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Tech: Little Software Helpers?

GUEST,Grishka 29 Jul 12 - 04:32 AM
JohnInKansas 29 Jul 12 - 06:04 PM
Bill D 29 Jul 12 - 11:06 PM
Bill D 29 Jul 12 - 11:15 PM
Bill D 29 Jul 12 - 11:33 PM
GUEST,Grishka 30 Jul 12 - 06:51 AM
pavane 30 Jul 12 - 07:50 AM
JohnInKansas 30 Jul 12 - 09:57 AM
GUEST,leeneia 30 Jul 12 - 10:22 AM
JohnInKansas 30 Jul 12 - 10:51 AM
Bill D 30 Jul 12 - 12:09 PM
Acme 30 Jul 12 - 12:24 PM
GUEST,leeneia 30 Jul 12 - 03:05 PM
Bill D 30 Jul 12 - 07:24 PM
GUEST,Grishka 31 Jul 12 - 03:39 AM
pavane 31 Jul 12 - 01:51 PM
pavane 31 Jul 12 - 01:52 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 01 Aug 12 - 04:09 AM
GUEST,Grishka 01 Aug 12 - 06:55 AM
Acme 01 Aug 12 - 09:44 AM
pavane 01 Aug 12 - 02:36 PM
pavane 01 Aug 12 - 02:37 PM
Bill D 01 Aug 12 - 05:39 PM
GUEST,Grishka 02 Aug 12 - 09:27 AM
Bill D 28 Aug 12 - 11:05 AM
Artful Codger 29 Aug 12 - 03:48 AM
GUEST,Jeff Seager 29 Aug 12 - 09:36 PM
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Subject: Tech: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 29 Jul 12 - 04:32 AM

Mudcat has plenty of threads about big music software for notation, recording, sampling, performing, etc. Most packages come with a large toolbox of utility functions.

But sometimes we want a little helper for a special purpose. On a thread about vocal training and rehearsing songs, I wrote that there must be plenty of free or cheap software for tasks such as
  1. metronome / conductor
  2. tuning / pitch controlling
  3. transposing MIDI files and slowing them down proportionally
  4. varying the tempo of MIDI accompaniment freely
  5. and similar tasks.
But is there really? Who can recommend us such software from own experience? Advantages, drawbacks? Requirements (operating system etc.)?

(I am using such software myself, but can hardly recommend any. Let us see ...)


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Subject: RE: Tech: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 29 Jul 12 - 06:04 PM

One of the oldest (and I might say one of very few) Windows "accessory programs" I have used since we added central heat to an early cave is called "midicolors" and when I got it it was a free download for subscribers to PC Magazine. They still have a "gimmicks" site, but I believe they now charge something like $9.95(US) per download.

It came as a .zip single file only 365 KB in size, that unzips to about 206 KB in a half dozen run files when you double click it. (The zip is bigger than the running files because the source code is included, which would be of possible interest if you've thought about writing your own utility, or maybe wanted to reconstruct it to show "visual guitar tab instead of piano keyboards.)

If you put a shortcut icon on your desktop, you can just drag a .mid file onto the icon, and click the play button when the program pops up.

It shows a "master" piano keyboard on which the whole .mid file is played, but for .mid files with several "voices" it also shows a separate keyboard for each voice. The keys "move and highlight" the notes as they're played.

A very handy feature is that you can turn the individual voices on/off with a single click on each keyboard (and turned off, a voice is removed from the sound output, so you can separate the voices both visually and audibly.) There's also a "tempo" control where you can change the tempo in a single box that's right up front.

Some "professional quality" (i.e. better than the ones I write) midi files contain so many different voices all moving in different directions that it can be difficult to "separate out" the even melody, and being able to turn the various voices on/off easily is a tremendous help in simplifying them, and for identifying chord structures.

The tempo change button is a big help if you're trying to learn a tune, and although nearly any scoring program lets you change the tempo and turn voices on/off, the controls in the program are a lot quicker and simplr than in most editing programs.

I find the piano keyboard display a convenient way of "visualizing" the midi structure and the "put together" of the tune. Others might wish for something different

My "original zip file" indicates a date of 2002, and the current listing for the download is the same. Recollection is that I had it at about the time that I upgraded to Win95, and it still runs in Vista/Win7, althugh it looks a little different in each Win version.

