E Lydian Dominant) – resulting in unusual harmonies – one effect of which can be to make the less confident pupil occasionally doubt that they have landed on the correct note
Before the music began pupils were asked to identify which parts would meet the following criteria for them:
the part would (eventually*) be manageable
it would provide some element of challenge and interest
it might appeal to their natural strengths e.g. by being essentially melodic, harmonic or rhythmic in nature
it would avoid any feeling of distress
Somewhat to my surprise, every group and individual chose as I would have predicted. This could mean one (or possibly more) of three things:
that pupils are aware of their current levels
that they are aware of the likely speed of progress over the remaining months (even although some have not yet played in the East Lothian group)
that I am unconscious of Derren Brown-style levels of manipulation
Over the holiday, I hope to upload not only play-along midi files but parts of the piece so, if you play the guitar, you could simulate the experiment. For this particular piece, Hungarian Wedding Dance, most of the parts will be in TAB as opposed to traditional notation. This is due to the fact that many of the notes have been relocated onto strings other than the one where they would normally be found. This is done for two reasons:
increased resonance e.g. using 2nd string E at fret 5 instead of open E on string 1 – the sound of which is a little thinner
the note is more easily reached from the previous note than it would be in its normal location
* eventually, in this case, is the Showcase Concert on Friday 27 March at 7:30 in Musselburgh Grammar School