Thursday 20 January 2011

Music Task

One thing I do when not blogging is arranging music for services. There is no organist but the sound system is now superior and, basically, no organist is needed. I source music, and one of the best places to go is the public domain gift site in Australia provided by Clyde McLennan. He assumes you will edit the music produced, and indeed I often slow it down and lower its pitch, and I can edit to cut out or add verses. After that choices include Hymns Without Words, Cyberhymnal, Hymns by Metre and NetHymnal. A general search may find a usable tune, even if it is only a MIDI sample. Sometimes one is limited to .MID tunes (Windows XP turns off its Synth player by default - you have to push up the slider time and again) so conversion software is needed. Should there be no tune usable, then this usually means writing it out of the hymn book and using software that then produces the music. Here is an example:

This is from MuseScore and its output includes .MID, .WAV, .OGG, .PDF, .PNG, .XML, and .MSCZ. In other words, it will produce instrumental sound to the old .MID and also .WAV sound (allowing conversion to MP3). Sometimes .WAV is peak distorted but .OGG isn't, so I output to .OGG. Output to .PDF means the music is publishable. .PNG is the music score as an image, and was how that .GIF image above originated. Now .XML is a general format which should mean any music saved here can be read and further edited in another music program. The format .XML derives from HTML and more and more programs use it. For example, I use a free program PDF-XChange and it uses XML tagging to allow writing and positioning on to a .PDF file.

Because MuseScore can read a .MID file and show the musical notation, it stands as a converter from .MID to .WAV and the like.

Once you have your output in instrument terms it is just a case of multiplying by the number of verses in an audio editor. Also I tend to use MuseScore to do the intro to the hymn music, usually the second half of a verse, rather than use an audio editor to create half a verse which rarely produces a satisfying edit mid-verse.

The audio software I use are Audacity, Audiograbber, Synthfont, Quick Media Converter, Stream Transport and I'll try Forte Free and TS MIDI Editor (music composition and editing). Synthfont nags but is one means to convert .MID to .WAV and more. Stream Transport is a means to download videos without them converting to mono (as many downloaders do) and then Quick Media Converter turns them into sound only files if that is chosen. Audiograbber is a multifaceted piece of software, but it can store anything that goes through the sound card and I use it in conjunction with Audacity (I set the stereo mix with Audacity and then use Audiograbber). Audacity is the main editor, including removing the sound card's background hum, amplifying, changing speed and pitch, and imports VST effect files such as stereofying mono recordings. Use its GVerb carefully and you can get a long echo effect at the end of some tunes.

In other words, like with art software, you use several in sequence and there are many ways to skin a cat.

Once a piece is prepared it is then stored and listed according to the hymn book, the number and the name of the tune and then it gets used.

However, on Sunday, the service taker is the denomination's leading musician, so I have little to do.


And he tells me that my eighth bar is wrong! It should be 3/4 time or such (which is getting beyond my abilities).

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