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Messages - Robert A.

General Discussion / Re: New Forum - Nice look.
Thanks for reply 35, NWC. That explains the behavior. In the past, even when posting as Robert A., I was rarely "logged in," so for all practical purposes it was anonymous.
General Discussion / Re: New Forum - Nice look.
I've noticed an inconsistency in the way that login is handled. When logged in, some threads think I'm a virtuoso, but others think I'm a guest. Definitely logged in (says so at top).

I was hoping to go through old posts, and remove links to temporary files that have long been gone. I haven't figured out how to edit old posts (if possible).
General Discussion / Re: New Forum - Nice look.
I sneaked onto the local university system to check E-mail. But I won't be doing any computer or music work for many months, so you won't hear much from me. This new community looks good, and I imagine it will repel the repulsive effectively. ("Repel the Repulsive" to the tune of "Begin the Beguine")
Tips & Tricks / Letter-head notes and labeled notes in NWC2
NWC2 supports "invisible" note-heads. One application for this useful feature is to place text at the location where a note-head would normally be found, for decorative purposes.

The "NoteHedz" font was specifically designed with this in mind. In the upper code locations (accessible from a character map), there are a variety of note-heads scaled and positioned to coordinate with the NWC2 staff positions. Among these are note-heads with alphabet letters A-G enclosed. Version 1.0 of NoteHedz only had the letters white-on-black, but the new version 1.50 also has black-on-white, as well as a larger size compatible with whole notes, and also some circles.

I created some Javascript pages that will alter NWC2 music clips, to automate the use of alternative note-heads. These work outside NWC2. They may be used to change the appearance of music, just before printing. However, they should not be used on your iriginal files, or on music that is not finished. The pages have been delivered to the Scriptorium, and should be there sometime in October 2005.
Tips & Tricks / Dashed ties when multiple lyrics lines have different syllables
Dashed ties can be placed as text, using the NoteHedz user font, from the Scriptorium. This method works in NWC1 or NWC2.

A dashed tie is constructed from end curves (which may be up or down), and as many connecting dashes as necessary to fill. Since the dashed tie is text, it has no effect on playback. You must view the tie in print preview to see how it actually relates to surrounding notation.

In NoteHedz, the characters needed are at code locations 249-253.
Tips & Tricks / Shaped notes (Aiken, fasola, Sacred Harp) in NWC2
Version 2 of NWC allows notes to be specified with empty note head. This permits a text item to be placed as substitute for a note head.

I have recently created a True Type font "NoteHedz" that includes the common shaped note symbols, as well as a variety of other useful things, such as A-G alphabet notes, and standard notes at 75% size for use as lead-ins. Some of these are also useful in NWC1.

The font is available on my own web site and on the Scriptorium. It was updated on August 31, 2005 (version 1.50) to enable an additional function, which does not affect shaped notes,

Although NWC2 supports internal scripting, I wrote an external script in the form of a web page (because I understand JavaScipt). The script works on music clips from NWC2 files. It may be used to change the appearance of music just prior to printing. However, do not use it on the original music file, or on music that is not finished. The script pages are at the Scriptorium. One of the scripts was written for 4-shape Fa-Sol-La-Mi style, but it can be modified for 7-shape styles by modifying its internal lookup table (which note gets which code from the font).

There are limitations to how shaped note heads may be used. Some systems traditionally place the shaped note head so that it is centered on the stem, like a lollipop. But modern music places upward stems to the right of isolated note heads, and downward stems to the left of isolated note heads. When you use substitute note heads, stems will be at left or right, in the same fashion as modern music. It is difficult or impossible to re-align the substitute note heads in a way that will not interfere with modifiers such as duration dots, since that would require a different notation algorithm.

Thus, if you are determined to reproduce the appearance of traditional 19th century shaped note music exactly, you may find that this solution does not work for you. But if you wish to apply substitute note heads to otherwise-normal modern music notation, this solution may work.

