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Topics - William Ashworth

1
Can someone please explain why the staff boundaries set on the "Visual" tab of the "Staff Properties" dialog box don't match the actual staff boundaries?

On the piano piece I'm currently working on, I have the boundaries set in "Staff Properties" at 18 above and 12 below (right hand staff) and 10 above and 18 below (left hand staff). The actual boundaries, as shown by the shaded space on the active staff and confirmed by the boundary offset figures in the "Notation Properties" box, are 14 above and 8 below (right hand) and 6 above and 14 below (left hand) - a discrepancy of four units in each case.

I suspect that the problem is that "Staff Properties" measures from the center of the staff and "Notation Properties" measures from the upper and lower staff lines. Whatever the cause, it would be nice if the two dialog boxes could be brought into conformity with each other.

2
Can't resist posting this link to a video on the design flaws of Sibelius.
3
I created a custom selector this morning which didn't work as expected, and rather than try to make it work right I decided to "empty" it - to return it to the default empty state. However, there doesn't seem to be a way to do this. There is no "reset to default" command on the context menu, and the only "default" command I can find in the dialogue box appears to refer to a whole toolbar, or perhaps the entire toolbar setup - I'm not going to risk upsetting everything to find out. I tried erasing all commands on the staff that defines the selector, and that took away the functionality, but it didn't take away the glyph. I've now removed it from the toolbar, which is temporarily satisfactory, but it gives me one less user selector to work with. Any ideas?
4
As longtime readers of this forum know, I'm not a great fan of user tools - the only one I currently use with any regularity is Opagust's GlobalMod.og. However, one I would use - if it existed - is one that would flip enharmonic spellings from sharp to flat, or vice versa, within a selection.

NWC's "Audit Enharmonics" tool is useful, but it always defaults to sharps. There are many times when the proper enharmonic choice is flats. I'd love to be able to select the appropriate chords or bars, run a tool, and watch all the A#s and D#s (etc.) change to Bbs and Ebs (etc.).

The tool I visualize wouldn't require user input beyond creating the selection and running the tool. It would simply examine the selection for accidentals and change all that it found to their enharmonic equivalents - sharps to flats of the note above, flats to sharps of the note below.

Anyone want to tackle this? I did my last programming a quarter century ago or more, and I'm not going to start again now, but this doesn't look like a particularly difficult task.
5
I recently finished a string quartet (written with NWC, of course) and haven't started a new project yet, so I've had a little time on my hands. I used some of it to investigate the wider world of music notation as it currently stands. You can read the result on my blog: here's the link:

http://www.williamashworth.net/blog.htm?post=1073008

While you're on my website, which hosts the blog, you can also listen to some of my music. No scores up yet, though I may eventually post some. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas.

Bill
6
General Discussion / hairpins
If I could have just one change in NWC right now, it would be to modify the hairpin algorithm so that hairpins do not conflict with dynamics.

Dynamics should always be centered under the first note they apply to (per Elaine Gould, Behind Bars, pp. 102-103).  When you do that in NWC, a hairpin that begins on the same note will overlay the dynamic. There is a relatively simple way to fix that, but it requires three staves, two of them muted and one hidden, to do the work of one. The algorithm needs to be modified to cause hairpins to begin after the dynamic, when a dynamic is present on the initial note.

This would save me a whole lot of work on the string quartet score I'm currently preparing for submission.

While the hairpin algorithm is under reconstruction, it would also be nice if it could change the way hairpins behave across system breaks. The louder portion of a hairpin that extends across a break should be open at both ends; i.e., a decrescendo across a break should be open at both its large and small ends on the first system, and a crescendo should be similarly open on the second system. (The same thing applies for any break in a hairpin, such as breaks to allow intermediate dynamics to be placed.) You can fix these with digital whiteout, but it's messy and time-consuming. It would be really helpful if NWC would do it automatically. Eric?
7
This is related to something I posted in the "Tips and Tricks" forum a little while ago. It would be nice if certain objects (dynamics; text objects; triplet brackets; perhaps pedal marks) could have an option specifying an opaque background. This would allow easy correction of problems such as dynamic marks colliding with hairpins or triplet brackets crossing slurs. I realize that it is not as simple a programming job as it sounds (it will probably require adjustments in the order in which objects are sent to the printer driver), so I won't look for it soon, but I thought I should put it on the table.
8
Prologue: I once owned a small software company. I was the sole proprieter and the sole programmer. The product was a spelunking-simulation game, written in C++ for DOS, which tells you how long ago this was. The game worked fine but never made a dime, and has long been abandonware: I mention it here to establish my bonafides as someone who really does understand computers.

Rant: User Tools are so DAMN user-unfriendly that it is actually quicker for me to go through an entire score and make changes by hand in every measure than to figure out how to use a user tool to do the job. There is next to no guidance in the forum ("getting started with NWC2 user tools" is only useful if you already know how to install and use them) or in the help screens brought up by the ? in the user tool dialog screens (and no, typing "help" in the input field doesn't help much, either). Syntax is impossible to figure out except by trial and error. I hereby give up on them completely. I'm sure I'll get lots of helpful suggestions: save yourselves the trouble. A facility for global modification should be built into the program; it should be dialog-driven and work on selections and single staves as well as complete files. The rest of the tools - well, you can play with them all you want, but leave me out of it. I'd rather write music, and the user tools as currently implemented only get in the way.

Bottom line: if I'm having this kind of trouble, how in the hell do newbies cope? Do user tools in their current form really help sell the program, or do they drive potential users away?
9
Has anyone figured out how to force a ghost system so that spacing throughout a score can be uniform?

I'm laying out the performance score of a clarinet trio (clarinet, cello, and piano). Most of the way through the score, there are three systems per page. At one point, however, to facilitate page turning by the pianist, I've forced a page break one system early, so that on that page there are only two systems. Page vertical justification is set to "on", so NWC obediently justifies the two-system page vertically, resulting in much more white space between, above, and below the systems than there is on the other fourteen pages. It works, but it looks - uh - unprofessional. (I was about to say "like crap.") Forcing an extra "ghost" system onto that page - i.e., a system with nothing in it, including staff lines - would solve the problem without requiring a change in the program, but so far I haven't been able to figure out a way to do that. Anyone else?

