Today’s the day for the DNS move

I started writing this a while ago, and got hung up on
.htaccess documentation.

In any case, I started by forwarding all the email from the old
ISP to a gmail account, so that the DNS change won’t screw that up.

I’ve also copied all the files over from the old account to the
new account. I think I have most of the links I need.

So soon, I’m going to tell the new ISP that it’s hosting the
laymusic.org domain, and tell the registrar that the DNS is now
with the new ISP.

I will then as quickly as possible tell the new ISP where to
look for some of the things that aren’t where it might expect.

I’m sure I’ll eventually get things set up right; if they
disappear for a few minutes, or even a couple of hours, don’t
worry about it.

If there’s something you want that’s been gone for more than a
day, you should let me know.

I have a WIKI

I’m not really sure I want one. I actually like writing html
(with emacs psgml mode)
better than learning new markup languages. The big advantage of
the interface is that if you’re setting up a new site, links to
the pages
that aren’t written yet are in red, and when you click on them you
get put directly into edit mode for them. But all the stuff about
lists and links and blockquotes and sections, which I do effortlessly in html,
I have to learn a whole new bunch of funny punctuation to do in
wikimedia markup.

But the application is a good one for a WIKI. There are three
of us giving a concert in December, and there’s a lot of
information about the playlist and the rehearsal schedule and
where to download the music, and where are the recordings of the
rehearsals and the drafts of the program and the program notes that needs to be kept in a central place.

The last few concerts I’ve done that on an html page, but the
WIKI concept of easily linking in new pages and easily traversing
the tree of linked pages probably will make for better
readability. And of course, the other performers are more likely
by some very small amount to write on a WIKI than on an html
page.

So I’ll let you know how it works out. In combination with my
addmedia.py
program, it was pretty easy to put up PDF and MIDI files for a
piece that’s only partially transcribed so I wouldn’t want to put
it up at Serpent
Publications
yet. It was more of a pain to put up the list of
performers as a list because I’d never written a mediawiki markup
list before, but maybe the second list will be easier.

Lute tablature

They’re having a discussion at the lilypond
users mailing list
about how and whether to have a lilypond
mode for entering “ancient” lute tablatures.

Some people seemed to like the idea, but not to have much idea
what the place of lute tablature was in music history, so I
contributed a post. Someone else had written:

I am not at all familiar with these old tablatures, but they
look just amazing, so simply for typographic and aesthetical
reasons, these should be made possible with lilypond.

And I replied:

Actually, there are good musical reasons, too. In the 16th and maybe
most of the 17th, and in some places longer than that, the
dominant instrument which could play many notes at a time, at least in
the home, was the
lute, or various other plucked string instruments which could read the
same tablature.

So this means that lots of the kinds of music which would later be
published with keyboard accompaniment, which lilypond transcribes very
well, was published with lute tablature.


My edition
of all the part songs of John Dowland (which
many people think of as lute songs, but most of them are really
accompanied madrigals) is really incomplete, because I’ve
only transcribed the vocal lines, and in general not the lute
tablature.

For a lot of them, the lute tablature is very little different from
just a transcription of the vocal lines, but in others there’s a lot
of decoration.

I’ve made some efforts to transcribe the tablature, but what I want
ideally is to transcribe what’s there, in an input form that doesn’t
require me to translate the tablature into notes, and then use that
transcription plus the tuning of the strings to produce both a
tablature that looks like the one in the facsimile and standard
notation that a modern keyboard player could deal with.

Lute players should note that I’m aware that tablature has different
information from notation: specifically that the beginning time of the
note is specified, but not the length of the note. However, I believe
that good keyboard players are just as capable as lute players of
making the decision about where to end the note; they just aren’t as
capable as players of 6-course fretted instruments of playing
tablature for 6-course fretted instruments.

There’s a red flag in there that I’ve been meaning to address for
some time — there are eminent musicologists who have studied
the period deeply who would disagree with my statement that “most of them are really
accompanied madrigals”. So I’ll tell you why I think that some other time.

I’m back, and what’s next

I seem to have returned to the land of the living — I woke up
this morning wanting to get out of bed and walk the dog. I then
did a reasonable imitation of my usual morning routine, and still
don’t feel like it’s quite time to go back to bed.

As far as what the diagnosis is, since it’s getting better and
not worse, I don’t see any need to burden the medical care system
with this problem, so you’re going to have to put up with my lay
diagnosis. I was running a fever for a good bit of Saturday and
most of Sunday, so I would normally call it flu, not a cold.

Because people have been worrying about flu lately, I’ve been
just saying it’s a cold. I’m not someone who’s ever had the kind
of cold a lot of people get where it slows them down for a week or
even longer, but they never run a fever or get into a state where
they should clearly be in bed. I suspect that this isn’t because
I’m immune to those viruses; I suspect it’s because the virus that
gives some poeple a stuffed up head but not much else for a week
gives me a fever and a stuffed up head for a couple of days.

