Monday, 5 December 2016

Drum Score Editor 2.5 Release Notes

The Robots Are Here

Huge thank you to the global team of beta testers who helped test and refine this great new feature. Firstly, it's only available to those who've purchased a license for Drum Score Editor, as it falls into the category of productivity features.

OK so it's not a real robot, it's a software robot. It watches as you enter and format notes and rests into your score and automatically joins the tails of notes together, i.e. adds the beams between notes. It watches for beat groups and makes sure the notes don't join across those, and also watches for the primary subdivision and makes that a single beam. It doesn't do the single beam thing in the anacrusis as that would be wrong, as it's often only a single beat.

Similarly rests are considered differently from notes, auto beam won't join tails underneath a rest unless you manually ask it to, which reuses the familiar manual method of using the L key, or the popup menu.

As always you can switch it off, for an individual score in it's properties or overall in the preferences if you prefer to manually beam notes.

Fixes

Also fixed a bug where if you said a text tag was to go below a note, Drum Score Editor would ignore this when loading the score from a file and put it at the top again. It now does as it's told! 

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Visual Metronome & Embedded Video / Audio Concept

Concept is to be able to play along to the written score, at the set tempo. We’ve had a bpm (beats per minute) property on a score for a while but it’s not been used for anything meaningful until now.

The experience for the user is intended to be pressing a play button of some sort, and you get a click track or visual count down for the number of beats in the bar, as determined by the time signature property on the score, then a click track plus a bouncing red ball that falls down on to each beat note, at the correct tempo, making an arc between each beat. Future revisions could have the ball bounce on each note in the score at the correct time too.

Definitely not trying to implement synthetic playback, there’s enough attempts at that out there using different approaches like sampling drummers and so on. In theory we probably could extend the functionality in a future revision but it’s not intended here. What is intended here is this lays the foundation for embedding a video or audio track of the author playing the score, which is synchronised to the written score.

As the score plays back it might be useful to be able to stop / start at different points, so having a set of controls like a video player will be useful, e.g. a volume slider for the click track,  or even a mute click track check box, we’ll also need a start / stop button, plus a location slider, i.e. slide all the way to the left takes you to the start, to the right is the end so you can position anywhere.

As the location slider moves, so the score should reflect the location in real time, so the user can see where they are at. As audio / video is added in later phases of the development, the slider should move the video in real time too.

Modern interfaces have the controls overlaid on the window and they fade out when not in use, and any mouse movement or keystroke makes them reappear. Might push that complexity to a second phase, and just start with a bar along the bottom of the window that has the controls on it, only downside is it uses dedicated space on the screen, rather than allowing maximum possible for the score to be seen.

We need to think about how to fit the score in whatever size window the user has decided, i.e. the window has standard controls for minimise, maximise, close and can be dragged to whatever size wanted. The piece of the score that surrounds the current beat needs to be visible at all times, so we must scroll the score as it plays, both horizontally and vertically but it would seem strange to not have the whole line visible, might not include horizontal scrolling in first pass to encourage that good habit. 

A zoom control might be more appropriate here, especially for reuse in later versions where an author may be looking to export a regular video of the score being played with the score embedded.

So MVP is a first-class window, bounces a red ball off the beat notes after an intro countdown, start / stop control at the bottom, this and features below all bound to the licensed version of Drum Score Editor. 

Future List
  • Add a control that allows back and forth through the score.
  • Add an audio click track to help play along, with mute and volume options.
  • Add ability to record audio while playing along, add recorded audio into the score playback, with volume option
  • Add ability to record video while playing along, add recorded video into the score playback, with volume option, it be either / or for audio and video track, i.e. only one media format embedded
  • Investigate placing a watermark in an export of the resultant video with name of who bought it and a copyright statement

Sunday, 13 November 2016

A cutting tale

When Drum Score Editor was first imagined, it was to be a drummers score editor, not an adapted music editor. One of the things I grew up with was the concept of dot and cut. I self-taught myself reading and writing music for the guitar from the age of about 10, and about the same time started to learn the side drum.

