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The walnut tree

The walnut tree is by the back of the house. It wasn't supposed to be there, it was a seed that mom dropped and couldn't find that decided "yup, here's good".

Problem is, it isn't growing straight.

The walnut
The walnut.

I have already removed some of the lower limbs back towards the end of winter, because when the tree has leaves and nuts, it would hang so low I'd be driving through a bush of leaves.

It wasn't until I cleared up around the tree that I got to see quite how out of line the tree was growing.

That's not quite upright
That's not quite upright, is it?

The problem is that if it should give up and fall over, it'll pretty definitely take out the phone line, and may well take out the electricity as well. It's just unfortunate placement, but then I guess a quarter century ago (when we would wrap a microfibre bag around this sapling in the winter) we didn't really conceive of how big it would become.

So I got out the big ladder, extended all three sections, and climbed to a height about halfway up the roof level (up to the 'Y' not far from the phone line) and started lopping some bits off.
I wanted to remove the entire rightmost limb, but I did not as I didn't want to shock the tree too much, plus I'd need to do that one carefully so it doesn't get the phone line on the way down.

I took off some lower limbs as well, to try to balance out the tree and not have too much pulling it in the direction that it is leaning.
The end result...

Trying to tidy the walnut
Trying to tidy the walnut.

As I was doing that, I watched with some degree of amazement as a Beluga (or maybe BelugaXL?) flew over on its way to St. Nazaire. They fly low, this wasn't much higher than the planes coming into Rennes and they're 7000-12000 feet depending on weather (in feet because that's what FlightRadar24 tells me), but the most surprising thing was that you'd expect an aircraft of that size to make an unholy racket like the Dreamliners, but, then, maybe that's just Boeing? ☺

 

Looking at other sequencers

In order to get some ideas for SimpleSeq, I rummaged around to find some DOS MIDI packages to try. DOS rather than Linux as I could try them using DOSbox, and also because I wanted something that would primarily work with MIDI files, as modern DAWs are way too complicated.

QSEQ

The first package I came across is QSEQ (Quick SEQuencer). The manual, written by a Frenchie, started out well with:
You must not: sell, copy, nor give away the fully functional version of this program, except to your baby sister, provided she is less than three years old but I doubt if she will thank you for it,... especially if you just have one brother and a cat.

The initial view is "Global view" and it looks like this:

QSEQ Global View
QSEQ Global View.

If you faff around, you can find the notes/pianoroll.

QSEQ Note View
QSEQ Note View.

I can imagine that QSEQ is a powerful program, but it would appear to have quite a learning curve.

Takeaways from QSEQ? Not much. It's a more comprehensive package than my SimpleSeq, so there are some MIDI things to look at supporting in the future, like this:

QSEQ Visualising Pitch Bends
QSEQ Visualising Pitch Bends.

 

Voyetra

This starts up in a similar manner to QSEQ.
Voyetra Global View
Voyetra Global View.

Oh, oops, I took a screenshot of the entire window and not just its contents. Anyway, this starts up in a manner similar to QSEQ, but I can see what it is doing more - it is listing the channels (and for some reason getting the names even more wrong) along with channel settings.
Eventually you'll find the notes, and it looks a lot like QSEQ, for obvious reasons.

Voyetra Notes View
Voyetra Notes View.

Takeaways? None. It seems to offer quite a number of transformations on the music, but try as I might I couldn't find any reference to Pitch Bend, other than something called "Pitch" that complained that it only applied to Aftertouch and didn't do anything else.

 

Soundclub

This one threw away the text mode interface to make it's own GUI. It isn't a full GUI as the windows don't appear to be repositionable, but as you can clearly see it's head and shoulders above things built around text.

Soundclub's UI
Soundclub's UI.

Soundclub could have perhaps benefitted from some sort of pop-up "tooltips" for the uninitiated (that didn't want to read all of the built-in help), but it's clear from the outset that this is aimed at making music rather than programming MIDI. With everything being pointy-clicky, I think it would be much less bother to get started with this than the others.
Oddly, it looks as if the notes might be a mash-up of all channels?

Now, here's the thing. Soundclub is not a MIDI sequencer. It's a music creation package that happens to talk MIDI. As well as various other common formats typical of its era such as .mod.
Internally, it converts music into its own format and can play these as samples, which is why this was the only program that was able to actually play something (to the emulated SB16 sound card).
It supports a portamento from one note to the note following, but no pitch bend. I don't know if this is a limitation of the program or if I'm just doing it wrong, but it looks as if it isn't polyphonic, you cannot play multiple notes of the same instrument at the same time. If this is the case, then that's a fairly fundamental limitation (chords, anyone?). Otherwise, it seems to be a fairly user friendly music creation package if you're not looking for any special MIDI effects.

Takeaways? Pointy-draggy note placement makes things easier. I ought to do something like that...

 

Cakewalk Professional

This is an old version of Cakewalk, for Windows 3.1x. It's a little confusing at first, but pretty powerful. This has a lot of options, but then it's not by any means trying to be "simple".

Cakewalk
Cakewalk on Windows 3.11.