I haven't kept my subscription up to date and seldom look for helper files, but the Download Menu Site still lists it (look in the alpha listing under "M"). I haven't looked at whether the same site has anything else "interesting."

(Actual download page)

With the exception of the keyboard display of each individual voicing, it doesnt' do anything that's not in any decent scoring/midi program, but it's been very convenient for the "quick-n-dirty" look at midi files for planning how to deconstruct them for personal purposes.

Certainly not a necessity if you have a decent score/midi editor, and the download fee makes it much less attractive than when it was free; but it's been handy for me, although I keep it on the desktop more for the nostalgia than for anything I've done much of recently. (So far it's lasted 13% of a lifetime and still works, which is fairly impressive for any computer stuff.)

A quetion is whether this is the kind of stuff you had in mind for the thread.

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: Bill D
Date: 29 Jul 12 - 11:06 PM

Yes... there are indeed such programs.

For a tuner, try http://www.nch.com.au/tuner/index.html (I think I have a couple more)

For controlling almost anything about midis, use Van Basco's midi/karaoke player

I 'think' I saw a metronome thing, but can't find it right now.

Here's a related thing that might be useful..String Calc

"A program to calculate the diameters of strings, individually or in sets, for lutes, baroque guitars and other string instruments."


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Subject: RE: Tech: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: Bill D
Date: 29 Jul 12 - 11:15 PM

There is a fancy midi player/editor called "Midi Illustrator", but it has a limited number of trials before they want you to buy it. You do get a good bunch of free tries first.

(software like this has been a hobby for 15 years... I have WAY too many programs)


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Subject: RE: Tech: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: Bill D
Date: 29 Jul 12 - 11:33 PM

and sure.... the tuner guy has the metronome... look at the righthand side


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Subject: RE: Tech: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 30 Jul 12 - 06:51 AM

Thanks, that is something, John and Bill! I immediately tried out "Van Basco's midi/karaoke player" and recommended it on the thread I was talking about. A simple tool that does exactly what it claims to do.

A thread like this is particularly useful if we are specific and verbose. Software lists abound on the web, or to be obtained from search engines, but it is very tedious to find out which software is likely to suit the searcher. Also, there is a lot of spyware and other malicious stuff around; a recommendation by a Mudcat member, from personal experience, may reduce the risk slightly.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: pavane
Date: 30 Jul 12 - 07:50 AM

I have written MIDI programs to transpose and change speed.

Also to change pan and volume


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Subject: RE: Tech: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 30 Jul 12 - 09:57 AM

For several years (decades?) a home based business forced us to be wary of anything that didn't come from established program builders with known reputations, so I'll freely admit to having a somewhat different attitude than some; but I still don't use many "small aps" or much freeware/shareware even though the requirement for being squeaky clean for the business no longer exists.

A recent report from the Black Hat convention seems to agree that a conservative approach is a good idea, in a little different context than is most often seen.

The article refers to "gadgets" which are not much different than the "apps" proliferating with phone/mobile devices, but the comments also may have application to some of the other kinds of program code that are available for real computers.

Not a real "warning" in the context of the subject here, but something to poke back into the dark paranoid recesses of the mind ...

Kill-Your-Gadgets

The writer, Neil Rubenking, is a "once respected" commentator on computer matters, prior to his publisher's decision that only "mobile toys" were acceptable subjects; but I haven't seen significant signs he can't be trusted if his attention wanders back to something useful.

It's a fairly brief article that won't take more than a moment to check out.

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 30 Jul 12 - 10:22 AM

What exactly is a gadget?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 30 Jul 12 - 10:51 AM

A gadget is what some device makers (and OS producers) call an app.

Either name can be applied to any small "program" that does some fairly simple thing that you're to lazy to learn how to do with what's built into the device/system you're using (mostly), or that lets you punch/tap/wave or yell at your device to make it do something with one or two inputs, that might require three or four inputs to do for yourself.

Sort of like "speed dialing" for a phone that cost you so much you don't like calling it a phone.

(or maybe someone else would like to explain them a little more completely (?))