Written music wasn't a big thing back then, by today's standards it was pretty rough and ready the written scores. I was taught the opposite of a dot is a cut, and that a cut shortens the duration of a note by half it's value.

I was also aware that when you do that it counted the same as if you'd written a note that was the one with another tail or flag on the stem. But a cut note was special, it was a cut note, not a smaller note, in duration terms.

And so despite knowing there's a vaguely inconsistent thing there, I maintained the ability to mark a note as cut in Drum Score Editor. In fact in earlier versions, where the beaming of tails wasn't as complete I believed it was a necessary thing for drummers somehow. This has changed.

By having this complexity in the model inside the software it makes moving things to more advanced levels even more difficult. So from the versions after 2.4, there is no concept of a cut note, simply a cut action, which halves the note value, i.e. a semiquaver, when cut becomes a demisemiquaver. This removes a lot of code complexity when applying all the logic needed to auto beam notes.

The main factors in automatically joining note flags or tails, also known as beaming just to confuse further, are the note value, it's position within the bar, the time signature in effect at the time, whether the note is a beat note, a primary subdivision of the beat (as we tend to single beam those), if there's an irregular group in effect, or multiples thereof. Adding in an artificial "is this note cut" really took this to beyond my abilities to code up!

The one side effect for me in the code was beautify, which relied on knowing the note was cut, to be able to judge the distance along the bar to place the note. It served as a hint because although dotting a note adds half it's value and cutting takes half off the next note, we as humans don't like to see it written as the mathematical representation of that. We like interpretation, and Drum Score Editor does just that. It uses 1.666 rather than 1.5 as the multiplier and shortens the distance for the following cut note. Try it, if you write a score manually, looks too clipped if you follow the mathematical interpretation!






Thursday, 27 October 2016

Version 2.4 Release Notes

Features

One big one really - a popup menu when you right click inside the selection. Try it, it should be really intuitive and if it's not please tell me! It's nigh on impossible to remember each of the hotkeys for different actions, as the feature list grows, this makes it much easier, takes a click or two so the hotkeys are still faster, but that's the trade-off for the ease of use.

Importantly though, what happens is the menu only enables the appropriate items depending on the content you've selected. So for example if you've selected bar lines only then it's not going to allow you to add a flam ....

The other important thing is an item on the menu is check if any of the contents of the selection are, i.e. if you select a bunch of notes and one of them is unison, the unison menu item will be checked. If you uncheck it, it will remove unison from those notes that are unison.

It's worth pausing and considering how this differs from selecting all the notes and using the 'u' key, to the button on the panel on the right. The behaviour there is toggle on or off the unison status of all the notes, i.e. those that were not unison would become unison, and those that were unison have it removed.

Having the menus behave differently is useful as it covers both needs, e.g. you've coped and pasted a bunch of notes, some of which were unison to another line, and on the other line it's a second time through so you want to remove the unison. With the toggle approach you have to select each range of unison and toggle it off, with the menu you can select the lot and just uncheck.

This was specifically requested as a feature, as was a kind of paste special which didn't paste attributes like unison - both of these are addressed this way.

Fixes

  • There wasn't any undo capability on the tie to bar end feature, there is now.
  • With the toggle keystrokes and buttons in the panel on the right, you can add a triplet over exactly the same notes that are in a regular tie - not really a need for that - I've not removed this from the keystrokes, but the menu system above stops that happening.
  • When we generated a 3/4 march score it had too many bars. Sorry, we count correctly now.
  • Common and Cut Common time signatures weren't aligning on the staff lines properly, also made the time sig and tune type text in the top left look misaligned - because it was. All fixed.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

2nd times, repeats etc


Something we all deal with in pipe band drumming is what I'm going to call "2nd times", where the melody varies the second time through a part and we as drummers need to follow suit. In traditional (your grandfathers) drum scoring tools you have to do this all yourself. Drum Score Editor has always been about being efficient from the moment you enter a note, to how you work with notes once they're there. You can get Drum Score Editor to do a lot of work for you if you work a certain way, this post is all about that for 2nd times.

