[rant] Composition Arrangement Tools - The Blind Spot of the Virtual Music World
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Old 27-01-2017, 11:40 PM   #1
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[rant] Composition Arrangement Tools - The Blind Spot of the Virtual Music World

This is a personal peeve of mine.
No, it's not a peeve; it's fucking infuriating.

I know just enough programming to make basic guis in form-fill modes, but not enough to put together this kind of software, so I have hunted and hunted...aaaand hunted for years looking for composition arrangement software.

There ARE tons out there...but they're all wrong.
They aren't how most anyone visualizes song maps.
No teacher will draw out a song's structure in chord chart maps over lyrics as a means of analyzing song structure.

And even when a tool exists like Hooktheory, it's still focused on the wrong things.
It's focused on making it easy to learn how to pick chords and notes, and etc..., but not the actual arrangement.

My notebook of graph paper is filled with song arrangements, not to mention the loose sheets of graph paper I have scattered about with more on them.

And it's not like musicians HAVEN'T been making diagrams like these for decades - Simon and Garfunkel had tons of notebooks absolutely filled with arrangement diagrams.

What I WISH existed was something effectively [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
using Excel and a simple Object Drawing editor of some kind.
This is basically what I draw constantly, sometimes I'll have more details than this, but I have never been able to find anything akin to this concept of mapping software that's INTENDED for that purpose.
Not a tool for learning music theory...a tool for PLANNING you know...an ARRANGEMENT like everyone has done in music for a very long time.

I've lost track of how many webpages I've seen discussing structure that the images of were a) drawn by hand, b) drawn using some not-fit-for-purpose drawing software, or c) made via hijacking a DAW or some other software like Excel.

GRRRRR!
/rant


Anyways...
Cheers!

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Old 28-01-2017, 06:21 AM   #2
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Re: [rant] Composition Arrangement Tools - The Blind Spot of the Virtual Music World

you're damn right, man. Great points and nice choice of pictures. cool.

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Old 28-01-2017, 11:44 AM   #3
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Re: [rant] Composition Arrangement Tools - The Blind Spot of the Virtual Music World

i wonder why Gabriel's producer wanted the synth and piano panned out to the left so much.... also why is the snare pictured right at the back... in the song i feel its pretty upfront....

I think the reason there is no program for what you are asking for is that you dont really need it? why do you need it? ou say you draw pictures already, why do you need a standalone bit of software to do what you already do...? you can test out different arrangements in your DAW just by moving blocks around...

also i dont think there is a program as there are no set rules... you can make a DAW because it obeys the laws of physics etc etc, arrangements dont have any rules - i mean pop iis arranged compeltely differently than classical for example....

what would you want the program to do???? i think that is thee question you need to ask yourself!

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Old 28-01-2017, 12:37 PM   #4
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Re: [rant] Composition Arrangement Tools - The Blind Spot of the Virtual Music World

The snare is in the back because front to back represents dry to wet in his diagrams.

The purpose of the software is the same purpose as drawing it on paper...without drawing on paper.
The same reason that I write in a text editor vs writing on paper.

Why do you need to arrange?
YOU may not need to.
I do, though.
It's incredibly helpful, especially if you aren't at your daw and you have some ideas.
Why not use a DAW?
Because that isn't as freeflowing for brainstorming as arrangment diagrams.
Arrangement diagrams are fast; like sketches. You move things around an plan things out before you get to the DAW.

If you don't use arrangement diagrams, then yes, this would seem useless.
If you use them, then software like this would be fantastic.

What does the software do?
It's a musical notepad.
You keep your ideas in it about the song regarding rhythm concepts, layout of instruments, song section relationships, etc...
It's sort of like sheet music, but for all parts of the song.

I don't know how to explain it much better...look up song structure map/diagram.

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Old 28-01-2017, 12:47 PM   #5
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Re: [rant] Composition Arrangement Tools - The Blind Spot of the Virtual Music World

wurd

but still Gabriels snare was dead wet but still should have been closer to the front IMO....

I still stick by my point about it not having rules therefore any program would be hard to implement.

