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Beaming compound-time

I manually make a Noteworthy file comprising a minim then a crotchet, in a 6:8 time signature. This should strictly be shown as a dotted crotchet tied to a following quaver at the same pitch, then the crotchet, but I do it wrongly by hand. Then I export it as a MIDI file. NOTE THAT this will comprise only the time signature and note lengths and pitches. No direct beaming information will be contained in the MIDI file.
When I import the MIDI file again, using 'detect compound time'  where appropriate, Noteworthy still shows it as a minim plus a crotchet. This is fundamentally wrong.
Obviously I can edit the file and correct it by hand, but then I could have written the music score with a quill if I had wanted; doing it automatically is why I bought Noteworthy.
Importing other files from other sources demonstrates the same problem.
Is there a way I can persuade Noteworthy to follow the established rules of music notation - or is that an expectation too far?

Re: Beaming compound-time

Reply #1
First, you do not mention the other import settings you are using, such as note and rest resolution. These could have a bearing on the accuracy of your import, but in general, export and import via MIDI is an inexact process. When you export a NWC score to MIDI, it will record each note's duration according to the current performance style, so that notes will have space between them. A standard performance style will have more space than a legato style.  When NWC imports a MIDI file, it sees the duration of each note, and makes its best estimate of the note value that would correspond to that duration. I don't think that NWC's MIDI import logic can handle different performance styles or articulations like staccato, tenuto, etc., nor does it understand the rules for dotted notes and ties that go with certain time signatures.

I may not be explaining this as well as other forum members here, so perhaps one of them can help with this (also sadly, not the person who I'd expect to have responded a few months ago...)

Re: Beaming compound-time

Reply #2
Mike - given that the result display of MIDI import is a 'minim followed by crotchet', Noteworthy is obviously making good assumptions about the intended note lengths. My concern is that a proper score-writer would make clear where the compound beats are - i.e you should be able to point on the screen to an object representing the start position of each dotted crotchet (which is the principal beat). Writing it as minim followed by crotchet 'hides' the second beat inside the minim, whereas writing it as 'dotted crotchet tied to quaver, then crotchet' allows you to see very quickly that the second beat starts on the quaver.

Music notation has been developed over many centuries primarily to be of maximum help to performing musicians - as you'd expect - and the inability to put one's eye on a graphic object (i.e. a note) which is where the beats fall is a serious failing. I would be astonished if Noteworthy had been designed to fail to deliver such a valuable aid to performing musicians - but I can't find how to get it to respect this standard rule of music notation.

For non-compound time such as 2:2 it all works perfectly.

Re: Beaming compound-time

Reply #3
Hi David,
sadly I don't think you're going to get the answer you want.

I've done some experimenting, and a little reading...

I cannot get NWC to import as a dotted crotchet / quaver tie in compound time.  It always comes in as a minim.

My Alfred's is not definitive as to what is the "correct" format, though I personally agree with you that it should be dotted crotchet / quaver tie for readability purposes.

Elaine Gould's "Behind Bars" is apparently now considered the "go to" guide, but I don't own a copy I can check with.  However, the brochure pdf happens to include the very example being discussed (bottom of page 4 of the brochure pdf) and it supports your position:
http://www.behindbarsnotation.co.uk/brochure/blad.pdf

The only suggestion I have is that a user tool could certainly be written to detect and correct the dodgy import.  I'd offer to write one, but my programming skills suck at the best of times.
I plays 'Bones, crumpets, coronets, floosgals 'n youfonymums - 'n I'm lernin' tubies now too

Re: Beaming compound-time

Reply #4
When I started my first reply, I incorrectly assumed what @David P's complaint was about (import accuracy) but on a second read, I realized what the real issue was, and amended my post. I now see the point that he's making, and there are other cases where it's more correct to use tied and dotted notes to show the correct beat boundaries.