(A thought for you, Eric: the logical way to handle this, it seems to me, would be simply to always have the "force a new system" command actually, well, force a new system. If the program sees two system breaks in a row, it should logically force a new system twice, with the first of the two new systems being empty. This doesn't currently happen. Any chance it can be included in the next update?)
10
A bit off-topic, but I wanted my friends on this forum to know that I've been named a semifinalist for the American Prize in chamber music composition. Just found out today. Of course the scores the judges looked at were done in NWC. Of course. And that's all the excuse I need to post the news here.

(Can't help thinking of the grouches who occasionally complain that NWC's output isn't professional enough to give to performers. How do you like these apples?)

Cheers,

Bill
11
Will someone please explain in simple terms how to create a crescendo on a held note?

I know the theory: to create a crescendo from, say, mp to f, use an expression (or volume) mpc together with an initial mp set to a custom velocity. What I cannot do is find the formula to determine the proper values for (1) the custom velocity of the initial mp and (2) the initial value of the mpc, assuming a final value of 127. The logical thing would seem to be to set the custom velocity of the mp to 92 (the default velocity of an f) and use an initial mpc value of 95 (127 minus 32, the difference between the default velocity of an f and that of an mp); however, this results in an initial mp that is distinctly louder than a "normal" mp. A custom velocity set proportionately instead of absolutely (that is, since 95 is 3/4 of 127, set the custom velocity of the initial mp to 4/3 of the default) creates a noticeable change in timbre which suggests that it is still too loud (although it might instead be too soft). Leaving the mp at its default velocity is definitely too soft. What else is there? Aside, that is, from trial and error? Which I would prefer not to have to do in a piece that includes LOTS AND LOTS of crescendos.

Anyone?
12
For Eric, and everybody:

I've been wrestling with a blatant problem in a printout that was caused by an obscure problem in a different location in the score. Thought I should pass it on in case others run into a similar situation, and also because I think it's amenable to a sofware fix that might be a good idea to implement in future versions of NWC.

The printout problem was extremely odd behavior of a forced system break; placing a break in one location created a second, phantom break a measure earlier, making the measure directly before the break I had created appear on an orphan system all by itself. The cause was an extra barline that had crept into one of the lower staves of the score. Forced system breaks are apparently determined by bar count, rather than beat count, from the beginning of the system; the same bar count was at two different places in the system, so NWC obediently broke it in both places. Removing the extra barline solved the problem.

Natural system breaks aren't affected by extra barlines, leading me to believe that they are determined by beat count rather than bar count. Whether or not that's accurate, my suggestion to Eric - FWIW - would be to change the forced breaks so they are determined the same way the natural breaks are. In the meantime, I'll be watching the bar count across each system with a lot more care than I did before.

Cheers to all,

Bill
13
I think the "Audit Accidentals" function needs an overhaul.

Backstory here: I'm editing an old score for submission to a call for scores. It's a cello sonata, written in a modified 12-tone idiom, and it was first transcribed into NWC in 2005. In that form, it was played several times over the next couple of years, but it hasn't been dug out since then. Until yesterday.

There have been many changes in NWC in the succeeding decade+. One of these is the way the program handles ties across barlines. In the "old" NWC, a tie from a note with an accidental required the target note to have the same accidental, which had to be added by the user; these target accidentals did not show up in the printed score. In the "new" NWC, no target accidental is required, which is an improvement. Unfortunately, though, if you bring an old score into any version since this change was made, the target accidentals all unhide themselves and show up blatantly - and messily - in the printed output.

My cello sonata, being a highly chromatic work, had a lot of those tied notes with accidentals, including whole six-voice chords in the piano part, and it looked like sh....it looked pretty bad. Rather than correct them all by hand, which would have been a long, tedious process, I decided to use Audit Accidentals. Bingo! All the target accidentals disappeared. Unfortunately, so did every courtesy accidental in the piece. And a whole crop of new, wrong accidentals cropped up, thanks to the function's blind belief that, if I used an accidental on one note early in a measure, every other note in that measure with the same pitch name - regardless of octave - had to have the same accidental. Never a safe assumption in any music; wildly inaccurate in modern "classical" music.

The piece is, as I said, highly chromatic. I am now faced with the task of going through measure by measure, comparing it with a score printed from the old version, and correcting everything by hand - a much larger job than the one I was trying to avoid by using Audit Accidentals in the first place.

So I think two changes are needed. The first is to have the Audit Accidentals function recognize courtesy accidentals. The second is to have it optionally ignore notes with the same pitch name but different octaves in the same measure. (Actually, there should be three choices here: after an accidental has been detected early in a measure, notes with the same pitch name but in different octaves that have no accidentals could optionally (1) be ignored; (2) be given an accidental which conforms to the key signature; or (3) be given the same accidental as the previous different-octave note. Because which one of these a user wants is likely to vary from score to score, these options should be set in a dialogue box that pops up each time Audit Accidentals is chosen by the user.)

Neither of these looks to me like a difficult programming job. It's mostly a matter of tinkering with the conditionals. For courtesy accidentals, I think all that needs to be done is to extend the search for notes of the same pitch but different chromatic inflections that the function is already doing back to the previous measure as well as the current one; if a different inflection is found, the accidental should be left alone. (This would require a search through all octaves, as courtesy accidentals are often assigned regardless of register.) The different-octave accidentals problem shouldn't be much harder, although the desirability of making it optional will make it a bit more work to actually accomplish.

Anyway, I hope something can be done. To emphasize the nature of the problem, here is one clear error that the current setup makes. This morning I came across a place in the piano part where the right hand plays two D's an octave apart, the upper one a D-flat, the lower one a D-natural, both marked with accidentals. The very next note in the right hand is another D, supposed to be played natural. It's in the same octave as the D-natural in the immediately previous chord, so I left it unmarked. NWC obligingly - and wrongly - "corrected" it to a D-flat, matching the note an octave away instead of the one right beside it.

