Music Notations for Midi

I’m new to Ardour. I like what I’ve seen in Ardour so far, it’s one of the most advanced DAW’s I’ve seen in Linux. I’m more used to using Cakewalk Sonar, and so I find myself comparing the features of Ardour to Cakewalk. In Cakewalk, there is a built in feature to see Midi tracks in editable Music Notation form on a Music Sheet. In Ardour, I found out how to use the Step Entry for Midi (by right clicking on the record button), how to directly add notes to tracks, and referencing the piano board to the left hand side. While this is useful, I would like to edit Midi tracks by music notation. I would also like to print the music notations for the musicians that play my tracks. Does Ardour have this feature? If not, will this feature be added? Any help that can be offered would be greatly appreciated!


Update Edit:

I got some help in the Ardour IRC as well, and am sharing it here for others. There was an initial confusion about what I was using Midi for.

To clarify some confusion I ran into in the IRC about what I use Midi notations for in a Daw, it is an incredibly useful aide to my work flow. Midi does not by any means become part of the final product of the music. My Workflow is to first score a new song I’m writing on Music Sheet paper with a guitar and a piano. Then as I have done since 1998, I will use a DAW like Cakewalk and go into the editable ‘staff view’ (which shows Midi notes like Sheet Music) and use the mouse and note controls to roughly lay out the flow of a track instrument and work on the timing right along side the actual live recordings of the instruments themselves. This also allows the music to be printed into sheet music for my Musicians which helps for real instruments to be recorded live, because they have something a little more refined to practice to. I will then print the music notations for all of my live recorded instruments that have been refined in the DAW itself with staff music notations and use that to copyright and publish the music.

Here is the IRC Chat for reference:

+Malcolm
21:40:24
Hello, I’m new to Ardour. I found out how to use the Step Entry for Midi, but i would like to edit Midi tracks by music notation. Does Ardour have this feature?

+las
22:12:09
Malcolm: it does not

+AlexMitchellMus
22:16:07
Malcolm: music notation and MIDI is a rabbit whole of issues. For notation, no problem. But normally MIDI in a project can get complex very quickly, especially with humanisation.
Malcolm: I use Logic Pro mainly, but even then there are problems.

+Malcolm
22:40:22
AlexMitchellMus What is Logic Pro, and how could I use it with Ardour? Would I have to frequently import and export my midi files between both of these programs?

+damo22
22:42:14
Malcolm: Ardour is a replacement for Logic Pro

+damo22
22:43:56
but Logic pro is proprietary software…

+Malcolm
22:47:55
For me, music notation is very critical for place holders while mixing, and printing out sheet music for my musicians. I got used to cakewalk since I first started using it in 1998, and Cakewalk came out with midi music notations all the way back in 2000. Ardour has a lot of excellent features, and I plan on using it when I’m on my Linux partition,but it lacks the music notation feature that is critical for mine and my musicians needs…

+damo22
22:50:53
Malcolm: you do realise that humanised playing does not read well on a score? it looks horrible unless you quantise it first and remove duplicate notes and then youve ruined the feel of the swing

+damo22
22:52:34
ie, there is no good mapping of real playing onto sheet music

+damo22
22:57:25
i think the best you could get would be to internally quantise the raw midi just for the purposes of displaying the sheet music and any editing would snap the note to the exact position and ruin the humanised way it was played initially

+Malcolm
22:57:38
I have not had any problem with using Midi to create music notation. I use drums as a tick track, real musicians follow the music I have scored, they practice, then we record it in tracks and we don’t lose the swing. The Midi is not part of the actual music, but it is very helpful for translating the music to sheet music as an aide for my musicians. It has been an invaluable tool for a long time.

+damo22
22:58:54
ah thats different i guess as a guide it would work

+Malcolm
23:00:46
damo22 Thank you for providing advice Damo, and everyone else who has responded to my query about Ardour regarding midi music notation.

+damo22
23:00:59
i thought you meant the midi was part of the actual recorded material that would become rendered to the track
and you also wanted to have it displayed as score

+Malcolm
23:02:28
I completely understand, Midi sounds like toy music most of the time, but i always keep Midi tracks muted while being a representation of the actual ‘notes’ on the actual recorded music.

+damo22
23:02:41
i tried to do this one time with other programs and it always sounded toy like

+Malcolm
23:05:52
I would really like to move from cakewalk completely, but the music notation that cakewalk has is the only thing keeping me with Cakewalk and with a Windows OS partition. If Ardour ever implements Music Notation, along with all the other features it already has, i would not have any excuse to use Cakewalk.
Ardour is so close to being a Cakewalk replacement.

+damo22
23:06:37
i think rosegarden has this feature, don’t quote me on that

+Malcolm
23:08:10
I have had extensive trouble getting rosegarden to work with my equipment and up-to-date Linux OS. Ardour just seems to ‘work’.

+damo22
23:08:37
id believe that

+damo22
23:09:54
i stopped writing music with score and ardour was all i needed

+Malcolm
23:11:06
Ah, I find it vital to score music not just as a mixing aide, but because then we can copyright the music and send it to a publisher.

+damo22
23:12:44
fair enough, sounds like you need something then

+Malcolm
23:13:40
And I would definitely love that something inside Ardour

+damo22
23:14:30
i wonder if you can use something that hooks into ardour via jack
so you would manage the midi from another program and just play it back simultaneously with ardour using jack sync

+Malcolm
23:15:24
Thank you for mentioning that, I will do research and find out what I can hook into Ardour through Jack.

+Malcolm
23:16:39
Hmm, I wonder if MuseScore can be hooked into Ardour.