You've still got the ultimate flexibility

Before we dive in let's not forget: you can do anything you like in Drum Score Editor, to manually set up different bar types, text, etc - there are no restrictions once you select Edit -> Bars. However we all want clean, easily understood music, and some conventions, or dare I say, shortcuts, we've taken as score authors in the past are, frankly difficult to sight readers and slow the learning process.

So I've put some productivity workflows in Drum Score Editor to help with 2nd times, however they are a point of view - remember you can always go and do what you like, the flexibility is there, but stick with me on this and life get's easier for everyone - you may disagree with my thinking here but please at least hear me out.

I dislike extra individual bars being jammed on a staff line and the words or lines added to say what to do. I think we've done that in the past because when we hand write scores it's a pain in the proverbials to have to go rewrite 3 identical bars so we scribble something in there. I'd rather see a complete new line drawn in and with software this is so much easier. It also helps maintain a clean, structured score where all the bar lines line up and it's easier to see the overall structure at a glance.

Let the robot do it's dance

Robots are programmed to behave in a certain way, and if the way you work matches up then the robot is adding value. Drum Score Editor is programmed to behave a certain way and I'd offer that to get the most out of it, both today and in the future (especially when playback comes in so it can understand the flow) if we work as described below, scoring life becomes easier for all!

Take a 2/4 marches where 2nd time happens a lot. When we generate the score, we put repeat bars at the beginning and end of each part, and often it's typically over 2 lines. I'd say write out your part for the first time through over those 2 lines. Then, if the melody changes in the 2nd 4 bars, you can put your cursor on the 2nd of those lines and use the Format -> Music -> Toggle 2nd Time Staff Line menu item. This triggers a workflow that automates the following:

  1. Insert new Staff Line below this one
  2. Copy and Paste all the contents of the first line to the new one
  3. Strip out any unison from any of the notes pasted (as this is 2nd time, we're all playing then)
  4. Switch the bar marker at the end of the new line, as there should be no repeat dots on the 2nd time
  5. Add a text tag to the bar marker at the beginning of the 1st line to say "1st Time"
  6. Add a text tag to the bar marker at the beginning of the new line to say "2nd Time"



Easy right? All that work done for you. Now all you need to do is alter the musical content, all the structural work is automated. This is the biggest dance this robot does at the moment, and it only does it one way.

It's a toggle type action so if you want to undo a 2nd time, put the cursor on the original line and use the same menu item - it will remove the 2nd time line and put everything back as it should be. It can only do this if you don't modify the 1st and 2nd time text tags and the repeat bar markers.

If the melody, or your score changes for example in bar 3 of your 2/4 march, before going to a second time, you've actually got 5 bars out of 8 different for each time through so I'd say don't to a second time. Remove the repeat marker at the end of bar 8 and copy paste in another 2 staff lines so it's played straight through, the forte being the 2nd set of 8 bars. The robot doesn't know how to do this for you yet, but I've done that enough times by hand now to think there's value in developing an automated workflow to help with that.


There is a debate that the above part should be written as per the image below, i.e. bar lines don't change and anacrusis belongs only at the beginning of the whole part. Research under way! If I'm going to automate it, then we should automate it correctly!


Today though there is a Format -> Music -> Clone This Staff Line workflow which inserts a new staff line below the one the cursor is on, and copies and pastes the contents there. I used that, plus the insert new staff line and, with Edit -> Bars enabled, copied and pasted the whole line down so there are still efficient ways to do this if you know how!