<sigh> Back to work....
14
It has occurred to me that if the Status Bar were to be moved to the top of the active window, directly below the button bars, NWC would have a tabbed interface. This would also put the moving bar that appears during playback, showing how much of the piece has been played, close to the playback controls. I'm sure not everyone would like this; so I suggest an option to place the Status Bar either above or below the active window. I would think, though, that - given the advantages - the top of the window might become the default.

Bill
15
Has anyone found a way to correct enharmonic spelling in a way that leaves the interval structure of chords intact? For example, transposing a staff with an F# minor chord and a G minor chord on it (F#-A-C# and G-Bb-D) up by half a step gives you a G minor chord and an Ab minor chord (G-Bb-D and Ab-Cb-Eb). If you run Tools, Audit Enharmonic Spelling on that, the Ab minor changes to a G# minor (which you probably want) but the G minor changes to G-A#-D (which you definitely don't want). A minor triad always has a minor 3d on the bottom and a major 3d on the top. Changing Ab-Cb-Eb to G#-B-D# maintains that structure. Changing G-Bb-D to G-A#-D puts an augmented 2nd on the bottom and a diminished 4th on top, and to any educated musician's eye that looks ludicrous. I'm looking for a method that will only look at double sharps, double flats, C flats, F flats, B sharps and E sharps, and will correct those in a way that doesn't change chord interval structures. Sometimes this requires changing flats to sharps and naturals on the next pitch down - that works fine in the current system - but sometimes it requires changing sharps to flats and naturals on the next pitch up, which utterly fails in the current system. Eric, this is something that definitely needs to be addressed - any music that uses extensive chromaticism requires multiple manual corrections at this point on what should be simple transpositions. In the meantime, does anyone have a trick to pass on?
16
General Discussion / markers
The marker object is very helpful, but it could stand some improvement. Specifically:

  • It would be useful to have a horizontal offset as well as a vertical offset. Sometimes, especially in complex scores, it is necessary to start a slur on the same line as the note it begins on. (Yeah, it's wrong. But it can sometimes help legibility.) When this is done, there needs to be a tiny bit of air between the notehead and the slur, which can't currently be obtained. Also, moving triplet brackets slightly sideways can help separate the triplet's vertical bar from the stem of a neighboring note.
  • And speaking of triplet brackets, it would sometimes be useful to be able to move them closer to the notes. Again, good practice usually says to put the bracket above or below the staff. But in a dense score, it can be difficult to tell which notes the bracket belongs to if that particular "good practice" is always followed.

Just hopin'....
17
General Discussion / extra note spacing
I'd like to reiterate Rick's often-stated request for incremental extra note spacing. It's needed for extended passages of crossed voices, such as the alto and soprano in the attached example of a choral piano reduction for rehearsal purposes. I don't know about the rest of you, but I think this looks really crappy. Even just a half-space option would be vastly better. Decimals would allow fine tuning. Please?
18
It would be nice to be able to clone a staff. Not just copy the contents to a new staff, but copy the properties as well, with a single command. I can see it appearing in either the "staff" drop-down menu or the "tools" drop-down - either one would be a good home for it. Potential uses include creating staff layers, creating staves with different music but the same instrument (i.e., string quartets, vocal duets, choirs, flute trios, etc.), creating separate audio and printed staff systems, making a new score without using a template, and probably others.
19
Is anyone else bothered by the fact that Audit Enharmonics always returns sharps only? Whether appropriate or not?

I'm transposing a long string quartet passage from E minor to Bb minor (NOT A# minor!) The Transpose Staff function gets most of the accidentals right; that is, the transposed parts have mostly flats in them. However, there are also numerous double flats, double sharps, F flats, etc. And I am faced with a quandary: either go through and correct all those by hand, or use Audit Enharmonics and then go through and convert all the A#s, D#s, etc., back to Bbs, Ebs, etc., by hand.

This is highly chromatic music, written without a key signature, and while putting one in might solve the current problem, it would lead to more problems down the line than it would solve now. And I really do want Bb minor, not A# minor: in strings, they have an entirely different sound.

Eric, is it too much to ask that Audit Enharmonics be tweaked so that it only modifies double flats, double sharps, and the white note half-note pairs (E#-Fb and B#-Cb)? Could be just an option....

Thanks for listening,

Bill
20
For me NWC is just a little harder to use.  I used to have the dynamics all separated on a toolbar and it was one stop shopping when I needed one.  With the current version, all dynamics are done after picking a generic dynamic, then choosing from a drop down.

I don't mind jumping through some extra hoops to get an unusual feature, especially one with a lot of options (mpc for example), but for routine dynamics?!?!?

This observation from Warren in a different thread matches my experience, and I'd like to start a discussion of it. The selectors have been good in that they have organized the button bars better, and have allowed more individual notations of each type to be accessed by mouse: e.g., time signatures were limited to a few standard ones before selectors, but now just about any signature you want can be made accessible in just two clicks. The problem is that they now ALL require two clicks, and that's a genuine pain (think carpal tunnel syndrome) when you need to insert them into an orchestral score with 20 or more staves.

There are, of course, a couple of ways around this. One is to create your own selectors for the notation elements you use the most, one per selector; this is limited by the fact that the total number of selectors available is limited. Another is to place one time sig (or dynamic, or other notational element) on one staff, copy it, and paste it into the rest of the staves. I use this method a lot, but it also has its disadvantages, mainly that when a bit of notation is copied and pasted, its vertical position and justification come with it, and these may not fit in the new location.

Bottom line, here: the selectors need improvement. Really.

Several of us have suggested that the selectors should remain open instead of closing after a selection is made, allowing the action to be repeated in different positions in the score without reopening the selector. This would solve most of the problems with them. This suggestion hasn't been adopted, and doesn't appear to be in the pipeline for future adoption, either. There may be other ways to go - maybe button and/or a hot key for "repeat previous action"? Maybe something I haven't thought of? Can we put this back on the table?

