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Raffaele Viglianti
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Great stuff
Wow, not even 24-hours and nearly a thousand users of the #GoogleDocs  music notation add-on!

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I spent the past two days building an Android application. I had never written one before, so I thought I'd give it a try.

I decided to use the PhoneGap ( toolkit, which lets you build apps in HTML5/JavaScript. This allows you to leverage your existing HTML5 expertise (if any), and at the same time build apps that are easy to port to other platforms -- PhoneGap supports Android, iOS, BlackBerry, etc. Part of my rationale for going this way was so I could build music-related apps with VexFlow (which is an all-JavaScript library for music notation).

PhoneGap is essentially a browser embedded into a native application, with JavaScript interfaces to the OS. So you have interfaces for file storage, camera access, accelerometer access, GPS, media, etc. If you've built web applications before, you'll find it quite straightforward to get up and running with it. I went from knowing nothing to publishing a trivial app to the Play Store in two days.

Unfortunately, it's not all milk and honey -- debugging and testing are tricky. Although you can use the awesome Chrome/Firefox Developer Tools to debug the standard HTML5 parts of the app in the browser, things get complicated when debugging any native operations, like file or camera access. I often resorted to console.log and adb logcat to directly debug the app running on the phone. This is particularly tedious because it takes about a minute to deploy an app to the phone.

I also found that the apps perform poorly on older hardware. On a Galaxy Nexus (which isn't that old), the latency between a button click and a dialog popping up was slightly under a second, which is atrocious given that there's no network involved. On my Nexus 4, though, it was acceptably fast.

If you're planning on building a PhoneGap app, you'll save yourself some time with the following tools / libraries:

1) jQuery and jQuery Mobile - Absolutely essential for building a functional mobile app.

2) SugarJS - A handy collection of "missing functions" in JavaScript. I used to use underscore.js for this, but ditched it for SugarJS primarily because of its Date and Time libraries.

3) mustache.js - A simple yet effective templating library.

4) The Font Awesome Icon Pack from here: These are the same icons that come with Bootstrap.

5) A "flat" jQuery UI theme:

6) PhoneGap emulation in the browser by Ripple: and

Okay, so the app that I built is a simple meditation timer and tracker, and is available on the Play Store here (click for screenshots):

Overall impression: PhoneGap is great for building simple apps quickly. If you've got HTML5/JavaScript chops, the learning curve is not nearly as steep as for a native app. The downsides are: poor performance and debug-ability, a non-native user experience, and limited documentation.

#PhoneGap   #cordova   #android  

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It is not a good day for computer-aided music engraving

Against the outcry "+Save Sibelius!" by thousands of users, musicians and (not least of all) paying customers, +Avid has gone through with its plan to close down the London Sibelius office, where all the relevant software development happened. So today's the day an era of more than one decade ends*, as product manager extraordinaire +Daniel Spreadbury and the last remaining rest of his team leave for good. This news is the more grim as there are no credible signs whatsoever that AVID has any strategy (or at least ambition) to mitigate the damage to progress of digital music engraving that this deplorable turn of events without doubt will cause.

You can read Daniel's moving goodbye post on the Sibelius Blog (link below), where you can also leave a farewell comment for him.

* or, if you consider the software's inception in 1986, an era of more than a quarter of a century

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Excellent idea! Looking forward to see the results :)
I won't trust any statistics that I didn't fake gather myself ‒ (a survey)

I have been quiet for a while as I am in the middle of a bigger project. But when in that project I reached the inevitable point where I despair over the absence of any longer rests for page turns, I remembered that there was another little project that I wanted to do for some time now ‒ and it involves you.

While there just is no such thing as too long when it comes to rests suitable for page turns, the opposite approach is slightly more complicated, as different instruments allow for different degrees of agility ‒ a clarinetist will be considerably quicker when turning a page than a doublebass player, who has much more instrument to keep in check. And since therefore there is no general answer to the question of how short a rest for a page break should reasonably be (except for "Don't do quick page turns!", of course), I thought I would ask for some input from pro musicians who have me in their circles.

I intend to set up a little database (a spreadsheet really ^cough^) with such notation related data depending very much on a given part's instrument, gathered from as many professional musicians as possible to get some meaningful averages to draw further conclusions from. For now, this would involve three things: reasonable minimum timings for page turns, circumstances under which a page turn can be executed while playing, and a bonus question concerning irregular tuplets (see below). 

If you would like to participate (pretty please), do the following:

First ‒ please share this post with any professional instrumentalists that you know who might also be interested in participating.

Then please answer the following ten questions (or at least numbers 1, 2 and 5). If you don't want to answer in the comments, feel free to email me or to share your input in a direct post to me. If you can be bothered to do so, please don't just answer from the gut and instead actually try out it out with a metronome or stop watch. This would instantly quadruple the value of your answers.

1. What instrument(s) do you play professionally? (If you play more than one, please make sure that you answer the other questions for all of your instruments, if relevant.)

—— Minimum Times For Page Turns ——

2. What is the absolutely shortest amount of time in which you can safely execute a page turn with a bound part (no loose sheets of paper)?

3. Same question, but with loose sheets, double-side printed (meaning that you have to actually turn them over). *

4. Again same question, but now with loose sheets, one-side printed (meaning you just have to shift the sheet to the left).