Do anacrusis right, and avoid some 2nd times

The other thing to get correct is anacrusis and the last bar. This will help so much in avoiding messy situations, and all I'm saying is follow the written music standard. Many will argue standards are one thing and what we do in practical terms is another, and I'm OK with that, it's just a way of communicating to each other and so long as we all understand what's meant that's good enough. But if you communicate anacrusis, or pick-up notes, in a certain way it avoids a bunch of "2nd times".

The rules implemented in Drum Score Editor with respect to 2nd times and anacrusis is that the anacrusis notes are balanced in the last bar on the 2nd time through only. Not only is this the historical musical standard, it is the easiest way if perhaps your pick-up notes into the 2nd time through vary from the 1st time. In the example below, we also illustrate the 'roll to nowhere' tie, as it 1st time through the ending varies to a roll. Select the last note and hit the 'k' key.



Steam powered PC

Steam Powered PCs, aka Windows XP

It's not been possible to install and run Drum Score Editor on XP for some time. Hopefully not surprising as it's a modern piece of software that's regularly updated and Windows XP is not - it's not been available for years however a lot of people still have it - millions in fact, it's more popular than macOS still apparently!

Anyway if you try to install Drum Score Editor it all goes well then blows up at the end saying not a valid program or words to that effect.

So here's the scoop. This is the packaging only. The packaging technology that created the installer etc is new, newer than XP and I can only presume the guys that wrote it didn't cater for XP because of it's age.

I like a good investigation and finally found a way to be able to run Drum Score Editor on XP. It's not pretty but hey if you're still running old stuff like XP you are used to not pretty! In my humble opinion ... :)

In summary, the trick is to install java from the oracle web site, and then use it to run the underlying jar file that is shipped in Drum Score. So what does that mean to a non-geek?

Browse to: http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/java/javase/downloads/index.html and select JRE download on the right. Accept the license and choose the i586 windows download.

Run the installer it downloads and reboot your XP machine. Then open a command prompt, and prove to yourself it now works:

cd c:\"program files"\DrumScoreEditor\app
java -jar DrumScoreEditor-2.3.jar

Boom - it will work. Now it will look like it works but there's one more gotcha. You have to have a printer of some sort installed on the XP machine - it doesn't physically need to be there, you just have to make sure XP has at least one printer entry, otherwise nothing happens when you try to create a new score, and every time you try to load an existing one it says "doesn't look like a score file".

The reason for this is there needs to be a printer there to validate page sizes against, Drum Score has to do this to get the dimensions correct - I might be able to do away with this, find another way to do it I mean, but that's more development.

If you want to be really clever you can create an icon on your desktop with a shortcut to run Drum Score without having to type all that above:

On the desktop right click and choose new shortcut
In the Target box type exactly: "C:\Program Files\Java\jre1.8.0_111\bin\java.exe" -jar DrumScoreEditor-2.3.jar
(OK a more complex bit here, this assumes the latest version of java is 1.8.0_111, you may need to replace that with the version that installed, just check what is in the Program Files\Java folder.)
In the Start In box type exactly: "C:\Program Files\DrumScoreEditor\app"
Hit OK and then just clock on the icon and you have Drum Score Editor.

This is all a bit geeky and techie but it's the best there is at the moment to enjoy Drum Score Editor on Win XP. The alternative is trade up your PC I'm afraid :/

Testing Guidance for Drum Score Editor 2.3

Rambling Preamble for Drum Score Editor 2.3 Testing

What is this place?

For anyone landing on this post by accident, it's purpose is to help provide guidance to those kind folks who've opted to test version 2.3 of Drum Score Editor before I update all the website links and documentation. Anyone is welcome to test this software, all I ask is you confirm to me any issues, if it worked ok, whether you did it on an Apple Mac or Windows PC and which version of macOS or MS Windows you installed on.

Why are you providing so many words this time when prior it was the Nike approach (Just Do It)

This version of the software integrates fully in the desktop, meaning it associates the file extension .ds with Drum Score Editor. This has required a slightly different experience to the install on Windows for this one time only. Mac is no different from before, but for both platforms you get the ability to click on a drum score file in File Manager (Windows) or Finder (Mac) and it will open it in Drum Score Editor.

