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  1. Marcus
  2. Creating with MIDI
  3. Wednesday, 29 April 2020
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I am trying to transcribe Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 ("Eroica" ) into a MIDI file, since it is not yet published on kunstderfuge.com. I'm currently using Anvil Studio because it appeals to me in that I can notate music using it to help me transcribe.

I'm having trouble getting very far past measure #20. As can be seen in the attached image, I'm stuck on measure #22, which I'm trying to notate to the best of my ability. I would like to know if there is a way around adding additional instrument tracks for the same instrument using Anvil Studio. If not, and if it would be too tedious, is anyone aware of a program similar to Anvil Studio in notating music to translate into MIDI format? One that is better geared towards transcribing more complicated classical works?
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I'm not sure what your problem is. As in, is it a problem with Anvil, or with the music.

It might be easier all round to have two separate tracks, as in Flute1 and Flute2, but your question suggests there's a problem with this. I don't know why Anvil might object to this, if it does just define the tracks as different names and then set the instrument to Fl1 and Fl2 later. Doing it this way could allow you to get more depth to the sound by using two slightly different flute 'patches'. Or is it that you'd rather NOT split the track, but there's something about bar 22 that Anvil has a problem with - what is being objected to, what does Anvil do.

I've tried entering orchestral scores before - it's VERY tedious work, even if the software is helpful, and most isn't too helpful. It's better if you can 'play' the music in, and record it into midi, but this required some degree of ABILITY which I do NOT have.

I've got a book here 'Classics in Sequence' by William Lloyd and Paul Terry which is very much a 'How-to' book about sequencing Classical pieces (there's a Rock and a General version too. There are various examples, but no Beethoven, but there are places where there's similar structures (i.e. a track for Flutes clearly involving two notes as you're trying to do - but i don't see the same thing with mixed notes and rests. Even so, I don't see why it should be a problem.

Way back - I was using a DOS system called Quick Score Deluxe. I'm sure that was simpler than Anvil. As far as Windows systems are concerned you might try to find MuseScore which allows entry of complete scores, and save as midi - this seems comparable to the QSD I was using rather than being a full-blown DAW type system, but I'm sure there'll be other systems available. I've got MuseScore here, if I understand better what the problem actually is then I could try MS and see what that does, and if that would be a mose useful avenue for you.

Geoff
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It's a problem with Anvil. At first, I tried creating an additional flute track with the second set of notes, but I used the same channel for both flute tracks. That resulted in one of the notes not sounding at all. I fixed the problem by using a separate channel for the separate flute track, and it played just fine. But I fear that there might be a lot of measures where similar situations occur, and I only have 16 channels, so I'm afraid I might run out of channels.

It's funny you should mention Musescore, because I have it on my PC as well. Before I experimented with Anvil Studio, I used Musescore to try and create a MIDI file. I successfully exported the MIDI from Musescore, but it came out pretty messy, particularly that the resulting MIDI file played some string parts as pizzicato strings, which my unfinished transcription didn't call for.

Does this help?
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Hello again,

I had to stop the previous message, so it was not complete. My apologies.

Don't know why you had a problem with MuseScore. The Pizzicato Strings sounds like a different instrument rather than any problem with the midi. Any chance I could see the midi file you created so I can check it?

I assume you're aware that at least one other web site (MidiWorld) has a complete midi version of the Eroica Symph # 3. No idea what it's like quality wise.

As for the problem with trying to do the two parts on one channel - yes, doing something of this size you can easily run out of channels, and 16 is NOT enough for a full symph Orchestra. But what you describe may be a simple problem, just needing a little manual adjustment? I'd need to see the specific bar. I'd guess you've got notes on and off, for the same note, getting crossed over etc. Midi cannot tell between (for example) Fl1 and Fl2. Maybe it can be fixed with manual intervention, or the score can be adjusted slightly. Maybe you can keep one spare track for all 'tweaks', this could work but obviously you can handle ONE only tweak per instrument at any one time, but this channel could be swapping between instruments like crazy, and the same channel could also be used for short 'features' for instruments that are used very briefly.

Geoff
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Alright, I put together a zipped folder with the original Musescore project, the MIDI file made with it, and the MIDI file made with Anvil Studio. And the last 2 bars of the Anvil MIDI file are #s 21 and 22, and they currently just have the flute parts. What do you think?
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For transcribing complex classical pieces, to be honest, I've found the only solution is proper notation software the likes of MuseScore, Sibelius, Finale or the new Dorico.
I use Finale, which I've had for ages, but all of them, apart from musescore, are rather expensive.
Once created and exported as a MIDI file I use the DAW software Cakewalk by Bandlab now available for free.