Regards,

Bill
21
General Discussion / small request
I would like to see a small change to the way NWC updates the screen when new material is added to a measure that extends off the screen to the right. Current behavior is to jump the beat being worked on all the way to the left - so that it becomes the first visible beat on the active staff - whenever the new time value of a note or rest extends into the area beyond the screen. I would prefer either that the beat jump only half way across the screen, or that the score move only far enough left to bring the barline at the end of the current measure into view. Either of these methods would preserve the context of the area being worked on. The current method loses the context off the left-hand edge of the screen, and the score must be manually moved to the right in order to see it again. A small irritation, to be sure, but an irritation nevertheless - especially when editing backward through a score.

I'd be happy to see this as an option, for those who want to preserve the current behavior. But I think the change I suggest here should be the default.

Bill
22
General Discussion / PDF vs printer
An observation that may be of help to others:

I've been working on a conductor's score for a 378-measure work for large orchestra and soprano. I'm storing the score in two versions, one for my hard-copy printer and the other for my pdf printer. This is necessary because, as anyone who has prepared a work for print knows, different printers often interpret the same command in different ways. In particular, pdf printers tend to dramatically change system breaks and pagination from the same work produced in hard copy.

But here's the interesting thing. When I change from my hard copy printer (HP Photosmart C3180) to my pdf printer (PDFreDirect v. 2), it throws absolutely everything off, particularly in relation to where collapsed staff segments begin and end and where courtesy time signature changes, clef changes, etc., need to be placed at the ends of systems. What I found this morning, however, is that if I reduce the staff metrics from 10 points in the hard copy version to to 9 in the pdf version, almost everything suddenly snaps back into place, and instead of a pdf score six pages longer than its hard copy counterpart, I get one that's just one page longer - and that extra page has only three measures on it.

So - is it the one-point difference, or is it the percentage difference? (At this size, one point is a 10% change.) Is it only the relationship of my specific printer to my specific pdf printer, or do all pdf printers bear the same relationship to all hard-copy printers? I dunno. But I thought others might find it worthwhile to try the same experiment.
23
Occasionally a question comes up in this forum about how to convert NWC's output to an MP3 file. The responses usually give methods for recording the output of a soundcard as it plays an NWC file (or a MIDI file exported from an NWC file). I'm not sure this website has ever come up:

http://solmire.com/

Solmire.com is an online MIDI-to-MP3 converter. The site allows the user to choose among fifteen different GM soundfont collections, including the great-sounding FluidR3 and Merlin Vienna fonts, and to mute one or more channels while recording. (You want music-minus-one? You got music-minus-one.) It's easy to use, it works extremely fast, and since it's purely a software conversion rather than recording a playback of the file, there's no chance of sound hiccups or other interruptions. I've found the results to be excellent. The only drawback I can see is that you can't use it live - you have to export your NWC file to MIDI and then upload the file. A small price to pay for a free service that makes your NWC file sound as though it had been processed through a close relative of Garritan Personal Orchestra.

Hope this helps somebody -

Bill
24
This is mostly a heads-up for NWC users who design their own fonts - and for any of us who like to keep up with developments in the general music-notation software field.

http://blog.steinberg.net/2013/05/introducing-bravura-music-font/

25
I am preparing a piano sonatina for print. In the first movement of this sonatina - as occasionally happens - there is a very florid passage that is written out in 32nd notes, in 6/4 time. This makes the measure long enough that it won't fit on a single system, but must lap over onto the next. In cases like this, I would like to be able to (a) suppress the system bar at the beginning of the second system; and (b) suppress the measure number that automatically prints at the beginning of each system. I would prefer it if this were automatic (if the program saw an invisible barline at the end of a system, it would suppress the following system bar and measure number automatically), but would settle for an option to do it manually.

Just a hopeful thought. In the meantime, there is - with enough effort - digital whiteout.

Bill
26
A question has been raised in another thread concerning whether or not third-party fonts such as Boxmarks or Lawrie Pardy's "Pardy Pack" should be included in the NoteWorthy Composer installation package, in order to supply musical symbols that NWC does not yet natively support. Since it has been pointed out that continuation of that discussion in the place where it was initiated is a little off-topic, I thought I might move it here. How do NWC users feel about this proposal? (Lawrie, I guess you're excused from needing to offer an opinion. ;-)

The principal "pro" that I can see is that including the extra fonts would provide easy, standardized access to most of the musical symbols that are missing in NWC, which would allow many scores in the Scriptorium that cannot now be properly displayed by casual users to be seen by everyone with an up-to-date version of the program, with all symbols intact. The principal "con" I see is that it might confuse new users who would expect all those text symbols to function during playback. On balance, I think the pros outweigh the cons: I think including the extra symbol fonts  would improve user's experience of the software. Others?

This discussion probably belongs in the Backstage area of this forum, but I have placed it here in order to allow anyone who has been reading the thread where it originated to continue following it. Please chime in.
27
In this measure:

Quote
!NoteWorthyComposerClip(2.0,Single)
|Bar
|Clef|Type:Treble
|TimeSig|Signature:3/4
|Chord|Dur:8th,Slur|Pos:7|Opts:Stem=Up,Beam=First|Dur2:4th|Pos2:#5^
|Note|Dur:8th,Slur|Pos:#6^|Opts:Stem=Up,Beam=End,Tie=Upward
|Chord|Dur:8th,Slur|Pos:5,6|Opts:Stem=Down,Beam=First
|Note|Dur:8th|Pos:7|Opts:Stem=Down,Beam=End
|Note|Dur:8th,Slur|Pos:6|Opts:Stem=Down,Beam=First
|Note|Dur:8th|Pos:3|Opts:Stem=Down,Beam=End
!NoteWorthyComposerClip-End

the tie from the A# (second half of first beat to first half of second beat) ends at the G# notehead. It should extend to the A# notehead. The clip was created in NWC 2.1, but it shows the same results when pasted into the 2.5 beta.

This is clearly related to the general problem that NWC has with the shapes and endpoints of slurs and ties.
28
General Discussion / buying advice?
Hi all -

I have had two hard drive crashes in the last week. Both were minor and I was able to recover (4 hours of work one time, an hour's worth the other), but they tell me beyond any reasonable doubt that my beloved old Dell laptop is going to need replacement very soon. The big problem with this is sound, which - as we all know - is generally crummy on laptops. I've dealt with this on my Dell with a Soundblaster Audigy 2 card which fits into the PC card slot. Unfortunately, technology "moves on" (hasn't anyone in the computer industry ever heard of backward compatibility?) and PC card slots are essentially nonexistent on today's laptops. They've been replaced by Express card slots. Fortunately, Creative has released a sound card that fits into an Express card slot. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to support soundfonts. Hence, a quandary.