NWC has a number of "audit" functions that will correct accidentals, bar line placement, enharmonic spelling and note stem direction. It seems that a tool to audit beat boundaries would be a very nice enhancement. As @Lawrie Pardy says, it should not be too difficult to do this via a user tool.  While I consider myself to have reasonable programming skills, I haven't done that many user tools, so I might not be the best person to tackle this. However, there are a number of skilled user tool creators here, who I'm betting are already thinking about how to tackle this.  What I can do is to search through Behind Bars for the relevant details/rules, since I happen to own a copy, and I can try to summarize them here if there is interest in creating a tool.

Re: Beaming compound-time

Reply #5
I actually started writing such a beast 2 or 3 years ago, not so much for notes, but mainly for rests: Various "deletion tools" (e.g. the - for me - all-important adp_Parts.php tool), if removing all voices, leave behind many small rests, which need to be combined according to those "beat rules" ...

... but I've never finished it, mainly because it gets "interesting" with different-notelength chords. Might be a Christmas home exercise - I'll look into it.

H.M.

Re: Beaming compound-time

Reply #6
What I can do is to search through Behind Bars for the relevant details/rules, since I happen to own a copy, and I can try to summarize them here if there is interest in creating a tool.

A few years ago I wrote the enharmonic.og tool where one could choose among various options. Now I'm working on a tool (to include in my multitool PYNWC), where one could select one or more of the audit functions and run them on a selection, a staff, all staves or the visible staves.
If you can specify the rules for an extra 'audit compound times(?)' function, I maybe can look if it can be added in that tool.  But as I already stated in other topics: my music theory knowledge is very poor, so the rules should be unambiguous for me in order to understand them.
Always look on the bright side of life!

Re: Beaming compound-time

Reply #7
My thanks to everyone who's replied; I gather then that Noteworthy out-of-the-box can't be expected to get this feature right. I'm astonished that this explicit error in grouping the notes and applying the beams can be present in any self-respecting music program.

I don't have a degree in music theory but I'm confident the rational behind the rule is, as explained before, that it should be possible to point to one or other note symbol in the score which denotes where each principal beat starts. For 4:4 time the beat is a crotchet, for 2:2 a minim. For compound times the beat is a dotted something. For 6:8 it's a dotted crotchet. European music can have more complex rhythms e.g. 7:8, which can be (for example) [crotchet crotchet dotted-crotchet] in each bar - or other patterns.

So basically a 4:4 time tune should show where each of the 4 crotchet beats start. In a synchopated piece this might require a crotchet to be divided into 2 tied quavers, so that the visual position of the 2nd quaver can be physically seen. In 6:8 the position of each dotted crotchet beat should be directly visible. So in my early example of a minim followed by a crotchet, you should write the minim as dotted crotchet tied to following quaver (of the same note) since the quaver is the start of the second (dotted crotchet length) beat.

This rule doesn't apply if a single note represents two or more whole beats. So a single note occupying a bar of 6:8 can be shown as a dotted minim, even though the second beat is now hidden (halfway through that minim). I assume the reason behind this is because performing musicians don't need to know where the second beat is, because when it arrives they don't do anything except hold the existing note. And this is all because the format of the notation has evolved first-and-foremost to make the job of the performer as easy and error-free as possible.

As a performing musician myself, I would be very pleased to learn about a tool which could be applied to existing Noteworthy scores to detect and correct this oversight. Even just to list where the errors occur would be a help. Better still of course would be a revision to Noteworthy so that it obeys the rules which every music student knows.

Re: Beaming compound-time

Reply #8
One of the things that some consider a "strength" of NoteWorthy Composer is that while it can audit and suggest standard notation practices, it does not enforce them absolutely. So it is possible to score "free style" with bar lines positioned where the composer desires, rather than forcing them every X beats. Anyone who has tried to create a score for chant or polyphonic choral music will appreciate this flexibility.  Also, there will always be some musicians who will prefer simpler notation, and who might find multiple ties confusing, even though they are the "right" way to notate.