It also means you'll see the .ds files with the now famous Drum Score Editor icon attached and they'll be described as "Drum Score Editor File".

What about licensing?

A quick foreword, Drum Score Editor runs on Windows and macOS. There are separate install instructions for each platform below. If you've already run Drum Score Editor on the system you're testing on, and have previously kindly purchased a license to unlock the productivity features, then that license key will be applied automatically to this version when you install.

If you're installing on a new system, and have a license key on a previous system, you can retrieve it by logging in to your account on https://www.drumscore.scot.

If you never knew there was the ability to help support the project financially by buying a license, you absolutely don't need to, the unlicensed version runs perfectly well, isn't crippled or time limited in any way and is perfectly functional for writing scores.

However you can create an account and download a license on the said website. You get a bunch of advanced features which make life a lot easier if you're writing up scores. It's not expensive, GBP 15.00 (which for all the non-UK residents this is now mega cheap given current exchange rates). I've had so much feedback that I should charge more but this isn't a money-making venture, I'm just trying to cover costs, I give my time developing and support this for free.

I've not used Drum Score Editor before.

If you've never used the software before I suggest a quick look at the documentation pages on https://www.drumscore.scot and email me, alan@whiteware.org for a quick session on how to get started quickly.

Enough, tell me how to install this stuff!

macOS (aka Mac OS X)


Mac users will know how the install works. It's consistent with every software install on macOS, it comes in a DMG file which you download from above, Finder will mount it as a volume and you get window asking you to drag the software onto the Applications folder. 

Just drag it across and say yes to overwrite any previous version. The app is digitally signed so you don't need to faff with gatekeeper settings or anything, it's a validated Mac app. If you want to go back to a prior version they're all in the s3 folder above, so version 2.273 would be https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/drumscoreportal-resources/DrumScoreEditor-2.273.dmg.

Once installed you can launch like any mac app, through finder, launch pad etc, cmd-space etc.

Microsoft Windows


I recommend that if you have a previous version of Drum Score Editor installed that for this one upgrade, you manually uninstall it. Reason for this is we now install in C:\Program Files (x86) where everybody expects to find software, rather than in the user local profile and I've not found a way to automatically uninstall from a different location I'm installing to. I'm sure it can be done, somehow, but I've not discovered it yet. If I figure it out before testing has finished we'll be in a better position for all the other folks who will use it.

Because it's Windows and we're installing in Program Files with admin permissions, we need to care about people doing nasty things like hijacking installers to carry viruses and other malicious code. When you run the installer, Windows will ask you if you want to allow the Drum Score Editor installer to run as admin - you have to say yes to this if you want to install it, however it should tell you that the Publisher of the software is verified as Alan White. If it says anything else you should cancel as somebody has passed you a dodgy copy. This also protects you in case anyone hijacks my website or installer locations too.

The installer will ask you the location to install, please just accept the default, it will only ever ask this the first time you install Drum Score Editor because we're putting it in a new location. Future version installs will just know where to put it!

Click through and Finish. You will find there's an icon on the desktop to make it easy to find in amongst the plethora of stuff Microsoft sticks in those menus.

Feedback

Please feel free to ask me any questions or tell me if something didn't work how you thought it should and so on. Either by email to alan@whiteware.org or use the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/DrumScoreEditor/, or send a carrier pigeon. Always happy to help.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Version 2.3 Release Notes

Drum Score Editor 2.3

Some far reaching internal changes to the code in this release, mostly to allow the features and fixes below, so please do let me know if there's anything not quite working right for you asap and I'll fix it! Thanks again to everybody who continues to support this project with feedback or financially by buying a license at https://www.drumscore.scot

Note Beams

Note beams can now pass underneath rests, important to allow visual grouping of notes. In the past there was no option but to just leave the notes untethered in groups such as first shown here:

Windows & macOS Integration

Drum Score Editor is now a much better behaved citizen on your desktop. The .ds file type is now associated with the Drum Score Editor app on both Windows & macOS versions. This allows launch from the file manager by clicking on the score file, rather than run the app up and File->Open. Note that it will not run up another copy of the app if it's already running, the file clicked will open in a new tab.

