Re: [linux-audio-user] Any MIDI apps that don't suck?

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Subject: Re: [linux-audio-user] Any MIDI apps that don't suck?
From: Silvan (
Date: Tue Dec 03 2002 - 10:27:41 EET

On Monday 02 December 2002 07:14 am, Chris Cannam wrote:

> I have to admit I was surprised by your message, because your one
> previous communication on the Rosegarden lists had been very level.

I'm usually very level... At least in public. :) I've been under a lot of
stress lately. Someone got fired at work, and I've had to pick up his
workload and mine. I've got practically no time to do this, and everything
is going wrong. That's what I get for not thinking of this back when I had
months and months to do it.

Also, I probably hadn't eaten. I forget to eat, and when I don't eat, I get
downright nasty. Most people just know that when I say something
uncharacteristically nasty, it's time to feed me. :)

> I can understand your frustration though -- the older I get, the
> more likely I am to just declare that a piece of software is crap
> and give up on it when it won't immediately work for me. (For a

Well, as long as I'm not the only one. :) Still, I was a total jerk. That's
not the kind of message I would normally let out. At least, not without a
lot of editing.

> long time I refused to give either MusE or Brahms any serious
> consideration because I couldn't get either of them to start up
> cleanly and make sounds without a significant amount of work.)

Brahms wouldn't even pretend to compile the last time I looked at it, and
MusE... Well, the one with my distro appears to be broken, and the CVS
requires so many updates that it would be most practical to do a distro
upgrade before even attempting to compile it. Jazz++ looks sort of
interesting, but it seems to have been abandoned three years ago, and it
isn't useful on a modern ALSA system. Anthem didn't really seem to be able
to do much of anything. I had wincake working under Wine, without its staff
printing font, but it's currently borked. Noteworthy Composer doesn't get
its font either, so even though it works, it's pretty useless.

That leaves Rosegarden and NoteEdit as things that can at least do something
without my having to resort to re-installing Windows. NoteEdit has a lot of
potential, but it's hard to use, and very buggy. Rosegarden has a lot of
potential, but it's hard to use, and very buggy.

I'm kind of stuck... :)

> at about the same time describing some problems that we Rosegarden
> developers did not actually see, which made it quite difficult for
> us to debug them.

I can relate to that. I'm not much of a programmer, but the one little thing
I've been playing with doesn't work at all for a person who doesn't have a
clue how to help me debug it. What can I do? It works fine here.

So yes, I have to grant you that. I also grant you that MIDI is a lot more
complicated than it should be, because you have to go through all the API
nonsense. Life was easier when I had an ISA slot for my MPU-401. If I had
an MPU-401 still, I wouldn't listen to any excuses from you. :)

> mean the MIDI code has a lower priority. It's surely the way that
> most software development works, it's just that in a closed
> environment you wouldn't get to see it.


> This also means that relatively few people have used the software
> in any serious way yet, so you _will_ discover all sorts of new
> problems, and you should report them.

I'm having a bit of trouble with the whole interface paradigm too.

If I import something, I get one segment for the entire track. I can cut it
up with the split tool and move the segments around.

If I start from scratch, I create a segment exactly one measure long. It
seems your "segments" are the equivalent of the little measure dots in
Cakewalk. Having one segment per measure is potentially useful, but it's
also cumbersome to move blocks of stuff around, and to edit.

Seems the "join" tool would let me merge segments, but it doesn't work. I
can't find any way to combine segments.

Should the Segments -> Auto Split item turn an imported monosegment into one
segment per measure? It doesn't seem to do anything.

Oh... I see... If I record something, it's one big segment, then auto-split
cuts out the slient bits.

So how do I make a longer segment from scratch? Didn't think of that yet? :)

Um... There should be a way to move the blue "play from here" bar by hand,
instead of having to futz with the transport buttons. Am I missing
something? Also, playback should stop at the end of the song. It seems to
continue on forever. If I let it go long enough, will Rosegarden segfault?

What I wanted to do after I created the first one-measure segment was drag the
right side of the thing out several measures. Doing _that_ would limit the
flexiblity in terms of being able to copy/manipulate a measure at a time, but
it would make it easier to hand edit. (I'm a really bad keyboard player, so
I enter a lot of stuff from scratch...)

Also, I want to do more with the segments than can seemingly currently be

For example, select the first one, then shift-click three segments over. It
should grab all the ones in between. If I want to select more than one of
them individually, I should use ctrl-click, I think. Otherwise, if I click
on one, it should un-select the one that was selected before. That would
feel like more uniform, expected behavior.

Now say I have three measures in four tracks that I want to copy. It seems I
need to do a lot of stuff by hand. Cakewalk lets you select tracks on the
track name/number field to the left. Actions normally work on the current
track, because the current track is normally the only one selected, but you
can click on additional tracks so that they mirror whatever you're doing to
the track you're manipulating, and you can even have it so that the "current"
track is not highlighted in this manner, so that just because you're sitting
on it doesn't necessarily mean it's active for these combined manipulations.

This is difficult to describe, but easy to use. Say you want to copy three
measures from six different tracks. Highlight the names/numbers of those six
tracks, then go into the segment pane and do your
selection/dragging/copying/whatever, and those three measures will make the
move in their respective tracks. There's also a "paste to one track" option
for times when you want to take those snippets out and blend them together.

Uh, let's see... Your Notation view is nice, but one useful addition would be
giving it the ability to display more than one staff for a track. I just
recorded a two-handed part, and of course there are a bunch of things on
ledger lines way below the staff. Cakewalk (boo hiss) has the option to show
everything on one of several different clefs, or to display a grand staff.
The latter option would be ideal here. That, or some easy facility for
splitting off everything below middle C and dumping it into a separate track.

Now that I consider it, another thing you can do with Cakewalk's track/number
highlighter thingie is that the Staff view will combine all selected staffs
into one editor. That way you can tweak more than one track in the same

> You should definitely report that (to rosegarden-user, and bug

I'm not subscribed to that one. I didn't know there was a user list. I'll go
find it, and post this there as well.

> reports to the SourceForge bug trackers). I find Lilypond output
> works okay, and I imagine it has even fewer regular users than
> the rest of the application, so bugs you find are highly likely to
> be new to us.

OK. I'll include the file with the bug report. If someone can figure out how
to help me print staff two from the file, I'd be grateful. I got it to "say"
what I want, but I can't do anything with it. Probably the lilypond just
needs some cleaning up, but I don't know much about lilypond yet.

It's pretty well borked. Lots of errors:

105:33: warning: Adding note head to incompatible stem (type = 8):
> < g'2 e' > f'4 g'16 < f'8. a
                                                      '4 > g'16
Preprocessing elements...
Calculating column positions... programming error: No StaffSpacing wishes
found (Continuing; cross thumbs)

warning: Could not find line breaking that satisfies constraints.
warning: Could not find line breaking that satisfies constraints.

Etc. etc. etc. It comes out so that it might look OK if I had really wide

Anyway, I'll document it in the bug report. Just as soon as I dig up my
sourceforge password...

Michael McIntyre         USDA zone 6b in SW VA, USA
Silvan Pagan [] Linux Druid
---------[ registered Linux user #243621 ]---------

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