I guess youd have to use a tablet controller as well, if you actually wanted to sketch out ideas as well... but making a macro powered EXCEL spreadsheet like in the picture above wounldnt be too difficult -

also you could prob do a macro enabled powerpoint that would visually take and interpret info from Access or EXCEL - if you made database of arrangements you could use those office tools to randomize them and spit them back at you.... that could work, would take lots of time to research and input all the info into them - which is prob why it hasnt been done, probably too mcuh info would need to generated by humans.....

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Old 28-01-2017, 02:06 PM   #6
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Re: [rant] Composition Arrangement Tools - The Blind Spot of the Virtual Music World

I have built excel versions.
It's very stiff.

iIt needs to be a mixture between excell and what flowchart software is like to really be fluid right.

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Old 28-01-2017, 03:49 PM   #7
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Re: [rant] Composition Arrangement Tools - The Blind Spot of the Virtual Music World

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Originally Posted by TheStumps View Post
Not a tool for learning music theory...a tool for PLANNING you know...an ARRANGEMENT like everyone has done in music for a very long time.
I love the idea of the visual instrument layout: L to R and front to back (I've heard front-to-back positioning described as Z-panning).

Buuut, in my experience these would have limited use beyond initial planning stages. I can't think of a single composition that didn't in some way alter my thinking as I developed it; some structural change or change in focus. The horizontal/linear graph is handy as an overview of what *seems* to make sense at the time of conception, but vibrations are unpredictable and thinking tends to evolve.

Did you intend for these to exist as evolving tools? Representations that become updated as you solidify your thinking?

Either way I like this a lot...in a world where people are bar-cramming "hit" tracks on a laptop it's nice to see that the art of *composing*--actually thinking about how a work is structured--isn't being lost.
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Old 28-01-2017, 05:57 PM   #8
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Re: [rant] Composition Arrangement Tools - The Blind Spot of the Virtual Music World

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Originally Posted by TheStumps View Post
I have built excel versions.
It's very stiff.

iIt needs to be a mixture between excell and what flowchart software is like to really be fluid right.
Microsoft Vizio? It's part of the office suite, so there may be ways to import data from excell. I've never used it, but if you have the full version of office, you have it lying around somewhere already.

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Old 29-01-2017, 12:14 AM   #9
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Re: [rant] Composition Arrangement Tools - The Blind Spot of the Virtual Music World

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I love the idea of the visual instrument layout: L to R and front to back (I've heard front-to-back positioning described as Z-panning).

Buuut, in my experience these would have limited use beyond initial planning stages. I can't think of a single composition that didn't in some way alter my thinking as I developed it; some structural change or change in focus. The horizontal/linear graph is handy as an overview of what *seems* to make sense at the time of conception, but vibrations are unpredictable and thinking tends to evolve.

Did you intend for these to exist as evolving tools? Representations that become updated as you solidify your thinking?

Either way I like this a lot...in a world where people are bar-cramming "hit" tracks on a laptop it's nice to see that the art of *composing*--actually thinking about how a work is structured--isn't being lost.
It's as useful as someone wants.
I might only use it at the beginning.
I might use it repeatedly; which I have done on pieces that take a really long time to sort out.
If you're just throwing down bangers, then probably not much of a point. That's kind of like doing diagrams for punk rock.

So it just depends. I think it's like drafts or sketches. Some composers will write sketches, as they are called, which are fast rundowns of music sheets with scribblings on them variously. Not all composers bother with these, but some do...like Mozart; he did. And he did because he was constantly working on the structure of music as a definition. He wrote thousands of these sketches.

I think it's mostly a planning tool, but it's also handy when you hit a jam and you are trying to figure out how to arrange a part right.
Yes, you can sit at the DAW but it can be easier to work out the prblem on the map.

My most current use was to plot two song's arrangements to be identical of each other as a starting point, since they were designed to be sister-tracks; indeed, they'll be merged into one ~12 min track as a set.
Considering they both have complex orchastration in them, and I needed to match their timelines, it became quite needed to plan that out just to even conceive of what was to be done.

