Archive for creativity

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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My first charcoal sketch

notre dame

I used to tease a colleague in IBM by naming everything we wrote together as “MyFirst…”, the joke being that he was (relatively) new to programming. Well, I am new to charcoal sketching. I have always wondered how come my brother, my mother, and my father are all such gifted artists and I am not.

Still, my wife talked me into spending some time sketching the cathedral, and here is the result. I thought it was a bit rubbish, but she liked it. To be honest, it has started to grow on me. It does convey the stark and imposingly spiky gothic architecture.

While we were drawing, an American woman came up to us and asked to see what we were drawing. “Oh my,” she exclaimed, “how wonderful!” Very encouraging of her, wasn’t it? She conversed with us for a minute or two, and then, while walking away, she said, “What a lovely place to relax a while and learn!” Then she chided her husband into hurrying up because they had other things to see that Sunday afternoon.

I hope the irony of her words dawns on her, because she was right—it is a lovely place to relax. More than this, her parting comment revealed her real opinion of my drawing—it was clearly the work of a novice. So on reflection I must change my opinion. The American was superficial and not very encouraging at all. All the real encouragement that day came from my wife: encouragement to relax, encouragement to draw, and encouragement to appreciate my own work. Thank you Mrs Tenthmaker.

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