Archive for December, 2008

Making beautiful music

I recently played trumpet in a carol service.  I hadn’t played the descants before, but there was an added complication for one of the carols—I only had the descant in concert pitch.  Since I stand a much better chance of playing the right notes when reading a B♭-pitch score, I decided to try my hand at typesetting the carol myself.

I installed LilyPond and downloaded a public domain source file of the carol.  It compiled easily and produced this score:

Sheet music generated from online, public domain LilyPond source

Sheet music generated from online, public domain LilyPond source

Several of the notes were different from my version, so I corrected those and added a descant [obscured for copyright reasons].  I also found out how to add the tails-up, tails-down notation common when printing two parts on one staff.  Then I added musical phrasing and some lyrics.  I had to play about with the layout settings quite a bit to make it fit on one page.  I was very pleased with the end result:

Sheet music after I added (obscured) descant, corrected melody, changed the harmony and layout, and added lyrics and phrasing.

Sheet music after I added (obscured) descant, corrected melody, changed the harmony and layout, and added lyrics and phrasing.

Finally, with the addition of five “transpose” statements—one for each part and one for the descant—and a change of clef from bass to treble, I produced the sheet music for B♭ instruments:

Sheet music transposed for trumpet using LilyPond's transpose directive

Sheet music transposed for trumpet using LilyPond's transpose directive

I am very impressed with LilyPond.  I am now installing Ubuntu to have a go at using Rosegarden, a GUI for editing music.  I might be able to compile it on DarwinPorts and run it on Mac OS X, but it seems simpler to get it running on a Linux VM.

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Too long in the tooth

I stand condemned by my own memory.  I have just spent 15 minutes searching through all my applications for the blogging software I use—I could not remember what it was called.  So I have obviously been away from blogging too long.  For reference, it was called Qumana, and there was a very good reason I couldn’t find it—I decided, many moons ago, to uninstall it in favour of ScribeFire.

But why the mention of teeth?  Well, I have now lived half of my allotted threescore years and ten.  My legs are grey.  My ears are gnarled.  My eyes are old and bent.  So you will empathise with my utter embogglement when I say that I was asked for proof of age just yesterday when I tried to buy some wine.  I have not been asked for proof of age for seventeen years.

I went back with my driving licence, though I bitterly resented having to show it.  This feels like the thin end of the identity card wedge.  I thought that there were proof of age cards available that didn’t serve as identity cards, but a cursory search online revealed none.  After all, why would we have such a thing?  The alleged clamp-down on under-age drinking serves no real purpose in the public interest.  Children who are determined to drink will continue to obtain alcohol, just as easily as they obtain illegal drugs.  The identity card that is supposed to prove your age will also prove your name, your exact date of birth, and probably your address.

In case you remain unconvinced of the lunacy of this situation, consider the following actual proofs of age: my wedding band that has formed a groove in my burgeoning ring finger over five years of marriage; my wife by my side; my company ID card; my two credit cards; my thinning hair; my greying stubble; and my three wisdom teeth.  Apart from the teeth, all of these were available for inspection, but the shop assistant would not accept any of these as proof of age.  She had already been brainwashed into an unthinking automaton in this increasingly Orwellian society.

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