Also, on the Windows installation, it now resides in C:\Program Files(x86) rather than in the users AppData folder. This means Drum Score Editor is now available to all logged in users on a PC and more importantly it's where most folk expect software to go, despite nuances of multi-user servers. A desktop shortcut icon, and a start menu entry are also created.

Just for the curious, the (x86) piece means we're shipping a 32-bit product, rather than 64-bit - reason being there are too many people still running old copies of windows out there that only support 32-bit and it would take a lot more development cycles to build both types and then re-engineer the installer to figure out what you've got. Maybe next year we'll ship 64-bit only.

Changes in Time Signature

Prior to this release, if you dropped a time signature inside a music area (shift-t), it would show as being there but the advanced Beautify and Bar Auditing view would ignore it and keep pretending it's still the time signature in the score properties.

We now consider any changes in time signature throughout the piece, which is incredibly useful if you're writing exercise sheets or maybe there's a few bars at the end of a tune in a medley where there's a fancy show-off segue.

Cut Any Which Way

We now have the ability to tell a cut to explicitly go forwards, in the situations where Drum Score Editor can't decide, or just plain get's it wrong and points it backwards. Select the note and use shift and hyphen (that's a dash to some!).

Is My File Saved

You don't get the annoyance any more where you save a file and it still flags up as unsaved and prompts you again when exiting.

There Be Dragons

An important one for those who've edited .ds files directly to achieve certain effects, the x co-ordinate is no longer stored in the file, and only xPerCent is used to determine how far along a staff line an element should sit, i.e. it's relative placement. If you don't know what I just said, s'ok - you don't need to!

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Cut that out!

Sometimes you think you've got a complete understanding of written pipe band drum music and then sometimes you question yourself. Within Drum Score Editor some effort has gone in to making certain things automatic, rather than the editor of the score having to think about individual little things. E.G. how many beams go back, which way the cut goes in dot-cut, cut-dot situations.

That particular conundrum I thought I'd cracked a while back, but today somebody pointed a situation where Drum Score Editor doesn't behave itself properly.

Consider the phrases above, the first is correct, if we cut the note and follow by a dot, the cut is drawn correctly going forward toward the dotted note. In the second phrase it doesn't, it insists on drawing back the number of tails that the note has that exceed those on the prior note.

Looking at the 3rd phrase, which is musically identical to the second, Drum Score Editor behaves itself. This identifies the issue as being when a note is beaming back to a prior note, the logic used is incorrect.

As a quick workaround today, editors can drop the beam back from the misbehaving note. In the meantime I'm adding some logic to the code that is a simple rule: if the note is beaming back to the prior, and the prior note is not dotted, then the note should look forward to calculate how many excess tails it has, and draw forward appropriately.

This doesn't change the existing logic that says if the note isn't beaming back always consider forward.

Probably time for a complete refactor of all the logic for beams and cuts, similar to the overhaul unison logic and drawing received in version 2.7, however that will take some effort so for the interim watch for a version 2.73 in the next few days, time permitting.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Version 2.27 Release Notes

Only one thing in this release, and it's something a lot of folks have asked for. Licensed users now have a feature that will check the contents of a bar, against the time signature of the score and if there's an issue highlight the bar.

Bar Value Checking

If the bar has too few notes in it for the time signature, a blue wavy line appears under the bar, and if too many the line is red. Blue = cold, red = hot.

Unless the bar is empty of course, you know it's short when you've not put anything in it!

Anacrusis

Anacrusis is an area that will likely need some options going forward. The bar checking feature does remember if there's anacrusis notes for a part and will take them into consideration in the last bar of the part.