+damo22
23:18:09
yes
it has jack support

+damo22
23:19:42
but what is your workflow?
do you create the notes with mouse?
ie, do you draw the score first
or do you play something

+Malcolm
23:21:25
I write out the music first on score paper with a guitar and piano, and then I do a rough score with a mouse in a DAW like cakewalk, and that is where I work on the timing.

+damo22
23:22:43
the best way i can see that may work for you, is once you have done it on paper, enter the score in musescore and tidy it up in there, and then jack sync to ardour and have the score displayed while recording audio in ardour?

+damo22
23:23:47
you can also export your midi into ardour after its all done

+Malcolm
23:23:49
Awesome, I will learn how to set all this up, and this could very well be may way out of Cakewalk for good

+damo22
23:24:17
by arming a midi track and setting the musescore output as ardour midi input
it may be annoying to get the sync right initially

+damo22
23:26:28
or musescore may be able to save as .mid

+Malcolm
23:26:33
I do wish it was integrated into ardour already for full system-wide real time integration, but your suggestion is looking to be a decent alternative for the time being. You have been very helpful Damo.

+damo22
23:27:00
:slight_smile:

For this I would recommend Musescore (or Lilypond/Frescobaldi if not faint-of-heart). I assume it is relatively simple to export the MIDI into Musescore but back when I used to use Sonar and Sibelius, I almost always started from scratch in Sibelius given the dubious notations that ensued from MIDI tracks that included overlapping notes, expanded rests, illogical enharmonics etc.

3 Likes

From musician to musician, thank you, you evidently understand music theory. Notation is a world recognized language for writing music. I will take your advice and see what I can do between MuseScore and Ardour. Hopefully I can avoid bouncing files back and forth between the two by syncing them together, considering they both use Jack. It would be a lot cleaner and nicer if a ‘Staff View’ like in Cakewalk Sonar could just be embedded into the Ardour DAW itself. It’s very close to being a Cakewalk Sonar replacement, except it lacks one of my most highly favored features.

Sadly, you are seriously underestimating the work of “just embed a Staff view into Ardour”.

Musescore (along with Sibelius, Finale and a few others) are major projects all by themselves. You don’t just embed one of them into another application. To the extent that this is possible, you end up with a very limited staff view that can only do 60% of what a real music notation program can do, which means that for “serious stuff”, you still have to fall back on one of those programs.

Sure, it would be useful even at the 60% level, but there is nobody around who is likely to look at this feature with a view to implementing it. If it happens, it will be because someone not currently involved with Ardour development decides to make it their thing.

2 Likes

When I’m in need of composing computer music using standard notation I use Rosegarden. It used to be very unstable, but it seems that the development has continued and the most recent versions seem to be much more stable. Once you figure out how to enable some synth/sampler plugins it is really easy to work with it. It is easy to switch between matrix and notation modes and also to switch between full score and single parts view in notation mode. It can be connected to JACK and that way it is easy to sync with Ardour. And it has Lilypond “plugin” built in, and that way it is easy to print parts and/or score.

That is for composition part, but when I need to just put some notes on paper I just use the Lilypond directly (usually via Frescobaldi). Lilipond will generate a midi file, too (if you put \midi {} in the \score section) which can be imported to Ardour.

1 Like

Sadly, you are seriously underestimating the work of “just embed a Staff view into Ardour”.

Musescore (along with Sibelius, Finale and a few others) are major projects all by themselves. You don’t just embed one of them into another application. To the extent that this is possible, you end up with a very limited staff view that can only do 60% of what a real music notation program can do, which means that for “serious stuff”, you still have to fall back on one of those programs.

Sure, it would be useful even at the 60% level, but there is nobody around who is likely to look at this feature with a view to implementing it. If it happens, it will be because someone not currently involved with Ardour development decides to make it their thing.

I want to thank you very much Paul for looking at my post and replying. As an experienced software developer myself, where i have been the head developer for a Security focused Linux OS, I very much understand where you are coming from when people underestimate how much work it is to build a new feature from scratch and start expecting the developer to spend every last bit of their time building that feature. I don’t mean to come across that way, especially as someone who knows exactly what that’s like. Think of this more as a suggestion.

Like you mentioned, even if a hypothetical ‘staff view’ had roughly 60% of the functionality of a major notation program, that would still go a tremendously long ways to aiding my mixes, while being on par with other DAW’s featuring a Staff View. I would not at all expect a staff view feature to have the full functionality of the notation programs you mentioned, but it’s still extremely nice to see the ‘score’ right alongside the recorded tracks of live instruments, and make edits to timing and notation along the way in a seperate Midi track.

According to some users, It may be possible to sync together MuseScore with Ardour Midi tracks using Jack, so that i don’t have to bounce around Midi files between the two programs. I haven’t tried this yet, because my days have been particularly busy lately. I will let you know if this turns out to be successful.

On a final note, With all of the features you have already implemented, It’s still incredible what you have managed to create as an independent software developer. It looks and feels very professional to use and has almost all of the professional features I have seen and used in other DAW’s (mostly Cakewalk Sonar since 1998). I absolutely want to wish you the best in your continued efforts of developing Ardour. Thank you again for taking time to reply to my post.

Thanks for the thanks, but I always feel that I must point out that I did not write Ardour alone. A fuller picture is given here: https://ardour.org/credits (*)and of course the About dialog contains a full list of everyone that has contributed code.

(*) I need to update that page!

I have great respect for a developer that’s willing to give full credit where it’s due. I did not see the credits page before, so I’m glad you shared this page. It’s awesome to see that people from all around the world have contributed to the Ardour project, both past and present! This is similar to my own software development situation currently. Hopefully one of the present developers or a future Ardour developer will one day be inspired to take on the task of implementing a staff view like feature in the future. Thank You once again!