July 31, 2005

Grade 1 Scales

Posted in: Music

As promised, here are the Associated Board Grade 1 scales for flute (PDF) (and the LilyPond source).

Theory note: Harmonic minor is formed by raising the VII a half-step, and the melodic minor is formed by raising the VI of the harmonic a half-step too. The descending scale, so far as I can deduce, is the standard natural minor [reference].

Comments very welcome! Especially since both LilyPond and this area of music theory are still new to me...

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 23:54 | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 28, 2005

Practising scales

Posted in: Music

I've not met anyone who enjoys scales but I love them - the sheer mindlessness of them is fantastic, musical meditation. The Associated Board provides students with their world-famous graded syllabuses. Amongst those are scales requirements. Problem here again is I don't have those scales, but I found this great Flash scales app at teoria.com - ten minutes goofing about with it and I was convinced my $10 paypal donation had gone to a good home. The applet doesn't show arpeggios or multiple octaves but it does allow you to compare Phygrian dominants with Bepop melodic minors...

1. peel out the scales from the AB syllabus and render in Lilypond. Surely someone has already done this?
2. Take a look at this. There was 'til recently a rather good Windows woodwind scales practice app, ScalePerfect, at musicadept.com but he's taken down the download. After I emailed a feature enhancement suggestion, oops. It would even listen to your playing and rate on tonguing, accuracy, etc. He promised to consider open sourcing it at some point... Best I could do!

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 19:08 | Comments (3) | TrackBack

How to find and create your own sheet music

Posted in: Music

I've recently (re)started learning the flute. My last attempt in 1998 was aborted by a house burglary in which my new flute was pinched. Thanks to Teresa who leant me her old (30+yrs!) one I've been interested enough to buy my own. So then, to find some music to play.

Two solutions: download, and create your own!

First, a word on the utterly astounding Lilypond software. Lilypond turns a textual description of music into printable sheet music. It is so good I nearly fell off my chair - their treatise on engraving is well worth a read to appreciate the typography of creating sheet music. Lilypond's open source so it's free too!

The Mutopia Project contains now over 500 pieces of royalty-free sheet music, and it's all engraved by Lilypond.

There's some more free sheet music courtesy of the Gutenberg Project, a massive online collection of public domain texts of all sorts.

All fine, but what if you want a specific piece of music? Last night I stumbled on the first bar of the Beverly Hills theme, Axel F and wondered what the rest of it was. I battled with it by ear but my flute and aural skills are not quite up to it. Here's what I did:

First, find the MIDI file. I found a couple here and here just by searching on "axel f midi". Both these would be enough for someone with a good ear and motor skills, but I'm not that person. I need to see the music in front of me.

It so happens Lilypond comes with some MIDI to Ly software, turning the audio file into the textual description format Lilypond uses, .ly. This then is simply run through Lilypond to generate sheet music! I installed lilypond on one of my linux machines, ran the script, and out popped a PDF. One produced somewhat bizarre output, the other entirely sane. Here's what they look like:

Axel-F in C
Axel F in C

Axel F in D

Both these were produced by Lilypond 2.4.5; 2.7.3 may well be even better. Lilypond works equally on Windows but I was too lazy to figure out how to run the included midi2ly.py software; I'd have to install the python scripting language.

Comments turned off. Sorry.

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 00:19 | Comments (14) | TrackBack

October 2, 2004

LA to NY in 4mins

Posted in: Music

A really lovely video of a roadtrip set to a beautiful soundtrack: "Behind" (via Eva)

Even though everyone's experience of a roadtrip is unique to them and those that might've shared the adventure, somehow I imagine this video will evoke all the same sorts of emotions and memories. Watched and listened to this now about six times straight.

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 01:16 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 12, 2004

Youth Of Britain Chillout vid

Posted in: Music

From the makers of music tracks set to quite simple but compellingly surreal and hyperactive Flash videos like Gay Bar comes this excellent "music video" for Y.O.B: Chillout. Extra points for being set to a crazy motorbike ride through London (lose points for not having a lid on ;-).