1st & 2nd Times

The complication comes in the 1st and 2nd time handling, there's once again opinions as to how this should be notated. I've taken one view in this implementation, and can of course add others depending on what everybody wants.

So the way Drum Score Editor implements 1st and 2nd time handling is it clones the last line in a part  and ensures the 2nd time line doesn't have repeat marks on the closing bar line of the part, it also adds a text tag to the 1st bar line that appears in both the original line and the line it has created. These text tags say either "1st Time" or "2nd Time", and those are what trigger different processing than simply considering it at bar repeat marks.

Because the bar repeat marks occur on the 1st time only, the anacrusis is not taken into account first time through, but only the second time, when there is no repeat - because it's the 2nd time through. A picture is worth a thousand words they say:


In this case the 8th bar must be complete, i.e. when you hit the 8th bar before heading back to bar 1, the lead in which was in the anacrusis originally must be shown, otherwise bar 8 will be considered short. As you can see in the 12th bar here, it would be considered short, but this is where the anacrusis is considered.

The challenge is, in some discussions I've heard opinions that the anacrusis should be considered in the weighting of the 8th and 12th bars in the above example, and thus it's allegedly written wrongly to show that lead-in tap in bar 8.

So to be clear ( if that's possible with this subject ) if you take away the lead-in tap in bar 8, Drum Score Editor will consider it short and indicate as below:



Saturday, 2 July 2016

Version 2.26 Release Notes

This release is mostly about responding to some requirements from all the Drum Score Editors out there, including squishing some little bugs that were annoying me, and a few others!

Features:

  • Unison - this has had a complete overhaul, this is good because it makes it more functional, but of course lots of code change introduces possibility of more bugs but hey let me know if you spot anything and I’ll fix it.
    • We’ve introduced the ability to exclude the grace notes (i.e. flams, drags etc) from the unison - cycle through with shift-u.
    • Unison will now extend to end of line and start at the beginning of the next line if it indeed is meant to - it won’t do it across part breaks, if they’ve been properly marked with the right bar lines.
    • Also a rest is not considered part of unison now, as this was causing layout issues for a few.
    • All the annoying times that it didn’t properly close off a line bracket if you use that rather than highlighting for unison are all gone.
    • The unison highlighting is now painted over the top of the notes, exactly as a real highlighter would so removing that surreal look, but also we’ve added the ability to specify how heavy you’d lean on the pen, i.e. percentage transparency - in the score properties dialog, the text in the unison colour label fades to show the effect of the pen weight.
    • Also you can choose to use less coloured ink now by telling Drum Score just to highlight the note heads and embellishments.
    • Naturally, like all options if you’re a licensed studio user, these can be remembered for you in the Preferences dialog.
  • A new staccato symbol has been introduced. In some cases authors want to scribe dead strokes, aka single buzz strokes, with a formal staccato symbol, i.e. a dot above the note head, as well as the customary strike through the stem and no tie. Select the note and use shift-O, that’s an “oh” not a zero.
  • Tie to nowhere - say what? This is for when you’ve got that “roll to nowhere” at the end of a part or tune. A purist might say you’re never going nowhere in the midst of a tune but at the end you might be saying, hey this roll carries on beyond this tune, e.g. in a medley. Just select a single note and hit 't' and it assumes tie to end of bar. Now of course the next tune might need a tie in from nowhere .... the to-do list keeps growing.
  • Unison to nowhere - well with the tie going nowhere it may be unison, although the majority of the time it's the second time through a part you break to a new tune so the concept of unison there is a given but hey, someone wants it! Note that if you use this and bracketed unison it won't close the bracket - it's intended for the end of a tune and off into nowhere land. 
  • Crescendo and diminuendo does indeed sometimes cross staff lines in real life so it can in Drum Score now too.
  • The files Drum Score saves are in a text format known as XML which makes it easier for humans as well as computers to read the underlying content. It’s even easer for humans to read it now, as the text is laid out to be a little easier on the eye. Allows that one person out there using git to version control their scores and see the differences more easily …. you know who you are!
  • When toggling 1st and 2nd times, the font will be a touch smaller than prior versions, won’t affect existing saved scores unless you toggle the 1st and 2nd times of course!

