midi

Ethan Hein - Teaching Myself the Bach Chaconne with Ableton Live

Ethan Hein - Teaching Myself the Bach Chaconne with Ableton Live:

Gorgeous though the chaconne is, my enjoyment has been hampered by my inability to figure out the rhythm. All classical performers insist on doing extremely expressive (that is, loose) timekeeping. I don’t have the sarabande rhythm internalized well enough to be able to track it through everybody’s gooey rubato. Bach’s rhythms are complicated enough to begin with. He loves to start and end phrases in weird spots in the bar–the very first note of the piece is on beat two. So I needed some help finding the beat. A chaconne is supposed to be a dance, right? Bach wrote those note values the way he wrote them for a reason. Did he really want performers to assign any length they felt like assigning them? My gut tells me that he didn’t. I suspect that he probably played his own music in tempo, maybe with some phrasing and ornamentation but still with a clearly recognizable beat. I imagine him gritting his teeth at the rubato that modern performers use. Maybe that’s just me projecting my own preferences, but this sense comes from listening to a lot of Bach and performing some too.

So, I wanted to hear someone play the chaconne in tempo, just to hear how it works. And since no one seems to play it that way, I finally went and got the MIDI from Dave’s JS Bach MIDI page and put it into Ableton Live. I added a bunch of triple meter Afro-Cuban drum patterns to help me feel the beat, and had them enter and exit wherever I heard a natural section boundary in the music.

My personal favorite way to enjoy this piece is by performing it on vibraphone, but this is cool too. :)

Noteflight as a DAW | The Ethan Hein Blog

Noteflight as a DAW | The Ethan Hein Blog:

Notation software was not originally intended to be a composition tool. The idea was that you’d do your composing on paper, and then transcribe your handwritten scores into the computer afterwards. All of the affordances of Finale, Sibelius and the like are informed by that assumption. For example, you have to enter the notes in each measure in order from left to right. If you’re copying from an existing score, that makes sense. If you’re composing, however, it’s a serious obstacle. I can’t speak for all composers, but I’m most likely to start at the end of the bar and work backwards. If I want to put a note on the last sixteenth note of the bar in the MIDI piano roll, I just click the mouse on that beat and I’m done. Notation software requires me to first calculate the combination of rests that’s fifteen sixteenth notes long. I’m told that Dorico has finally addressed this, and lets you place your notes wherever you want. Noteflight, however, follows the model of Finale and Sibelius.

This is a super fascinating explanation of the way modern students are learning to create music on a screen. And I can vouch for Dorico that yes, it deals with note input in a non-linear way, much the same way a MIDI editor functions.

Soundtrap Enable Import Export MIDI Music Files

Soundtrap Enable Import Export MIDI Music Files:

The MIDI music technology protocol is used worldwide to enable electronic devices -- computers, cellphones, karaoke machines and more -- to generate sounds. The enhanced MIDI support by Soundtrap furthers the creative process by making the multiple tools used to make music interoperable online. This is part of an effort by Soundtrap to broaden its ecosystem of best-of-breed industry solutions so that musicians and music creators have even more flexibility in their music-making efforts. For example, Soundtrap is now interoperable with digital audio workstations (DAWs) through MIDI File Export so users can send all or part of their composition to other solutions such as GarageBand or Pro Tools.

I experimented with Soundtrap with my general music classes last Spring. I was entirely skeptical about the prospect of running a DAW in a web browser but Soundtrap impressed me. It does a great job handling audio and MIDI files in a way that doesn't feel much slower than using a native app like GarageBand. My students loved the collaborative features and we were all left wanting more.

One of my GarageBand assignments in previous years was a MIDI remix, where I put MIDI files for familiar movie and pop songs in a shared folder and encouraged students to remix them, altering the instrument voices, form, and adding loops to transform the style. The fact that I can actually now do this assignment entirely in a web based application through Soundtrap's MIDI import and export is impressive. And this is not even to mention the fact that Soundtrap can perform import and export between other web-only based applications like Noteflight. Very cool. If you have been thinking about checking out Soundtrap for yourself, or for a classroom, I highly encourage it.