User tools are a standard feature of NWC for adding features to the editing and creation of scores, so this should result in the behavior that you want.

Re: Beaming compound-time

Reply #9
Hi David,
while what you say is true, I think there is a lot more to it.

Consider; interpreting meter in compound time is decidedly non-trivial.  Your primary example of turning a minim into a dotted crotchet tied to a quaver is actually fairly trivial to do in a user tool, bu-ut...

3/8, 6/8, 9/8 and 12/8 are pretty straight forward - just beam groups of 3, crotchets can only start on the first or second part of each group of 3 and the remaining third is a quaver; or you could have a dotted crotchet for the whole beat.  Then start tie-ing dotted crotchets, crotchets and quavers to start making up other durations within the 3 quaver groupings, up to dotted minims and maybe more ties...

And we haven't even started on 7/8 or 8/8 or 10/8 or 11/8 etc..  Take a 7/8 bar, I most commonly see that as 2 pairs of quavers followed by 3 quavers (2+2+3), BUT I've also seen it as 3+2+2.  It could conceivably even be 2+3+2

How about an 8/8 bar?  2+2+2+2, or 2+3+3, or 3+3+2 and so on...  Or a 10/8 bar 3+3+2+2, or 2+2+3+3...

I should stop with the examples 'cos I'm just getting silly (it IS after 1:00 AM here at the moment and I'm a little tired ;)  Merry Christmas BTW :D

I do note that in a quick test that NWC doesn't even seem to attempt to auto beam anything other than multiples of 3 in compound time - I.E 3/8, 6/8, 9/8, 12/8, even 15/8 will all automatically beam when directed but any signature with a top number not a multiple of 3 will not auto beam.

As I said earlier, your basic example with the minim would be rather easy to code a user tool for, BUT after that it gets seriously non-trivial in a big hurry.

In the past I've fiddled in VBScript and made a couple of very easy user tools and was thinking of having a go at a solution for you but when I started thinking just how complex it would get I quickly put that idea away.  As I said in an earlier missive I suck at writing code.

Now, for the beaming, there is a user tool called Compound Autobeam written by Andrew Purdam many, many moons ago (and included in the starter tools) which can do the complex beaming though you need to give it specific directives.  Running the tool with a "help" parameter will tell you how.

I hope this has been somewhat helpful.  Perhaps H.M. or opagust will come up with a useful tool for you try, though I rather think it might wait till after Christmas...

So the beaming is already there, kind of, and it's just the minim type problem to be solved
I plays 'Bones, crumpets, coronets, floosgals 'n youfonymums - 'n I'm lernin' tubies now too

Re: Beaming compound-time

Reply #10
The problem, in a nutshell, is that there are actually no hard rules. It might seem so, but the main rule - also according to Elaine Gould - is that the main beats must be recognizable; but of course, there's 4/4 music where the main beats are distributed as 3+3+2/8, and which the player thus expects to be notated as such.

However, there is of course a host of "common patterns" for music printed in the 19th to 21st century that follow relatively simple rules - e.g. the 6/8 patterns David expects to see. Most probably, someone already has compiled a decent type of abstraction and a resulting list of such patterns depending on "rhythm structures" (anyone here?) - but it shouldn't be too hard to get an 80% list that could be made 90% or so useful ...

H.M.

Re: Beaming compound-time

Reply #11
Perhaps the simplest approach for a user tool would be to explicitly select a grouping from a list and have it work to make the notation conform?
Sincerely,
Francis Beaumier
Green Bay, WI

Re: Beaming compound-time

Reply #12
The basic rule is to beam (and tie) to the beat, but saying that to a professional music engraver is likely to start an argument, because there are also loads of exceptions. An even more basic rule is to show the midpoint of the measure in any even time (2/4, 4/4, 6/8, etc.), but even that can be violated under certain circumstances. As Lawrie and H.M. have pointed out, this is NOT a trivial problem. I suggest a visit to the Music Engraving Tips Facebook page for a quick lesson in how complicated the whole field can get.