I appear to have three choices: (1) buy a laptop with a decent soundcard and give up my soundfonts; (2) buy a Creative X-Fi Notebook card and give up my soundfonts; or (3) buy an adapter that will let me use my Audigy 2 in an Express card slot. I'm leaning toward (3) but am a bit worried about torquing the slot by putting too much weight out at the end of the adapter. (The Audigy 2 is heavy, and most of the weight is on the end away from the connector, which will sit unsupported about three inches away from the body of the laptop. Aristotle on levers comes to mind.)

Any advice? Anyone know of a laptop with decent sound? Or an Express-card soundcard that supports soundfonts? An external soundcard is also possible, I guess, but I hate to give up a USB connector for that. Am I faced with reconfiguring the MIDI instruments on all my NWC files, most of which use the Audigy's sound banks instead of GM? Ideas? Support? Even a few new swear words I can aim in the general direction of Planned Obsolescence would be nice....

Cheers (I think) -

Bill
29
General Discussion / MIDI request
Setting up a 12-staff piece just now, I was reminded again how nice it would be if NWC would automatically skip MIDI channel 10 when assigning channels to new staves. This would avoid confusing newbies and save a little work for all of us.

Just wishin' -

Bill
30
Check the fermata placement in this clip in Print Preview:

Quote
!NoteWorthyComposerClip(2.0,Single)
|TempoVariance|Style:Fermata|Pause:0|Pos:9|Justify:Center|Placement:AtNextNote
|Rest|Dur:Whole
|Clef|Type:Bass
!NoteWorthyComposerClip-End

If you remove the clef at the end of the measure, the fermata aligns properly. Not a common problem, but it happened to occur in a piece I'm editing that needed a courtesy clef in that position.

(As a side note: I caught this because I was working in the 2.1 beta and using the F11 switch to go between print view and editing view. The fermata looks fine in the standard editing view, and it's subtle enough I might have missed it in print preview - but I could see it jump back and forth when I toggled the two views. This is a long way of saying Thanks so much, Eric, for this enhancement.)

Bill

31
A keyboard command to toggle layering on and off would be very, very useful for creating piano reductions. A button to do this would also be nice.

Bill
32
Just thought it was time to bring up this topic again.

I am currently preparing parts for a piece for brass quintet and piano that will be performed in early October. Ideally, the pianist should have a complete score in front of her but still have only a minimal number of page turns to deal with. This would normally be done in printed music by keeping the piano part full-sized and showing the brass parts in reduced staff metrics above it. We can't do this in NWC, because the program only allows a single staff/note size per file.

Different metrics on different staves in the same system are also nice for descants, cues, ossia, and probably lots of other uses that don't come immediately to mind.

I am creating a piano reduction of the brass parts that will appear above the pianist's part in gray instead of black print. That works, in terms of reducing the number of page turns and allowing the pianist to focus on her own part except when taking cues from the brass or helping the brass stay together in rehearsal. But it's a lot of extra work, and it looks wonky. It would be really nice to be able to simply specify a different metric for the brass parts.

Cheers,

Bill
33
General Discussion / small suggestion
A small suggestion with potentially large savings in user effort: if the "override stem length" checkbox in the Note Properties dialog box were to be checked automatically by the program when the user changes the number in the spinner, it would save one mouse click each time this feature was used. When I am making piano reductions by layering staves, this can add up to a really, really large number of mouse clicks that could be avoided.

I can think of some times when I might want to uncheck that box manually. But I can't think of any where I would change the stem length parameter without also checking the box.

Cheers,

Bill
34
Hi all -

I'm doing parts for a score that includes a lot of whole-measure rests, some with fermatas. Whenever one of these "fermata'd" rests falls on the first measure of a system, the fermata is misaligned forward by roughly its own width, and ends up sitting over empty space someplace in the second half of the bar.

I've tried all the placement tricks I can think of, including (of course) all combinations of the "expression placement" parameters, but also creating a layered staff with invisible rests of varying sizes and placing the fermata over one of these. Inevitably, the fermata is offset from the visible rest I want it to affect, either forward or backward.

This description relates to a single-line part (flute, in this case). It also shows up in multistave scores, but in those, changing the expression placement parameters from centered/at next note to left/best fit forward solves the problem. On a single-line part, this kludge no longer works. Has anyone found something that does?

Cheers,

Bill
35
I was just reminded of one of my pet peeves about NWC: its tendency to jump nervously to the head of the score when Page Setup is invoked. In this case, I called up Page Setup to find out if I had installed Boxmarks as one of the user fonts in the score I was working on. The "contents" tab of the dialogue box was uppermost, so I clicked the "fonts" tab. That's all it took to invoke a mad leap to measure one. Boxmarks had been installed, so I didn't actually change anything at all, aside from the identity of the top tab in the dialogue box; all I did after bringing up the "fonts" tab was to click on "close". But the damage had been done. Couldn't this relocation be limited to times when it is really needed? Is it ever really needed? I knew which measure number I was on, so I was able to go back to my place with a minimum of difficulty. But I'm not always so prescient, and I shouldn't need to be anyway.

Cheers,

Bill
36
Is anyone else having this problem?

When beginning a new draft of a piece, I regularly construct an ad hoc template by loading an older version, saving it under a new name, closing it, opening it again under the new name, and then deleting everything after the clef in each staff. This preserves my instrument assignments, staff metrics and layout, etc., and allows me to immediately start entering notes. (Closing and opening is probably not necessary, but it assures that I'm working with a new file instead of a renamed old file, thus eliminating any chance of overwriting the previous draft.) When I do this in the final release of NWC2, add a few notes to the new draft, and then hit "play," the play function fails to release at the end of the staff; the sound stops, but the buttons that are grayed out and nonfunctional during playback remain grayed out and nonfunctional. I have to hit "stop" to make them functional again. Alternatively, I can just wait, and eventually, after what seems like a long while, the editor will return to normal.