Annoying squished bugs:

  • Zooming the view using the menu items now works properly, as does saying view at actual size, considering screen density versus actual size of the piece of paper you’ve specified it will be printed on.
  • New score generator wasn’t carrying forward some of the saved preferences for studio users, including highlight colours etc. All sorted.
  • Sometimes when you’d select a bunch of notes with grace notes on them and said hey put these on the other hand it would randomly drop many of the grace notes. This was so random it was a real head-scratcher but sorted now.
  • Select All now respects if you’ve specified only to select notes and not bars and vice versa. Useful for taking the layout between two scores among other things.
  • Many minor formatting things tidied up around note widths.
  • 12/8 time signature now rendered around the centre of the numbers not the left hand side - much prettier.
  • 4/4 tie signature and tune type now considered properly when generating a new score, in terms of repeats and number of bars in a part.
  • If you changed the time signature of a generated score in the properties dialog, the change wouldn’t appear to be reflected on the screen until you saved and re-opened the file. Such messing about no longer required.
  • Tooltips that give clues as to what a particular button does, and what it’s keyboard equivalent is when you hover over them wasn’t showing that the keys you needed for right hand notes need to have the shift key down.
  • Some confusion around the meaning of the Microsoft Windows Edit -> Options menu, this has now been renamed as Edit -> Preferences, to more accurately reflect this is about application level preferences, e.g. whether it’s licensed or not and then other preferences when unlocked. Note that options for the particular score file being edited are accessed through File -> Properties, as before.
  • If you changed the time signature of a piece using the Properties dialogue, it wouldn’t show up on the screen, until you saved and reloaded the file, ahem, sorry about that - fixed.
  • Undo and redo support now added to text fields on the score page, before this if you maybe changed the font size of the title, you couldn’t undo that, but worse still you could close the score and it wouldn’t know to prompt you and say hey you’ve got unsaved changes.
  • Purely cosmetic but the logo in the about dialogue box is now also updated to remove the 2015 reference ... what was I thinking back then.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Unify the unison!

Drum Score Editor has always supported unison with either a line above the notes or highlighting with a colour you can specify. It worked out that if you marked two notes next to each other as unison, you would normally mark that as either a continuous line above or mark like a highlighter pen between them.

As the software became more widely used it became clear it wasn’t just a simple case of whether a note was a unison note or not. What if it’s a stroke roll but you only want the strokes in unison but not the rolling in between? That’s when short unison was introduced, by selecting the stroke which starts the roll, making it unison (the u key) and then using shift-u, it becomes marked as short unison, i.e. just the tap gets included in the unison.

Just finished the code that adds yet another option! So cast thoughts of rolls aside for now, what if you have a stroke which has swiss rough on it, what if you want the stroke to be in unison but not the grace notes which make the swiss rough? Well the only way to do that was to mark out the notes as regular notes on the staff and only make the desired note unison.

Then the request came in to make it so you could use the regular swiss rough notation and only include the main note in unison. OK, so be it, option introduced.

Now shift-u doesn’t just switch on or off short unison, it cycles between all the possible options for unison, i.e.


  • Grace note included and full unison
  • Grace note included but short unison
  • No grace note in unison, with full unison
  • No grace note in unison, and short unison
  • Back to the top again!
The eagle eyed will spot that if you have no grace note then shift-u will appear to work exactly like before ... that was the deliberate cunning plan! That way it won't be a big deal to most people but for those who really want the grace notes removed from a unison stroke and don't want to write it long hand, well you'll have an option.

Will be available in versions after 2.23.