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Old 29-01-2017, 12:22 AM   #10
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Re: [rant] Composition Arrangement Tools - The Blind Spot of the Virtual Music World

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Microsoft Vizio? It's part of the office suite, so there may be ways to import data from excell. I've never used it, but if you have the full version of office, you have it lying around somewhere already.
*shivers*
I have to use that at work enough as it is.

No, when I say Excel-like, I mean row and column grid biased, where each row is another instrument/track, and column is a count of bars/time.
However, you could grab whole groups of rows for a span of bars and turn them into Group A; that is now Section A - name it as you want.
Then you could do that with another area and have section B.
Later, you decide maybe you want section B before section A, so now you flip them rather easily by drag and drop like flow charts.
Or copy them to a new section and add more or remove from them.

If you have melody or chordal ideas, you could zoom in to the section, see the division of rows, zoom below that into a specific instrument bar and leave a note in that block about the melody or chordal thoughts.

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Old 02-02-2017, 12:35 AM   #11
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Re: [rant] Composition Arrangement Tools - The Blind Spot of the Virtual Music World

Ok, maybe I'm naive, but couldn't this be done with d3.js? Probably not too easy to program, but from what I've seen so far, I'm pretty sure it's up to the job. There's a Gantt chart example that could be adapted for the timeline view, zooming is possible, the "3d" arrangement probably can be done somehow too. Some load and save functionality and the zooming and note taking thing and hey presto, the arrngement tool of your dreams

But seriously, html5 + Javascript and some libraries make amazing things possible, even for layman programmers. There's probably someone more qualified than me around here, but if no one else has time or interest to spare I'd be willing to give it a shot.

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Old 02-02-2017, 01:04 AM   #12
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Re: [rant] Composition Arrangement Tools - The Blind Spot of the Virtual Music World

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Ok, maybe I'm naive, but couldn't this be done with d3.js? Probably not too easy to program, but from what I've seen so far, I'm pretty sure it's up to the job. There's a Gantt chart example that could be adapted for the timeline view, zooming is possible, the "3d" arrangement probably can be done somehow too. Some load and save functionality and the zooming and note taking thing and hey presto, the arrngement tool of your dreams

But seriously, html5 + Javascript and some libraries make amazing things possible, even for layman programmers. There's probably someone more qualified than me around here, but if no one else has time or interest to spare I'd be willing to give it a shot.

If you're down for this, I have design drafts in sketches that I can convert to digital format and I would be more than willing to work with you on making this come to life.

Cheers!

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Old 02-02-2017, 01:54 AM   #13
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Re: [rant] Composition Arrangement Tools - The Blind Spot of the Virtual Music World

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However, you could grab whole groups of rows for a span of bars and turn them into Group A; that is now Section A - name it as you want.
Then you could do that with another area and have section B.
Later, you decide maybe you want section B before section A, so now you flip them rather easily by drag and drop like flow charts.
Or copy them to a new section and add more or remove from them.
For this particular use case, Cubase has Arranger track that works really well.


Another thing that occurred to me is that you could also maybe use some mind mapping software for this purpose. Of course, you won't have it guiding you in the way you want, since it's a general use tool. But if you follow your own conventions of placing nodes in particular spots from left to right and up and down, you can sort of simulate your panning and front to back placement, like that diagram. It won't give you everything you are looking for, but since no dedicated software for this exists, it's better than nothing and at least can possibly provide some advantages and different way of looking at things than using a spreadsheet.
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Old 02-02-2017, 06:25 AM   #14
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Re: [rant] Composition Arrangement Tools - The Blind Spot of the Virtual Music World

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For this particular use case, Cubase has Arranger track that works really well.

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Another thing that occurred to me is that you could also maybe use some mind mapping software for this purpose. Of course, you won't have it guiding you in the way you want, since it's a general use tool. But if you follow your own conventions of placing nodes in particular spots from left to right and up and down, you can sort of simulate your panning and front to back placement, like that diagram. It won't give you everything you are looking for, but since no dedicated software for this exists, it's better than nothing and at least can possibly provide some advantages and different way of looking at things than using a spreadsheet.
The In-DAW solution is not really fitting since that's related to something which exists phonically and not conceptually, and it locks people into that DAW.
Ideally, the tool should be DAW neutral and focused on the conceptual mapping rather than working directly on the DAW project itself.
The mind map idea is just not good. I've gone that route many times and it's just clumsy.