But if it is flu, I had the regular flu vaccine 2 weeks ago.
So it’s either a regular flu virus that got in under the wire
before my immunity took hold (or even got a little bit of help
from the virus in the vaccine), or a flu strain that isn’t in the
regular virus. In which case, it’s entirely possible that it’s
H1N1. But if so, I don’t seem to be one of the people that H1N1
kills.

What I would have been doing if I hadn’t been in bed

I have to move the laymusic.org site from the old
ISP (hostrocket) to the
new ISP (dreamhost). Note
that this isn’t in any way a criticism of hostrocket as a host if
it meets your needs. I acquired the dreamhost account when I
desperately needed a way to move a bunch of mailman
mailing lists to a new place. They’d been hosted on my home
machine when I had my internet connection from speakeasy, and this wasn’t
going to work when I started connecting with comcast.

Hostrocket doesn’t offer mailman, and while I could probably
have managed to move the mailman lists to what they offer instead,
the non-technical people who’ve been administering some of the
mailman lists would have had a lot of trouble, and I thought that
even for my purposes, mailman was better. So I found a coupon
code that gave me the first year of dreamhost hosting for very
little money. Last Spring I moved the music publishing part of
the site to dreamhost, and now I’m moving the rest of it, before
I owe hostrocket for another year.

Just moving the existing site to a place on dreamhost and
pointing the laymusic dns to the new place would be easy, but what
I’m trying to do is to move the pieces that should be on this site
and that I want to maintain
into the laymusic wordpress installation, and then I’ll just have
a pointer to the old stuff for historical reasons.

The job is a bit less tedious than it might be because of the
wordpresslib
program that adds files to the wordpress media library. I may
write a version of that that creates a post from the part of a file between
certain markers. But mostly it’s tedious because it involves
doing minimal updating of a lot of stuff that could use major
rewriting, but that would be major thinking, and that isn’t going
to happen before October 15.

More about converting MIDI to lilypond

I wrote a a
couple of days ago
about having tried out a new way of
converting MIDI files to lilypond. I posted the gist of the
idea to the lilypond
users’ mailing list
, and got some more suggestions of things
to try.

The idea I liked best was that the MuseScore program has an
experimental Capella import (and
lilypond export),
which would have let me avoid using the MIDI files as an
exchange format at all. Unfortunately, in its current state,
the import crashes on the capella files for Holborne.
(I did report the bug on the MuseScore tracking program.)

So I tried several other programs that import MIDI and export
lilypond, and the one that seems to work best for this
particular purpose was the rosegarden one. I
haven’t finished a whole piece, but from what I’ve done, it
looks like the work I have to do is work I couldn’t reasonably
expect a MIDI reading program to do for me.

The most time-consuming part is that the MIDI files for the Holborne
are what lilypond calls “unfolded” repeats, and I want “volta”
repeats. That is, when something is repeated, these MIDI files
play it twice (which is what you want when you’re using the MIDI
file to practice with), whereas I want to print the music once with repeat
signs around it. But otherwise, I’m just making the changes
which are necessary because I want unbarred parts.

MIDI to MusicXML

One of the problems of sharing music with people who prefer
some other music notation software is that until recently the
best available way to do it was MIDI. MIDI has many fine
qualities, but it doesn’t save the same information that printed
notation needs.

There’s a fairly well-thought-of standard exchange format
called MusicXML. Lots of programs (including lilypond)
implement an import of MusicXML, but export is a lot less
common, so most people (including me) who put their work up on
the web can’t give you MusicXML from their source. Finale users
could, but mostly don’t.

The reason I call it an exchange format is that while it
captures all or most of the information any of the notation
programs save, it doesn’t do it in a way anyone would want to
work with. For instance, here’s the information for one note (a
g quarter note in the second octave above middle C) in
MusicXML:


<note>
<pitch>
<step>G </step>
<octave>5 </octave>
</pitch>
<duration>96 </duration>
<voice>1 </voice>
<type>quarter </type>
<dot/>
<notehead>normal </notehead>
</note>

In lilypond, you would normally enter that “g4” (or just “g” if
it were in a string of other quarter notes) and in ABC it
would usually be “g”. So you can see why people would rather
type ABC or lilypond.

Earlier this week, I wanted to transcribe a piece
by Antony
Holborne
. The whole book this piece is in has been
transcribed, and is on the web at the Werner
Icking Archive.
But the person who did this did it in a
notation program called Capella 5, which I
don’t have. He did provide sources, as well as PDF and MIDI
files, so I tried importing the MIDI file into lilypond, and
decided it would be easier to just enter the lilypond.