Normally, stems meet note heads at left or right, vertically in the middle. This will also be true for substitute note heads. Some substitutes look better if the stem meets the note head at a corner, rather than mid-vertical. This effect can be achieved by moving the note stem up or down by one staff position (which effectively changes the pitch, if played), and by reducing the stem length by one.

If you use substitute note heads, it is best to retain the staff with normal music notation, and place the substitute music on another staff. You can mute the substitue staff when the music is played, and you can hide the original staff when the music is printed. In other words, "how it looks" and "how it sounds" may have some amount of independence. Another reason for using an added staff is that in ordinary notation, a note head and its stem are a unified object. But when a font substitute is used, the note head (text) and stem (notation) are separate objects, and are treated differently by the editor.
Tips & Tricks / Visualizing chord structure in SATB choral music
If you write SATB choral music and have difficulty visualizing the chords, try this:

Place each voice on a staff that has the treble clef. For the male voices, set the clef properties as octave down.

If you already have a voice on the bass clef, you can change it to treble easily enough. Just select all the notes on a bass staff, then CTRL+SHIFT+cursor down 5 times, then change to treble clef, with octave down.

For either Soprano and Alto staves, or the Tenor and Bass staves, change to staff color to something distinctive. Since I use dark blue for the active staff and red for playing notes, I use green for Soprano and Alto, and leave Tenor and Bass as black.

Layer all 4 staves, so they appear as one in the editor. Now you can see the chord structure, and can also tell whether notes that appear in proximity are really an octave apart. If you play the music, it will sound correct.

When you are finished, you can un-layer staves. To change treble to bass staff, simply select all notes, CTRL+SHIFT+cursor up 5 times, then change to bass clef.
Tips & Tricks / NWC to WAV to MP3, WMA, MP4, or OGG
Question: How do I make an audio file from my NWC composition? That is, something that can be streamed over the Internet, or burned onto an audio CD.

Answer: There are three steps: First, create a MIDI file of your music. Second, record the MIDI file to WAV audio format. Third (optional), compress the WAV to another format such as MP3, OGG, WMA, or MP4. I will discuss all of these steps, and provide links to free software.

STEP ONE: Create a MIDI file of your NWC composition.

This is easy. Simply "Save As" MIDI type 1. But be sure that you also save your composition in NWC native format, so you can easily edit it.

More info: Another user reminds us that fermatas and breath marks are honored within NWC, but are not part of the MIDI specification. So if your music uses fermatas or breath marks, do it another way (such as by temporarily changing the tempo, or by adding extra notes or rests) before saving as MIDI.

A MIDI file is a set of instructions to a computer, just as sheet music is a set of instructions to a musician. When a MIDI file is played, the computer calls a database of digitized instrument definitions. The quality of the database determines the sound, just as the quality of real musicians determines the sound when they play from sheet music.

In other words, a MIDI file, when played, sounds different on different computers. Also, MIDI cannot be recorded onto an audio CD, since CD players are not equipped to provide their own instruments.

If you want your music to sound the same when played on any machine, or if you want to burn it to a CD, then you need to pre-record your MIDI file to an audio format that already contains the sounds of the instruments. Such a format is Windows WAV. When you pre-record MIDI to WAV, your computer plays the MIDI using an instrument database, but instead of sending the result to the sound card and loudspeakers, it saves the result as a WAV file. That brings us to:

STEP TWO: Record the MIDI file to a WAV audio file.

How to pre-record your MIDI file to WAV? There are two strategies: (1) You can actually play the MIDI via your sound card, and direct the digital output to the input of a recording program. This is done within your computer, not by wiring sound-out to sound-in via external cable. (2) You can get software that does the recording virtually, without using your computer's sound card. In fact, you may not even need a sound card!

Method (1) is self-explanatory. But here are the tricks: (a) The output from your MIDI player must be steered to the input of your sound recorder. Exactly how to do this depends on your system. On mine, I use the advanced properties of the volume control panel, and choose stereo mix. (b) Recording is done in real time, so music that plays for 20 minutes will take 20 minutes to record. During this time, if there are any system interruptions, you will hear them as noise in the recording. (c) The quality of sound will be as good as, or as bad as, your sound card delivers. Laptops generally have low quality sound cards that cannot load better sounds, so this method is not the best for laptops.