I'm now interested in this idea of building a solution through colaboration.
That seems a good idea at this point.

Cheers!

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Old 02-02-2017, 12:41 PM   #15
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Re: [rant] Composition Arrangement Tools - The Blind Spot of the Virtual Music World

Sure, let's try this and see how far we get. Be warned though that I work rather slowly and might need an occasional kick in the butt
should we launch a development thread over in the programming subforum?

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Old 02-02-2017, 05:37 PM   #16
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Re: [rant] Composition Arrangement Tools - The Blind Spot of the Virtual Music World

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I'm now interested in this idea of building a solution through colaboration.
That seems a good idea at this point.
Cheers!
is your priority to make music or develop tools? i recognize your way of thinking, but in my opinion, it might be a trap, if you are priority is indeed working on music. i think you are underestimating the amount of effort and time this would require. and overestimating the usefulness of such a tool in the overall scheme of things. i think this is a great example of perfect being the enemy of the good (enough). there's a great opportunity cost involved. let's say you sink 500 hours into working on this and let's say you actually finish it and end up with something useful (honestly, very low chance). do you think you will really get those 500 hours back of your time via this tool? this kind of conceptual planning is still a relatively small part in relation to the process (the end result of which is a fully mixed and mastered track). paper and pen is not perfect, but they are adequate enough. if you take that 500 hour bank, i think you can do Bob Ross type watercolor diagrams you can hang on your wall and still have time left over to actually work on some of those tracks over your musical life time. i just think the cost/benefit ratio is totally skewed towards the cost side of it.

i'm a software engineer and i used to have similar kind of impulses for projects where the existing tools weren't completely perfect for my needs. knowledge repositories, journaling platforms, fucking to-do lists. except in my case, the tool didn't have to be the only end goal, since whatever new knowledge i got, i could use professionally. or try to turn the project into some sort of side business. and if that's part of it for you, then cool. go for it. why not? but if it is not and you value your time, maybe this is not the best use of it. for me, in the end, none of those things still seemed worth the effort upon further inspection and picking some tool and moving on turned out to be just fine (researching and selecting the most perfect tool for the job is another trap).

not trying to be negative at all, just reasonable. thinking about projects like this can be very exciting (especially during the idea generation phase) and sometimes it's hard to see the forest for the trees, as far as the actual reasoning for doing it in the first place.

but if you do manage to get something workable together, i'm sure i'd use something like this. good luck, dudes.
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Old 02-02-2017, 10:11 PM   #17
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Re: [rant] Composition Arrangement Tools - The Blind Spot of the Virtual Music World

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is your priority to make music or develop tools? i recognize your way of thinking, but in my opinion, it might be a trap, if you are priority is indeed working on music. i think you are underestimating the amount of effort and time this would require. and overestimating the usefulness of such a tool in the overall scheme of things. i think this is a great example of perfect being the enemy of the good (enough). there's a great opportunity cost involved. let's say you sink 500 hours into working on this and let's say you actually finish it and end up with something useful (honestly, very low chance). do you think you will really get those 500 hours back of your time via this tool? this kind of conceptual planning is still a relatively small part in relation to the process (the end result of which is a fully mixed and mastered track). paper and pen is not perfect, but they are adequate enough. if you take that 500 hour bank, i think you can do Bob Ross type watercolor diagrams you can hang on your wall and still have time left over to actually work on some of those tracks over your musical life time. i just think the cost/benefit ratio is totally skewed towards the cost side of it.