I didn't notice this happening with any of the previous releases, but it's possible I just missed it.

This is not a case of a held note without a cutoff; the sound stops, the editor simply doesn't come back on line. The problem remains when I close NoteWorthy, reopen it, and reopen the file, so it is evidently a property of the file, not an artifact of a particular work session.

I've attached a sample file. I'm curious to know if it will act the same way on other's machines as it does on mine. Please let me know - and if you can figure out why (and how to correct it) I'd appreciate that, too. My working assumption is that a ghost of the previous file is somehow maintained, and that play continues until the full time of that file has elapsed. But I haven't a clue how that could happen.

Cheers (I think),

Bill

<edit> The flute I use is a non-GM soundfont (the viola and the harp are GM), so this isn't going to sound the same on your machine as on mine. That shouldn't affect the cutoff problem.
37
General Discussion / priorities
Quote from: Lawrie Pardy
"And there's lots of other stuff on the wishlist that I'd like to see soon too..."

This quote from Lawrie, in his response to a recent posting in the general NWC forum, got me thinking.

A lot of suggestions have been made here for improvements to NWC. Many of these have been suggested several times and discussed at some length. There is general agreement on several that they would greatly enhance the NWC experience. But all this has been somewhat randomly presented, mixed in with tips to newcomers (and to each other), discussions of musical philosophy, reports of experiences, bug reports, defenses of NWC and comparisons of it with other notation programs, jokes, etc., etc., etc., to the point where it is difficult to sort things out.

The wish list has been somewhat randomly presented, too.

Eric has been great at leaping on actual bugs that have appeared in each new release, and at adding some things (such as the recent additions to the right-click menu) that make a lot of sense and are easy to implement. But this process seems to be somewhat random as well. We don't know what his development priorities are. And I'm not sure he really knows ours, either.

With that in mind, I have gone back through a year or so of this forum and have compiled a list of suggested improvements to NWC. This list is probably incomplete, but it is a start. I've organized the list by whether the suggestion is an improvement in notation or an improvement to the interface, and I've broken each of these categories down further into things to be added and things to be improved. I haven't tried to put the items within these subcategories in any particular order, but I have boldfaced the items that seem to me to be particularly important or particularly easy to implement. Others will surely disagree with many, if not all, of my priority choices. That's fine - we all use the program in different ways. What I am hoping for, here, is not unanimity, but a discussion that will help Eric focus on what we, as users, really, really want.

Here is the list:

NOTATION:
ADD
  • native n-tuplets
  • native multimeasure rests
  • native breves
  • broken slurs
  • broken barlines
  • phrase marks as well as slurs
  • beams across barlines
  • different staff metrics in the same score (small notes)
  • rehearsal letters as a property of barlines
  • system "do NOT break" barline property
  • courtesy time sigs/key sigs/accidentals
  • different staff spacing in different systems
  • line drawing
  • beaming both upward and downward stems in the same passage
  • differing numbers of staves in different systems in the same score
IMPROVE
  • adjustable special ending brackets
  • vertical control over articulation placement
  • handles for the ends of hairpins
  • handles for the ends of slurs
  • better control over front matter (extra lines; adjustable height)
  • ability to shift notes left as well as right
  • barline numbers user-changeable
  • improved handling of slurs across system breaks
  • orchestral bracket improvements
  • control over position of triplet bracket (stem or notehead)
  • vertical control over clef placement

INTERFACE:
ADD
  • cue points
  • goto rehearsal letter (need to add native rehearsal letters first)
  • show insertion point in the status bar
  • pause button for playback
  • save paper orientation
  • check all/uncheck all options in dialogue boxes
  • ignore flow on playback (optional)
  • [CTRL][A] selects all (instead of creating a new staff)
  • on-screen ruler
  • visibility button
  • slur and tie direction buttons
IMPROVE
  • radio buttons replacing some drop-down menus
  • measure numbers on top displayed staff (as well as top absolute staff)
  • default MPC settings match staff defaults
  • tools operate on selections (transpose; audit enharmonics; etc.)
  • accept/reject enharmonic corrections
  • improve enharmonic audit tool (sharps & flats determined by local context)
  • "cancel" returns to original state
  • measure numbers default to present, plain
  • "preserve width" unchecked by default for instrument patches
  • maintain score position while hiding/unhiding staves or changing object properties[/b]
  • highlight current playback position when playback is stopped

Hope this helps somebody....

Cheers,

Bill
38
I think this request has been covered in the forum before, but it doesn't hurt to repeat it. It would be useful if we could adjust the attributes of the brackets for special endings (ending 1, ending 2, etc.). Currently, all we can change is the number. I'd like to be able to lengthen or shorten the horizontal line of the bracket, and I'd especially like to be able to adjust its vertical position.

Example: I'm preparing parts for a string quartet. I have a repeat sign at the end of a section, with first and second endings, and I want to put a rehearsal letter over it, using Boxmarks at the recommended setting (same point size as the staff metrics). If I put the letter above the brackets, where it belongs, it runs into the bottom of the staff above. If I squeeze it in under the first-ending bracket, it looks cramped and crowded, and it has to be aligned before the bar instead of over it, in order to keep from running into the second-ending bracket. There are few other alternatives. (If I increase the spacing between staves, the part runs over onto an extra page.) The whole problem could be avoided if I could simply lower the special-ending brackets. But I can't.

Cheers,

Bill
39
Open the attached NWC2 file and hit play.

The minor seconds you hear on each beat (but don't see) are caused by the fact that I entered the 16th notes first, followed by the quarter notes. Since I had entered the accidentals with the sixteenths, and the quarter notes were entered on the same pitches (which already had accidentals connected with them), I didn't bother to add accidentals to the quarters. And the program, being a literalist, went ahead and saved them as notes without accidentals. So you have F#(16th) against F-natural (quarter) on the first beat, and similarly on the remaining three beats. The last beat is particularly interesting. The program gave the quarter note I entered there a sharp, even though I had indicated a natural for the sixteenth. This is because of the way NWC handles chords containing two different durations. The duration of the chord is taken from the shorter note, but the chord spelling begins with the lowest note. In this case, that is the stem-down quarter note - which, since the sixteenth with its natural sign hasn't occured yet, takes its chromatic inflection from the sixteenth-note F# earlier in the measure.

