Saturday, 21 November 2015

What's next for Drum Score Editor

I keep a list of requests from people and ideas of my own in a list and once recovered from a development / test / release / support cycle sit down and try to sort them into some sort of priority order.

Those who've been with this project from the beginning will know it's a means to an end for me, not commercial, although it would be nice to be able to spend more time on it, which if I could figure out how to support the family from just this it would be awesome!

Having my own score editor for me is just to be able to work on progressing the experiment of software being able to "listen" to drumming and write most of the score down for you. There's been lots of press around a tablet advert recently where it showed someone scribbling notes and it interpreting them for you. That's all about finding a more natural way to enter the score into the system, and handwriting is still easier for most than flying a keyboard and mouse. I say most as my handwriting is now awful after 30 years as a keyboard warrior!

I'd say for drummers the most natural way to enter a score would be to simply play it. Why has nobody ever done this before? The answer is it's complex but is achievable, and the only reason is the amount of effort (the hundreds of days of coding)  to do it would never be recovered financially, so the effort can't be made to make it happen.

We're not that funny a lot in pipe bands, it's our hobby and we spend enough on uniform, travel, subs etc to play in a band, so paying a couple of hundred pounds for a software tool that will help save some time in writing out scores isn't really a priority for most! And it would be that price if I had to pay others to write the software, couple of good developers for a year would cost 100K, if each copy were to sell at 200 pounds, that's 500 copies needing to be sold before breaking even - if anyone would pay that for it! There's not 500 people needing that level of sophistication.

So this will continue as my ultimate goal, to get a piece of scoring software good enough to be usable everywhere, and use it as the mule to carry the scores created by the "listening" software. Does it exist? Yes, but only in very formative terms, experimental even. It can cope with a simple 2/4 time sig and very simple note structures, go irregular group and it hasn't got the nouse to reverse that into a series of accurate notes yet. But it will, when I get time to work on it further.

So what's in the way? What needs to be done before I can get to it? The challenge of the software becoming more popular is folks want just one more tweak, can you just add this etc. No problem, I will as I want this to be useful too. Here's what's on the list:

  1. Allow just the main note to be unison, excluding specifically any grace notes
  2. Tie to nowhere, i.e. first or last note of a line and tie to the end of bar but not to another note
  3. crescendo / diminuendo across lines
  4. bracketing feature for u, f, ff, p, pp, 1st, 2nd type notation
  5. progress beautify to fix anacrusis spacing, auto align bar lines, right align end of line bars
  6. customisations for staff line thickness, note / staff gap, 
  7. add smart-spacing to the triplet / irregular group add logic
  8. add staff line grouping to create musical systems (side, tenor, bass)
  9. highlight incomplete or over-filled bars of music while editing
  10. option to beautify just the selection
  11. add multiple page support
  12. add graphics / logos to scores
  13. add full text editor areas with multi lines and stylised text 
  14. fix the view-zoom / actual menu logic - corrupts view today
  15. unison line bracket not closed off in all cases
  16. do nicer things on install like file associations, local vs system install
  17. add local fonts for text areas
  18. ghost out suggested tenor scores from analysis of side score

That's probably achievable by this time next year!

I'm also starting to write a new app for the iPad / iPhone for editing drumscores. I'm not convinced myself, I think the usefulness is limited, compared to a laptop with keyboard and mouse and listening to scores with the inbuilt microphone is potentially limited too, am hoping there's more of a convergence between laptops and tablets ultimately but definitely requires a complete new app to work in the Apple system properly.

Then it needs writing again for the Microsoft world. So if there's any billionaire out there who wants to make a large payment so I can go work on this full time for reasons of simple philanthropy please call ... soon!


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