There is another site for classical MIDI files called "ClassicalArchives dot com".
It used to be free but I think it now requires a subscription. It does have a 14 day trial period though.
The last time I looked there were three complete MIDI renderings of the Eroica there, as well as a few single movements.
26 files in all.
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Hi John,

That's quite helpful. Now I would like to get to the bottom of why exporting my MIDI file from Musescore results in unwanted tracks like the pizzicato strings ones.
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Hello Marcus,

Yes, I've got your package, and I'm trying to have a look thru it all. I've loaded the Symphony....mid file into MuseScore, it loads in fine, I see measure 22, and it looks fine in Musescore. I need to go into the .mid file directly and see the midi data.

Note that Pizzicato Strings is a different midi patch. The fact that this is coming up as opposed to plain strings could just be a PC (Program Change) error, easy to fix in the midi file, so don't put too much weight on that.

Problems with notes not playing may be more of a problem. BUT, note here that the problems may be nothing to do with the midi file, but may be due to the playback system, and how it handles duplicate note on commands, and duplicate note off commands, and the sequence that these commands are processed. I'd be sure that these problems can be fixed.

Oh, your early message suggested that there were other problems with the midi file created by MuseScore, incl you saying the result was 'messy' - what does this mean, what other problems, and messy in what way.

Geoff
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Hi Geoff,

What I meant by "messy" was, creating unnecessary and unwanted tracks (such as the pizzicato strings one). As for the rest of your response, I don't understand a lot of it, but at least you're looking into it.

Please do keep me posted on this issue and tell me what you find.

--Marcus
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Hello Marcus,

Well, some answers. Gotta start somewhere.

I've got a text version of the midi file, which is readable by us mere humans.

The top of the time IS a bit of a mess. Most is correct, but some is NOT.

Tracks are not significant to the music or the midi, they are more 'organisation'. Channels however ARE important.

At the top of the file Ch 1 is assigned as Flute in Track 1, BUT much further down the startup commands then Ch 1 is assigned as Pizzicato Strings in Tr 11. This means that by the time the actual music/notes start, Ch 1 is Pizz Str and all notes in Ch 1 are Pizz Str and NOT Flute. The assignment in Tr 11 is wrong.

Very similar re Ch 2, except here the second assignment (also in Tr 11) is to Tremelo Str. Another instance, Ch 12 is initially set to &H3B instrument in Tr 7 and later reset as &H2C (Trem Str) in Tr 9.

These problems may NOT be the fault of MuseScore. It may be quite legit to put as many instrument assignments in a track as you need, but if you need to CHANGE an assignment you must make sure you remove the old ones, and also watch the Ch assignments to ensure you're not using a Ch already being used on another Tr.

When I'm trying to do anything like this I try to start with a plan, written on a sheet of paper (for constant reference) which shows each Track, which Channel it's using and which instrument is assigned (this might change part way through).

So, that's where the Pizz Str have got there, exactly what caused this I don't know. Could be that something was changed but without removing the old. ALL the events referred to above were timed at 0000, i.e. at the very start, before ANY music sounded.

Next task, find bar 22 and see what's happening there.

Geoff
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Nice find. In a little while, I'll open up both the project and the MIDI file in Musescore, and I'll see what I come up with. In the meantime, please do continue looking into this. Also, how would one go about making more than one instrument assignment per track?

Edit: I opened the two files mentioned with Musescore, but I was unable to find anything in the program that assigns any of the parts to pizzicato strings or tremolo strings tracks. Could you please show me a step-by-step process via images of how you managed to find what you were looking for? I'm a visual learner.
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Hello Marcus,

Erm, I wasn't using MuseScore.

As you asked, I looked through a lot of parts of MS and I couldn't see anything. Not much sign of checking midi info, there's a Piano Roll display, but that doesn't show any extra info. So where this data comes from, I don't know, but when the midi file is created it must come from somewhere.

I attach a file for you to look at. This is zipped up.

This is a .TXT file created by an old DOS prog I have and use a lot. It takes a midi file and makes a .txt version which contains all the data of the original, plus a lot of text. The prog is called DECODE, then is a partner prog called ENCODE which works in reverse and converts the .TXT file back into a midi file. This will include any changes made to the file while it was .txt, so you can use the two progs to edit a midi file. I believe that there are others variants that do the same thing, working under other OS incl WinDoze.

Geoff
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Hi Geoff,

Thanks for your response. Unfortunately, I was unable to figure out all the MIDI jargon that was going on in the TXT file.

Now, do you have any other suggestions of how to move forward regarding my attempt to create an adequate MIDI file, or should I just throw in the towel? If neither one of us knows how to solve this issue, we might as well wait for someone else to respond, if at all.

--Marcus
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Hello Marcus,

I've now had a good look at the midi data in the file created by MuseScore. I can confirm that as far as the specific bar that was causing you a problem, the midi data in the midi file is perfectly correct in every regard. So this begs the question, what were you using to play this file, and what exactly was THAT doing wrong.