Re: Beaming compound-time

Reply #13
I manually make a Noteworthy file comprising a minim then a crotchet, in a 6:8 time signature. This should strictly be shown as a dotted crotchet tied to a following quaver at the same pitch, then the crotchet, but I do it wrongly by hand. Then I export it as a MIDI file. NOTE THAT this will comprise only the time signature and note lengths and pitches. No direct beaming information will be contained in the MIDI file.
When I import the MIDI file again, using 'detect compound time'  where appropriate, Noteworthy still shows it as a minim plus a crotchet. This is fundamentally wrong.
Obviously I can edit the file and correct it by hand, but then I could have written the music score with a quill if I had wanted; doing it automatically is why I bought Noteworthy.
Importing other files from other sources demonstrates the same problem.

Could you attach a short file (or appropriate NWCTXT) to a forum post that messes up like you described. Please explain what you do/did to it and where the problem occurs. If there are other note-length combinations the NWC doesn't handle properly, please include them in that test file.  By the way, does it beam a number of quavers correctly?

I can take a shot at it along with others who have replied, but it helps to have real data with which to test.

Nwc Page
Since 1998

 

Notelength and beam auditing - a first attempt of a specification

Reply #14
I have thought about this for a day or two, and scribbled various things on a few pages of notation and programming notes - here is what I arrived at. This specification tries to be as general as possible, i.e., it treats the problem somewhat "mathematically" (typically, in my experience this leads to less complex programs, which therefore are quicker to complete and easier to test - hopefully :) ). Thinking about a few details has convinced me that it would take a few (say 3 or so?) full days to get this up and running, a time which I do not have right now; therefore I write this specification, so that I or whoever else can use it as a stepping stone later-on - but of course also for discussion.

Here is a short overview what this audit function might do:

  • Note, chord and rest lengths should be distributed in each measure according to standard rules (see e.g. Elaine Gould, Behind Bars, pp. 160-164, 166-169, 171; here is a scan of the relevant pages, also for the following references).
  • Beams should connect notes and chords according to standard rules (see e.g. Elaine Gould, Behind Bars, pp. 153-155).
  • Auditing should be possible for a complete score, or for a selected section of a staff.
  • It should be possible to mark measures as "do not audit" (in the same way that existing beams prevent NWC's "Automatic Beams" function from beaming notes differently).
  • The semantics of the score should not be changed - this is a complicated topic, see for example the attached file "NotTheSame.nwctxt".
  • It should be possible to specify whether dotted and double-dotted rests should be used or not.
  • Support for rest chords and "two-voice chords" with different lengths of the two voices may be restricted.
  • The main and secondary beat patterns should be derived from the currently active time signature.
  • It should be possible to specify alternative beat patterns for a time signature (e.g. 3/8 + 3/8 + 2/8 for a 4/4 time signature); a scale of eight eighths would then be beamed as 3+3+2; and two half notes would be rewritten as a dotted fourth tied to an eight and then two tied fourths.
  • Alternative beat patterns should be remembered in pieces with changing time signatures; thus, one could use e.g. a 4/4 and a hidden 8/8 to alternate between beat patterns (see e.g. Elaine Gould, Behind Bars, pp. 179-180).
  • The beat pattern for a measure (i.e., all the notes and rests between two barlines) that is shorter than the current time signature indicates should be the left part of the full beat pattern, except for the first measure of the score or selection, which should use the right part of the full beat pattern (this might be is helpful for incomplete first measures); the beat pattern for a measure that is longer than the current time signature indicates should repeat the complete pattern from start (this, and also the shorter measure logic, is certainly an edge case; the definitions are here "just to be complete"; typically, with varying lengths, one should use hidden time signatures to specify the intended beat pattern).
  • Transparent barlines should not be used for measure demarcation; however, chords and rests should be split at a transparent barline (a custom use of transparent barlines is to split long musical measures onto two lines).
  • Repeat barlines not at the end of a measure as defined by the current time signature should be handled like transparent barlines.
  • Beaming that cannot be done with NWC's built-in beaming (which would therefore require e.g. Beam.hmm objects) need not be supported (this might be a version 2 feature; see e.g. Elaine Gould, Behind Bars, pp. 156-157).
  • Rewriting segments that cannot be written with NWC's built-in two-voice chords (without staff overlaying) need not be supported; for an example that requires a chord with three different note lengths see the attachment VeryHardToRewrite.nwctxt.