Method (2) requires software. If you purchased the "Pro" version of Quicktime, you can use it, but it may not be the best. Some other possibilities:

Synthfont (free):

You will also need to obtain some sound fonts. The Synthfont page tells you how.

Tim Brechbill's free, self-configuring version of Timidity:

You need his "My Timidity." This was mentioned some time ago on the NWC forum by Tim, a NWC user who put up the links page. Ensure that the program is configured to produce an RIFF output file. The Timidity interface is not self-explanatory. But it works.

You can also try:

Be sure to read all instructions.

STEP THREE (optional): Edit the WAV file,
and compress the WAV file to another format

You can edit the WAV file with the free Audacity:

If you use Audacity, also be sure to get the LAME encoder.

The dbAMP Music Converter is free and very useful:

(Be sure to download coder and decoder plug-ins, depending on your needs: MP3, MP4, WMA, OGG ...more)
Tips & Tricks / Re: A Method for Exporting *.nwc Files to the *.pdf (Adobe) Format
Windows XP users: The method will also work for you. As I write this, I am using Ghostscript 8.0, Redmon 1.7, and freePDF_095 to automate the process.

If you do use freePDF_095 (the 098 version is not as useful), keep in mind that the configuration instructions are obsolete. They refer to filenames and paths that are different in newer versions of the programs. However, you can figure it out! The printer driver setup panel also looks different in XP than it did in older versions of Windows, but you can figure that out, too.

If you are using freePDF_095, its *.ini file looks for file names and paths that are obsolete. Manually edit the *.ini file, using Notepad, to provide the correct names.
Tips & Tricks / Placing ornaments, symbols, and graphics in NWC file.
NWC can place virtually any True Type font character into a NWC file.

To do this, you must install the desired font in your system. Then, choose it as a "user font" in page setup within NWC. Using the NWC text editor, you can place one or more characters from the font.

The NWC Scriptorium has a number of fonts containing musical ornaments, such as glissando, mordent, frets. But you can place characters unrelated to the music, if you wish. For example, you can browse the Internet for free fonts with holiday and ethnic symbols. Look in fonts such as Webdings, Wingdings, and Monotype Sorts for symbols that you already have. You may also need to use this technique if you are placing letters with accented characters or special punctuation.

Many font characters do not correspond to the computer keyboard. It is possible to specify such characters by numerical coding, but the easiest way is to use a character map utility. You have a character map in the "Accessories" programs that came with Windows. MS Word has a built-in character map (for placing symbols). You can use a third-party character map, such as the free "Typecase" if you prefer visibly larger characters.

In general, a character map works this way: You choose the font you wish to use. A grid will appear, containing all of the characters in that font (not including the extended sets of Open Type Unicode fonts). To select a character, click it, and it will be copied to the clipboard. Some character maps first create an internal buffer, which must then be transferred to the clipboard. You can copy several characters together.

From the clipboard, paste the characters into the destination. Keep in mind that you are pasting character codes, not the characters themselves. The characters will appear in the font specified in the destination program.

In the case of the NWC text editor, pasted characters will appear in a text-face font (Times) even if the user font is something else. In other words, even if your user font is Greek or Russian, the pasted characters will be Latin. But when you close the NWC text editor, the correct Greek or Russian characters will show in the music, and will print.
Tips & Tricks / Fine-tuning the horizontal space occupied by music
Spacing between individuals notes can be altered using the note properties dialog boxes. But for fine-tuning the amount of horizontal space occupied by the music, here is another way:

Wherever you wish to stretch the notation, go to the top staff and insert a few spaces of text, using "preserve width." Once this is set up, you can repeatedly paste the spaces by clicking at the location to be spaced, type "x" to bring up the text editor, then "enter."

When you setup your page to "extend last system," sometimes the notes bunch up at the left. With extra spacing, they can be expanded to fill the system more attractively.