 

SimpleSeq

By comparison, this is mine.

SimpleSeq
SimpleSeq with a dialogue open.

Like Soundclub, the primary view is that of the music, however it usually shows each channel separately.
Because it is a simple sequencer, it is limited to 61 notes (normally C2-C7 but octave shifting can change that on a per channel basis), one voice per channel (though you can cheat and insert Program Change messages), and up to 3840 note positions (about 8 minutes at 120bpm), with a selection of predefined time signatures.
Being aimed at MIDI, it supports things like the Sustain pedal, MIDI input and output, and so on.

Looking at it, even though my sequencer carries some limitations, I think it holds up well against similar-ish packages, and it is - in my obviously biased opinion - much easier to use as it puts the notes first and foremost. There are, of course, always things that can be done or added, but I think it's not a bad little program for creating music.
It is also the only one for RISC OS (certainly available for free, if not the only one period) that permits a range of expression of the music. Rhapsody4, for example, does not support different "velocities" for each individual note. Only traditional musical hints such as mf and pp as well as notes marked for emphasis. Otherwise, each note plays with the same strength as the others around it.

On the other hand, Rhapsody4 supports typical musical notation, so you can easily repeat a section of music by notating a repeat around the intended bars. SimpleSeq is strictly linear, though it's easy to copy-paste previous music to have the same effect as a repeat.

Musical notation with a repeat
The following is played: 1, 2, 3, 2, 3, 4, 5.

I was basically messing around today so I wouldn't do something dumb like get bored and decide to go shopping or something. That being said, it was interesting to look at what other fairly simple MIDI packages offered. Let's just say the first two that I looked at were scary at initial view. It's probably completely logical and obvious to the users, but for me my concentration and entire aim has been "put the notes on a grid", and everything revolves around that concept.

 

 

Your comments:

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Gavin Wraith, 31st March 2024, 13:21
Apart from enjoying music, I am ignorant of its technicalities. You ask, Rick, whither Simple Sequencer should go next. What about embellishment to notes? See this page, for example: 
 
https://raag-hindustani.com/Embellishment.html 
 
There are many musical cultures around the world. The analysis of music into a sequence of notes does not go very far, as it does not account for the use of 'meend' (see wikipedia) where the pulling of a string governs the transitions between notes. But maybe your program could express his concept?
David Pilling, 31st March 2024, 15:14
According to Google, walnut does not like heavy pruning so coppicing it is not an option. Black walnut on the other hand can be coppiced. Looks like you have a project there, gently pruning it back to balance. 
Rick, 31st March 2024, 15:38
I think a fair bit of this comes down to what MIDI itself is capable of.  
 
Taking a look at the list, it looks like a "meend" (a glide between notes) could be handled by a portamento, though I'm not currently sure how that works in MIDI (it might need to be monophonic rather than polyphonic, for example). 
A "gamak" or more percussive-sounding start could sort of be faked using the note velocity. To do this properly, you'd follow that with aftertouch, but *many* pianos don't support that. 
Isn't a "khatka" sort of like an arpeggio? 
I think "andolan" could be handled by pitch bend, perhaps? Depends how far it needs to oscillate (within +/- two tones). 
 
It wasn't until MIDI 2.0 that expressiveness actually got properly considered. Some things, such as a slide between notes common when playing the Er Hu (Chinese) or even slide guitar (typical in country) are hard to do in MIDI. As for metal chugs (rapidly strike an electric guitar while holding down the guitar string for a chug-chug-chug effect that is extremely common in metal) is simply not possible to do in MIDI as there's no way to say "I'm holding this string". The alternative is to simply hit a note hard and end it abruptly shortly after, which can deliver an effect that... gets about as close as MIDI can. 
 
It is worth noting that the notation page says "Staff notation is not ideal for Indian classical music", and MIDI is basically an electronic description of Western staff notation. 
I'd go further and suggest that Western notation, being based around even temperament (that is, the octave is divided into 12 equal semitones), while it is my understanding that Indian music (along with Arabic) makes a lot of use of microtones. This can be reproduced in MIDI using pitch bend, but I'd imagine it would be hellish to actually create something like that. 
 
I think you might enjoy http://homepages.abdn.ac.uk/d.j.benson/pages/html/maths-music.html 
(I've only just found it, so I'm not sure if it'll get far too mathsy for me)
Rick, 31st March 2024, 15:51
David - it's a balance between what the tree will tolerate versus the damage it can inflict if it falls over (at which point it'll likely die anyway). 
I'm not sure what sort of walnut it is. It... makes walnuts. That's about all I can tell you.
Gavin Wraith, 1st April 2024, 23:16
> I think you might enjoy http://homepages.abdn.ac.uk/d.j.benson/pages/html/maths-music.ht ml  
 
Thanks for the URL Rick. It looks like a very comprehensive work. I had my first hearing test recently. No surprises. With age comes loss of sensitivity to higher frequencies. As these often play a role
Rick, 2nd April 2024, 00:38
"As these often play a role" 
 
...oh, the suspense! ;)

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