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: Bill D
Date: 30 Jul 12 - 12:09 PM

I agree with John that one needs to exercise a certain amount of caution in installing odd little programs. I (usually) don't try one unless I read first comments from those who HAVE tried it.
I frequent a Usenet group called alt.comp.freeware, where some pretty knowlegable people have posted over the years, and I try to read a wide range of opinions. After 15 years, you just develop a list of not only trusted testers, but also a list of companies and individuals who, although they may not be 'household names', are still highly respected software developers. A 3rd list consists of hosts who collect and test...and sometimes recommend... 'safe' applications.. (MajorGeeks is one.)

The whole process is similar to reading reviews and asking friends before you try some little corner restaurant which LOOKS interesting, but you are unsure of their cleanliness or cooking skills. It is no fun getting indigestion or Salmonilla because of a whim.

In the last few years, there has been a trend toward writing programs which can be 'portable'... that is, not writing to the Windows registry, but only to an ini. file, so they can be easily deleted if they don't meet your needs. These are also popular because they can be run from USB data sticks.

(I know people who say "I can do everything necessary on a Linux...or Mac.. machine, and that is basically true. But those odd little 'special' programs seem to still be mostly for Windows.)


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Subject: RE: Tech: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: Acme
Date: 30 Jul 12 - 12:24 PM

Bill D, this reminds me of learning and then writing little DOS batch files on my earliest computers.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Tech: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 30 Jul 12 - 03:05 PM

Is it safe to say that one can't really pin down where a gadget comes from?

Or would Noteworthy Composer be a gadget?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: Bill D
Date: 30 Jul 12 - 07:24 PM

'gadgets' are a sorta non-specific idea. Some may have a hard definition, but the word can mean various things. The Opera browser has 'extensions' which are not stand alone programs. Maybe that is the difference.


"...little DOS batch files ...". That's in my wife's area. She was a mainframe programmer and did DOS in her sleep. My mind just recoils from it. I am a driver, not a mechanic,


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Subject: RE: Tech: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 31 Jul 12 - 03:39 AM

Bill (30 Jul 12 - 12:09 PM), well said; that is what I hoped from this thread. I gather that "gadgets" you mentioned have passed the test you described, so that your Mudcat reputation makes us feel a bit more secure.

(I am not sure whether established program builders with known reputations in the consumer section really deserve our full confidence. Some were caught spying on their users, which then did damage their reputation, but not their financial success. "Portable" is a good idea, but no safeguard against sophisticated malware.)

(Many "gadgets" I use were programmed years ago by friends of mine, similar to the DOS batch files mentioned above. Sometimes I change a couple of lines myself. One of these tools is known to the 'Cat, the others I keep secret for good reasons.) --

I consider number 3 from my first message well covered by vanBasco, for Windows users. Any more suggestions for the other disciplines and operating systems?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: pavane
Date: 31 Jul 12 - 01:51 PM

Well, DOS in a mainframe was not like MS-DOS!
DOS just stands for Disk Operating System, of which there were many.

My MIDI offerings include Find MIDI Chords, which used to be a commercial program. HARMONY imports abc to a score and exports as MIDI.

My program MIDIWIZ allows
1. Tuning / pitch controlling
2. Transposing MIDI files and slowing them down (Or speeding up!)
3 Control the stereo placement of instruments using a semicircular chart display - drag the instruments to a new location

I have also written a small program for my wife to use on gigs, which lets her set up MIDI playlists, display the words, and also change the key or tempo. It plays the MIDI file through the PC soundcard or through an external sound module (e.g. Roland)

I don't promote that one, but would make it available if anyone wants it.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: pavane
Date: 31 Jul 12 - 01:52 PM

And I forgot - Mute selected channels


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Subject: RE: Tech: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 01 Aug 12 - 04:09 AM

Because I now work ... in various systems ... (android, mac, linux, win) across the globe .... I will be trying out "Drop Box" which purports to be all system acailable.

I find that "notepad " is my most used app for everything,
Alarm clocks the least reliable.
I would like a good, cross platform metranome.

Sincerely,

Gargoyle

dos 3.0 and norton and gibson and I was content.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 01 Aug 12 - 06:55 AM

I second Gargoyle's wish for a good, cross-platform metronome. It should not only click, but also "conduct", i.e. indicate graphically how long we have to wait for the next click. Mechanical metronomes have a pendulum for that purpose.