Even though there are some requirements in that list that seem very special or even esoteric, removing them does not significantly change the complexity of the algorithms, as far as I can see. Only adding the "need not be supported" items would create major additional algorithmic design.

I'll leave it at that - unfortunately, my days until January 6th are already packed with this and that and even more, so I will not start this multi-day software adventure so soon. But maybe "soon enough"  ;D
H.M.

Re: Beaming compound-time

Reply #15
Thanks, H.M.

Now I have something to study!
But can you also provide the pages 172-180?
Always look on the bright side of life!

Re: Beaming compound-time

Reply #16
I have added pages 172-181 to the PDF behind the link in the posting above - although there's not much in there we could use here, I think: constancy of timing at changing metres is a tempo issue, polymetres and non-coinciding bars [NWC can do that :) ] as well as polytempi do not have an effect on note lengths and beaming. Ok, variable stress from p.179 is something I consider above (the 4/4 + 8/8 remark); and mixed metres can of course be done with hidden time signatures. Non-power-of-two denominators, however, are out of our scope (Gould writes "traditional multiples of two", but, mathematically, means powers of two, of course; as she gives a non-traditional example of 4/6 in the next sentence).

H.M.

Re: Beaming compound-time

Reply #17
When I tried putting a number of flagged notes in a 6/8 or 12/8 measure, the automatic beam had no problem breaking them into three notes each. What looked like a problem was when long notes walked over the implied "beat" in 6/8, 9/8, or 12/8.

A half-note and a quarter-note (minim & crochet) works great in 3/4, but not in 6/8. What seemed to be needed was a way to break down that half into a dotted quarter tied to an eighth. I still need to convert my html tool to a user tool, but if I missed something, please let me know now. TIA

Attached is my test file, before and after.
ThreeEight.html It is not necessary to provide any parm count or parm values.

Happy New Year, everyone.
Since 1998

Re: Beaming compound-time

Reply #18
In the second 6/8 measure of your example (and equivalent places), the three 8th notes at the beginning of the measure need to be beamed together. Can your tool be made to do that?

Re: Beaming compound-time

Reply #19
In the second 6/8 measure of your example (and equivalent places), the three 8th notes at the beginning of the measure need to be beamed together. Can your tool be made to do that?
In that example, the 3rd eighth note didn't exist before the quarter note was split. I could add some code to unbeam all 8ths (and faster) where the script is active quickly and the user could autobeam after running the script. Later, I can identify the first note and last note of a beat to rebeam the beats when I can find the time to work on it.
Since 1998

Re: Beaming compound-time

Reply #20
Anyone still interested in this topic, please revisit my link in reply #17 above. It has a problem writing triplets although it can read them now. I'll see if I can fix it and any other bugs before converting this to a user function.
Since 1998

Re: Beaming compound-time

Reply #21
I have converted the webpage in reply #17 to a User Function. It still has a few quirks regarding triplets, but real triplets in 6/8, 9/8, etc. are rare.

Copy the attached file if necessary and rename it dropping .txt . You will need to know its location when installing. It reads clip text and don't check any boxes. Note its comments on the first ten lines or so.
Since 1998

Re: Beaming compound-time

Reply #22
I added a new tool 'Audit score' to the multitool PYNWC (version 1.2):
Audit score

It contains 'audit notelength/beaming', based on the discussions in this topic. (And thanks to @hmmueller)
Always look on the bright side of life!