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 12:27 | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 25, 2004

Synchronous Orbital

Posted in: Drivel, Music

For fresh & exciting reasons each time, I've managed to consistently miss Orbital live since first seeing them at the 2nd UK Tribal Gathering with Jez in '95. Which is a damn shame since their stage shows in particular the lights are incredible, more rock concert than dance/trance gig.

Well, anyway, on the Tube back from LHR a guest ticket fell into my grateful lap thanks to Sam & Tessa (poor Tessa's kidney is temporarily sick). It was Orbital's final ever gig after 15years of performing. Wow. It was great, and especially to reconnect with Sam who's doing all sorts of insane programmer things with phones. Going out dancing with similarly-energetic people really is a treat.

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 03:25 | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 14, 2004

Last.FM Downtime & tweak

Posted in: Drivel, Music, Tech

Gah.. my favorite Internet radio station is down for some maintenance. The problem is that you then have to repeatedly go back and do a browser "refresh" to check if it's up again (gotta have them tunes!). So I mailed Felix there and suggested they put in an automatic refresh on the webpage and change the page <title> so "Downtime" appears early in the browser/taskbar/tab. That way a casual glance will reveal when Last.FM's back up. (It's these kinds of attention to detail that really make a site. Last.FM is full of them.)

Fifteen minutes later he'd implemented it. How cool is that?

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 18:28 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 6, 2004

C64 Audio

Posted in: Art, Music, Old Skool, Tech

Just got back from NotCon '04 and was curious about what had been left behind on its host site, xcom2002.com: a website pretty much covered in cobwebs, last updated around early 2003. Skimming down the page I saw a link to C64audio.com and, being a huge fan of C64 audio back in the day (mid-late 80s), went exploring...

Somewhere down on c64audio.com is a link to the High Voltage SID Collection, the C64/SID tune archive. Mind-boggling tens of thousands of SID tunes.

What is the SID? It is the dedicated 3-voice polyphonic Sound Interface Device in the C64. Voted alongside the Pentium and Sun SPARC as a Top 20 of All Time Computer Chips: "In 1981, Bob Yannes was told to design a low-cost sound chip for the upcoming Commodore 64. He would end up creating an analog synthesizer chip that redefined the concept of sound in personal computers." What the composers and programmers ended up doing with the SID and 1MHz 6510 defied comprehension; the soundtracks of games were often works of art in their own right.

To get the C64 audio experience, I: downloaded WinRAR to unpack the "Complete HSVC 5.7" (.rar is smaller) , and finally to play it grabbed sidplay2, the recommended player. Since I have an Audigy soundcard I diligently spotted they have a SID Live! Experience (see "SID Tools" section below HVSC tools) to tweak around using the Audigy's Environmental Audio features (couldn't get this f*cker to work). There's even a winamp plugin to upload SID files to and control your C64 via a serial cable. Mental.

So, installed WinRAR, peeled open the massive rarchive, and went immediately hunting for Martin Galway (the HVSC is organised primarily by composer, Galway_Martin style). Fired up sidplay2, dragdropped arkanoid.sid onto it. Whooooo!!!! Oh, man, I am 15 again.

Definitely check the voted Top 100 SIDs especially to get started and get a feel for the popular composers Rob Hubbard, Ben Daglish, Martin Galway, Jeroen Tel (Maniacs of Noise), all whom were regarded by some of us as gods. Sidplay2 has quite a decent file/dir navigator under View->Directory-based UI (Alt+D).

Listening to Hawkeye's (screenshots, loader) game tune and loader riff is bringing me out in a cold sweat. In 1988 on my French exchange visit, I read, re-read, re-re-read, indeed learnt the damn thing "par coeur", the Zzap64! review of that truly jaw-dropping game–3weeks of waiting to get back to the UK to get this creation that every mag reviewer was salivating over. One of the few games I actually paid for :-) Ahhh, heady teenage emotions....

This journey has also had the satisfying side-effect of allowing me closure on a long-standing (six-year!) itch. Just how similar is the opening sample of BMX Kidz and Coldcut's Timber? Really goddam similar. (Click the green preview button on last.fm, and use sidplay to play the .sid)

Want more? Great collection of links to C64 sites.

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 21:44 | Comments (4) | TrackBack