One reason I decided this was that midi2ly had decided to spell
all the MIDI pitches that are a half note below B and a half
note above A as A♯ instead of B♭. (The MIDI format only records
what the pitch is in terms of how many half steps from 0
(roughly the bottom of the piano) it is, it doesn’t know
anything about how a notation system would want to write that
pitch.)

So I was excited when I read in a newsletter from Noteflight that they now
have MIDI import. Noteflight is a web-based notation system
that seemed promising when I looked at it a few months ago, but
hadn’t yet implemented anything I was particularly interested in
using.

So I ran the next of the Holborne MIDI files through it, and
was gratified to see that it spelled the notes between B and A
as B♭ instead of A♯. Unfortunately, it spells the ones between
F and G as G♭ instead of F♯. But you can import the MIDI file,
export the XML file, and import the XML file into lilypond and
get something you can work with more easily in several ways than
the direct import of MIDI into lilypond, which is fairly
orphaned. And it may well be that some of the manipulation
you’re going to have to do to the score can be done more easily
in noteflight than in lilypond, although I can’t tell you that
from personal experience.

So if you’re looking for a web-based music notation software,
or a fairly clean way to get MIDI files into MusicXML, look into
noteflight.

Here’s the Holborne Galliard as I imported it from the MIDI
file. I think the only thing I did was to change the key
signature and edit one G♭ into an F♯.

Truce in the browser wars (on my machine, anyway)

I wrote previously
about my efforts to find a browser to replace Firefox 3.0, which
has major memory leaks and takes over the sound system.

I seem to have settled on Firefox 3.5 for the moment.

I still like the interface on chromium-browser from google, but the linux
version was too incomplete, and so I had to keep a firefox
browser going in addition. In addition, because it was
undergoing such rapid development, I was having to restart it
every day, which is a nuisance.

They have actually gotten flash working, so you could use it to
watch youtube videos, but I’m still not able to publish my
daily blog entry. And they frequently have problems with the
interface with X windows, so that you can’t move or view the
window the way you expect.

Firefox 3.5 still has some memory leakage, and of course when
it’s using 13% of my current 8G, that would have been more than
100% of the old 1G system. But it takes at least a week to get
to be a nuisance on the current system, and by then I’ve usually
had to restart it so that I can listen to the MIDI files when I’m
transcribing music. (This is a point for Chromium; I can play
midi files from the command line even if I’ve just listened to
music on Chromium.)

Another major advantage of Firefox over chromium is that there
are all those plugins, including one that lets you use emacs to
edit text fields, and the one that lets you share your bookmarks
between all your computers.

I’ve heard people complain about problems with Firefox 3.5, but
the only one I’ve hit is that my bank site complains that I’m
using an untested browser, but then it lets me do my banking
anyway.

So for now, I’m putting up with Firefox 3.5, but I’ll let you
know if chromium grows up enough to be worth another shot.

Read the other stuff I’ve written this morning

Once again, it’s almost lunchtime on Wednesday, and I’ve been
writing all morning, and I don’t feel the necessity of writing a
blog post to keep my hand in as a writer, so you can read the
other stuff I’ve written.

Not the emails

I will spare you the emails I wrote to the person I’m trying to
schedule a December concert with, and to the condo association about
the time and date of the proposed meeting, although there was a
lot of thought that went into how to word those.

Comment on another blog

Reading my RSS feeds before breakfast, I found that Phil
Greenspun has been writing a long article about health care
reform, which expresses a lot of the same frustrations I feel
about the current discussion, but missed a couple of points I’m
frustrated about, so I
wrote him a comment. Actually, the page that comes up when you
say you want to comment strongly suggests that you might rather
write an email if you aren’t sure your ideas will still be
interesting in two years, so I originally wrote him an email, but
he emailed me back suggesting I post it as a comment, so I did.
When you read the article,
mine might still be the second comment, or if you only want to
read the comment, you can go to my
comment space
and see the health care comment, plus an
anti-Verizon diatribe I wrote last winter.

Posts on my own blogs

I wrote a report
on last night’s band meeting.

For the meeting, I had as usual transcribed a new piece, and we
found a bad mistake in a previous transcription, so there’s a post
on the Serpent
Publications blog
about those things.

A Graphic Example


[ebook on Sony reader]

A lot of non-technical people’s eyes glaze over when you start talking
about standard, non-proprietary formats. Mike
Cane
has come up with a graphic example of why you don’t
want one company owning the format of the books you read.

Apparently Sony requires any book sold for their reader in
their store to be formatted by them (at a cost of $200). And then
when they do it, it looks like that.

This hideous example is from Sony, for the Sony readers, but
the principle is the same for any proprietary format — if they
won’t tell you how to do it, you’re stuck with them doing it for
you, and you may well not like what they do.

This is why I don’t put music in proprietary formats on SerpentPublications.org.