i'm a software engineer and i used to have similar kind of impulses for projects where the existing tools weren't completely perfect for my needs. knowledge repositories, journaling platforms, fucking to-do lists. except in my case, the tool didn't have to be the only end goal, since whatever new knowledge i got, i could use professionally. or try to turn the project into some sort of side business. and if that's part of it for you, then cool. go for it. why not? but if it is not and you value your time, maybe this is not the best use of it. for me, in the end, none of those things still seemed worth the effort upon further inspection and picking some tool and moving on turned out to be just fine (researching and selecting the most perfect tool for the job is another trap).

not trying to be negative at all, just reasonable. thinking about projects like this can be very exciting (especially during the idea generation phase) and sometimes it's hard to see the forest for the trees, as far as the actual reasoning for doing it in the first place.

but if you do manage to get something workable together, i'm sure i'd use something like this. good luck, dudes.
LOL.
Sorry, I'm laughing to myself here because I know me, but to be fair you don't, so it's fun to see the assumption of normality here.

I'm a nut. In the last 5 years I have written music, written 3 software solutions at work, created artwork for T-shirts, drafted a timetable itemization and written a thesis on Hebraic Levant region anthropology and discussed it with Dr. Israel Finklestein, studied and written extensively on the subject of textual cultural origin of the "4 Gospels" of the Christian's Bible (because it's sad that no one bothers to figure out which culture these texts are likely belonging to and pulled from), learned astrophysical calculation models from Dr. Sten Oldenwald of NASA, learned cosmological fundamentals of self-symmetry from Dr. Robert Oldershaw of Amherst college research, learned astrophysical fundamentals and advanced concepts regarding astropause physics and calculations methods of star systems from Dr. Mayank Vahia of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (tifr), conducted data research and testing on a symmetrical correlation regarding atoms and star systems, and wrote a paper employing this method as the baseline reference to generate a proposal for an astropause cataloging method for other models and estimates regarding astropause ranges (since no one is cataloging them currently and everyone's using varying models and calculations for determining the distances and properties), I also studied various aspects of Neuroscience and examined the applicable consequences upon human comprehension of ontology and discussed taxonomy concerns within the field of NeuroTheology with Dr. Andrew Newberg which resulted in his writing of [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
which aimed to narrow the language tools for scientifically writing and discussing concepts regarding theological practices under neuroscientific study (because often very unscientific terms like "spiritual" end up being used because on one has/had really created a taxonomy for the examination...very frustrating), and then there's my awesome wife and two daughters - which reminds me, I think this year we're supposed to build a catapult so they learn some hands-on engineering science.

Anywho...point is, I'm a nut.
I go-go-go and always have a multitude of projects going on. I'm not very good at being single-threaded.

btw, for kicks, the result of that astropause work as a byproduct is that in rough gauge, you can be within bow shot of most estimates of the astropause distance from the star by taking the star's radius and dividing it by 0.000039 (which also happens to be true if you want to know the covalent bond radius consequent of a given atomic nucleus).

Cheers!

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Old 02-02-2017, 10:28 PM   #18
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Re: [rant] Composition Arrangement Tools - The Blind Spot of the Virtual Music World

Okay, my turn:

I'm not sure I can keep up with your speed, but I'm still in. Learning opportunity and whatnot. Normality be damned

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Old 02-02-2017, 10:31 PM   #19
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Re: [rant] Composition Arrangement Tools - The Blind Spot of the Virtual Music World

cool. keep us updated, guys. i'm sure there are people here who would happily help you with beta testing or whatever (myself included).
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Old 03-02-2017, 12:23 AM   #20
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Re: [rant] Composition Arrangement Tools - The Blind Spot of the Virtual Music World

Quote:
Originally Posted by phido View Post
Okay, my turn:

I'm not sure I can keep up with your speed, but I'm still in. Learning opportunity and whatnot. Normality be damned
Rogerwilco.

We'll need some facilities. I'll get to work on setting up some basic facilitation for project room digitally (unless you already have one?) and then get some drafts going.

I'll probably just add some room to my current domain for the time being and set up a dir there for it.

Then we'll probably want somewhere to chat, so I'll probably set up an invision free board or install a board into the site, and then I'll get those drafts going for the design.

I'll update when I get some of this done.

Cheers!
Oh I love the smell of new projects!

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