—— Page Turns While Playing ——

5. With your instrument(s), are there circumstances (not considering any non-standard playing techniques) where it is possible to keep on playing while having one hand free to execute a page turn? If so, ... uhmm... please elaborate.

6. Do the minimum timings for such free-hand turns differ from the timings given for questions 2 to 4, and if yes, how?


7. Any other special instrument related advice you can think of regarding page turns?

—— Bonus: Irregular Tuplets ——

[This is not particularly instrument specific, but it is something I wanted to investigate for some while now as it affects certain engraving decisions which I will talk about in another post. Please bear with me anyway.]

8. When imagining a quintuplet rhythm before your "inner ear", at which metronome number** does it get difficult to clearly perceive every single note instead of having them blurring together into strings of notes spread out more or less evenly?

IMPORTANT: this question is about your inner conception of irregular tuplets, not about the speed at which you can actually play them.

9. Same question, but with septuplets.

10. Same question, but with nonuplets.

I would be delighted to hear from as many musicians as possible to give their input on how to optimize quick page turns on different instruments. Because, as you can see from Mr. Borge's demonstration below, having to depend on a page turner introduces a whole lot of really unnecessary problems.

* Yes, I know, it's not best practice, but often enough for some reason or another it most certainly is actual practice.

** Meaning: five notes on one beat of the metronome.

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Well, the birthday was on the 5th. But came across this today :)
Today is John Cage's 100th Birthday

I could write hours and hours about the ingenuity, inventiveness and diversity of John Cage's notation, about its poetic and calligraphic beauties, its clarity and also its delicate not so occasional un-clarity.

Instead, I want to shine a light on his 1969 book "NOTATIONS", a widely varied collection of then contemporary examples of how music is notated. It comprises notation from a quite heterogenous group of (not always just) composers, including among many others: Louis Andriessen, Milton Babbitt, The Beatles, Luciano Berio, Leonard Bernstein, Ernst Bloch, Suzanne Bloch, Pierre Boulez, George Brecht, Earle Brown, Cornelius Cardew, Elliot Carter, Graciela Castillo, Aaron Copland, Henry Cowell, George Crumb, Luigi Dallapiccola, Morton Feldman, Lukas Foss, Miriam Gideon, Peggy Glanville-Hicks, Vinko Globokar, Alois Hába, Christobal Halfter, Lou Harrison, Roman Haubenstock-Ramati, Josef Matthias Hauer, Lejaren A. Hiller, Toshi Ichiyanagi, Charles Ives, Ben Johnston, Betsy Jolas, Mauricio Kagel, Alison Knowles, Gottfried Michael König, Ernst Krenek, György Ligeti, Alvin Lucier, Witold Lutosławski, Darius Milhaud, Gordon Mumma, Conlon Nancarrow, Pauline Oliveros, Yoko Ono, Hans Otte, Nam June Paik, Harry Partch, Henri Pousseur, Gardner Read, Steve Reich, Josef Anton Riedl, Wallingford Riegger, Terry Riley, Frederic Rjewski, Ned Rorem, Carl Ruggles, Erik Satie, Pierre Schaeffer, Dieter Schnebel, Carolee Schneemann, Gunther Schuller, Karlheinz Stockhausen, You R. Actually, Reading This, Whole List I., Am Impressed, Igor Stravinsky, Toru Takemitsu, Simeon ten Holt, James Tenney, Virgil Thomson, Anton Webern, Adolph Weiss, Christian Wolff, Stefan Wolpe, Yannis Xenakis, La Monte Young and Gerd Zacher.

But Cage didn't just write an "instructional" notation book, he also made it into a work of art, just by "celebrating it", as one of many famous Cage quotes goes. So like most of his works, this book also is composed using his preferred technique of chance operations*: 

This book illustrates a collection of music manuscripts which was made in recent years to benefit the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts. The collection was determined by circumstances rather than any process of selection. Thus it shows the many directions in which music notation is now going. The manuscripts are not arranged according to kinds of music, but alphabetically according to the composer's name. No explanatory information is given.
The text for the book is the result of a process employing I-Ching chance operations. These determined how many words regarding his work were to be written by or about which of two hundred and sixty-nine composers. Where these passages (never more than sixty-four words, sometimes only one) have been especially written for this book, they are preceded by a paragraph sign and followed by the author's name, other remarks were chosen or written by the editors—John Cage and Alison Knowles. Not only the number of words and the author, but the typography too—letter size, intensity, and typeface—were all determined by chance operations. This process was followed in order to lessen the difference between text and illustrations. The composition of the pages is the work of Alison Knowles.
A precedent for the text is the questionnaire. (The composers were asked to write about notation or something relevant to it.) A precedent for the absence of information which characterizes this book is the contemporary aquarium (no longer a dark hallway with each species in its own illuminated tank separated from the others and named in Latin): a large glass house with all the fish in it swimming as in an ocean.
—John Cage, May 1968


* In the spirit of Cage I too arranged the following selection from the book by using chance operations.
John Cage, "NOTATIONS" (107 Fotos)
108 Photos - View album

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Found musicbox with Chinese tunes used by Puccini in Madama Butterfly and Turandot - a fascinating article! (with audio examples)
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