Also I ask our experts to name new software for task 4 (sometimes called "MIDI synching" or "MIDI conducting"). I am using MidiCond, which does the job alright and is (claimed) cross-platform, but feels slightly dated now (costs 24 Euros). Who knows about alternatives, still in the gadget price region?

Tuner: Bill (29 Jul 12 - 11:06 PM) mentions PitchPerfect, which I tried out and found a bit unpredictable in its reaction, though not bad, particularly for tuning stringed instruments. (It may border on spyware though, calling the maker's homepage.) Bill, you write "I think I have a couple more" - which others can you recommend, perhaps better suited for wind instruments and singers? It is a matter of taste, and not as easy to programme as the other tasks.

Pavane and other programmers, this is the place to promote your products, if small and music-related. Please give a web link, short description, platform(s), price. A programmer who is a Mudcat member will vouch for her/his software with the reputation of her/his nickname (whatever this is worth ...).

Thanks to all programmers of free software other than Trojan horses, spyware, or unreasonable/intransparent ad-ware.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: Acme
Date: 01 Aug 12 - 09:44 AM

I also use Notepad more than any other little program in there.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Tech: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: pavane
Date: 01 Aug 12 - 02:36 PM

Grishka,
I have often mentioned my software here,and some catters even use it (they claim...)

But it is for Windows only, and may people want Linux stuff.

Mr Red did try porting HARMONY to LINUX with WINE, I believe, but not successfully.

I haven't done anything new with it for some years, due to another project, which I am glad to say came to a successful conclusion this month with the publication of
my book. (The only linz with miusic is that he did write one libretto)

Sadly, being a critical biography, it won't be a best-seller, in fact, just like the software, it isn't going to make me any money. So I can't give up the day job yet.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: pavane
Date: 01 Aug 12 - 02:37 PM

More typos in one sentence than in the entire book!
Linz = link, and miusic!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: Bill D
Date: 01 Aug 12 - 05:39 PM

Grishka... I don't seem to find any other tuner programs right now. It has been quite awhile since I remember them...perhaps they were on my older computer.

As to programs in other categories, I hesitate to start! I have so many, and they are of 'limited' interest to most. (file managers? I have maybe 30! Music players & databases? only 10-12.. word processors that are NOT MS Word? 8-9..) Many graphics editors/viewers, unzipping and un-RARing, screen capture programs,,,etc.

So... if there are specific requests, such as you began with, I will see what I have or know about.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 02 Aug 12 - 09:27 AM

My original request was of course about music-related software, other than the mainstream tasks. If "Notepad" means "Finale Notepad", it is very mainstream and not at all small, but free (like the first joint from drug dealer).

Non-music software can easily fill many threads, distinguished by category. About ABC software, there must already exist several threads, which could do with updating by our experts.

Thanks, Bill and everyone!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: Bill D
Date: 28 Aug 12 - 11:05 AM

I just discovered a posting to my freeware group about more tuning software.

http://www1.ocn.ne.jp/~tuner/tuner_e.html

This is a set of 6 programs...including a metronome... by a Japanese author. A couple are specifically designed for Japanese instruments, but a others may work quite well for basic tuning.

(The first is a player which is a "Tempo and Key changeable MP3, WMA, M4A, WAV player"). Could be handy!

Hope someone find these useful.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: Artful Codger
Date: 29 Aug 12 - 03:48 AM

get-tuned.com is my favorite site for online tuners for lots of common instruments. (That said, I usually tune using an electronic tuner--a non-virtual gadget.) Their guitar tuner is particularly nice for those who use alternative tunings; strangely, their banjo tuner only supports one tuning, despite that banjo is one of the most frequently retuned instruments--they must figure a banjo is never in tune anyway.

The site also supports an online metronome, which I've never played with.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Little Software Helpers?
From: GUEST,Jeff Seager
Date: 29 Aug 12 - 09:36 PM

Not too many iPhone apps I can recommend as truly useful, but one I like very much is this:

Guitar Toolkit

It does all it says it will do, and does it well. Tuner, metronome, scales and chord charts for standard and many alternate tunings, for 6-, 7- and 12-string guitar, 4-, 5- and 6-string bass, ukulele, banjo, mandolin. Costs about $10 from the app store. Not a good enough reason to buy and use an iPhone or iPad, but if you already have one of those costly gadgets it comes in very handy.


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