It could be that it's not MuseScore that's at fault.

My next experiment is to try some of my playing progs and see what they do, in particular with that bar 22.

Then, I could tidy up the midi file that you have, and send it back to you so that you could try doing some more from a 'clean' base. You seem to have been making better progress with the MS system than with Anvil?

There's another piece of software that I use quite a lot, a midi-file-playing system called SynthFont. This system works with a 'virtual synth' and allows use of any of a number of sound font files, which are a LOT better than the MS virtual synth sounds you may have been using now. I use a free set called 'Timbres of Heaven' which is a SF2 bank MANY times the size (and sound quality) compared to the MS/Roland file used in the MS product. SynthFont also has facilities build it to view the midi data as Piano Roll or Event listings (the file I sent you is a variant of an Event listing). SF will also allow the 'playing' of the midi file to normal audio output, or direct to .WAV file, and at .WAV sound quality.

Unfortunately, the SF system does seem to repeat the problem with your file and may well end up with Pizz Strings on some tracks where this should NOT be, but I'll need to clean this up. But I'll try a couple of other things too.

Geoff
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Hi Geoff,

While I do know that the MIDI file plays well in Musescore, I used Windows Media Player and Anvil Studio to play the file, and in the latter two programs, I heard pizzicato strings. I have since uninstalled Anvil from my PC, as I'm now convinced that Musescore is much easier to work with than that program.

Let me know whether or not you discover anything new.

--Marcus
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Hi Marcus,

Here's some more information for you.
Upon deeper inspection I found that Anvil had created an extra MIDI track also assigned to channel 1 (flutes) with a single note in it at measure 22, or thereabouts.
See the "Anvil File" track view picture, below.
In the zipped file attached, I've moved the note to track 1 and erased track 13.

The file created in Musescore has many more tracks, as you'll see from the "Musescore File" track view picture below.
Many of those tracks are assigned to the same MIDI channel as other instruments.
All the tracks with just a single block of data contain either of Pizzicato Strings or Tremolo Strings MIDI program change assignments.
- so that is why you're getting pizzicato when you play that file.
The second file in the zip is a reworking of the Musescore file with all the 'empty' tracks erased.
It should play correctly now.

See how it is for you.
Regards,
JohnG.
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Hi John,

Thanks for doing that for me! The Musescore MIDI now plays just fine! I have not checked the Anvil one though, as I didn't think that was necessary. Now, what MIDI sequencer did you use to fix the Musescore-made MIDI file, and is it compatible with Windows 10?

--Marcus
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Hi Marcus,

Well, I started messing about with MIDI and writing a program on an Atari ST way back in the late eighties, would you believe?

Later on I acquired several bits of Yamaha hardware starting with a DB50-XG daughter card, later an SW1000-XG card and even later still an MU1000 sound module.

The latter ones came with a really good MIDI sequencer called XGworks.
So good and clear, that I still use it. The final version available in the UK was v3.

Someone did some work to convert version 4 to English. It's this one I use. I run it on an old Lenovo Thinkpad laptop running Win 7.
Later offerings were XGworks ST and then SOL and SOL2. All done in Japanese.
It' hasn't been upgraded or sold in the West since the late nineties, but I still find it one of the most intuitive and accurate MIDI programs.
The two screen shots were from XGworks track view.

It's not brilliant for entering large classical scores, I've been using Finale for ages for that, then exporting to MIDI.
I do a lot of 'tweaking' in XGworks and sort MIDI file problems out use a hex editor.
I learnt to program in an assembler language in 1967 and worked for a computer manufacturer for 20 years.

You can probably guess from the above that I'm no spring chicken, what's left of the hair on my head is now white! ;-(

One program to look for is Cakewalk by Bandlab or CbB which in the recent past became a freebie.
It used to be one of the top sequencing packages called Sonar. I use this for making my final mixes on.
It's still one of the best but doesn't come with as many packaged goodies as when it was full price.
It takes a while to get used to and I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to those just starting out with MIDI.
Look for Bandlab if you're interested.

Some people, I believe, have got XGworks functioning in Windoze 10,
In Win7 I had to install it telling it to use WinXP v3 compatibility mode.

Good luck.
JohnG.
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Hi John,

Wow, I didn't know all that about you, that you've been around such a long time! :o I think I'll reinstall Anvil Studio and experiment with that, deleting the unnecessary and unwanted tracks from the Musescore MIDI, and edit this post when I have a result.

--Marcus

Edit: I deleted the unwanted tracks from the Musescore MIDI file, but as a result I was missing what I believe were the cello and double bass tracks. What I did for the other file was modify your edit on my Anvil file, and although it appears to be unchanged from yours, I found a way to solve my own original problem. So I'm gonna say that this issue is resolved. It was nice talking to both you guys, and I hope to come here more often.
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