OK. There are two simple ways to handle this. The easier way is to enter the quarter notes with the chromatic spelling you want in the first place, instead of assuming they will take the accidentals already entered for the sixteenths. The cleaner way is to put the sixteenths on one layer and the quarter notes on another, bypassing the multiduration chord problem altogether. Because I'm naturally lazy, I chose the first way in this particular case. But shouldn't the program do this for you? If you've already entered an F#, stem up, shouldn't a stem-down F entered on the same staff at the same pitch level take the sharp as well, unless you specify otherwise? That's what would happen if you were hand-writing the music. It's also what happens when you copy the music to NWCtext and then paste the text into another staff. Why can't it happen here?

I've called it a "buglet," but it's really more of an oversight. Whatever it's called, it would be nice to have it corrected.

Cheers,

Bill
40
General Discussion / display suggestion
This may have been suggested before: but it would help me a lot if the information in the lower RH corner of the editor screen included, along with the name of the staff, the number of the measure in which the insertion point is located.

Cheers,

Bill
41
I am working on a wind quintet that begins with a crescendo from mf to f on a flute note that is held for five counts. I know how to handle this, of course: set the initial staff volume low enough to handle the difference between mf and f (110 or lower), then use an MPC to raise the volume gradually over the length of the held note. However, this brings up two questions:

  • Why is the initial staff volume set at the top of the range? and,
  • Why, if the initial staff volume is set at 127, is the initial MPC volume set at 64?

It seems to me that the default staff volume should be set low enough to provide some headroom for operations such as the crescendo I've just described. It also seems that, whatever the initial staff volume is, the initial MPC volume should match it. In fact, whenever you insert a volume MPC, the initial volume should be picked up from the current volume. This would save half the work of inserting the MPC.

Just a thought....for future consideration....

Bill
42
Good morning, everyone (or good afternoon or good evening, depending on where you are) -

It occurred to me this morning that a lot of the complaints we have about slurs could be resolved if the program would treat slurs and phrase marks differently.

Currently, we create phrase marks by using extended slurs. This is convenient but wrong. The two forms of notation look much the same, but they have different functions. According to my good old New Dictionary of Music [Arthur Jacobs, Penquin, 1958], a phrase mark is "a line linking written notes and indicating that they belong to one phrase," while a slur is "a curved line grouping notes together and indicating that in performance they are to be joined smoothly together - sung in one breath, played with one stroke of the bow, etc." If NWC could recognize this difference, many of the problems associated with slurs could be dealt with - because they really arise out of confusion between the two different functions.

From a programming standpoint, this shouldn't be too hard. A new object class would have to be defined, but it could use the same drawing routines as slurs do (the end points would have to be different). The program would "see" them differently, so all the tricks it currently uses to keep objects from interfering with each other should be adequate to allow slurs and phrase marks to coexist over the same notes. The biggest problem might be fitting them into the UI. They would clearly belong in the "Notes" menu, along with slurs and ties.  <Alt+;> could work for the keyboard shortcut. A phrase-mark button might look like the current slur button, but with the curved arrow over the stem instead of under the notehead. All this probably would be messier to program than the objects themselves.

By putting his slurs on a separate layer, Rick is essentially separating slurs and phrase marks already. We've all probably used Rick's trick once in a while when we needed both types of mark over the same notes. The beauty of layers is that they can easily handle situations like this. Still, it would be useful if the program itself recognized the difference between the two marks and didn't try to make one substitute for the other - with all the possible confusion that entails.

Two days ago, my wife and I went on a hike in 80F weather. Today it's supposed to snow. That's spring in southern Oregon....

Cheers,

Bill
43
Just wondering if anyone else has experienced this problem: I'm writing a wind quintet, substituting English horn for the oboe. When the EH and the flute are in octaves, the flute disappears, as if the notes had been muted.

Changing the EH to an oboe doesn't fix the problem. Changing MIDI channels doesn't, either. I also tried using a flute from a different sound bank - same result. Ditto a piccolo. Apparently my sound card simply won't play flutes and double reeds in octaves.

I'm using an SB Audigy II on a PC card, plugged into a Dell laptop running XP.

My current solution has been to patch a soprano sax into the flute part for the octave notes. The timbre shifts, but it's not radical, and at least I can hear the notes. Has anyone else experienced this, and if so, how have you dealt with it?

Perplexedly (I think that's a word) -

Bill
44
This is a small irritant, but it's still an irritant.

When making changes to the score contents, the dialogue box displays a "cancel" button, allowing you to opt out of your changes before they happen. If, however, you check how the score looks with the handy "print preview" button that is also in that box, when you close the preview window the "cancel" button has been replaced by a "close" button, which functions exactly like the "ok" button directly above it: it makes the changes and closes the dialogue box. So if you have decided, on looking at print preview, that you don't want the changes after all, you can't just cancel the task; you have to undo all the changes by hand.

I realize there is a need to make the changes temprorarily in order to send the proper output to print preview. But it seems a small thing to store the original state so that it can be returned to if the user chooses to cancel the operation after checking how it looks. Seems like it wouldn't take much more code than changing the "cancel" button to a "close" button which, in this situation, is really superfluous.

Way below other things (especially reparing the slurs) on my priorities list. Still. . . .

Cheers,

Bill
45
General Discussion / update glitch
Since updating to beta 2.23, I've received a user authentification error every time I attempt to access the Website via the Access Noteworthy Software command, either from the menu or from the "about" dialog box. Anyone else having this problem?

I closed NWC (and all other programs) before applying the update, which appeared to take properly. If I run the updater again now, I get an "update failed" message, so the simple fix is out.

Any ideas?

Bill
46
View the attached clip (part of a flute part) in both the editing and print preview modes. Note how in the editor the slur ends at the note head, while in print preview it ends at the top of the stem.

Quote
!NoteWorthyComposerClip(2.0,Single)
|Note|Dur:Whole,Slur|Pos:7^
|Dynamic|Style:mp|Pos:-10|Visibility:Never
|Bar
|Note|Dur:8th,Slur|Pos:7|Opts:Stem=Down,Diminuendo,Beam=First
|Note|Dur:8th,Slur|Pos:8|Opts:Stem=Down,Diminuendo,Beam=End
|Note|Dur:8th,Slur|Pos:7|Opts:Stem=Down,Diminuendo,Beam=First
|Note|Dur:8th,Slur|Pos:#5|Opts:Stem=Down,Diminuendo,Beam=End
|Note|Dur:8th,Slur|Pos:6|Opts:Stem=Down,Diminuendo,Beam=First
|Note|Dur:8th,Slur|Pos:5|Opts:Stem=Down,Diminuendo,Beam=End
|Note|Dur:8th,Triplet=First,Slur|Pos:n4|Opts:Stem=Down,Diminuendo,Beam=First
|Note|Dur:8th,Triplet,Slur|Pos:3|Opts:Stem=Down,Diminuendo,Beam
|Note|Dur:8th,Triplet=End,Slur|Pos:1|Opts:Stem=Down,Diminuendo,Beam=End
|Bar
|Dynamic|Style:p|Pos:-9
|Note|Dur:Whole,Slur|Pos:-1^
|Bar|SysBreak:Y
|Note|Dur:Whole,Slur|Pos:-1^
|Bar
|Note|Dur:8th|Pos:-1|Opts:Stem=Up,Beam=First
|Note|Dur:8th,Slur|Pos:b0|Opts:Stem=Up,Beam=End
|Note|Dur:Half|Pos:-1
!NoteWorthyComposerClip-End

In the first place, this is inconsistent; and in the second place, both of them are wrong. In this situation, the slur should end partway up the stem.

This slur is also way too flat, and it starts at the wrong place after the system break.

All of this can be fixed with workarounds, and I will do so. I didn't put it here to ask for help; I just thought it was time for another example of why improving the @#!* slurs is the number one priority of most of us who visit this forum.

Cheers (I think),

Bill
47
When I play the following clip:

Quote
!NoteWorthyComposerClip(2.0,Single)
|Clef|Type:Treble
|Instrument|Name:"Viola"|Patch:41|Bank:0,0|Trans:0|DynVel:10,30,45,60,75,92,108,127|Pos:12
|DynamicVariance|Style:Sforzando|Pos:-9
|Dynamic|Style:f|Pos:0|Visibility:Never
|Text|Text:"arc."|Font:StaffItalic|Pos:9
|MPC|Controller:vol|Style:Linear Sweep|TimeRes:Quarter|SweepRes:1|Pt1:0,127|Pt2:2,45|Pos:15|Wide:Y
|Note|Dur:Half,Slur,Accent|Pos:-4
|Bar
|Dynamic|Style:p|Opts:Volume=127|Pos:-10
|Note|Dur:4th|Pos:-7
|Instrument|Name:"Pizzicato strings 1 (solo)"|Patch:51|Bank:127,0|Trans:0|DynVel:10,30,45,60,75,92,108,127|Pos:6
|Text|Text:"pizz."|Font:StaffItalic|Pos:9
|Note|Dur:4th|Pos:-7
|Rest|Dur:4th
|Note|Dur:4th|Pos:-5
!NoteWorthyComposerClip-End

I get a phantom pizzicato note, forte, at the beginning of the 2nd measure. It's not there if I play the second measure by itself. If I remove the MPC, it also disappears. Some kind of a bug in the MPC? Do others get this behavior, or is it unique to my sound card?

Feedback welcome....

Bill
48
I'm currently preparing a score that needs to be printed in landscape mode, which is reminding me that NWC doesn't store the printer setup for individual scores. Each time I come back to this piece, I have to reset my printer to landscape before printing (or viewing in print preview). If I forget and hit "print" without doing this, there is a lot of wasted effort, a lot of wasted breath, and a lot of rather blue air around my workspace ;-). Has this been a problem for others? It seems like a simple fix that would create a lot of good will for a small amount of programming time.

Cheers,

Bill
49
Hi all -

I'm currently working on a score with nine staves in five groups. In order to concentrate on problems in individual instruments, I am unchecking all but one or two staves in the Contents dialogue box, returning to the full score occasionally to see how the line I'm working on fits in with the rest. It would help me immensely if the Contents box included check all and uncheck all options. Would this be useful to others as well?

Cheers,

Bill
50
I'm starting a new thread on this subject (which came up in the "silly notation" thread) because I think the Audit Enharmonics tool is among the least competent parts of NWC - if not the least competent. It isn't needed very often, so most of us probably think of it as a low priority for upgrading. But if a new user needs it, uses it, and reads the output critically, he or she is not very likely to become an old user. So, in that sense, fixing it - and thereby raising the correctness of the program's output, and its esteem among new users - might be considered critical.

The current rules the tool operates under seem to be two:

  • if a note is spelled as an accidental but there is a natural enharmonic equivalent (e.g., B# = C; Gbb = F), substitute the natural equvalent.
  • substitute sharps for all flats, unless the music is in a flat key. In that case, substitute flats for all sharps.

These rules are general approximations only, and are wrong about half the time.

As Rick G. pointed out in the "silly notation" thread, analysing the score to find the functionally correct accidental in each case is beyond what we can expect NWC to do; even if accomplishable, it would blow the small size and rapid functionality of the program out of the water, and these are things we treasure about it. This doesn't mean, however, that the enharmonics tool isn't improvable. Here are two simple additional rules, which might be applied in a second pass:

  • if the next note is a tone or a semitone higher, use a sharp; if it is a tone or a semitone lower, use a flat.
  • if an accidental will cause the next note to require a natural, use its enharmonic equivalent.

These two new rules would take care of most of the tool's problems. They would also bring in a few of their own, as they are not perfectly reliable in all cases. Because of that, I offer a  third suggestion:

  • give the tool an "ask before changing" option.

This last suggestion doesn't depend on the other two, and would be an excellent place to start.

I welcome others' comments, criticisms, and suggestions.

Cheers,

Bill